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The Paleo Solution, Wheat Belly, Against All Grain, etc., etc. Gluten-free lifestyles are everywhere. You might be sick and tired of hearing about them. I am, and I live gluten-free. But it’s not a fad for me.

 

When I first heard the suggestion that I should stop eating gluten, I was already sick and tired. I wish I could say that eating gluten-free solved all my problems, but it didn’t.

 

Some things got better: my appetite dropped a fair amount, I hurt a lot less, and it was easier to relax. I lost weight more easily than I ever had in my life. The rough skin I’d had on the back of my arms since childhood turned smooth. A rash (little blisters that ultimately made spots on my hands look like they were burned) went away.

 

What didn’t get better was my balding head and lack of energy. And the most ridiculously small amounts of gluten exposure brought back the aches and the gluten-induced appetite (which, in turn, brought back all the weight I’d lost). I’d do better, get “glutened,” fight my way back to almost where I was, get glutened again, etc.

 

“Give it time. It takes at least two years without any gluten for everything to heal. Just hang in there. You’ll get better.” Docs and other people with celiac disease persisted in telling me those words, and I chanted them to other people too. I now think those comments are complete crap, but I’ll get to that in a moment.

 

Before I go on, let me define what I mean when I say “gluten-induced appetite.” I once decided to see if I could recreate the amount of hunger I feel for several months after gluten exposure.

So, I stopped eating. I got hungry, wanted food, and by the third day it was getting harder to sleep. But even after three days, my appetite was still a teeny-tiny fraction of what it is 24×7 after gluten exposure. Realizing that it might not be possible to recreate the appetite, I stopped fasting and returned to healthy food on the fourth day.

No wonder I went to such lengths as a kid to eat every piece of food I could get my hands on — I was starving beyond what any of the adults telling me to stop eating could have imagined.

 And by “gluten-exposure,” I’m not talking about “cheating” and eating pizza. It’s goofy stuff like someone at the store accidentally dropping flour on the floor and me breathing enough of the airborne stuff to react.

 

In 2012, I was glutened twice, and the second time, I’d had enough. After six years of gluten-free eating, making slow progress over several months only to have it all yanked away by unavoidable exposure, I was done.

 

I knew I couldn’t eat gluten. That would have been suicide. But I also couldn’t stand the thought of having constant problems just because I wanted to have a normal life.

 

I’m meticulous, some would even say AR, about my diet. If I couldn’t make it two years without some sort of exposure, and it took at least two years without any exposure to fully heal, there was no hope for me or the folks who were far more reckless than me. But I just couldn’t accept that. There had to be a way for me, and others like me, to heal and get back to a normal life in a reasonable time.

 

Enter SCD (The Specific Carbohydrate Diet)

 

A couple docs I’d chatted with online suggested a slightly more restrictive version of the diet (specifically, no dairy and no nuts even though they are technically allowed). I fought it. I was tired of everything that went with a restrictive diet and they were suggesting I restrict things even more!

 

But really, what choice did I have? Stay sick, keep cycling through the nasty cycle I had been, or give up? No thanks.

 

I begrudgingly agreed to 30 days. In fact, I had a new guideline: anything I tried made a difference in 30 days (60 if you could give me a compelling reason and back it up with science) or it wasn’t worth sticking to. It didn’t have to totally reverse all my problems in 30 days, but I had to see a measurable difference.

 

I started the SCD intro diet February 03, 2013. By the end of a week, the gluten appetite was gone. Two weeks in, and what I’d thought was joint and muscle relief with a traditional gluten-free diet was put to shame. By the end of a month, my hair was noticeably filling in. I could exercise consistently at least 3 times each week without getting progressively sorer. The only thing that didn’t really improve was my energy. I stuck with SCD for 238 days. 🙂 And in all of that time, I never caught a single cold or flu after catching everything that went around for several years.

 

Six weeks of SCD did more for me than six years of gluten-free…and I was pretty close to paleo-style eating before starting the intro diet. So it isn’t that I stopped eating junk and felt better. I think it was key for me to do the intro.

 

And here’s the most amazing part:

As it turns out, I was inadvertently glutening myself from December 2012 until July. The lip balm that had been safe for 6 years had added wheat germ oil and removed the word ‘gluten-free’ from its ingredient list without changing the label’s appearance. In July, I ended up in the ER for the first time in my life and lost 30 pounds in about 40 days.

 

After removing the lip balm, my hair filled in even more and my energy started to return, but my appetite is a little quirky— not as bad as full-on “gluten appetite”, but not as good as a healthy person.

 

Near my birthday this fall, I stopped SCD for two weeks. The first day, I ate a sandwich made with gluten-free bread. I lost so much hair in three days that our shower had to be unclogged. My stomach bloated to the tune of 14 pounds…overnight…from one gluten-free sandwich. It was obviously water from inflammation, but still.

 

I went back to SCD and added some ideas from Feast Your Fat Away. My energy soared. I felt better than I had in over 7 years — possibly better than I have since I was in my 20’s.

 

This weekend, I enjoyed a few non-SCD meals. I avoided the stuff that makes my hair fall out, but I indulged.

 

Tomorrow, I start the intro diet and head into a year of dairy-free SCD combined with some aspects of Feast Your Fat Away. The last time I used SCD, it was just to feel better. This time, I want to feel better and lose fat. The structure of Feast Your Fat Away seems like it’s going to help with that.

 

I’ve been close to a healthy weight a couple times, and there was one year for a few months when I’d lost enough I was happy with my body, but the gluten appetite has always been my downfall. I can’t count the times I thought I had the entire fat loss struggle beaten, only to regain it all.

 

What makes me think I’ll succeed this time?

 

It’s not that I know I will. But I do know that SCD makes me healthier while Feast Your Fat Away provides a structure that makes it easier to lose fat. The combo worked for my 30-day test. If it stops working for more than 30 days, I’ll tweak it and seek help from a coach or my doc if needed, but I’m committing to 365 days.

 

It took me almost a year of experimentation to find a combination that works for me.  Actually, it took 7 years if you count from the moment I first went gluten-free, or 39 years if you count the first time I went on a diet…that’s right, I dieted when I was 5. I was extremely obese and my brother told me he’d take me to a movie if I lost five pounds in a week. I lost two. He took me anyway.

 

If you’re struggling with your health despite a gluten-free diet, I encourage you to try SCD for 30 days — do it dairy-free and nut-free for the first 30 days. I also took an SCD-legal multivitamin SCD Complete (not an affiliate link) and the SCD-legal probiotic from the same company.

 

If you don’t feel better, maybe SCD isn’t for you. If you do feel better, you can add in other foods over time and maybe even eventually totally stop the diet, so don’t panic about how restrictive it is. It is tough, but at least in my case, it was worth it a million times over. I direly wish someone had told me about it when I was first diagnosed.

 

If you’re struggling with your weight, Feast Your Fat Away has a calculator, templates, and a structure that makes fat loss easier than any program I’ve ever seen…and I’ve seen and tried a ton of them.

 

If I don’t know if I’m going to succeed, why did I write this post?

Because it’s important to know that other people are out there trying and refusing to give up.

 

Slightly over a year ago I realized that I was able to rise from the life I didn’t want to create one I did.

 

Since then:

  • My then-struggling marriage turned around, stabilized, and is doing well. No. Not just well. It’s better than it’s ever been thanks to my hubby also working on it.
  • My energy improved enough that I’ve been able to work at least part time consistently.
  • I went from unemployed to working part time to making a pact with myself that I’ll turn the part-time work into a full-time business if I can improve or at least hold my health steady between now and next March.
  • I’ve (mostly) stopped comparing what I used to be able to do with what I can currently do.
  • The energy that comparing used to take is now funneled into brainstorming ways to make life better.
  • Some of my family and I are closer than we’ve ever been.
  • I was able to help my mom when she got sick without it totally knocking me out of the game for a week or more. Since 2007, that’s been impossible until recently.
  • My health is better than it’s been in a really, really long time. I’m still sick, but I’m also still getting better.

That’s a pretty good year for someone who’s broken. 😉

 

How did I make all of those changes? I’ll get to that in future posts, so stay tuned…

Here’s a link to the SCD book I used if you’re curious:  Breaking The Vicious Cycle

And a link to Feast Your Fat Away.

🙂

Kathryn

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6 Gluten-Free Myths

The media often mentions gluten-free living these days. ‘This actor went gluten-free and lost weight or an athlete eats gluten-free and performs better!’ In general, I think the media attention is good for those of us who really need to eat a gluten-free diet. However, a few misconceptions need addressing.

 

Homemade gluten-free bread

Homemade gluten-free bread

1. If you have celiac disease, eating a gluten-free diet is enough.

For some people that might be true. For a lot of others (probably even the majority) it’s far from the truth.

 

Celiac disease causes damage to the part of the intestine that absorbs nutrients. Without adequate nutrients, a whole lot of bad can happen. Anemia, osteoporosis, constant hunger, more injuries/aches/pains, nerve damage, infertility, food allergies, headaches, fatigue, hormonal imbalance, skin rashes, etc., etc., …given that you have to have nutrients to build and repair all aspects of your body, the symptoms can range extensively from person to person.

 

When you stop eating gluten, the damage stops getting worse, but it takes time to heal. If you developed food allergies, failing to remove those foods from your diet too (at least temporarily) slows or stalls healing. Once gluten and any food allergens are gone, it’s a matter of nutrient dense food, probiotic, probably some supplements, and time and patience.

 

2. Gluten-free eating is just a fad.

Not for those of us who have celiac disease. Companies have realized the opportunity for more money by marketing their products as gluten-free. Unfortunately, they may not realize that it doesn’t take very much gluten to make someone with celiac disease sick.

 

20 parts per million is accepted as the safe amount of gluten a person with celiac disease can eat without getting sick. Imagine breaking a cracker into a million pieces and then counting out 20 of those pieces…not a very big serving is it? If there’s more gluten than that, those of us with celiac disease end up having an autoimmune reaction that lasts for at least 6 months and symptoms that last for days to months. That’s why the certified GF symbol means so much to those with celiac disease.

 

3. Things like gluten-free soaps are ridiculous because you have to eat gluten to have a reaction to it.

My soap touches my lips. My toothpaste goes inside my mouth. When I wear lipstick, sometimes I lick my lips. I am allergic to wheat in addition to having celiac disease, but I’ve met others with the disease whose anti-bodies stayed elevated until they switched all the products they use to gluten-free. So gluten-free non-food products are anything but ridiculous.

Salad

Chicken, avocado, tomato, and red pepper on a bed of spinach and romaine.

 

4. Eating gluten-free is a great way to lose weight.

Being healthy, making nutrient-dense food choices, and living an active life is a great way to lose weight. If you’ve been starving because you can’t absorb nutrients and you finally start absorbing nutrients, it can massively change how hungry you are. However, eating gluten-free in and of itself is not a weight-loss diet.

5. Performance will improve if you avoid gluten.

Again, if you have celiac disease or are gluten-intolerant, that is definitely true. Being able to get more nutrients from your food and not experiencing the negative reactions to gluten (like inflammation and autoimmune reactions) can do wonders.

 

Sometimes avoiding gluten means avoiding convenience foods and eating more nutrient-dense food. That can help performance for almost anyone. But as more companies jump on the gluten-free marketing bandwagon, going gluten-free can just mean changing from one sugary snack to a gluten-free sugary snack. Performance won’t improve if that’s all you do.

 

gluten-free pumpkin pie

Gluten-free pumpkin chiffon pie with topping

6. “I could never give up gluten! I mean, what’s left to eat if you take away foods with gluten?”

Meat, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, eggs, cheese, and plenty of other foods are gluten-free. For those who can tolerate other grains and take the time to learn to cook with them, you can even enjoy freshly baked bread and your favorite pasta dishes. You’d by no means starve if you avoid gluten.

 

Despite the abundance of non-gluten food, “I feel so sorry for you; I could never give up eating gluten!” is the phrase I’ve heard the most from other people when they learn I have celiac disease.

 

Eating gluten-free means: I’m not hungry 24/7 regardless of how much food I’ve eaten, all of my joints hurt a lot less, sections of my skin don’t blister and look like I was burned, I don’t get sick all the time, an intense workout doesn’t leave me sore for days, and I’m way less likely to experience the cancer that has taken the lives of several of my relatives. There’s a lot there to feel happy about, not sorry for.

 

What someone is really saying when they say they “could never give up gluten” is that they don’t want the inconvenience of choosing different foods and they don’t want to deal with how eating a special diet affects them socially or financially. They’d miss the taste of some of their favorite comfort foods and the traditions they’ve built around them.

 

You know what? Every person I know with celiac disease or gluten-intolerance feels, or at least initially felt, that way too. (For the record, there are very few comfort foods and traditions I’ve not been able to replicate gluten-free in a way that is at least as good as the original.)

It’s just that for those of us with celiac disease, gluten is a poison. No one I know, with the exception of addicts, would ever say, “I could never give up eating poison!” or “It only has a little poison in it so you should be fine, right?”

 

When you realize what gluten is doing to you, you find a way to give it up. Yes, even the person who eats bread with every meal. Feeling sick and tired all the time eventually is more uncomfortable than the discomfort of giving up gluten. You might test it a time or two or twenty, but eventually feeling good wins.

Besides, you can have your gluten-free caramel cheesecake and eat it too! (Just remember to eat more nutrient-dense foods most days! Almost all of the pics I used on this page were from a Thanksgiving feast, not our standard meals.)

Gluten-free cheesecake

Gluten-free caramel cheesecake

 

🙂
Kathryn

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What Makes You Awesome?

Have you ever considered the answer to the question, “What makes you awesome?” I hadn’t, at least not until a couple friends asked me during a phone call about my latest project. I couldn’t immediately answer their question.

 

At some point in our lives we’ve all spent time wondering how someone else sees us, but how often do you consider the good things others see in you? If your life was an open book for a stranger and they were looking for the things that make you awesome, what would they see?

Little girl looking up at you

I’ve made asking myself what makes me awesome a habit. As I answer that question each day, more often than not I find myself being grateful for the people who taught me the skills and habits that others now see in me and admire.

 

Larry Schumann taught me to keep my eye on the ball. Your reflexes will play tricks with you if the ball is moving slower or faster than you expect, but if you keep your eye on it, you can overcome those reflexes and catch the ball, knock it out of the park, or duck in time to avoid a nasty bruise…even when the ball unexpectedly curves.

 

There are some highly stressful things in my life right now, and they’re resolving much slower than I’d like. Because of Larry’s advice, I know I just have to be patient and remain ready for opportunity.

 

Nancy Van Donge, Brad Butler, Kenny Thomas, Jim Childs, and Roger Brown taught me that when the ball left my hands or my personal event finished, I played an equally important role in supporting my teammates and helping them succeed. I did much better at implementing their knowledge after I graduated, but it doesn’t change the value of the lesson.

 

In life, each person we interact with influences us. Sometimes we admire them and sometimes we don’t want to be like them, but either way, they influence us…and we influence them.

 

It feels a little strange to hunt for things in yourself that other people find awesome, but everything that’s awesome about my personality, I learned from someone else. For all of our society’s talk of being individuals, not one of us would be who we are without reacting to the influence of others. We all have our own definitions of success and awesomeness, and we build most of those definitions by our experiences with other people.

 

What started with a question that made me feel uncomfortable has become a daily habit of gratitude for the people in my life. It’s also a daily reminder that I want to be awesome. Sure, it’s cool and feels good. More importantly, though, I want to be awesome because even when I’m not trying, I’m influencing someone else. I make plenty of mistakes and do goofy stuff I later regret, but the more I practice the habits I associate with success and awesomeness, the more likely it is that most of my influence will be the good kind.

 

So, what makes you awesome?

 

🙂
Kathryn

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Last week we talked about five key questions that help us focus so we get greater rewards faster and with less effort. The five questions are:

  1. What do I want? (What are my goals?)
  2. What gets me what I want fastest?
  3. Does this item on my list fit into both of those categories?
  4. What’s stopping me?
  5. What can I do to get rid of what’s stopping me fastest?

We already covered 1-3. Let’s get to work with 4 and 5.

 

construction barrel

What’s Stopping You?

You know what you want and you know how to get there. Now it’s time to get to the bottom of why you don’t already have what you want. It’s possible you aren’t there yet because until you really thought about it, you just didn’t know. However, it’s a lot more likely that there are other factors involved.  Make a list of the major things that have stopped you from living the life you want.

External things like money and education can certainly be part of your list, but internal things should be consider too. Things like fear (of failure or success), self-esteem, and motivation. It’s all too easy to forget that part of your circle of influence includes you.

 

Are You Under The Influence?

People said things to us while we were growing up, and those comments created the picture we have of ourselves. The problem is, sometimes the things people said weren’t true…you just accepted them as true because you were a kid.

So, when you look through the list of things stopping you, look closely. How many of the “deal breakers” have to do with how you see yourself? Regardless of what anyone else thinks, some of the “that’s just me” that you’ve accepted really isn’t you at all. It’s a limitation you can remove by changing your internal chatter and learning new skills.

 

What Can I Do To Get Rid Of What’s Stopping Me Fastest?

We’re all pretty good at seeing why things don’t work. But it takes a bit of practice to learn to see how to turn non-working situations into workable solutions. The more often you succeed at turning things around, the better you’ll get. But that doesn’t help you now, does it?

Let me share a few things that have worked for me.

1) Look at your problem, and then pretend that the problem isn’t yours—it belongs to a character in a book, TV show, or movie. You know where the character is now and what the happy ending is; be creative and fill in the rest of the story. Often even seemingly silly solutions present ideas that only need some tweaking to make them realistic. Sometimes just looking at it as though it isn’t your problem makes it easier to come up with solutions.

2) Imagine that your success is someone’s dying wish and they don’t have much time. If you find a solution, you know that you’ll help them smile one more time.

3) Just before you fall asleep, think about the problem you want to solve, imagine yourself being successful (in detail with sight, smell, feel, sound, and taste), and then go to sleep. This one works less frequently than the other two options, but I’ve been surprised with the solutions my dreams present.

4) Ask for directions, preferably before all else fails. You aren’t alone in this world and there are bound to be people who’ve been in similar situations. Ask them how they did it. You just might be in someone else’s circle of influence in a way that allows them to help you while benefiting both of you.

 

Take Action

Now that you’ve figured out what you want, what’s been stopping you, and how to succeed quickly, get to work and make your dreams come true. The best plans are nothing without action.

 

BTW…

After I realized that damage from a parasite infection left me physically unable to return to practice and treat patients, I missed helping people feel better and get better. Writing a fiction book was a lot of fun, but I didn’t find it as rewarding as helping people. So, I went to work with a couple of friends and created Indestructible Desk Jockey. It’s a great downloadable program designed for people who sit for long periods of time, and I think it can help a lot of people.

Figuring out how to get the word out is one of my current problems. One of the fastest solutions I can think of is simply to ask you all to go check out the sales page for Indestructible Desk Jockey and tell other people about it if you think Desk Jockey might help them. You can even set up an affiliate account and earn money when someone buys based on your recommendation. I don’t mind sharing the profits…I just want people using the program, getting results, and feeling good!

Take care,

Kathryn 🙂

 

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Memorial Day Weekend here in the States is a holiday dedicated remembering those who are no longer living.  For many people it also marks the beginning of summer, includes a yearly adventure to the lake or some other get-away, and is a highly appreciated 3-day weekend.

 

I don’t want to take away from remembering people who are dead.  It’s just that every time I think of those who are already gone, I realize how fast a lifetime can pass.

 

We all have those, “One day I’ll get to it,” things.  It’s easy to think that we’ll be less busy or have less responsibilities, but everyone I know seems to feel busier and more tied down as time passes.

 

Be thankful for those who paid a large price for your freedom and for those who impacted your life to such a great degree that you know you are who you are because of them.  But this Memorial Day Weekend, do something you’ve been putting off.

 

Get in touch with that old friend you don’t talk to enough.  Call family who are still living and let them know how much they mean to you while they can still hear you say it (or show it if you visit).  Do something you’ve been talking about but haven’t yet “found the time” for it.

 

Make it a memorable Memorial Day Weekend!

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We’ve been talking about some pretty intense subjects.  Today I’d like to lighten things by sharing some of my favorite quotes.  Feel free to post some of your own favorites in the comments section.  🙂

 

“Food is an important part of a balanced diet. “
~Fran Lebowitz

 

“I always wanted to be somebody, but now I realize I should have been more specific.”
~Lily Tomlin

 

“I am a success today because I had a friend who believed in me and I didn’t have the heart to let him down…”

~Abraham Lincoln

 

“A lie is a lie even if everyone believes it. The truth is the truth even if nobody believes it.”
~ David Stevens

 

“What we think or what we know or what we believe is, in the end, of little consequence.  The only consequence is what we do”
~ John Ruskin

 

“It’s never too late to become the person you might have been.”
~ George Elliot

 

“Simple kindness to one’s self and all that lives is the most powerful transformational force of all.”
~ Dr. David Hawkins

 

“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”

~ Mark Twain

 

“As if you could kill time without injuring eternity.”

~Henry David Thoreau

 

“You gave your life to become the person you are right now. Was it worth it?”

~Richard Bach

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The last few posts have been food for thought.  This one is actual food…Chinese food…the first really good Chinese I’ve had since going gluten-free!  Doesn’t it look yummy?

 

GF Chinese Chicken and Vegetables
Yummers!

While I should have documented the whole thing with more pictures, this was a last-minute dinner idea.  You know.  One of those where you open the fridge and cupboards hoping for inspiration that can be created in less than 30-minutes.

 

Nothing reached out and grabbed me unless you count Nado’s tail smacking my leg.  That caused the chimes in my pocket to ring.

 

(Yes, I carry chimes in my pocket.  It’s an old habit from my days in practice.  Little kids will be amazingly quiet in order to hear the chimes of a tiny metal ball ring when it’s rolled.  After 15 years in practice, I grew accustomed to their soothing jingle.  So, I still put the harmony ball in my pocket most days.)

 

Getting from the chimes to Chinese food was a bit like a Family Circus cartoon, but one thing led to another and suddenly my mouth was watering for food I’ve not had in years.  Not only is everyone in my house gluten-free, there are also corn, dairy, and soy allergies.  Try finding Chinese food without one of those ingredients.

 

But tonight I was not going to be thwarted.  I needed to turn frozen veggies, chicken, eggs, and some spices into tasty Chinese food in less than 30-minutes.  At the end of the meal, the only complaint from my husband was, “Where was the rice?”

 

So without further ado…

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag of California Mix veggies steamed to desired firmness and placed in a medium sized bowl
  • Cooked chicken breast (I seasoned mine with onion, garlic, Real Salt, and black pepper)
  • 2 eggs scrambled
  • Sauce (recipe below)
  • Soy sauce (optional—San J makes a gluten-free version)

 

Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons of tapioca starch
  • 1 teaspoon of ginger
  • 1-2 teaspoons of onion and garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. of honey
  • Pepper and salt to taste
  • 1 tablespoon of an oil of your choice (I used safflower because of its relative lack of flavor)
  • 2 cups of water

 

When the chicken and veggies are mostly cooked, mix all of the above together in a small sauce pan (no heat yet).  Add small amounts of water until the mix has fully dissolved. Add the rest of the water.  Set the heat to medium and stir constantly until the sauce thickens.  If you don’t stir constantly, you’ll end up with lumps or burnt goo on the bottom.  It only takes 5-10 minutes to thicken, so it’s worth it to just stand there and stir.  Once the sauce is at the right thickness, remove it from the heat.  Pour half of the sauce over the cooked veggies to let the flavors blend.

 

Scramble the eggs, spread them equally on each plate, and top with steamed veggies and chicken breast.  Drizzle more sauce on top if desired.  Add some San-J gluten-free soy sauce if desired and not allergic.  Mix together and enjoy!

 

If you’re a fan of rice, feel free to add some.  I had about half of the sauce left.  On a night with more time, I’ll probably cut some fresh peppers and pineapple to sauté, cook some more chicken, steam some rice for my hubby, and then rewarm and pour the sauce over the whole thing.

Gluten-free Chinese Chicken and Vegetables

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We don’t even realize it most of the time, but for every holiday or special gathering, there’s a food (or at least food-like substance) we expect to eat.

 

We’re so conditioned that we don’t hope for a grilled bratwurst washed down with cold root beer and followed later by watermelon and maybe onion rings on July 4th; we expect it.  You might have a different set of expectations then me, but you have a set even if you aren’t aware of them.

 

Until gluten and corn were gone from my diet, I couldn’t have told you that Easter was associated with peanut M&M’s, New Year’s was summer sausage and cheese on crackers, Valentine’s was decorated sugar cookies, etc.  None of those are things I crave or eat on a regular basis.

Bunny Faces

But once gluten and corn were gone (I have celiac disease and am allergic to corn), it became obvious that eating those foods during “their holiday” was deeply imbedded in my emotional memory.  I’ve not eaten even one M&M since 2006, but each Easter I fiercely want them.  Every year I repeat some version of the following:

 

  • The week before—search the internet for a source of gluten-free and corn-free peanut M&M’s…no luck.
  • Easter—consider eating some that are gluten-free even though they have corn, but decide against it.
  • The day after—content with the thought that a safe substitute might be found by next year.
  • The rest of the year—M&M’s never even cross my mind without seeing them, and even then, I rarely want to eat them.

 

As strange as it may sound, if someone had set a safe version in front of me Monday, I’m not sure I would have eaten them.  But on Sunday?  Sunday I would have snarfed down the entire bag or bowl and maybe even wished for more.

 

I don’t remember looking forward to M&M’s as a kid.  I think they must have been in my Easter basket each year, but I don’t have any fond memories where they played a prominent role.  I know I had some every Halloween too, but I don’t want them on Halloween…only Easter.

 

Weird, right?

 

Egg fight

Egg fight! (With empty plastic eggs.)

There are lots of similar stories from people who have restricted their diets due to food allergies, intolerance, or even just personal choice.  Within a year of giving up a specific food or food group, it becomes unquestionable that we all assign meaning to food; meaning that goes far beyond fuel and nutrients.

 

Everyone tries to tell us that food is just food:  it is fuel; it’s just nutrients; and we should cut all emotional ties to what we eat.  That’s like saying that sex is only good for reproduction.  Technically it might be true, but realistically, that isn’t how we live.

 

So what do we do about this contrast between what is technically right and what realistically exists?

 

Let’s face it, if you’re craving a food that isn’t nutrient dense, it isn’t because you literally need it.  You just want it the way I wanted M&M’s Easter weekend.  If you don’t eat what you’re craving, you’re still going to wake up on the right side of the dirt tomorrow.  And a few days (or maybe even hours) from now, it’s likely that you’ll completely have forgotten the craving regardless of rather or not you ate what you wanted.  Since that’s true, and you know it is because of your experience with it, what do you think would happen if we learned more about hunger and stopped obsessing so much with food?

 

How do you deal with triggers for various food items when you either can’t have the food in question or don’t want to eat it?

 

Very soon I’ll post another person’s take on hunger and how he approaches food so that he maintains the body composition and level of health he wants.

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Do you, like me, find yourself wishing you had more energy and more hours in the day to get things done?  There’s work I need and want to do, people I want to spend time with, and new things to explore and enjoy.

Should the urgent things on our to-do lists always win out over the important things we hope we’ll eventually get to do? If we always give way to the urgent, will we wake up one morning to realize that something (or someone) truly important has forever slipped away from us?  (Yeah, all that scares me too!)

There have been pivotal moments when I realized that something in my life really needed to change.  Some small thing seen, said, or done becomes a tipping point—an unpleasant or irritating situation, person, or thing is no longer tolerable and we decide right then and there that something is going to change.

Maybe it’s a relationship that’s all one-sided.  It could be the toaster that either burns or pops too early every time.  Or maybe it’s the boss who consistently asks for more without ever giving more pay.  We’ve all been there, right?  The process goes on for a while, but one day we suddenly realize that we’re no longer okay with how things are.

If we’re lucky, we can just toss the old toaster and go buy a new one that does work.  But sometimes multiple bad choices (even if they were bad choices for good reasons) led us to the situation we want to change.  What do we do then?

As tempting as it is to cover our ears and close our eyes while yelling, “La, la, la, la,” doing that isn’t very effective.

Do we think big, go all out, and reach for the stars?  That might get one or two things checked off our lists, but it will take all of our resources.  We’d still have important things on our lists with no time or energy dedicated to them.

My latest attempt at getting more of what I really want has been to distill and categorize.

“Distill and categorize?  Are you opening some sort of micro-brewery with off-label drinks?”

No.  You’ll have to find tasty beverages elsewhere.  I’m working to define myself and my priorities, so that I can get rid of all of the stuff that doesn’t really matter to me…distilling myself until just “the good stuff” remains.  We’re talking ideals here.  I realize I have several flaws, but in order to move away from those flaws, I have to know what I’m moving to or I might just slide into something else I still consider a flaw.

Once I’ve defined myself, then my to-do lists and goals can be categorized into:

  1. Urgent and Important
  2. Important but not urgent
  3. Urgent but not important (or not urgent or important)

In the same way that assigning people to an inner and outer circle allows me to shift priorities, assigning the items on my lists into categories makes it easier to see where my time should go.

Anything that falls into the third category can be removed from my to-do lists and goals. If it isn’t important (even if it is urgent), then why spend time on it?

The rest of my energy and time is spent on the first two categories.  Since both categories are important, even if there are lots of urgent items, I make sure to dedicate at least a portion of my day to both categories.  It might end up being 80/20 or even 95/5 some days, but if something matters enough to make my important list, then it matters enough to give at least a bit of attention to it each day.

I’ve only been using the ‘distill and categorize’ process since the first of the year (and it’s still a process I’m working through).  But so far, it has been very effective.  My productivity has improved, my health is improving, my relationships are benefiting, and I find myself being happier as I handle day to day details.

Are there days when I struggle?  Of course!  But having taken the time to define who I am and who I want to be, even those tough days can be dealt with.  It’s not always easy to ask myself how the person I want to be would handle a tough day, but when I do, the day often gets a whole lot easier.

Do you have any special techniques you use to help make sure you aren’t doing busy work when there is important work that needs to be done?

🙂
Kathryn

Other resources related to this article that you might enjoy:

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People – I read this book years ago, but just keep coming back to it.  There’s a lifetime of learning on those pages.

One More Thing Before Setting Your Long Term Goals – A great article a friend recently sent my way.  It helped me to further define what’s really important.

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(Photo credit to: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=1786)

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When all else fails…

This post won’t be for everyone, but if it’s for you, it might change your life.

 

Are you eating right, exercising, sleeping 8 hours most nights, and still feeling like crap or failing to get the body you want?  If the answer is ‘yes,’ something needs to change.

 

First, are you being honest with yourself.  I mean that with full respect.  The best of us lie to ourselves.  If you’re lying to yourself, stop it.  Seriously!  Respecting yourself enough to know that you’re capable of seeing something you didn’t want to see and actually fixing it is very rewarding.  If you’re being honest, keep reading.

 

Regardless of how condescending anyone else has ever been to you when you tell them that you’re doing all this great stuff without results, I’m not going to do that.

 

Here’s the deal.  Most valid advice works for a very large percentage of the population.  But for a small percent, something prevents them from succeeding.  Most doctors, trainers, etc., fully understand the advice that works, and because it works for most of their clients, it’s really easy for them to think that what’s broken is you instead of the technique.  A few specialists know better.

 

Redwood

Time to branch out...

When you know that you did all that was asked of you without getting results, you start looking for a specialist.  But even the guy who helped your sister’s, brother’s, cousin’s friend didn’t help you.  This results in a nasty cycle of trying harder and harder while feeling progressively worse about yourself and your lack of results.  Let’s stop that cycle by realizing that the “something” that is preventing your success might be yet another small fraction within the most likely reasons someone doesn’t respond to the common solution.    If I’ve been clear up to this point, you get the idea that the thing stopping you can be a little like a needle in a haystack.

 

Haystack or not, needles hurt.  A needle you can’t find sticks you over and over until either you give up or you get more desperate and start trying silly stuff.  To complicate things, sometimes it isn’t just one needle.

 

Don’t give up.  Knowing that you’re not lazy, crazy, weak, or any of those other negative terms that you’ve seen or heard people (including yourself) apply to you does wonders for your soul.  More often than not, progress can be made.  Even if your needle isn’t fully removable, at least you’ll understand what’s going on and can be compassionate with yourself again.

 

I can’t cover everything in a single post, but I can give you some of the most common reasons people aren’t getting results even after making significant lifestyle changes.  When it comes to mental health, I don’t have enough experience to know what the common “needles” are—it might involve making diet and lifestyle changes, doing work in therapy, and finding the medication(s) that works for you—but someone else with more mental health experience would be better suited to discuss those particular “needles.”

 

Slug

Feeling sluggish?

FATIGUE 

If you’re doing everything right and you’re tired, it can feel like you’re sleeping your life away.

The following can be places to start looking.

  • Anemia
  • Infection (often dental, but can be anywhere)
  • Celiac disease
  • Food allergy or intolerance
  • Cancer
  • Sleep apnea
  • Mood disorders
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Digestive disorders (especially failure to adequately breakdown and absorb food and nutrients)

 

OBESITY

  • Diabetes or metabolic syndrome
  • Celiac disease
  • Food allergies or intolerances
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Digestive disorders (especially failure to adequately breakdown and absorb food and nutrients)
  • Mood disorders that result in poor impulse control
  • Altered perception of proportions
  • Low grade intestinal infections altering digestion and absorption

 

UNABLE TO GAIN WEIGHT OR MUSCLE

  • Low testosterone
  • Other hormonal imbalance
  • Diabetes
  • Celiac disease
  • Food allergies or intolerances
  • Infection (often dental but can be anywhere)
  • Altered perception of proportions
  • Digestive disorders (especially failure to adequately break down and absorb food and nutrients)
  • Cancer

 

PAIN

  • Celiac disease
  • Food intolerance or allergy
  • Cancer
  • Chronic infection (often dental but can be anywhere)
  • Digestive disorders (especially failure to adequately breakdown and absorb food and nutrients)

 

It’s easy to run through those lists and dismiss something because it isn’t affecting you in textbook style.  I know someone who isn’t even 20 yet, had a host of diagnoses, was obese despite bariatric surgery, had hormonal issues, lived in constant pain, and is now changing all of that (including losing 30 pounds in a fairly short time) by avoiding a food she’s intolerant to.  I know what you’re thinking.  A food did all that?  Yes.  Sometimes something simple can wreak havoc.  It’s the persistent drops of water that build a canyon.

 

If you’re living a life of pain and frustration, keep working your way through one thing at a time until you find the solution.  Life is way too short to merely survive it.

kid in tunnel

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