The last time I reported, I'd seen marked improvement from ditching birth control and taking Vitamin D supplements. At that time, I'd only moved my Vitamin D deficiency from a dismal 15 nmol/L to a hopeful 25 nmol/L. I am happy to report that taking 5,000 IU supplement daily has finally moved me into the normal range at 48 nmol/L. I can now take 2,000 UI a day and we'll recheck my levels in 6 months to make sure they haven't dipped.
Because I implemented the birth control/Vitamin D changes at the same time, I'll never be able to distinguish which was the more effective move or which symptoms were alleviated by either pill. It doesn't matter - I will never ever go back on birth control and I'll always be keeping my vitamin levels under a watchful eye.
Addressing the nutrient deficiency has been a complete game changer. I can ACTUALLY exercise! It's amazing to not be supremely sore from a simple walk. Now that my body can handle movement, I've been aggressive about exercising.
The past two weeks, I've been working out for 4 hours a week - a combination of biking, walks, hiking, Pilates, and resistance bands. I'd like to exercise for 6 hours / 1hr a day but that will come soon enough. This spring, I only managed 1.5 hours a week, so I need to be careful about increasing my stamina steadily so I don't crash and burn.
|Pilates definitely kicks my butt - I have zero core strength. I like it nonetheless|
I am consistently keeping track of calories with an online tool called myfitnesspal.com. I don't use the exercise function, but logging my daily food intake has been really helpful. I'm not super anal about this - I track about 4-5 days of the week.
Now that I've been doing it a while, I have mental notes about what one of my regular meals "costs" in calories. For example, I know one of my staple dinners - bbq chicken, corn, and baked beans - will clock in around 500 calories, is relatively low on fat, and high in fiber.
I also use the tool to plan meals in advance since I stick to meal planning pretty tightly. I can chart out breakfast, lunch, and dinner in one sitting, which helps me to be mindful about how many calories are leftover for snacks.
Despite my efforts to really bulk up on protein and fiber, I cannot bring myself down the 1,600 daily calories that's usually suggested for weight loss. Even with eating on a 5 small meals routine, I still get overly hungry at that level. With careful planning and a bit of willpower, I can easily hit and stop at 1,900 calories a day though.
I'm also making a concerted effort to increase my veggie intake. My sweet tooth allows me to eat fruits with ease, but if it's green, it takes some willpower to like it. So far I've found that raw broccoli and cauliflower, spinach salads, and peas are manageable. My mother will also fall out of her chair when she reads this - I discovered that after years of hating green beans, that the Green Giant frozen green beans with almonds are quite tolerable, maybe even enjoyable. Baby steps, baby steps.
|Not a brand endorsement, but wow, me eating green beans might mean the zombie apocalypse is upon us|
While all of these changes have been super awesome, my weight has not budged one bit. Granted, it's not gone up either. Frankly, being so close to 200 pounds has me frightened out of my mind. I don't come from a healthy stock of genes and I know that carrying all my weight around my belly is killing off a future version of myself in the form of heart disease or diabetes.
I know that it takes time to lose weight, build up muscle, and recharge metabolism. But it does concern me that I'm making all of these healthy, consistent changes and in six months it hasn't made a difference on the scale. It makes me wonder if I may have other health issues that are still causing less obvious roadblocks. Which is why my next step is to see an allergist.
I come from a long line of allergy sufferers and while the seasonal colds I get don't really bother me, I still get ear and sinus infections every couple of months. Truthfully, it's the long-term impacts that have me concerned. People tend to poo-poo allergies as a serious medical condition, but it sounds much scarier if you think of allergies as daily inflammation, something that's actively doing harm to your body.
I know for sure that I have food intolerances - oats and peanuts do lovely things to my digestive system for days on end. Soy milk produces a mood swing within 30 minutes - it mimics estrogen and given my intolerance to birth control, that's not surprising. I'll never be a vegan though.
My mom has really bad allergies to corn and I noticed that sometimes, though not always, I can get a headache after eating popcorn. Or if I have corn tortillas one night and then whole corn the next day, I might have some stomach pain and a headache. That could be coincidental or related some other food, but not enough to the point where I'm going to ignore it.
I simply want a concrete lists of items, if any, that I shouldn't be consuming. It would be incredibly dumb to willingly consuming things I'm allergic to.
There's also new research coming out that shows that instead of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes causing inflammation, it's distinctly possible it's the other way around - inflammation precedes and paves the way for those conditions. Does make one think.
Halfway into 2012, I finally feel as if I'm gaining control over my health. Much of getting back into shape is now in my hands and an allergist is really the only other test I can think of that will identify remaining roadblocks.
How's your health been lately?