Wellness Wednesday – Starting From Scratch

Everything I know about my health is wrong.

This is both an exciting and a dismaying place to be. It’s a place I’ve been in before, and I’ll admit, it’s frustrating to be back here. To try to erase years of data and assumptions, to zero out experiments and results, to start over again from scratch. It’s a great undertaking to get to know your body, and when you discover that everything you know was influenced by an outside factor (whether it’s mold in your house, or a silent infection, or a stupid Devil-Bed), it’s overwhelming to start fresh. You not only have to do all that zeroing out, but you have to sort out the whys and whens and hows. Daunting, tedious, and (honestly) angering. But also exciting, because it means that real change may be possible.

In the five weeks since replacing my mattress, good things have happened. I’ve slept remarkably well, and most nights, don’t even need my sleeping medication. My anosmia/dysosmia has almost completely disappeared, so I’ve been indulging in things like caramelized onions again. My hip and foot pain are gone, with a striking difference between Dec 30 (struggling through a 2-mile easy hike) and now (doing multiple 4-5 mile strenuous hikes and some runs without pain). My V02 max has gone up a point – a really unexpected bonus. I won’t know just how much my inflammation markers have decreased in concrete terms until some bloodwork later this spring, but many of the inflammatory symptoms in my body have had noticeable decreases.

So. I’m not a space alien anymore. My chiropractor, who has called me a space alien for the last few years because of the weird random ways my body reacts to food and fitness, welcomed me back to earth during my last visit. That feels good. It’s the what’s-next? part that’s daunting.

It’s hard to know where to start when you start from scratch. I’ve done so many different things over the years, all of them with their own unique side effects, that they all intimidate me. I discussed a bunch of this a year ago when I was settling down to look at the last two theories I had, so I’m not going to go over all of it again. A year ago, I didn’t have the Devil-Bed piece of the puzzle, and the timeline makes more sense now. My initial switch from weight maintenance to weight ups-and-downs took place during a time when my marriage was falling apart, my oldest son was acting out, my family moved across the country, I started experimenting with fad diets, my doctors put me on a medication that caused weight gain, and I developed a binge-eating disorder. Over that really awful 15 months or so, I gained 20 lbs, lost 15 lbs, then gained 20 lbs, for a total gain of 25 lbs. Then much of the stressors and triggers were alleviated, I began to get help for the eating disorder, and my doctors switched me off that medication. Things should have gotten better. Instead, I bought a Devil-Bed and spent six months in rapid-weight-gain (about 50 lbs), before it just…stopped. The stop corresponds almost to the day with a six-month off-gassing period of the memory foam. And since then, as I said in the above link, I’ve just been cycling within the same 10 lbs no matter what I do. (Until this past October, when a medicine I was given for weight loss caused a 15 lb gain, UGH.)

Now I know: Everything I did made no impact because I hadn’t removed the source of the inflammation. Whatever I tried that didn’t work? Maybe it would work now. And it’s time to decide what to do next.

I recently made a mistake. Two weeks ago, after getting frustrated at how tough it was to move my body up hills while out at a state park, I chose to remove all processed foods and sugar from my diet, moving to all whole foods, in one fell swoop. My body has needed processed carbs for the last two years to counteract inflammatory symptoms (contraindicative, yeah? that’s how “space alien” my body has been!), and within two days, I was experiencing massive sugar detox symptoms, including severe migraines. Clearly I needed to slow things down and take some time to ease into this. I can’t just jump back to where I was when my body was still healthy in 2013/2014!

Other than that particular mistake, I spent most of January focused on taking some time to recover from the bed issue. I’m not sure a month is enough, though, tbh. When my tooth infections were discovered and cleaned out in 2009, it took over a year for my body to fully recover enough for me to focus on weight loss and health improvement. Even if that’s the case here, however, I want to start building the right habits, and see how my body reacts to them. In the short term, that will involve keeping a food journal (not reducing calories or cutting out foods or anything – just noting them to observe patterns), trying to add more produce to meals, and making some basic substitutions like brown rice for white rice, when possible. I hope that as my body returns to its normal baseline, I can rely more on intuitive eating again, and start a gradual shift toward where my body is happiest and healthiest. What I need to keep in mind that gradual, reasonable changes are the most sustainable over time. The most success that I’ve ever had has been with a “healthy but reasonable” approach, and I need to get myself back into that headspace for longterm betterment.

This photo shows me now, at current weight, vs the weight/size I was at in 2014 in the middle of my maintenance period. There is roughly 90 lbs difference between these two photos. It’s my goal to eventually get back near that second photo. I don’t know how I’ll accomplish it or how long that will take, but that’s where I want to be, and the reason I keep dusting myself off and starting over again.

About Amanda

Agender empty-nester filling my time with cats, books, fitness, and photography. She/they.
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