Beginning in December of 2014, I stopped making excuses and started working out again. Our treadmill had been broken for a year and I was desperate to walk, and run, and move. As a stay at home, work at home,homeschooling mom... alone time or free time to work out uninterrupted is rare (or impossible!). The children aren't at an age where I feel comfortable leaving them to go for a walk... and taking them along isn't always an option. But we have a large-ish yard. With my Run Keeper app, I was able to figure out that approximately 7 laps around the main part of the yard is a mile. So there you go. No excuses. Even if I'm out in the back I can hear the kids yell from the house. They can have breakfast, start schoolwork, get dressed, etc while I walk. (or sometimes run. Or both. whatever) Going was slow in the colder, snowy months. To further improve my health, I gave up all sugar for Lent (40 days).Come June, though, I was up to 10 miles a week and had added in yoga and squats a few days a weeks. The kids began following my example and got moving. I would say, "Hey, I'm walking. Join me if you want." But that was it. After a while, they'd hop on their bikes and follow me (and pass me!). Just by watching my example, they were encouraged.
But the weight wasn't coming off. Instead, I actually gained 10 pounds. And it was not muscle. The picture on the left was taken at a market in mid-June. My health continued to get worse. More severe reactions when I was exposed to gluten and wheat. Migraines when I couldn't pin down a trigger. Exhaustion. Body aches which first flared up in March for about 6 weeks and then flared up again in August. The August flare up was intensely painful. I had just ceased working markets just prior to this flare up (which was discouraging because I was only doing about $6 in sales each week). Headaches, joint paint, fatigue. Extreme joint and muscle pain. Difficultly walking due to the pain in my the joints of my feet. On bad days, I couldn't hold a toothbrush, or a hair brush. I couldn't sign my own name. The severe pain in my hands and forearms would keep me from sleeping. I would have to stop in the middle of washing dishes to cry and take a break because of the pain before I could finish. Being too active, overdoing things in general, would make the next day worse. Nothing helped. Not tylenol, ibuprofen, aleve, or wrist braces. (although the braces helped keep my from using my hands as much....they didn't actually give me any relief) I was at a loss. (p.s. I'm finally having more good days than bad days. The flare up is finally easing due to to proper diagnosis and treatment. It has lasted about 12 weeks)
We started seeing a new nurse practitioner in late August. She came highly recommended by like-minded friends. Friends who where seeking answers, looking for the causes of their illnesses (this practice is often referred to as functional medicine). They didn't just want to continue treating symptoms. (which is how many physicians of western medicine are trained).
She immediately tested me for food allergies, food sensitivities, candida overgrowth, Lyme Disease, and rheumatoid arthritis. The RA came back negative (I am thankful for that!). I found that I have food allergies to eggs and peanuts (two things I would eat ALL the time!). I have sensitivities and react strongly (and negatively) to dairy, wheat, gluten, apples, bananas, and beef. Even after a month+ of following an elimination diet, I cannot eat apples or bananas without triggering an immediate day-long migraine. (bummer) During the elimination diet I mistakenly ate beef (good grassfed beef from the quarter freezer beef we ordered this year) and I had a 4 day migraine. Ugh. So, I'm learning. If I'm feeling well and having a good series of days, I may be able to tolerate a small amount of beef. But only maybe.
I also I had a candida overgrowth. Candida is naturally occurring in the human body but can run rampant due to antibiotic overuse and a diet of consistent sugar and starches. I haven't had an antibiotic in 4 years (since just after the birth of our youngest). The test results showed an old, lingering infection and not a new, raging infection. That made it easier to treat. I thought we ate pretty clean until I had to keep up with an 30 day anti-candida and elimination diet! I eat lots of nuts (safe ones), seeds, fruit, leafy greens, healthy meats and fats, limited grains and starches (grains aren't all bad...but in our family we have allergies to: rice, corn, wheat... and sensitivities to all gluten-containing grains). We now enjoy millet, amaranth, sorghum, quinoa. Some of us still eat rice occasionally. I lost between 15-20 pounds since my heaviest this summer. It makes a big difference when your body isn't attacking the foods you eat! Also, if you have a candida overgrowth (and with American diets, it is very common!) the candida is fed first... then you get what is left over. If you are working out hard (like I was) your body goes into a sort of starvation-preservation mode. It is holding on to anything it can! It thinks I'm starving (since the candida is eating and I'm not) and I'm walking/running miles a week and my body thought I needed all these extra fat stores. I assure you, I did NOT.
My Lyme Disease tests weren't negative. But they aren't positive either. Lyme's is weird like that. It mimics and hides. So it's something we're keeping an eye on.
I was later tested for Lupus and thyroid conditions (all negative). Finally, I was tested for and diagnosed with an MTHFR DNA mutation. There are many good informational pages out there regarding this mutation and all it means. It the most simple terms, my body cannot detox on it's own. The enzyme that converts folic acid (B vitamins from leafy green veggies) into a usable form is broken and only works at about 70%. (others with multiple mutations may only be working at closer to 20%) Supplementing with a L-methylfolate and other appropriate supplements is a must. My body simply cannot function well on its own. It's best to get folate from your diet - leaf green veggies, NOT folic acid in 'fortified' foods. A clean diet, a lifestyle free of chemical expose and toxins is a must (no commercial cleaners or perfumes or candles. no microwaving things in plastic. although nobody should do that! and we don't even own a microwave). Physical, mental, and emotional stress also needs to be managed. (walking without overdoing it, yoga, morning Bible studies, prayer, epsom salt baths a few days a week, not stressing over how much I can't do and be thankful for what I can do.) I'm getting healthier. I'm feeling better. It'll be two steps forward and one step back. I can heal (and I will!) but it'll take time.
Read more on MTHFR here: http://wellnessmama.com/27148/mthfr-mutation/
and here: http://mthfr.net/