Bring on the Acupuncture!

Last summer I was with a friend going to lunch (she was driving) when we were rear-ended – hard.  The effects on my body were instantaneous – severe neck and back pain radiating to my legs.  The next several months were spent in Dr.’s offices, physical therapy and massage therapy.  I progressed, and progressed, until I stalled. 

At this point, I can function regularly with minimal pain as long as I make my every other week massage therapy session.  Miss one session – disaster – neck, shoulder and low back pain ensue and refuse to go away.  This is completely unacceptable.  I’ve always liked massages once in a while for relaxation and health but I don’t want to HAVE to get one every other week for the rest of my life.  And this is massage therapy, not a relaxing spa massage.

So, I headed to my Dr. to find out what we could do to push past this plateau.  Her suggestion?  Acupuncture.  I know several people who swear by acupuncture so I decided to give it a try.

Before my first visit, I had to fill out five pages of medical history asking for details as specific as what I usually ate.  After the acupuncturist reviewed this novella, she explained to me the different methods she would be using in addition to the traditional needles I was anticipating. 

We started the session with “cupping”; a method that entails pulling the muscles up through glass suction cup type devices.   The muscle release was pretty immediate although not complete.  And as I’m slightly anemic these days it left some lovely round bruises on my upper back – hmmm. 

Next up the needles.  This was fascinating.  For the most part I couldn’t feel the needles entering my body at all.  But once in a while – ping - oohtender spots.  Not sure why, and completely random (tender on one hand, not on the other, although in the same place).  In some areas she used an herb called moxa with the needles.  Moxa is warming and apparently helps redistribute energy.  The needles were placed in my neck, upper and lower back, feet and hands while lying on my stomach and between my eyebrows and on my hands, feet and knees when lying on my back.  After all of the needles on a side were inserted, I rested with the needles in place for about 10 minutes, then the needles were removed.  On each shoulder she placed a small magnet strip to continue the treatment for 24-48 hours.  And that was all there was to it.

Result?  I definitely feel better, although I’m still sore.  My next session is on Sunday and then we should be able to go to once a month treatments.  From the people I’ve talked to the treatments build upon each other.  In the meantime?  I need a massage.

The End of the Candida Diet – Sort Of

My three weeks on the Candida Diet is officially over.  For three weeks and two days, I underwent the Candida diet to attempt to “de-yeast” my system and bring my “gut” back into neutral alignment (charming, I know).  What this meant was three weeks without bread, gluten, yeast, basically any grain except brown rice, sugar and alcohol.  Most meals looked like this: 

Typical Candida Diet Meal

Typical Candida Diet Meal

 

Baked salmon (or chicken), brown rice and a vegetable (and no, I didn’t eat all that, I had enough left over for lunch the next day).  Breakfast consisted of either scrambled eggs and a piece of fruit (if I was home) or plain oatmeal with almond butter (at work).  Lunch was mostly soup or leftovers.  Snacks were brown rice cakes and apples with almond butter.  Monday night, I tried out pasta made with brown rice and water.  With grilled chicken and TJ’s Arrabiata Sauce it was actually pretty good. 

Grilled Chicken and Brown Rice Pasta

Grilled Chicken and Brown Rice Pasta

 

But I miss bread, sugar, alcohol – mostly bread.  While my sinus problems seem a bit better and I was able to discontinue the antibiotic for my skin with only minor skin rebellion, I’ve become moody, unfocused, irritable and for all I’ve given up, I’ve only lost net 1 pound (I’ve lost 2, but I gained 1 the first week on the diet).  I explained this to the naturopath yesterday.  He did some tests and determined that things had improved, greatly.  He said that I need to stick to the diet for another three weeks but that I can reintroduce some grains, preferably sourdough (ugh) and rye, yogurt (already was cheating a bit on that) and fermented foods (Hello, soy sauce!).  So, I’ll continue to be alcohol and mostly sugar-free (I’m not giving up my no sugar added hot chocolate), but not worry about the breadcrumbs in crab cakes.  That seems like a fair trade.  

Of course, while I’m in Vancouver I’ll loosen the restrictions even more because I am not missing out on the culinary delights of Vancouver!  But, in moderation and with balance.  Oatmeal and almond butter for breakfast, more meat and veg, less pasta, one glass of wine.  Because apparently you can’t reverse years of dietary discombobulation in only three weeks ;)

Mixing Up The Exercise Routine: Tennis Anyone?

Tennis Anyone?

Tennis Anyone?

It’s been drilled into us by now that we need to exercise, exercise, exercise - at least if we want to lead healthy, active lives beyond the age of 50.  While “live fast, die young” was an attractive – if not lived-up to – mantra of my teenage years, passing on at 35 doesn’t look so attractive anymore. 

There’s also the weight consideration.  From what I’ve read, we will naturally gain weight as we age and our metabolisms slow (lovely), but if we weigh more than we did in high school we are much more likely to die a horrible death from some protracted and painful disease.  (Seriously, health articles have become as dramatic and ineffective as terror alerts – what exactly does orange mean anyway?) 

With all that in mind I attempt to exercise regularly.  If I make it to the gym (rarely, given rain, parking and the desire to sleep in) my choice for plugging away at the 30+ minutes of daily required cardio is performed on the elliptical for maximum calorie burn in minimal time.  For 30 minutes I “run” like a hamster on a wheel as fast as I can.  At home,which let’s face it, is most of the time, I hit my treadmill and again plug away for 35-60 minutes depending on how much time is available and whether I’m run/walking or walk/walking.  As I find many reasons to avoid this scenario, however, I’ve had to find tricky ways to stick exercise into my schedule. 

I started with pilates – once a week for an hour, one-on-one with an instructor.  That covers one day, but that one hour burns less than 200 calories, so while great for core, strength and stretch, and keeping up with my instructor’s entertaining social life, it’s not giving me a serious cardio workout.

Enter tennis.  About 15 weeks ago, I signed up for tennis lessons.  The lessons are through the Parks and Rec department and for the price of one pilates session, I get six, once a week, 1 hr and 15 minute lessons.  The perk?  Tennis is a serious workout.  It engages all of the major muscle groups and during game play and even drills you’re running all over the place to get to the ball.  So that little cardio requirement?  Done.

I’ve also found it’s really, really fun.  Unlike the elliptical or the treadmill, tennis feels like recess.  It’s also social.  Yes, you can practice with a ball machine, but playing with a friend or learning with a group guarantees you a better time, some friendly competition and face-to-face interaction, something that is becoming rare in the digital age.  Lucky for me, my husband, lil sis and several friends play so on the weekend, if a court can be reserved (and getting an indoor court in Seattle in the winter is the equivalent of winning the lottery) I can work in another calorie busting tennis session. 

If you’re not a natural exercise lover, find a sport, a dance class, anything that will keep you going back for more.  Yes, we have to exercise, but we can at least have fun while we do it ;)

Candida Diet Day 6: Losing All Interest In Food

Maybe I’m a wimp, but I’m not taking well to the Candida Diet.  Yes, you can eat all the protein (aka meat) and veggies you want but I’m a grain girl, and brown rice alone doesn’t cut it. 

Maybe its genetic.  My sister Jen, (who’s thin and toned and doesn’t need to diet) tried Atkins a few months ago – she lasted a day. She only made it that long by having inner dialogues with herself of “Fatty, you don’t need a roll.  Really fatty?  Are you that dependent on croissants?”  I feel the same way – without the “Fatty” dialogue, of course.  I haven’t buckled and returned to my normal lifestyle of bread, pasta, couscous, cheese, chocolate and wine, but I want to.  I want to be able to come home and cook up whatever strikes me.  I want to be able to accept invitations out to dinner instead of pushing them off until February.  And I want to stop dreading that rumbling in my stomach that means I need to eat. 

In just 6 days the Candida Diet has turned me from a food lover to a meal time dreader.  For one, I’m tired, really tired.  I’m also busy at work.  I don’t have the time, energy or desire to grill up a steak, bake up some fish or grill a chicken breast when I get home at 7 or later.  I want a 10 minute pasta or Pagliacci Pizza (something I rarely eat but have been craving like mad).  Heck, at this point, a bowl of cereal would be a relief! 

To make matters worse, even though I’m living on 1500 calories or less a day – I’ve gained 1/2 a pound.  So, I don’t even have the motivation of losing weight to push me through the next two or more weeks.

I will continue to persevere.  I will try to think of things I can cook in large batches over the weekend that will take me through the work week.  I will try not to cry when I have to face another brown rice, chicken and veg dinner or lentil soup lunch.  I will try to stop craving jam.

The Candida Diet: 3 Days Down, 18 Or More To Go

After bingeing on sweets and pasta for three days – including a send-off meal of a baguette from Le Panier accompanied by triple crème brie, Gruyère, Cougar Gold and Jack William Wines Ode to Joy Cabernet Sauvignon - I started the Candida Diet.  No alcohol, no yeast, no sugar for at least three weeks.  Talk about taking the fun out of eating! 

Day 1: I started Sunday morning off thinking about how great I would hopefully feel at the end of this regimen and how fabulous it will be to get off some of my allergy meds.  With that frame of mind, I made myself a two egg omelet with onions and ham even though I was craving pancakes (and I rarely eat pancakes).  I missed the toast that would normally go with the meal, but the extra egg (I usually only have one) and the ham kept me satisfied well into the day.  

2 Egg Omelet With Ham and Onion

2 Egg Omelet With Ham and Onion

 

J was visiting family in Eastern Washington (I had to work on a project all weekend so I couldn’t go with him), so I was pretty uninspired and wasn’t very hungry when lunch rolled around.  I heated up a corn tortilla in the microwave, smeared almond butter on it, cut up an apple, which I dipped in almond butter, and called it good.   

As J was coming home in time for dinner I decided to get creative.  I tossed brown jasmine rice in the rice cooker ( 1 1/2 c. rice, 3 c. water) with cayenne pepper (2 tsp) and browned up some grass-fed hot italian sausage from a local farm.  I also added broccoli, cauliflower and parsnips to the steamer part of the rice cooker for the last 8 minutes.  When the rice was finished, I threw everything into a wok with some oil and added more cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper to taste.  8 minutes later, dinner was served.  

Sausage and Veggie Rice Bowl

Sausage and Veggie Rice Bowl

 

 (J took this photo and most of the photos on Flickr, he is a much, much better photographer than me!)

It was . . . interesting (or maybe it had a nice personality?).  The spice was good but the veggies were mushy – next time I would stir-fry them instead of steaming.  J hated the brown rice, but  that’s nothing new for him and white rice is forbidden for me for now.  I treated myself to a no sugar added hot chocolate for dessert made with water.  Probably not Kosher, but it took the dessert craving away for only 50 calories and I figure the sugar damage was minimal. 

My body was adjusting to the supplements I was given over the weekend and it was not fun.  I was taking two different supplements at the same time and the resultant heartburn – or whatever it was – was unable to stand up, almost crying on the floor painful.  Sunday night when it was at its worst, J ran to the store to get Tagamet for me, which fortunately worked, since I couldn’t lie down either since that made me nauseas.  I’ve started spacing the supplements and that seems to work, since I’ve had no problems since Sunday night. 

Day 2: I woke up early to get some things done before work and was starving so I had a strawberry yogurt – not allowed because it has “evaporated cane juice” but it also has probiotics so I figured it balanced out.  Breakfast was TJ’s organic oats and flax instant oatmeal with a  1/2 tsp of almond butter stirred in.  It was surprisingly good! 

Lunch was TJ’s again, this time 1/2 can of organic vegetarian chili with a corn tortilla.  Snack was an apple with almond butter. 

For dinner, I made grilled chicken with quinoa onions and red and yellow bell peppers – I got the recipe right off the TJ’s box of quinoa.  Naturally, I forgot to take a picture.

Day 3: I started the day with an after morning workout snack of pomegranate Greek yogurt – much lower in sugar than normal yogurt.  Breakfast, lunch and snack same as Day 2.  I was exhausted all day and had trouble focusing  on work, so I did a little internet research on candidas and what it can cause.  Interesting – allergies, skin issues, weight gain, fatigue, the list went on and on.  Definitely some motivational knowledge.   

I was starving when I got home around 6:30 so I nibbled on a few cashews and a celery stick with almond butter. Since the wild copperriver salmon I had planned to cook for dinner wasn’t defrosted yet (and I was tired), J and I headed to a Thai place near our house.  We ordered veggie spring rolls, chicken panang, and garlic chicken.  I had brown rice (which was not good, too gritty), he had white.  I don’t think there was any yeast in the meal, although there may have been some sugar in the coconut milk that made the panang and I’m not entirely sure about those spring roll wrappers.  I should probably do more investigating before we eat out again.  It was nice having eating out options though. 

So far?  Not as hard as I thought it would be, although I’m not being super strict (that no sugar added hot chocolate is my savior).  But I really miss bread, sugar and the freedom to eat whatever I want!  I’m hoping the payoff is worth the pain.  I guess in 18 more days we’ll know . . . something.

2010 Resolution Progress Report

The first week of 2010 has certainly been interesting!  It’s also been fun (amazingly) and challenging to start work on my resolutionsI haven’t been 100% on everything, but I haven’t done too badly either.  In the name of accountability, here’s an update on my first week:

Mind

Resolution: French, 30 minutes per day.  Hmmm, yes, well, I did manage between 15 and 30 minutes on 5 days. 

Fitness

Resolution:  Exercise 5 days per week – no excuses.   So far so good, I started off the New Year with some time on my treadmill and a Mari Windsor pilates tape, yoga, pilates, another date with my treadmill and tennis followed.  5 days total.  Goal met (this week at least).

Resolution: Yoga at least 1 day per week, preferably 2.  I had a nice one hour yoga session at home on Sunday to meet this goal.  To shake things up I’m going to start looking for a studio to take classes at or at least make the classes at 24 Hour Fitness (my gym, which I usually only go to when traveling, good thing my membership is only $99 per year).

Nutrition

Resolution: Eat less meat.  Reduce meat (pork, beef, chicken) consumption to 2 times per week max.  This was easier than expected and I managed to go all week without eating any meat.  This resolution is going to have to go by the wayside for a while, however, while I’m undergoing the candida diet

Resolution: Eat less cheese.  Well, I did eat less for sure so mission accomplished.  (Love vague resolutions).  I would like to trim my intake further though in the upcoming weeks. 

Resolution: Eat more fish, especially fish rich in omega-3s.  I worked in salmon two days last week, but I’m really looking forward to warm weather – sushi season – so this will become much easier.

Resolution: Drink less.  No more than 4 glasses per week.  Mission accomplished and this was not an easy one!  All together, I drank the equivalent of 3-4 glasses last week, depending on how you’re counting.

Health

I went to a naturopath to see if he could devise a solution to my health woes that would reduce my 6 medication, still stuffed-up at most times, lifestyle.  Starting tomorrow, I embark on a candida diet to try to destroy the yeast fermenting in my stomach and get everything “back in balance.”  I really hope this works.

Spirit

Resolution: To give back more.  I’ve made this one a sure thing by volunteering to be in charge of social media for the Puget Sound Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, which I will be running in (if I meet my resolution) on a yet to be determined Sunday in June.  Last Tuesday was my first race committee meeting and I will have one meeting per month through the race.  Once I receive the passwords and guidelines for the social media accounts, I will be tweeting and facebooking (and responding to same) daily.  You can follow at Twitter at Komenpsrace.  Even if you’re not in the Puget Sound area, the tweets will be informative, fun and inspiring (not necessarily all at once).

Resolution: Spend more time with family and friends. I have to admit, I haven’t made much of an effort on this one.  I did spend Saturday night with my husband and his girls and talked to my Mom and Kate more on the phone than usual, but I really need to step it up on this resolution.

So, that’s the recap of my first week of resolutions.  Hoping to do better in the weeks to come.  How are you doing on your resolutions?  Which are you finding the hardest to keep?

Bidding Farewell to Forbidden Foods

Foods Forbidden on the Candida Diet

Foods Forbidden on the Candida Diet

  

I realized yesterday that my kitchen is just not prepared for this candida diet overhaul I’m about to embark on.  So I decided I would phase into it with an official all out start date of Monday.  Accordingly, I dutifully took all of my supplements yesterday, including two dropperfuls of Mycological Immune Stimulant – which tastes like cheap vodka,  a bummer since you can’t have any food or drink with it or for 5 minutes after – I then went home and binged on sweets and pasta.  Specifically, 3 “pecan buds” – See’s answer to “Turtles” – 2 chocolate comfort cookies and a big bowl of pasta (at least I made it whole wheat).  In case you’re wondering, yes, I felt like hell afterward and started thinking that maybe Monday isn’t soon enough.  I then proceeded to have 2 pecan buds for breakfast this morning.  What?  They have pecans ;) So, I’ve devised a plan.  I will enjoy my food and wine today and tomorrow and go cold turkey on Sunday.  This gives me time to shop this weekend for candida diet appropriate foods and to plan out meals.  It also gives me two days to bid farewell to soon to be forbidden foods (forbidden for three weeks anyway).  As I was only told what not to eat – everything - I turned to the internet to see if I could find out what I can eat on the Candida diet.  Seriously, what did we do pre-internet?

I googled “candida diet allowed foods” and immediately found a handy list.  For the next three weeks – starting Sunday – my diet will be limited to:

  • Chicken, meat, fish (roasted, grilled or steamed);
  • Rye bread and crackers that do not contain yeast or wheat;
  • Rice, potato, corn, rye or soy flour;
  • All veggies, but limited quantities of starchy potatoes and corn;
  • Oats (that makes breakfast almost palatable at least – except unsweetened oats? Blech);
  • Unsweetened yogurt – pass;
  • Brown Rice – thank goodness;
  • Soy/rice milk, except without sugar and I only like TJs vanilla soy milk , so that’s out;
  • Walnuts, cashews, hazelnuts, pecans, coconut and macadamia nuts – no almond butter, but I wonder how hazelnut butter would taste – can I make that?
  • Homemade popcorn – bring on the butter!
  • One unbruised fruit per day – talk about making cutting sugar painful, fruit was my safety net!
  • Tomatoes, which are not in season now of course;
  • Humus; and
  • Herbal teas.

Apparently I can also have whole wheat pasta once a week.  Woohoo, that calls for a parade! 

On the plus side this will force me to become creative in the kitchen and of course, will hopefully make me feel better.  Protein bars – my go-to office snack  - are out, but it appears edamame is ok, so that can be a healthier substitute.  My husband is in heaven with the return of meat, but I’m going to work in fish 2-3 times per week.  Menu ideas are starting to swirl around in my head which is excellent, but if any of you have recipes that meet these guidelines, please hook me up!

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