Tag Archives: self-care

The Plan: Month One, Week Four

January, as I’m sure you know without me telling you, is wrapping up. My focus for the month was self-care.

I spent most of them month feeling like something that got hit by a truck and then dragged a round the neighborhood for a while. Face first. Detoxing from gluten and having the sinus infection from hell at the same time made for an interesting month to say the least.

I’m feeling much much better. I still have a little bit of sinus pressure happening, but it’s so much less that it’s hardly worth mentioning. Let’s just say I’ve never been so grateful for a runny nose in my whole life.

I’m not sure, but I have a feeling that the gluten detox had something to do with the sinus infection. I doubt it caused it, because Adrienne and Kevin both had them. But mine was about 1000 times worse, and I believe that was due to my body trying to push the bad stuff through a compromised system.

Anyway.

I had all these lofty self-care month thoughts in December. I was going to explore herbal cures and plan a medicinal herb garden. I was going to start exercising–not to lose weight, but just to get the blood flowing. I was going to do a lot of things.

Turned out that all I had the energy for was getting better.

It turned out that food played a huge part in my self-care month. I feel like I’ve made really good strides toward being gluten-free for good. I’ve learned that it’s not about giving things up, but about exploring food in a different way. I haven’t felt deprived this month. In the past, when I tried to go gluten-free I resented every minute of it.

I’ve decided that I hate the term gluten-free. It just sounds like deprivation. Like sugar-free, it sounds like the food should have gluten in it, but because you’re a poor sap who can’t have it, here’s second best. I don’t know what it should be called, since I actually need to know that a food doesn’t have gluten in it. But something that reflects that gluten-free isn’t lacking something. It’s just different. In a delicious way.

I also feel like I did a lot of work this month toward breaking my dieting mindset. I haven’t weighed myself all month. I have been very aware, however, of all of the media input that tells me that I should be trying to lose weight. Nearly every commercial break has at least one weight-loss-related ad, magazines are filled with the message, even the anti-dieting book I read had a subtle message that the goal of not dieting is to have a ‘sexy body.’ Being aware of the blitz of information telling me constantly that I’m not ok the way that I am has been eye-opening.

When did I give a bunch of people I don’t even know the power to tell me what I should look like?

Oh right. When I was eight.

Because I wasn’t feeling well, there are some mini-goals that I haven’t completed. I have this weekend, and I’m going to do what I can. But the beauty of The Plan is that it’s low stress. No pressure.

  • Frugality: Make a master grocery list and start a price book.

I still haven’t done this. I plan to work on it this weekend.

  • Simplicity: List three time and energy drains, and three ways to improve each.

I have a posting planned for tomorrow regarding this goal.

  • Sustainability: Use $10 of each week’s grocery budget on stock-up foods.

I met this goal in spades. I’m coming out of my skin waiting for Sharon to post her next Independence Days. I might have to just move on without her!

  • Life-long learning: Have Kevin help me make a duct tape dress form.

I was far too ill most of the month to stand with my arms out for a couple of hours so Kevin could tape me up. I’m hoping to get this done this weekend. If not, this goal will just move to February.

  • Joy: Earn $100 per week from freelance writing.

I’m a little behind, but plan to get caught up this weekend. I need to earn enough to give Goddard College $250 by the 14th.

  • Forgiveness: Write work problems out in a letter that may or may not be sent to my boss.

Done.

  • Housekeeping: Declutter living room and front porch.

Not even started. Another one for the weekend.

  • Career: Finish read-through on Devil You Don’t and send to publisher.

Nope. Not even close. I’m just going to have to chalk this one up to my goals being bigger than my free time.

  • Spirituality: Find a UU forum.

I am committed to doing this on Sunday.

  • Relationships: Call Carol.

Done.

I’ll be posting a January final post on Sunday, and then a post on Monday with February’s theme and mini-goals.

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The Plan: Month One, Week Three

I’m still not feeling 100 percent. But I am feeling considerably better than I was last Friday. Yay for antibiotics!

I’ve wondered if part of the whole feeling like a truck ran over me thing was withdrawal. The holidays around here start the end of October, on my birthday (the 28th.) I’d been doing fairly well on being Gluten-free until then. But for some reason, I decided that I’d eat what I wanted until New Years and go Gluten-free again then.

Yeah.

So three months of birthday cake (mine in October, Nick, Ruby, and Kevin in December), homemade stuffing, who-knows-how-many kinds of cookies, sandwiches for lunch, rolls for dinner, and toast for breakfast, and I don’t even know whatelse later, I was pretty sick.

It makes sense that getting all that crap–not just the gluten, but the sugar and preservatives, too–out of my system would have an impact. I don’t think it’s far fetched to wonder if that didn’t cause the sinus-infection from hell.

But here’s the good news. And I mean really, really good news!

I. Have. Energy!

Yes.

Just yes.

I’ve been going to bed early, because I’m sick. But waking up in the morning rested. That’s so huge for me. Refreshed is a good good thing. For most of the past five years I’ve been walking around in a fog of exhaustion that was never lifted. Until I went gluten-free.

The bags under my eyes are gone, my hair has pretty-much stopped falling out, and my legs, feet, and hands aren’t bloated. I still have some tummy problems, but they’re greatly reduced. It can take up to six months for my intestines to fully heal. So three-weeks in, I’m happy with not feeling nausious after every meal.

It wasn’t until today that I started to feel healthy enough to do much more than work and do the basics to take care of my family. So I haven’t made a whole lot of progress on my other January goals. I have done some thinking though, and I’ve decided to revise a couple of goals.

 January’s Goals:

  • Frugality: Make a master grocery list and start a price book.
  • I’ve been saving my grocery fliers, but I’m floundering a bit here. I only have one local grocery store. Some foods, like GF flours, I’ll be getting online. And maybe once every couple of months I get out of town and can go to other stores. On top of that, I’ve decided that absolute frugality can’t be my only goal. So I’m rethinking my plan. A Master grocery list is still a good idea. And maybe some guidelines, like no produce over $2 a pound, no meat over $3 a pound, etc. Hmm…needs more thought.

  • Simplicity: List three time and energy drains, and three ways to improve each.
  • Look for a post on this in the next week. 

  • Sustainability: Use $10 of each week’s grocery budget on stock-up foods.
  • Doing real well on this goal. Our store is having a mini case-lot sale this week, so I’ll be stocking up even more.  

  • Life-long learning: Have Kevin help me make a duct tape dress form. 
  • Kevin has four days off this week, and I feel healthy enough to stand up for an hour or two without fainting–duct tape double, here we come!

  • Joy: Earn $100 per week from freelance writing.
  • This one has really suffered. I’ve earned some. But I’ve just not had the energy to be very creative.  

  • Forgiveness: Write work problems out in a letter that may or may not be sent to my boss. 
  • I did this. I even emailed it to my boss. She didn’t respond. This week I emailed her a friendly note asking her if she would just let me know she’s receiving my emails. No response again. She’s either ignoring me, or not getting my emails.

  • Housekeeping: Declutter living room and front porch.
  • Again, Kevin has four days off this week. We’re getting this done. 

  • Career: Finish read-through on Devil You Don’t and send to publisher.
  • Nope. Not even close. Stupid tonsillitis. 

  • Spirituality: Find a UU forum. 
  • I haven’t looked for one yet, but I plan to this weekend.

  • Relationships: Call Carol.
  • I tried, but she wasn’t home. I’ll try again this week.

    The big goal I think I’m going to revise is the $100 per week grocery-budget that is my Frugality goal. It isn’t exactly that I think I need to spend way more than that. It’s that I don’t want to make my major food focus be eating as cheap as possible. Food is what is healing me. I want to eat well. I know I can do this frugally. But I don’t want to feel guilty spending a little extra on trying something new, or on buying food that is more ecologically than economically sound.

    So here’s my revised Frugality goal: To shop in season, as locally as possible (food from the Western US is my goal), and to not waste any food. $100 a week is a good guideline, but I’m not going to beat myself up if I go over because I want some goat cheese or free-range eggs.

    In the upcoming week I plan on reviewing two books: Gluten-Free Baking Classics by Annalise Roberts and Fed Up! Free Yourself From the Diet Trap by Dr. Wendy Oliver-Pyatt. I also have a box of Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Brownie Mix that I will review for you. (How self-sacrificing of me, eh?)

    I’m thinking on some ways to involve other people in The Plan. In using it themselves. I’m really loving it so far. I have a natural tendancy to go overboard. To make plans with 100s of steps and rules and guidelines. And then to quit after about ten minutes when it all gets too complicated. The Plan is proving to be flexible and simple.

    Right now I have a loaf of Annalise Robert’s GF sandwich bread in my oven. I’m having a BLT for lunch. Yes. Even with a sinus infection and a stressful job, life is good.

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    The Plan: Month One

    (See The Plan page for more information about monthly themes.)

    January is self-care month here at live once juicy. Which prompts me to ask what exactly is self-care?

    I’m a mom, a wife, a counselor–I take care of other people. It’s hardwired into me, perhaps thanks to being the oldest of a pretty dysfunctional family with nine kids when I was a teenager. Perhaps thanks to having a kidling with high needs. Who knows. But I can tell you that I’m good at caring for others, and a little bit sucky at taking care of myself.

    Self-care is pretty self-explainatory. It’s about figuring out what I need to be healthy, and then doing that.

    It’s about giving up an unhealthy obsession with dieting, a bad habit of stepping on the scale five or six times a day, binge eating to ease anxiety and strong emotions, and eating the food that makes me sick.

    It’s also about learning how to make the food that supports my body, and learning to appreciate my unique needs.

    As a result of my taking better care of myself, I’ll be taking better care of my family.

    See how it all works out?

    My big goals for the year for self-care are to be gluten-free, a daily vitamin, and today starts my No Weigh program.

    Gluten intolerance causes malabsorption of nutrients from food. As a result I’m iron-, vitamin D-, and I’m sure others-deficient. So basically I feel depleted most of the time. I HATE taking vitamins. They make me pukey. I think because I always go overboard and end up trying to take 10 at a time. I bought some little one-a-day vitamins with a nice coating on them that I’m going to start with. I’ll re-evaluate later if I need more. But that, with it’s iron and vitamin D, is a good start and way better than the zero vitamins I take now.

    The No Weigh program is basically a non-diet. No more dieting. Sounds crazy right, for a girl who weighs 300 pounds to give up dieting as a New Year’s Resolution. Here’s the thing. I’ve been on a constant diet since I was in the fourth grade. Guess what? I wasn’t even fat in the fourth grade. I just wasn’t as skinny as my younger sisters. I can’t count how many  times I’ve talked about just wanting to be healthy, to feel good–but it always boils down to an imprinted desire to be thin. In order for me to really focus on getting to a place where I feel good, I have to give up my addiction to dieting. And the best way I can think of to do that is to stop measuring my weight. (My body too, but I haven’t had a problem with constant measurement taking. If I develop one, the measuring tape goes too.)

    No Weigh is not about some feel-good new-age hoo-haw. It isn’t about accepting myself as I am, or loving my fat. I’m a substance abuse counselor. I can see plainly that food and dieting are addictions to me the same way that meth and alcohol are addictions to my clients. I have triggers like they do, I use my addictions to ease stress or other bad feelings like they do, I use them as a coping mechanism just like they do with thier drugs. That, my friends, has to stop. So the faithful Kevin has hidden the bathroom scale from his crazy wife.

    Here is what you can expect this month with regard to The Plan:

    1. An official weekly update every Friday (plus who knows how many mini-updates throughout the week.)
    2. At least one book review.
    3. At least one recipe review per week for a gluten-free baked good.
    4. At least one gluten-free product review per week.
    5. A decent posting about food addiction sometime this month.

    Self-care is the month’s theme, but that doesn’t mean that the other themes are totally neglected!

    • Frugality: Make a master grocery list and start a price book.
    • Simplicity: List three time and energy drains, and three ways to improve each.
    • Sustainability: Use $10 of each week’s grocery budget on stock-up foods. 
    • Life-long learning: Have Kevin help me make a duct tape dress form. 
    • Joy: Earn $100 per week from freelance writing. 
    • Forgiveness: Write work problems out in a letter that may or may not be sent to my boss. 
    • Housekeeping: Declutter living room and front porch. (see note) 
    • Career: Finish read-through on Devil You Don’t and send to publisher.
    • Spirituality: Find a UU forum. 
    • Relationships: Call Carol.

    Note on Housekeeping: I’ve decided to divide my house up like this: livingroom/porch, kitchens (we have two because we live in both sides of a duplex), bathrooms, storage room, bedrooms, storage unit. Each gets two months for decluttering. That sounds like a lot. I know. But I know myself. If I take it slow, I’m more likely to get it done. Also, I’ve decided that in that two months I’m going to do a frugal decorating job on each group of rooms. Stay tuned!

    So, on Friday’s check ups, you can expect to hear about these other goals as well.

    Yee Haw! I’m on my way…. 

    • Goal-setting 

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    Where I am now

    I have this book, The Allergy Exclusion Diet by Jill Carter and Alison Edwards. This book called out to me from the shelves at the Whole Foods in Park City last spring when I drove through on my way to a writer’s retreat. I was feeling triumphant at the moment, because for the first time EVER I was able to take a long driving trip on my own. See, normally if I’m in my car more than 20 minutes, I’m fighting sleep. Not just sleepy, but nearly comatose. The kind of sleepy that makes being awake painful.

    I had given up gluten a month or so before. If I hadn’t, I never would have been able to make a five-hour drive unless Kevin drove and I was the sad little passenger sound asleep with her cheek against the seatbelt.

    Also, my sisters names are Jill and Alison, so it just seemed that this book was meant to be mine.

    The book has a 28-day elimination diet that seems really good after about the first week. The first four days you’re allowed to eat lamb, rice, lentils, pears, mineral water, and sea salt (thank God.) Four. Days. Maybe if I liked pears or lamb, that wouldn’t sound like a prison sentence. But I don’t.

    The books says that if you aren’t having serious allergic reactions to foods, you can start with more foods than those four. I don’t have allergic reactions in the sense of swelling throat or swollen tongue (like my best friend’s daughter when she got a corner of a peanut and scared the pants off me.) And I would like to succeed. So I’m going to just do less severe elimination diet in January.

    Therefore, it’s official. January will be my self-care month.

    What will get me through is knowing that at the end I will be starting the year out feeling really, really good. I did pretty good for like three weeks after Thanksgiving, but this Christmas week I’ve been eating gluten like it doesn’t make me sick. To motivate myself, I thought I’d give a list of why exactly I need something like this. I’ll start at the top.

    • My hair is falling out. In clumps. Scary clumps that remind me of when my mom got really sick and her hair started falling out. She had guillain barre syndrome and ended up paralyzed in a hospital for a month when I was ten. Yeah. That scary.
    • I have brain fog. Brain fog feels like there is a film between my brain and the world. I don’t see things clearly. I spend a lot of time staring into space trying to get up the motivation to do anything. I also lose words. Yes, they are just gone. Not big long words either. Like the other day I was talking to Kevin and I had to say…you know, what your mother is to Ruby…because ‘grandma’ was gone. In a black hole. Again, pretty damn scary.
    • My eyebrows are falling out, too. Especially the outer corner of my left one. Weird, I know. Right now they’re actually ok–but if I don’t stop with the gluten thing it’ll happen again.
    • My skin is itchy, dry, and scaly. Gross. I know. I’m sorry.
    • My lips are chronically chapped to the point of pain. They peel, they crack in the corners, and sometimes they swell to the point of looking ridiculous.
    • I have thrush. Again Gross. I’m sorry.
    • Every joint aches. Sometimes I feel like I’m an arthritic octogenarian. I especially get severed pain in my lower back, hips, and legs. When I’m tired, the pain is nearly unbearable, and makes it difficult to sleep. I feel weak a lot of the time and can’t participate in the active things that I’d like to. For instance 20 minutes standing at the kitchen counter cooking or washing dishes is excruciating.
    • My belly hurts. All. The. Time. This is way way TMI–but I have to know where every bathroom is when I’m not at home. It’s a necessity. For years I have attributed this to IBS. Now I’ve learned that IBS is often the label they put on undiagnosed gluten intolerance. I’ve had a bad stomach as long as I can remember, since early childhood. I had ulcers when I was 8 and had to eat baby food for a whole month.
    • I have periods from hell. I know, I know. I’m SORRY. But it’s true. Since I was 14, like clockwork, my period has always been preceded by two days of the flu. The kind of flu that makes you think that being dead would be better. And then a full week of debilitating cramps and heavy bleeding. (okay, I’ll stop now.)
    • Serious gas and bloating. Okay, last one, I swear. And I think this one is self explanatory.
    • Swollen legs and hands. This is one of the first symptoms when I’m eating gluten. My legs and feet especially swell up like water balloons. It’s really not fun.
    • Exhaustion. I saved this one for last. Because it is the worst. If I’m eating gluten, as I have been the last week, I could sleep ten hours and it wouldn’t matter. I’m still so fatigued that I can barely function. I mentioned before that this fatigue makes it unsafe for me to drive more than just to and from work. This exhaustion seeps in and affects every inch of my life. It got really bad when I was pregnant with Ruby and just never went away. I’ve read since that an event that’s traumatic to your body–like pregnancy–can trigger a latent gluten intolerance.
    • I can not stop gaining weight. I’ve gained about sixty pounds in the past five years, and until I stopped eating gluten nothing I did stopped the pounds from coming on. When I’m eating gluten I crave simple carves to a eating-disorder degree. There is no such thing as a little cheat for me, because one bite of a sandwich and I want all the flour-y, sugar-y food there is. All of it. When I’m gluten-free, after a few days those cravings go away like someone  turned off the crazy switch in my head.

    I’ve been to many doctors in the past five years trying to get some answers to why I’m so tired all the time, why everything hurts, why my hair is falling out. Almost without fail the symptoms were blamed on my weight. I come from a family of fit, slender people. I am the heaviest person in my family by more than 100 pounds. My children are not overweight. My siblings aren’t. My parents aren’t. This is not genetic. This is–something else.

    And it’s not to blame for my other health concerns. It is one of them.

    So wish me luck with lamb/pear/rice for four days. I can do this. I want to feel good again. I have to.

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