About Me

My photo
Oregon, United States
Wife, mother, homemaker, teacher and aspiring writer. I love learning about health and sharing that information with others. But I am not a health expert, so please take any advice given on this blog at your own risk

Saturday, October 29, 2011

End of Week 7: Reclaiming My Health!

My weight stayed almost the same, although when I weighed myself in the middle of the week, I was two pounds lighter. My husband gained one and a half pounds. He’s feeling a bit puffed up with fluid retention which he tends to get after travel. He just got back from a week-long business trip involving numerous flights. In one of the places he visited, he had a difficult time following a plant-based diet. Although he ordered carefully at restaurants, he thinks he ate some meals that had butter and cheese in them. I can’t believe these ingredients were not disclosed on the menu.

At the doctor’s office this week, it felt great to be reclaiming my health. When the medical assistant updated the list of medicines I'm on, I was so pleased to inform her that I’m no longer taking most of them, at least the supplements. And when I filled out that dreaded symptoms sheet that I have to fill each time, I had few symptoms to report (and those were probably medication related). When the nurse checked my blood pressure, it was a little lower than last month. I have a very low BP to begin with and am just concerned that it doesn't go down too much. But how much is too low? As for my thyroid, it was elevated as I suspected. My doctor explained that it’s probably because I’m eating more cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and kale). This is good news because it means my body has started producing more of its own hormone! Then I told my doctor about my goal of coming off all medications. She said I could start by lowering my thyroid dose to a quarter. She also said it would be okay to discontinue another hormone that wasn’t helping me anyway. I was ecstatic! I'll make sure I monitor any changes carefully and have my thyroid re-checked in five weeks.

Well it’s been four days since cutting back on these meds and I’m already finding that my body aches have increased, my hair is shedding a little and I still can’t sleep. Hopefully these symptoms will subside as the excess hormones leave my body. Other than that, I’m feeling really great! I’m also making further changes to how I eat.

A friend recommended that we watch the documentary Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead because it shows a diet with similar health benefits to ours. So we watched this movie on Netflix and found it truly inspiring. It’s about an Australian man who does a road trip across America, surviving on nothing but fresh fruit and vegetable juice for 60 days. He starts off sick and morbidly obese, but by the end of the film we see his amazing transformation. Along the way, he talks to many interesting characters and draws a following of people who are inspired to do the same.

We too were inspired, not to do a 60 day juice fast, but to incorporate freshly squeezed juice into our own regimen. First my husband did some extensive research and benchmarked different juicers. It was surprising how many types there are: masticating, centrifugal and triturating (twin gear). After much deliberation, we finally bought a vertical masticating type that can effectively handle leafy greens as well.

We’re off to Costco now to stock up on fruits and veggies to juice. And while we're there, I won’t be buying any Halloween candy as I usually do at this time of year. Now that my kids are at college and I’m on this diet, I will no longer be taking part in the candy giving tradition of Halloween. Although my cravings have subsided, I still don’t trust myself around leftover chocolate!

COMMENTS   I would love to get comments from my blog readers, but a number of you are having difficulty registering. So I have changed the settings to let people comment without having to register. Here are instructions on how to do so:

  1. Below the blog post you just read will be a gray bar with the word "comments' written on it in small letters (on mine it is written in green). If you click on that, it will open a "post a comment" box.
  2. Write your comment in that box. 
  3. Below that box it should say "comment as". Click on the drop down menu next to that to select whether you want to comment using an existing account like Google or if you want your name or  web address "name/url" to appear next to your comment. Or you can choose not be be identified at all by clicking on "anonymous".
  4. Finally, click on where it says "post comment" just below.
  5. You should see your comment online now! Thanks!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

End of Week 6: Having a Bad Week!

My husband was away again for part of the week. But he diligently kept to a plant-based diet and lost another half a pound, as did I.

On Tuesday we woke up to a power outage because of a storm. Amazing how much we depend on power; I kept forgetting I didn’t have any! First I tried to put my kettle on to make coffee and realized I couldn’t. Then I tried to use my blender to liquidize some ingredients I was using for a dahl and couldn’t.  Neither could I use my slow cooker to make it in! It’s not till we lose something that we really appreciate it.

Last Saturday we were invited to two parties in one night, and decided to go to both! The first one was a karaoke party at which there would be pizza. So we had dinner at Chipotle before getting there. I had a vegetarian bowl with black beans, lettuce, guacamole, brown rice, onions, peppers, hot sauce, and corn. My husband had the same, only in a burrito. The next party was a farewell for a friend who was leaving the country.  For that one, everyone was asked to bring a favorite snack to share. This suited our diet really well and we took hummus and pita bread. I was surprised at how full we still were because we hardly touched the snacks. We had a really late night and when we got home, I couldn’t sleep.

In the morning I woke up with pains in my joints as I get sometimes. Then I remembered that I ate peppers and tomatoes, inflammatory foods that I react to.  I was too tired and ill to cook that day, so I got my husband to make us a salad for dinner. The rest of the week, I continued to feel tired and to have trouble sleeping. When I tried to sleep, I was hyped up, as though I had consumed too much caffeine (which I hadn't). I'm also getting out of breath after my 20 minute walks. I’ve had these symptoms before, when my thyroid dose was too high. I wonder if this diet is helping my body produce more of its own hormones. At my last check-up, my thyroid levels were a little raised but my doctor made no changes to the prescription. I’m waiting for my current test results to find out what's going on. I’ll have to wait till next week because my doctor is out of town again. In the meantime, with her consent, I'm halving my thyroid dose because I can’t function like this.

Another change I experienced this week (and it might also be related to the thyroid) is that my cravings  have returned. I can’t understand it because I was doing so well at controlling them on this diet.  One day when I was craving cheese and knew I would be eating alone, I bought myself a soy cheese pizza (although I'm intolerant to soy). I planned on eating just half, but it was so yummy that I ate the whole lot!  I was surprised to find that I was still feeling hungry afterwards. The following day after dinner, I had a really strong craving for something sweet. Then I remembered the chocolates I found in the other room a few weeks ago, that my daughter had stashed away since Christmas. I should have just thrown them away! Suddenly, these year old, probably stale candies looked so appealing. But after eating them, I felt guilty and disgusted with myself. They didn’t even taste nice!

 I didn’t let that these setbacks affect me for too long. The following day at our health food store, I made better choices. I resisted the urge to buy vegan chocolates and other sugary snacks. Instead I bought some fresh fruit. However, I did buy some brown rice crackers and some organic, oil free, microwave popcorn. I know these are still processed foods, but it’s better than some snacks I can think of.

Well nobody’s perfect and we're going to slip up from time to time. We just have to do the best we can.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

End of Week 5: Coming off Supplements and Meds?

I have given up taking our BP measurements on our home kit. It’s so frustrating because we have to keep taking readings until we get a consistent result. Instead, we’re going to get it checked by our doctor and look at changes over a longer period of time. As for our weight, we each lost about half a pound. My husband still hasn’t noticed any physical changes in himself as a result of the weight loss, although he’s noticing changes in me.

This week I only managed to go for a walk three out of the seven days. Every time I planned on going, it was pouring with rain. I usually walk with my dog Jasper, but he developed a limp after walking with us last Sunday. The vet thinks my dog could be developing arthritis. Jasper is finally better, although the weather isn’t. Well, I don’t want to keep making excuses for why I’m not exercising, so I’m going to start using the gym on really rainy days (which will be most days for the next several months!)

Other than returning to the gym, I have another goal I want to work on. I want to come off my prescription medications. I was inspired by that guy on the Forks Over Knives movie who was able to stop all his medications after starting this diet. I want to start with my thyroid medication.  I just had my thyroid  re-checked and when I get the result, I want to ask my doctor how to come off it. This diet has done more for my energy than any medication or supplement has ever done. But I don’t know if it is even possible to come off thyroid hormone. I've heard that our bodies stop producing our own thyroid after we start supplementing it. I would love to hear from anyone who has tried to come off their thyroid hormone.

I have already cut back on the supplements I was previously taking. After reading Dr. Campbell’s advice in The China Study, I am confident that I can get the nutrients my body needs from a whole foods, plant-based diet. As I mentioned before, the only nutrients that Dr. Campbell says we may have to supplement are B12 and vitamin D. These should be taken in the daily recommended doses and not in the mega doses that we tend to take.

According to the findings of a new study released on the news this week, supplements like iron, copper, folic acid and zinc can cause early death in some women. Here is a link to that news report. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/44851929#44851929.

This week, I finally returned to teaching, at least as a tutor! It was great to be doing again what I do best, which is teaching students how to read and write. Right now, I’m working with adults with literacy problems, which is really rewarding. I love it! It's thanks to this diet that I have all this extra energy to be able to do this.

This diet is definitely improving my energy, mood, helping me lose weight and enabling me to be more productive!!!

Comments I would love to get some comments from my blog readers, but a number of you are having difficulty registering. So now I am letting people comment without having to register. Here are step by step instructions on how to do so:

  1. Below the blog post you just read will be a gray bar with the word "comments' written on it in small letters (on mine it is written in green). If you click on that, it will open a "post a comment" box.
  2. Write your comment in that box. 
  3. Below that box it should say "comment as". Click on the drop down menu next to that to select whether you want to comment using an existing account like Google or if you want your name or  web address "name/url" to appear next to your comment. Or you can choose not be be identified at all by clicking on "anonymous".
  4. Finally, click on where it says "post comment" just below.
  5. You should see your comment online now! Thanks!

    Saturday, October 8, 2011

    End of Week 4: Change Your Diet Before You Get Sick

    Weight  This week, my husband lost just over half a pound. I also lost just over half a pound. In four weeks, he's lost over four pounds. and I've lost over five pounds. I still can’t believe how we’re losing weight without even trying! My husband hasn’t noticed any physical changes in himself as a result of this weight loss, but I'm noticing the fat disappearing off me. I have a waist and cheekbones again! 

    Blood Pressure  My husband’s BP went up this week, the top number by seven and the bottom number by seven.  As for me, my top number went up by three and the bottom number went down by five. This is really weird! We don’t know how dependable these readings are because out BP monitor has been erratic and we're having to take a number of readings until we get a consistent result. On Monday, my husband has a doctor’s appointment and he'll  get a more accurate reading.

    I've noticed a bit of a change from last week. I’m feeling quite hungry in the evening after dinner, I’m also waking up later than usual and having a few aches and pains. Is it because of the change in weather to cold temperatures and dreary, persistent rain? It wouldn’t surprise me because the long, dark, Portland winters really affect my health.

    On a more positive note, when we put our bin outside on garbage day, we noticed how little garbage we're accumulating because we're not consuming any processed foods. It felt good to be helping the environment whilst also helping our health. Later, when I went grocery shopping, it also felt great to see all those fresh vegetables, fruits, whole foods, and legumes in my cart. It is so much better than feeling guilty or bad about putting items in there that we know we shouldn’t be eating.

    I  bought some flaxseeds this week, to add to our cereal. This is to ensure that we get enough Omega 3 Fatty Acids. We’ve also been using a little avocado instead of oil for salad dressings and eating a few olives for healthy fat. When it comes to fats, the Forks Over Knives: Plant-Based Way to Health book advises us to eat coconut in moderation. So I’m thinking of switching from coconut milk to almond milk.

    This week, we’ve been eating a lot of coconut as well as rice and potatoes because I’ve been trying some new Indian recipes. Some of these recipes are from a wonderful website I discovered called Show Me The Curry (see my website links). It has easy to use video recipes for Indian cooking, not all vegan though. The aromas in my kitchen were heavenly; fresh curry leaves, mustard seeds and fresh mint! It heightened the senses and brought about a whole new appreciation for food.

    Many of these recipes could only be made with white rice, although this diet requires us to eat whole grains like brown rice. I plan on eating less white rice in future. As for the potatoes, I think they cause an inflammatory reaction in me and so I need to cut back on those too. Potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants (aubergines), peppers, and mushrooms are all “Nightshade” vegetables and are known to cause inflammation in some people. It’s a shame because these vegetables also have many health benefits.

    A few days ago, when I phoned my friend in England to check up on her because she has breast cancer, she mentioned these inflammatory foods.  She told me about a book she’s reading called Anti-Cancer: A New Way of Life by Dr David Servan-Shreiber. He had a brain tumor himself and devised a diet to try to combat it. She informed me that his anti- cancer diet avoids any kind of sugar and allows only natural sweeteners such as agave syrup. It requires patients to drink lots of green tea, eat whole grains, fruits and vegetables, but to avoid potatoes, other inflammatory foods and dairy products. It is similar to Dr Campbell’s diet, only that it allows the consumption of white meat. As a result of reading this, my friend is planning on changing her lifestyle, including her diet.

    It’s sad that we usually don’t make changes to our diet until we get sick.

    Saturday, October 1, 2011

    End of Week 3: Less Hunger, Less Cravings, Less Weight!

    Melon and lettuce have been in the news this week for listeria outbreak. I have a melon in the fridge right now and don’t know if it’s safe to eat. There’s no label to show where it’s from, so I think I’ll skip it and eat an apple instead!

    This week my blood pressure went down substantially; the top number decreased by 11 and the bottom number went down by two.  My husband’s blood pressure also went down; the top number decreased by three and the bottom number went down by seven. He also lost half a pound in weight and I lost three quarters of a pound. My husband did extremely well, considering he was away on business again for the entire week.

    One undesirable change has been that my hair is getting dry and lifeless. Is it because I've reduced the oils in my diet?  I’ll have to make sure I'm eating enough plant-based fats, such as avocados and olives. Strangely enough, my skin feels softer, especially on my face. I asked my husband if he's experienced any changes and he thinks his fingernails are looking more pink. I noticed the same thing about my nails a few weeks ago! 

    Another wonderful benefit of this diet is that my appetite has decreased! Usually I’m hungry all the time and crave foods like chocolate and cheese.  Although I’m eating a small piece of chocolate each day, I don’t have that out of control feeling around it. It's amazing that I still have that chocolate bar. As my family well knows, I usually devour chocolate the minute I see it and they have to hide all their candy from me!

    The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition by Julianna Heverexplains why people feel less hungry, have less cravings and lose weight easily on a plant-based diet.  A lot of this is to do with eating more fibre, which is bulky and keeps our bowels moving as they should. I've gained a wealth of information about plant-based nutrition from this book and will be using it to guide me throughout this dietary change. 

    Wherever I go, I find myself promoting a plant-based diet.  I did this a few days ago, when I went out for lunch with a friend. We went to PF Chang's, where I ordered Singapore rice noodles with vegetables and my friend ordered a chicken dish. When she inquired into my diet, I told her how it can reverse or prevent diseases such as heart disease. It turns out her husband just had a heart attack this week! She appreciated the information I shared and told me she would buy a copy of The China Study as soon as she left the restaurant. By the time our food arrived, she wished she’d ordered a vegan meal! 

    Lately, I’m having that effect on people who dine with me!