Sunday, December 29, 2013

the challenge continues..

well 2o13 is about over, and perhaps from the outside, not much appears to have changed. i'm more or less the same weight, slightly less actually.. and i still have health challenges to overcome. the biggest difference has come within. a  change that is necessary to alter one's habits and lifestyle and overall health. it started with my state of mind.

before i started this blog i had it lodged in my brain that i am unhealthy, i have always been unhealthy and chances are pretty good that i always will be. at the beginning of the year i decided that that was the first thing that needed to change; my attitude about my own health. i tried a bunch of different things to improve my level of fitness like running and lifting, and made a few changes to my diet. ultimately, i still felt discouraged. i've had issues with my weight since i was diagnosed with hashimoto's when i was ten years old. it didn't matter that i lived a relatively active lifestyle.. the amount of effort that it would take to lose even two or three pounds would bring me to tears. nothing was helping.. i had to find out why.

this year along with the subtle changes in my routine, i have done a lot of research. it's hard to fix a problem when you have no idea why it exists. so where to start? with the dis-ease. why do i have such a problem? where did it come from? how do i fix it? i remember asking these questions to my doctor and the only answer i would get is because of my genes. my mother had thyroid disease, and so did her mother. really? that's all i get? so why did they have thyroid disease? what is the problem...

well, i'd be willing to take a shot in the dark to guess that our lifestyle along with the food we intake and the stresses we put ourselves under had a lot to do with it. yea so i'm genetically predisposed to having a wonky thyroid, so what do i do about it? how do i strengthen my immune system so that it can do what it needs to do to protect me? how do i get my body to heal itself like i know it can naturally? the answer i found no matter where i read or who i talked to came back to this one seemingly simple answer: eat whole foods.

damn. that is a simple answer isn't it. or is it?

i think the biggest problem isn't that we don't know what to do to be healthy, i think it's that we just don't do it. our culture, the economy that we live in and the governing system that we are a part of have a lot to do with that. here in north america, it's 'normal' to go shopping for food and pick up things that come in boxes, cartons, cans and bottles. we overlook foods that come in no other packaging but it's own skin, or they make up a small percentage [less than half] of what we buy to eat. i prefer to grow my own when i can, but not everyone has the opportunity to do so, and if so it's usually seasonal.

so the challenge continues. now that i know what's up [as if i didn't know before] i can make better decisions on what i put in my body. i may have known that nutrition is important, but now i'm further educated on what types of foods i need and what kinds of things to avoid.

wheat flour is a big one. and it's probably one of the worst foods to try and avoid, especially if you really love a warm, fresh slice of bread with real butter on top. omnom. but that blasted wheat... it feels like a wrecking ball slamming in to my guts all night after. why? well, that it could be that stuff we use to make just about everything 'foodlike' stick together, delicious, horrible, gluten. i don't remember where i read it but i remember someone saying that the wheat we eat today isn't the same as it was centuries ago when people didn't seem to be allergic. but like everything else it's been bred out and genetically tinkered with to be more resilient, and easier to process. this tinkering has also made it impossible for our bodies to properly digest, and therefore it is no longer food. i also read in various different articles that hashimoto's is a common symptom of gluten sensitivity. go figure, the disease itself is a symptom.

anyhoo.. i could ramble on for hours about all of the things that we [or i specifically] shouldn't eat, but the list of what i should eat would likely be much shorter. anything without a list of ingredients seems to be a good start.

eating a truly healthy diet is probably the biggest challenge i have ever set for myself. i've beaten addiction to drugs, i got myself off the streets, and recently i even quit smoking [finally!]. if i can do all that, then i must have the strength and willpower it will take to perform an all out lifestyle transformation [again!]. but its hard for one to change their whole lives at once and expect to succeed, which is why i started with baby steps, building one healthy habit at a time as i go along.

i started with the most important meal of the day; breakfast. and sadly enough, it's usually the meal that people substitute with nothing but a coffee, or sugary highly processed breakfast cereal, or some other concoction that actually isn't food. i was guilty of this.. i'd opt for a large tea with sugar, and something along the line of waffles or a muffin. sugar, caffeine, gluten. oh ya. i have for the most part switched out my horrible breakfast choices with things like fruit smoothies with chia, or homemade oat-only pancakes topped with berries [no syrup].

now i'm working on lunch. instead of grabbing something from the cafeteria [a horrible habit i picked up working in retail] i do my best to make sure i pack leftovers from the dinner before. which means that i must make enough dinner to save leftovers, and encourages me to make a more healthy meal choice. i also eat light at dinner time, which means i have more for earlier in the next day. i have managed to almost completely eliminate pasta. if i feel the need for a noodle of sorts i'll try pasta made from other grains, but mostly i've come to enjoy a variety of different kinds of rice. also an easy way to cram a bunch of vegetables into a delicious meal is to make homemade soup from fresh ingredients. i hadn't been doing this as often as i would have liked, so this is something i am trying to make a routine out of; preparing lots of fresh healthy food ahead of time so i don't opt for fast snacks.

something else that i find helps to keep me satisfied through the day is fresh juice from the juicer. juicing is a lot of work but with proper preparations [and making large batches] juicing can be made into a much simpler task. i make sure i set myself up first, cutting everything i need and lining the juicer collection bin with a plastic bag so it's easier to clean. i run everything through, have empty mason jars ready, and portion a few days worth to be stored in the fridge. i clean each piece of the juicer as i take it apart, and store it so that it's easy to access for next time. preparing a few days worth at once helps save time and keeps me motivated to maintain the flow of goodness into my digestive system.

so far, so good. though i hadn't lost much weight through the year i am just starting to see it now. it took me this long to build up some good habits, and change my attitude to care more about my body, and now i can really apply all that i've learned. a lot of things like the gluten sensitivity i found through trial and error, elimination diets and such. there isn't one particular health regime that works for every person because of course we're all unique, so it has really taken some deep self-observation to find out what was really bothering me both physically and psychologically. stress and negative thoughts had just as much of a hold on me as any other addiction and it's taken a lot of effort to turn these things around. my guts feel better, my joints don't hurt as much, and i'm getting my energy back. thyroid issues tend to rob you of all energy and leave your mind and body sluggish. i'll continue to do all that i can to support my body so that it can heal itself.

i think i'm about done rambling for today, i'm not sure how many people actually read this thing, but it's more for me anyway. maybe someday my journey will help motivate someone else to find their healthy self within.