Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Mind, BODY, and soul

If you have been following me for awhile, you may have noticed that I have not been as frequent with my posting....especially on my Facebook page www.FB.com/journeymelissablair.  I am really trying to focus on ME.  Sometimes, you just have to shut out the rest of the world and focus on healing your body and your mind.  This past year has taken a toll on me, not only physically, but mentally and emotionally.  In my line of work, I am always positive, and encouraging to others.  I KNOW that half the battle of reaching your goals is all in your mindset.  I have been struggling with my mindset, and therefore, I struggle to find the motivation to help others find their mindset.   Recently, social media in general has me burnt out.  I think a lot of it has to do with this election year.  I am not going to get into politics on here, but seriously, reading other's posts (especially when you disagree with their point of view) can be mentally exhausting.  I have used that 'Hide' button in my Facebook news feed, much more than I care to count.  While I am totally on board with everyone having their own opinion, and being able to express it, I am just not equipped right now to handle the negativity that it is bringing to my life.  So, I have been staying off social media.

What AM I doing?

I have been focusing on detoxing my liver and re-balancing my hormones.  I have been doing A LOT of reading on how food affects our bodies.  We don't often think about it, but there are MANY chemicals that are used in and around our foods, and in our environment, and those things can often affect us negatively, and we don't even realize it.  I'll be honest, I have never really completely bought into the whole all organic, and non GMO eating.  I LOVE the idea that going organic and GMO free because it really is so much healthier.  On the other hand, I have a family of 6, and it can be EXTREMELY costly to eat all organic and non GMO.  This year, I have made an effort to try and purchase more organic fruits and veggies, and cut out chemicals in our foods and other places in our house (cleaners, lotions, etc.).  It is a slow process.  However, after all of the reading I have been doing, I really think it is necessary to move toward better choices for my family.  

I am currently studying how the liver functions in the body.  One thing that is sticking out to me is that with all of the added chemicals in our food (even the pesticides used during the growing of fresh produce), are not digestible by our body.  The liver serves as filter for the whole body.  It filters out all of the toxins.  With all of the chemicals we ingest in our foods, put on our bodies (make-up, lotion, soap, shampoo), or breathe in from our environment, the liver is working overtime.  I am 38 years old.  My liver has been trying to process all of these hidden chemicals for so long that it is getting "stuck".  Just like when you need a vacation to break away from reality, and relax and regroup, your liver needs a break from all those chemicals.  Did you know that a "dirty" liver can be a huge reason that a person is not able to lose weight?  Since the body can't filter out the toxins properly, those toxins make their way into the rest of the digestive system, and into the bloodstream, and "pollute" the rest of your body...which affects the ability for your other organs to function as efficiently.   Think of it like taking care of your car.  Imagine your body is like a Rolls Royce.  You want to keep this VERY expensive, luxury car running smoothly, and in tip top condition.  You are going to make sure you buy premium gasoline, get the oil changed regularly, and tune ups on time.   You are also going to make sure you drive it regularly, because that will keep all the parts running smoothly.  Many of us don't have a Rolls Royce, but we still make sure our car gets a regular tune up, an oil changes, we will probably use regular gasoline, and we drive it regularly.   Imagine premium vs. regular gasoline is like organic vs. non-organic food.  Regular oil changes are like getting in the right amounts of nutrients.  Driving your car is like getting regular exercise.  Your car will still run with regular gasoline, less frequent oil changes, and even when you don't drive it often.  You might have a bit of trouble getting the engine to start, and it might sound rough when it drives, but it will still get you from point A to point B.  However, your car is going to run MUCH better, if you get the higher quality gasoline, oil changes at exactly 3 months or 3000 miles, and continue driving it on a daily basis.  Your body works the same way.  If you fuel it with premium fuel, and take really good care of it, you are going to FEEL the best, and your body will last longer.  Now, even if you can't manage (or afford) to eat the "premium" fuel for your body all the time, try to do it for few weeks, every once in awhile.  This will give your liver a "vacation", so that it can get back to better function, which will lead to better function throughout your body.

I am a firm believer in natural healing.  Don't get me wrong, I think modern medicine is fantastic!  However, I don't think it is always the answer.  I think healing starts from within the body...not from a pill or by treating symptoms.  While I am the first person to pop an Ibuprofen at the sign of a sinus headache, I also believe that there are things I can do to prevent that headache from occurring to begin with. I use a neti pot on a regular basis.  I avoid dairy (which can lead to more nasal congestion, causing more pressure).  If I had more patience, there are probably other ways that I could get rid of a sinus headache after it hits, but sinus headaches are my weakness.  I can't function when my head throbs.   I take my allergy meds regularly, during allergy season.  I know, I said I prefer natural methods to combating illness, but my seasonal allergies are really bad.  I used to have to take allergy meds year round.  Now I drink apple cider vinegar regularly and I use LOCAL, raw honey (local because it contains local pollen, which cause my allergies) to combat my allergies in the "off season", but I still need the modern medicine during my peak season. I think there is a fine line between finding things that work with in harmony with the body to make it function better, and adding in additional chemicals that will alter the natural function of your body in order to lessen symptoms.  Each individual is different.  I always try the natural/alternative methods FIRST - unless is is something serious.  You can't stop a heart attack on your own.  Taking an aspirin might slow the process, but you will still need to get yourself to a hospital ASAP to clear the blockages that caused the attack to begin with.  Personally, I don't like to let things get that far.  I want to PREVENT illness in my body.  That is why dealing with my health issues this past year has been so frustrating.  I could go to the doctor to get meds that will help me feel better for a time, but in this case, it is just treating symptoms.  It doesn't solve the issues.  I don't want that.  I want to get to the root of the problem, which will cause all those symptoms to go away.  That is my struggle with modern medicine.  It is hard to find doctors that will help you dig deep enough to find the root of a medical problem.  I think many medical professionals are not educated enough in natural healing.  I don't think they are misguided, they just are not aware that drugs and excessive testing are not always the answer.

So here's where I am.  I have a hormone imbalance that was caused by the use of years of hormone birth control.  That hormone imbalance is affecting my EBV levels, my thyroid function, my ability for my digestive system to properly absorb nutrients, and my mind to stay in a regular brain fog.  It is causing me to feel fatigued, un-motivated, and to have mood swings.  I don't want to mask the symptoms, I want to FIX the problem.   My body needs a serious detox.  I am starting with a liver detox.  I am focusing on whole food nutrition, that is GMO free.  I am slowly getting myself into this process, because I want to be able to stick with it for longer.  I am not doing any heavy workouts.  I am walking regularly, doing PiYo, and incorporating some simple stretches (designed to specifically bring qi to the liver and help it improve it's function).  I am also learning about the benefits of bone broth and trying to add that into my daily routine.

I'll be honest, it is HARD trying to embrace such a strict eating plan.  Mentally, I am tired of forcing myself to stay positive and try new ideas.  I find it harder to say no to my favorite foods.  My emotions are out of whack because of my hormones.  My confidence is not as prominent.  I find myself questioning my ability to coach others, since I can't seem to "coach" myself.  I struggle to balance my world.  Homeschooling AND coaching used to be easy for me to fit into my daily routine. Now I struggle with BOTH.   I am not doing all of this alone. My husband has also been a huge support in all of this.  Although he doesn't quite understand the complexity of the entire situation (he doesn't research like I do), he knows that I need his support and patience to stay focused and on a path to healing.  Even my kids have been supportive.  They don't understand much of what is going on, but they know that I need to take some time for myself, so that I can improve and be a better mom to them.  I am so thankful for my own coach, Jen.  She has been incredibly encouraging and patient with me.  I have shared my story with her, and she understands that I need time to work all of this through in my own head.  Yet, she still takes the time to reach out to me and check in.

I AM working through this.  If you too feel like you need to make a change, please don't be afraid to read out to me and share your struggles and ask for advice.  You don't have to fight your battle alone.  Honestly, helping others is great therapy (and validation) for me and my coaching.  It encourages me to continue on my own journey, and to know that I AM making a difference.  

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Taking a Step Back

There are times in your life where you are so anxious to get started and accomplish something that you can't imagine slowing down for any reason.  Over the past few weeks, I have felt that way.  After the Mirena removal, I finally felt like I might actually start making some progress with my fitness again.  I jumped right into T25 Gamma with my husband.  In the back of my mind, I thought I might start seeing results right away.  That WAS my March plan.  The truth is that my body was on a downward spiral for so long, I think it will take awhile to start seeing some real progress.  I'm still fighting to get my energy back.  On the good side, the scale is holding steady.  I will take it...especially after the unwanted steady increase.  On the bad side, last week, I started having issues catching my breath.  Before you get all concerned that something is terribly wrong, I typically have issues with seasonal asthma in the spring and early summer.  Here in Ohio, we have has some unseasonably warm weather lately, and that brought spring on a little earlier...and it didn't give me a chance to stay in front of the allergy game.   Now that I have a few solid weeks of allergy medicine in my system, the symptoms are subsiding, and the breathing issues are lessening significantly.  Those doctors weren't kidding when they said you should start taking your meds a month before allergens are expected 😉.  Anyway, with this setback, I was struggling to catch my breath during T25 Gamma.  I made the decision to switch over to something much less intense, and started doing PiYo.

I'll be honest, I was really nervous about starting PiYo again.  I did the full program when it first came out in the summer of 2014.  That was also the same time all of health issues started to hit.  I do not think the two are related, but somehow my subconscious planted the idea that PiYo was not going to be effective for me.  My mindset is totally different right now.  I am in a place where I am just striving to FEEL BETTER.  As much as I would like to lose back all of the weight I gained (because I really would), right now I am just trying to focus on doing things that help me get healthy.  PiYo, is what my body needs right now.  I NEED the stretching, flexibility, and low intensity.  I am going to let you in on a little secret too...I am not following the program every day either.  My energy levels have been fluctuating, so if I feel like my body is telling me that today is not a good day for PiYo, then I do not do PiYo.  One thing I have been VERY focused on, is wearing my fitbit, and making sure that I get in my 10k steps a day.  I have noticed over the past year that I have become more sedentary.  I recently realized that after we finished all of the home improvement projects and put our house up for sale last year, that haven't really had anything to "do".  I have not been up and moving around as much.  I have been wearing my fitbit this whole time, and in the past 6 months, I was averaging about 3k steps a day.  Even with my workout regimen, that is just NOT  enough movement throughout the day.  Especially when a good chunk of my day is spent sitting during our home school hours.   I made the decision that I NEED to make an effort to be on my feet more.  I have been trying to get into a house cleaning routine.  That has been a challenge because now that my kids are a little older, they are just less messy.  Nevertheless, I am making sure I still get daily dusting, vacuuming and sweeping done.  In addition, I have been taking walks.  I am not power walking (which I LOVE, and used to do daily ALL THE TIME), but I am just trying to get in the steps.  My 9 year old has been walking with me, and it has been great to spend the one on one time with him.

My current goals are to get my body back in balance, get to a point where my energy is consistent again, and focus on healing my body through food and stretching.  I have a whole post in mind for the eating plan that I am starting to follow.  Stay tuned for more on that!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Thank you!

I have a bigger post coming in the next week with my updates on my workout and progress.  In the meantime, I just wanted to thank all of you that sent me personal messages in response to my last post.  I truly appreciate your willingness to share your stories and offer suggestions on things that worked for you.  I have officially hit the Mirena crash (body's adjustment to the Mirena's hormone withdraw) and am feeling even more crappy.  Your messages and stories continue to remind me to be patient and they keep me inspired.  I am hopeful that after time, I will get my body back.  Thank you!! ❤️❤️❤️

Monday, March 7, 2016

Raw and Real - My recent struggle with my weight

Let me start off by apologizing for my lack of posting recently.  I truly think about posting way more often than I actually do it.  Recently, I've been doing a lot of "thinking" and "organizing" in my own head.  As I am sure you know, when your mind is filled with that sort of activity, it is really hard to share with others what is going on.  I suppose the best term to describe my current situation is soul searching.  I would really love to be typing up posts about my workout programs, and my eating plan, and how they are working great for me.  The truth is that they are not.  Don't get me wrong, I HAVE seen some great results from my 8 weeks of Hammer and Chisel...I know, you are expecting some before and after pics, and I will get to that.  The thing is, my results are not at all physical in nature.  That is frustrating to me.  I didn't lose ANY weight from the beginning to the end of the program.  Realistically, I did not expect to lose much either.  After all, it is a muscle building/sculpting program, and muscle is much more dense than fat, which meant that if I am increasing my muscle mass, my weight should increase too.  Even, if my inches decrease.  Which they did....a little.  After the first 4 weeks of Hammer and Chisel, I lost 4.5 inches off my waist and hips.  I was feeling pretty awesome, and was ready to see what month 2 would bring.  I continued to follow the workout schedule, and modified my eating to better fit my needs.  By the end of the month that 4.5 loss shrunk down to a total of only 2 inches lost.  REALLY?  All that hard work...for nothing?  I know that is what most people would think.  Yes, those thoughts did cross my mind.  However, I REALLY did see some fantastic progress.  Just not stuff that will show up in a before and after pic.  Some personal victories for me as a result of the Hammer and Chisel program:

  • I challenged myself with my weights.  Going from 5-8 pounds on most upper body exercises before Hammer and Chisel, to 15-18 pounds.   For the lower body, I went from 12-15 pounds to 20-30.         

  • I am able to do push-ups. I know that sounds silly, since I do them all the time.  The truth is that I almost always do push-ups on my knees, maybe cranking out one or two on my toes.  Even then, I was only able to do about 10 push-ups before needing a break.  Now, I can do about 10 on my toes before having to drop to my knees, AND I can keep going.  I still struggle with doing more than 20, but that is still a huge accomplishment for me.  

I know these are not huge victories to most of you.  I would much rather have seen a lot more progress on the scale or with the tape measure.  But, the one thing I have learned over my journey is to focus on where you found success, not where you had failure.  After all, failure is just success in progress.

That brings me to what has been weighing my brain down over the past month.  Part of the reason that I am not seeing the results I want, really doesn't have ANYTHING to do with whether or not I am following the program, or sticking with my eating plan.  The problem is that the same health issues that were plaguing me this time last year started to creep up again.  This whole situations is just getting completely ridiculous.  I am seriously struggling with my weight.  It doesn't matter if I am sticking with a plan or not, I am slowly seeing the scale go up.  Not that the number on the scale is that big of a deal, but when it creeps up 30 pounds in several months time regardless of diet or activity level, something HAS to be wrong.  Before you say anything, I am still pushing for thyroid tests.  Hypothyroidism runs in my family, and I am very much aware that I am likely to struggle with it.  However all of my tests keep coming back normal.

What do I do now?  I start researching.  I am one of those people that will put my symptoms in on WebMD and then look up every possible condition to see what might be ailing me.  I am not trying to self diagnose (well, maybe a little), but I like to be armed with information.  What have I been experiencing?  Fatigue, brain fog, shifts between low and high energy, steady weight gain, bloating, gas, digestive issues, sinus congestion, insomnia and trouble sleeping, low sex drive, appetite shifts (hardly hungry for days, then struggling not to eat everything on the planet), increased backache with my periods, that may or may not go away for weeks on end, and a general sense of just not feeling well.  With a list that long, there are a number of things that could be behind this.  I found a lot of "conditions" that could contribute to some of the symptoms, but when it came to the weight gain part, the symptom was often weight loss, not gain.  Kind of a relief, because all of the really bad stuff was usually accompanied with unintentional or rapid weight loss.  I kept coming back to IBS and PCOS and the 2 things that seemed to be a hit for more symptoms than not.  I have struggled with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), that was attributed to gallstones.  After I had my gallbladder removed, those symptoms went away pretty quickly.  I was a little concerned about the PCOS (
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) because many women that suffer from PCOS have problems losing weight.  Still, I wasn't convinced this was in fact the issue.   I couldn't figure out why all of a sudden, in my late 30's would this start to be a problem?  The more I read and researched the more I considered that I likely was suffering from some sort of hormone imbalance.  It just seemed to fit.  Additionally, Epstein Barr Virus, which I have, can often lead to issues with hormone function.  After a lot of reading and searching for answers, I FINALLY came across an article about birth control that really got me thinking.  

FYI – this might be more information than you really want to know, but…

Almost 5 years ago, in 2011, I opted to get the Mirena IUD birth control.  My youngest son was about 18 months old.  It seemed like a good choice for a busy mom of 4, with no intention of having more kids.  No hassle, low hormone, birth control.  I was also looking for something to help with crazy mood swings and really heavy periods.  For the first few years, it was FANTASTIC.   This was about the same time I started my fitness journey, so I was feeling great, eating better,   and exercising regularly.  My periods were lighter and more regular.  And, I was losing weight.  I felt it was slow weight loss, but still moving in the right direction.  Then about halfway through 2014, things started to slow down.  It was around the same time I started doing the Piyo workout program (which I LOVED).  I thought perhaps I just needed a little more cardio in my life.  I kept working hard and focusing on my eating habits, but I stopped making progress.  Then in December of 2014, I gained 10 pounds in 2 weeks.  At the beginning of 2015, I started this blog.  I'm not going to repeat all of my posts from last year (you can go back and read about my journey, if you want more detail), but I will tell you that my weight has been making steady progress in the wrong direction ever since. Then to add to the issues, over the past 9 months, my periods became irregular.  I would get all the PMS symptoms each month, but only get a period every other month.  I think by the time December roller around this year, I decided that I was done with the Mirena.  I was going to have it removed at the end of my 5 years (coming up in May), and switch to something else.   However, in mid January, I started really struggling with all of my above symptoms. After stumbling across this article, I really started taking a good look at the Mirena, and noticed that I had almost every symptom on the "uncommon" side effects list.  That was it.  I set up an appoint to have it removed.  So that brings us to now.  The Mirena is gone, and I am trying out some other birth control options.  I am really leaning toward hormone free birth control because I want the control back over my body.   

So that is why I haven't been posting much lately.  It isn't that I didn't want to share my progress and my struggles.  It is because I am going through a really difficult and personal time with my health journey, and I didn't quite know how to share it.  I do want you to know that we all have struggles, and perhaps that sharing mine might help you to figure out what may be causing yours.  If you have gone through something similar, I would love to hear your story :).

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Really Quick UPDATE

If you follow my blog, you know I was supposed to finish up the Hammer and Chisel program over the weekend.  Well, as you all know, sometimes life just happens, and things get postponed.  Jeff and I have been doing the program together.  After travelling and trying to sleep on an airplane, last week, Jeff had a stiff neck/shoulders for a few days.  We decided it would be best to hold off and avoid the risk of stiffness leading to injury.  In addition,  I have been trying to tackle some more health issues that have risen up over the past few months (this autoimmune stuff sucks).  I think I may have stumbled upon the root of many of my more recent issues and took a step to correct the issue.  It will be awhile before I know if I will see some relief from my symptoms, but I promise to post about it, when I know more.  Stay tuned...  

We are ALMOST finished, and will be posting some before/after pics next week.