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Health Update – June 2011

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I normally give my weekly health updates in my weekly menu posts. But this week it seemed like there was just too much to share. So I’m doing a separate post on updates. I wasn’t even sure what to call this post because it has a lot to it. So I’m just calling it a health update. Be prepared. It’s long πŸ˜›

I’ll start with GAPS updates. I’m doing well with sticking to full GAPS. I really think having broth/soup every morning is helping. Now I just need to add it in more often (and I’ll be on GAPS intro before I know it :P). I do intend to wait until the fall at least to do intro. I don’t want to have to worry about it when we travel, go on vacation, have fresh (raw) summer produce, etc. I am now taking a full dose probiotic every day. And I’m up to 2 Betaine HCI capsules each day. I’m really hoping that will help with digestion. I can say that even after just one week I think I have less gas and bloating. It doesn’t feel like the food is just sitting like a brick, rotting in my gut. I am eating sauerkraut before dinner every day, and chewing much more thoroughly. One thing I would like to do is bump up my intake of cod liver oil. I currently take 2 capsules a day. I know that it really isn’t that much. Maybe I can be brave and start taking some of the gel (like Rebecca does) in addition to what I now take. A recent post on Cheeseslave said you should be taking 24 capsules a day when nursing! That would get WAY too expensive. So we’ll see if I can start using the gel in addition to what I currently take. Overall I am so excited to be where I am and that I found out about GAPS/started down this path. I have already experienced incredible amounts of healing, and I haven’t even done the full thing yet. And it seems like day by day, step by step God is leading me down this path. And that each day there is another piece of the puzzle that fits. Like learning about stomach acid and how much that impacts digestion (and why things were so bad for me for years). One step closer to healing and truly living. For the first time I’m really learning what works for me and what doesn’t. What my body can and can’t handle at this point. I’ve recently learned that I still have to go light when it comes to raw veggies. Even though I want to dive into all the fresh produce available right now, I have to be careful. My leaky gut can’t handle much raw. One way to “indulge” without harming myself is to eat raw veggies without really eating them. It sounds kind of gross, but I can chew the veggies until only the fibrous part is left and then spit that out. So I get the vitamins, etc., the flavor, the crunch, but not the fiber. It’s kind of like juicing…with my teeth πŸ˜›  I’m also learning that I am very sensitive to anything sweet…even fresh fruit and honey. I think that is part of what still causes me gas issues. Until my gut is healed anything sweet feeds the bad stuff in my gut and ferments. So I’m really trying to eat anything sweet very sparingly. Even fruit. Although I will indulge in some of the fresh summer fruit. How can I not? πŸ˜›  Sweets are the toughest for me. I have a huge sweet tooth. And for years I lived on sweets (when I didn’t know any better, when I was only worried about eating low fat). So this is going to be tough. But worth it. Slowly but surely I’m figuring this out. And enjoying each day more and more.

But GAPS has not only helped me with my physical/gut problems. It has had a huge impact on my mental state. I have been battling OCD, eating disorders and body image issues for many years. I have been seeing a psychologist for 5 years now to help treat them. And it helped…some. But I have never experienced as much progress and healing in those 5 years as I have in the last few months.

My OCD is centered around my gut. So naturally as my gut heals the OCD is getting better. That doesn’t mean it’s easy. But I’m getting there. Having 2 children has actually been a big help too. I don’t have time to feel sick or to spend on compulsions. I have to take care of them. Having baby #2 has been a way for me to start over…to create new routines, to get out of old habits. That’s what it takes for me…I have to be forced to change. And God knows me. He knows what I need and when I need it. He knows exactly when I’m ready for change. At my psychologist appt. last week my doctor said something that really stuck with me. And it surprised her too. She said I now have a choice. I’ve never had that before. I always “had” to do the compulsions. Now I have a choice. The OCD doesn’t control me. Yes, I still think about it a lot (the obsession). No, it will never go away completely. But yes, I DO have a choice…to give in to it or not. And that is amazing. It’s still a daily struggle. And some days are harder than others. But I have to try each and every day to choose to live. To choose not to give in to the OCD. To choose to let God take control, give him my anxiety, and keep pushing on. This is not only evident in my personal daily routine. It’s very evident in my parenting. With Rebecca my parenting was focused on me…fitting her into my schedule, what worked for me. With Abram I am shifting the focus to him. What are his needs. How can I adjust to meet them. Instead of feeding him on a strict schedule I feed him on demand. With Rebecca by 3 weeks she was on a feeding/sleeping schedule. We still are not on any kind of schedule with Abram. Sure natural routines are starting to develop…there are times of the day that he usually sleeps, etc. But nothing is set in stone. And our days are all different. Monday he napped in my arms, played with me a lot, ate, etc. while Rebecca napped. Yesterday he slept almost the whole afternoon. Every day is different. And I can handle it. It’s a huge step for me to focus on others (especially my family) instead of myself. And I have to say life is much less stressful without a set routine. Who knew? πŸ˜›  Before Abram arrived I wondered how I was going to handle two children. I should not have worried. I know God will provide and give me exactly what I need when I need it.

In addition to my OCD about my gut I’ve struggled with eating disorders and body image. It’s not something I talk about much. I was never diagnosed with an eating disorder. But I know I’ve had issues with food for many years. And it was part of my OCD. I obsessed about food. I compulsively exercised. I was always worried about how I looked, wondering what other people thought, wondering if I was too fat. I was scared to eat too much. I was scared I wasn’t eating enough. All around food gave me anxiety. Ironic coming from someone with a food blog that loves to cook πŸ˜›  But it was all about control. It was one thing I could control…what I put in my mouth. Sadly for way too many years I was putting the wrong stuff in. I was scared to eat fat. I was not eating anything nourishing. I had such restrictions, but I was still never happy with how I looked. I like getting attention for being very thin. Even though I knew I wasn’t happy. But I am so thankful that things have changed. I seriously can’t believe how differently I view food and eat now. I eat to nourish my body. Food is not the enemy (well, REAL food isn’t :P). It makes me so happy when I feed my body what it needs. Each bite gives me pleasure. No more low fat. No more worrying about calories. No more exercising extreme amounts for fear of gaining weight. No more restricting and then binging on sweets. It’s been 7 weeks since I gave birth to Abram. I have not tried at all to lose weight. And yet I’m only a few pounds over my pre-pregnancy weight (after gaining over 45 lbs.). I eat when I’m hungry. I don’t restrict myself. Honestly some days I feel like I’m eating “too much.” But I don’t gain weight or anything. So my body must need it. For the first time I’m listening to my body. Not just eating because the clock says it’s meal time. But eating when my body tells me I need something. And I’m not overexercising. Yes, I still exercise every day. But the difference is it’s because I enjoy it. I like to be active. I like to stay toned. But I don’t go overboard. And I don’t have to do a specific routine every day. And I just do what fits in my day. One day I might be able to jog for a while. The next day I might just be able to bike for 10 min. And that’s ok. Some days I have tons of energy. Others I need to take it easy. Again, I have a choice. And I listen to what my body needs. Not what an obsession tells me. It’s kind of funny how in college I exercised intensely every day (probably for at least an hour each day). And I ate low fat. I never snacked. And I gained weight. And here I am now. I bike, walk or jog for about 15 min. a day. I eat what I want. I eat tons of fat. I nourish my body. I’m munching on food all day it seems. I take it easy when I need to. And I weigh less now (7 weeks postpartum) than I did in my early 20’s. The other thing (and maybe the biggest thing for me) is that for the first time I’m happy with the way I look. Even just after having a baby I can look in the mirror and love my body. For so many years I had this ideal in my head of what I thought I wanted…stick thin. And now when I see others that are stick thin I don’t like it. I look back at pictures of myself when I was very underweight and I cringe. I want to have a body. I want to embrace my curves. I’m a woman. And I love it. I’ve always been obsessed with my belly/having a flat stomach. Which is part of what fed my gut OCD (maybe I’ll explain more about that some day. I will say the bloating and gas from my gut issues definitely did NOT help with this at all). I would do hundreds of crunches every day. Now I’m accepting the body I have. I know it’s in my genes to carry my weight in my abdomen. And I’m short…not much I can do about that πŸ˜›  But I can love myself the way I am and not try to make myself into something else. It’s pointless and frustrating. In a way I feel like I wasted so many years. I think anyone with that overcomes OCD will say that. But it’s part of my life. Part of my journey. And I’m thankful for what God has taught me and for the struggles I’ve been through. I can say that I’m so excited to be able to go shopping soon…and buy clothes that flatter my figure…and love all of me πŸ™‚

A few other misc. items:

I just had my thyroid rechecked. It’s still in the normal range. I do still take a low dose of medication for that. I’m hoping some day I don’t have to. But my levels are WAY more normal than they were a year ago.

I do also still take miralax every day. I have ever since my colon surgery in 2006. It is still my goal to be able to stop taking it some day. And I truly believe that by doing GAPS I will be able to. Every once in a while I try lowering the dose. Sometimes I do ok. Sometimes I have to bump it back up. But I’ll get there.

Finally, my psychologist mentioned something to me last week. I generally print some of my blog posts for her to read/help give her an update on me. She always enjoys reading them. And then last week she told me she thinks I should write a book. And she was very serious. Me? Write a book? I’m not a writer. Am I? I would have laughed at her had she said that a few years ago. But I know that God has different and better plans than we can ever dream up. Maybe he has a much different plan for me. My doctor said I already have a good start with a lot of the personal posts I’ve written. And she enjoys my writing. And that there isn’t much out there like it…personal stories relating to OCD, etc. There are manuals and guides. But nothing personal/relatable. So it’s in the back of my mind. Not something I would try to tackle any time soon. But maybe in a few years. When I’ve gotten a little farther on my journey. And when I don’t have an infant πŸ˜›  I don’t know. Maybe it is just a passing idea. But I’m not counting anything out. God is continually surprising me. And I am open to however he wants to use me and use my trials to impact/help/serve others. Now if he told me to go speak in front of people…I think I might just run and hide πŸ˜›  But you never know. God’s plans are much bigger and better than mine.

So, where do I go from here? Believe me I’ve still got a long road ahead on this journey. Yes, I have come a LONG way. But it’s far from over. I’m still battling the OCD. It’s still a daily thing. I still have to push myself outside my comfort zone and try new things. I still have anxiety over the unknown/over past issues. But I’m trying. I’m trying to do more traveling and outings this summer. I’m trying to do things with other people. I’m trying to shake up routines. It’s not easy at all. But I’m trying. And every time I tackle something it gives me more drive and energy to keep pressing on. I have no idea what the end result will be. But I know it’s much better than I can imagine. I do have to listen to my body and its limits. I had major colon surgery 5 years ago and had a foot of my colon removed. My digestive system does not work the same way a “normal” person’s does. Plain and simple. I have to accept that. And work with it. And just keep on living. I may have some limitations that others don’t. And that’s ok. But I will keep pressing on. I am also anxious to see how all of this will impact fertility. I am hopeful that one day my body will start working again. Who knows what God has in store for us and for growing our family.

I am trying to pass on what I’ve learned to my family. I want my children to grow up healthy…both physically and mentally. I want to teach them what it means to nourish their bodies. What it means to live. And to not be afraid. So I do my best to provide my family with healthy food. I’m doing my best to give my kids a good start with proper gut health. I’m hoping to start Abram on a probiotic this week. I have already started giving some to Rebecca each day with her cod liver oil (I LOVE that she likes the gel…thinks it’s a treat :P). One fun way I try to give Rebecca good stuff is by letting her have a milkshake (milk, fruit, 1 egg all blended together) with lunch every day. She thinks it’s a treat. I  see it as a way to get her to “eat” a whole (raw) egg every day (she’s picky about eggs) and give her the nourishment she needs. She’s going to drink milk anyway. Why not add an egg and a little fresh fruit to it? And sometimes some kefir too. It makes me so happy that Rebecca doesn’t know what fast food is. And that she doesn’t live on processed/packaged food. She already has a love for baking and making food from scratch. I try to let her help me cook when I can. And hope that some day she’ll love cooking real food as much as I do. Our whole family has benefited from this. And I am so thankful for that.

Finally, a few encouraging words. In the sermon I heard on Sunday the preacher talked about being held by God. The Bible says “don’t be afraid” 366 times! That’s a lot. Apparently I haven’t been listening πŸ˜›  I don’t need to be afraid. I have been for so many years. Anxiety had controlled my life. But I don’t want it to anymore. God is in control. One thing the pastor said really stuck with me…God has a tighter hold on us than anything else ever will. What a comfort. The OCD and anxiety have had a tight grip for so long. But God’s grip is even tighter. And he will never let go. God is good!


  1. Sara says:

    Very glad to hear you are doing so well, Mary! It was evident when you visited GB for Father’s Day. You have come a long way in the last month, even. I remember you stating you’d definitely have to have a schedule in response to one of my comments on your blog. And that was maybe 4 weeks ago? I can’t remember for sure, but it hasn’t been that long. Now you are finally realizing how much less stressful it is to not have a schedule or routine! πŸ™‚

    This isn’t the first time you’ve been told to write a book… haven’t your in-laws told you that before? And I have. And it seems like someone else, too. Now your psychologist. I think there’s definitely some nudging by God going on here. πŸ™‚

  2. Don Voogt says:

    I have always agreed with your psychologist–you should write a book. I also agree with you that you can do it at a time that is right for you. Just keep your posts current and you can add to them some day to put together a book. God has given you such a gift for writing–it’s beautiful–and perhaps the reason He’s brought you through everything that He has is to help someone else who is struggling. Love, Mom

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