The Wall/ Help LymeOut Lyndsey!

At the first meet of my high school track and field career I ran the 400 meter dash. I already knew from practice that I could do it, so I was shocked when I got half way around the lap and the end seemed so far away. My legs were burning, my lungs ached from breathing so deeply, and my heart was nearly exploding out of my chest.

If that wasn’t enough, what was worse were the discouraging thoughts filling my mind and depleting my confidence, “You can’t do it. It doesn’t matter.  No one cares. This sucks. You suck. Just stop. It’s just a little rest. That’s all.”

So I stopped. I only walked maybe ten steps. But it was enough time to discover several things very quickly. The taunting voice in my mind said no one cared but my coach cared; as well as my friend Roxanne. Because they immediately started yelling across the field at me “What are you doing? Keep going! Don’t stop! You can do it!”

More importantly, I cared. Those ten steps, intended to be a rest, did not help me feel better. Most of the other runners who had been behind me just seconds before weren’t behind me anymore. They had already passed me and were now way ahead of me. And they already seemed too far ahead to catch up to and pass again. Because if you’re walking when you’re supposed to be sprinting, you’re simply going too slow.

As a result, I felt worse than I had seconds before when I’d been running and felt like dying. Now I felt horrible and embarrassed. And I was mad at myself for quitting in the middle of the race.

And while the last 150 meters that stretched ahead of me, looked like a mile, I was determined to finish. So I gritted my teeth against the pain in my body and started running again.

When I was done, my coach approached me and said, “Good job, Ruth. You were doing great up until the point where you stopped. You have so much potential. Just next time, you can’t stop. You have to keep going.”

“I know,” I panted. “It just felt so hard. I didn’t think I could do it,” I explained while I glanced at the place on the track where I’d run out of steam. I didn’t need a mirror to know if I wasn’t already red from running, I was now from the shame I felt spreading across my face. I looked down at the ground and away from my coach, not wanting to admit that now I was done, I felt so foolish that minutes before the distance had seemed so astronomical and insurmountable, but now from the finish line area it looked like such a laughably short distance.

“Honey,” my coach said kindly, “You hit ‘The Wall.’ It happens to every runner, every athlete. Now that you know what it feels like you have to learn to run through that.”

 

I eventually moved from the 400 meter dash and settled in with the 800 m and occasionally the mile for track and field. In the fall I ran with the cross country team. I loved running. I loved the feeling of my arms and legs pumping, my the pounding of my steps, the trees flashing by as I sucked in the trail dust kicked up by my other teammates. And I learned to anticipate The Wall. To focus instead on the movement of my arms propelling me forward, or to watch the back of the person in front of me as I tried to inch closer to them, or to recite poetry in my mind that I’d memorized. And these tricks worked. Sometimes.

But I always struggled with a sense of inadequacy; a feeling that I wasn’t good enough. And when I started to get fatigued I would feel my confidence and resolve falter. I would get discouraged that I wasn’t faster, better, good enough.

Maybe, I thought, if my parents weren’t divorcing, if I had a knack for math and had done better on my Algebra test, or if I wasn’t so ugly and scarred from years of acne and more boys liked me, or if even just one liked me and wanted to be my boyfriend, if those problems and others didn’t exist in my life, then everything would be perfect. Then I would have the confidence I needed to be successful and run without such energy-zapping thoughts.

I thought I was the only one fighting these internal feelings. And after the first day when my coach pointed out The Wall I’d hit, I never mentioned or talked about it with anyone again. I didn’t want them to know how weak I really was.

 

The end of my senior year I desperately wanted to make it to the Regional meet – but my times weren’t good enough. And so my last meet was the JV meet where I was scheduled to run the mile. I was disappointed in myself, discouraged, and felt like a failure to have not made it further. I considered the JV meet to be for people who weren’t very good and it was an unhappy realization that I was one of ‘them.’

The day of the meet I lost a contact, my eye was infected, and without the contact I could barely see. Over the phone where I stood in the nurses office at school my mother said, “Well, I guess you can’t run because you don’t have any peripheral vision.”

My father was sent to pick me up from school. Fully intending to take me to the meet, he sat flabbergasted in the car as I sobbed and told him why I couldn’t run and what mom had said.

“But, Ruth,” he said, “You don’t need peripheral vision to run around a track. You need your legs and there is nothing wrong with them.”

Still listening to the doubt and negativity I had absorbed from my mother like a sponge I insisted on going home. When we pulled up along the curb in front of my father’s house, my dad said “Ok, we’re here.” And then he sat there looking at me without saying another word or moving, as if daring me to get out of the car first, daring me to quit, daring me not to quit.

I sat there looking at the house, collecting my thoughts, my sobs subsiding, fishing around inside myself hoping to find something that was deeper and stronger than the pool of tears and self-pity I was sitting in. At that moment, when I thought I was drowning in emotion and failure, I touched the bed of rock solid determination that lives inside me in my core.

Turning to my dad, I said, “If you’re still willing to take me, I think there might be time to get there before it starts if we leave now.”

That mile race is just as memorable for me as the first 400 m I ran in high school – but for other reasons entirely.

I ran strong. I ran with nothing to lose and nowhere to go with the success, except to take it with me in my heart knowing I’d done it. I was running blind, and it didn’t matter because I had the strength of my arms and legs, the beating of my heart and the expanding and contracting of my lungs inside me. And I had my Dad on the sidelines cheering me on beside my coach.

I focused on the joy of moving my body as swiftly as possible, the wind caressing me as I moved, the sweat trickling down my back, and the blurry blobs of the girls in front of me.

I didn’t win. But I felt like a winner. I fell into my dad’s arms crying this time with relief that I’d decided to show up and run and that I’d gotten my best time ever.

 

Several years ago I started training and competing in Kettlebell Sport.

My event is the Long Cycle. One repetition is a combination of a clean and a jerk. The set duration is ten minutes. There is one hand switch allowed that typically occurs at the five minute mark.

As you can imagine, it is a combination of strength and endurance. And once again, I have found my biggest challenge is the mental aspect because just like in high school, once I start getting tired my confidence starts to wane and my inner demons come out full force and start taunting me.

The thoughts that go through my mind run the gamut from “I look like a dork in these shorts and everyone watching can see what a fashion flop I am, when will I ever grow up and actually look cool in workout clothes?” “WTF! This is sooooo long. I can’t do this,” “I suck at this, my arm is tired, it doesn’t really matter how I do and ultimately no one really cares, so why don’t I just stop now? I’d rather lie down and cry than keep going.”

The last few competitions I’ve made conquering these demoralizing thoughts my mission. I stopped complaining to my coaches about the workouts and how hard they were (even in jest) and practiced saying in my head and sometimes out loud, “Ok, I can do that.”

Whenever I want to quit during a workout or a run, I keep going. When I’m tired, I keep going. I practice showing up to practice and doing the work no matter how I feel because on the day of the competition any number of things could be going on that make the situation imperfect. And I need to practice doing my best always. I practice saying, This isn’t ideal but I can still do it!

I also started practicing different mantra techniques so that I can get into a rhythm and a meditative state and just keep going no matter what. I’ve found what works for me is to count to three, over and over. One, clean and jerk; two, clean and jerk; three, clean and jerk.

This year, at the last practice before the most recent competition, I swallowed my pride and did something it had never occurred to me to do in high school.  I set aside my feeling of “If I say this, they’re going to see how weak I am and will think less of me for not being so strong” and asked for help.

“I really struggle with the mental negativity.” I told my team, “And it usually sets in half way through each arm. Do you think you guys could just yell nice things at me? That would help me a lot.”

During the competition my teammates formed a wall behind the judge so all I could see was them.

I wasn’t doing as well as I wanted and having my team there to cheer me on kept me going more than my counting mantra did.

My thoughts went something like, “One. This sucks. Two. I can do another. Three. I hate this. One. Oh, look! Jason is cheering for me, how cool! Two. I could just put this down if I wanted to and end this right now. Three. Jenn is yelling at me to focus. I should stop thinking about the no reps and just do One.

And then I hit The Wall completely by thinking, “It’s a good thing Joel isn’t here. He’d be so disappointed in me right now.” I felt myself start to spiral downward into a dark pit of lonely, paralyzing despair and then I emotionally stomped hard and put my foot down, “No!” I snarled back at the negative voice in my mind. “He would be proud of you because you’re here and you’re trying.” I glanced at the clock and saw two minutes and thirty seconds to go. Forever. But a manageable forever.

“And he is going to be proud of me because I’m going to finish. It doesn’t matter how many reps I do today any more. What matters now is that I hold on, keep going to the finish. I’m not going to let this stupid negativity hold me back.” And I kicked those thoughts as hard as I could out of my mind, with more mental strength than I had ever kicked back at them in a competition before.

I could hear Ben yelling, “Don’t put it down!” and Charlie shouting “Go, Ruthie!” and Lyndsey saying “One more, Ruth!” and Jenn telling me “Focus! Get out of your mind, Ruth!” and Debbie cheering “Go, Ruthie!” and Jonathan hollering “You’ve got this, Ruth!” And I said to myself, “I do 2 ½ minutes in practice all the time. I can do this.”

And I did.

 

For over twenty years I’ve thought The Wall was something I needed to overcome and beat. I’ve considered those negative thoughts an enemy I needed to defeat. But recently, I’ve started to see things differently. I think when I meet The Wall I am essentially meeting myself. It is where my strengths and my weaknesses collide. I am stripped bare from exertion and naked to myself. It’s a place of vulnerability. It’s a realness, a rawness that is uncomfortable and awkward.

I know that I wasn’t the best runner in high school. But I was pretty good. What made me good was my willingness to consistently show up to practice, to train on my own, to keep trying, to face The Wall over and over. For over twenty years, I’ve looked back on that last meet and remembered the joy of getting my best time ever but that victory has been clouded with my disappointment at being at the JV meet. I’ve held that disappointment closer than the success of my personal best. Recently, I was going through some papers and found a scrap of notebook paper that I’d written on that day. It said, ‘My goal is to run a six minute mile. Actual time: 6:02.” 

Today, I am puzzled why for twenty years I have not celebrated such an awesome mile instead of dwelling on the fact it happened at a JV meet and not a Varsity meet. That is the fastest mile I have ever run or probably ever will run in my life. I wonder why I cannot see my strengths as easily as I can see my perceived failures.

I want that to change. And so my goal as a kettlebell lifter is to focus on having fun, doing my best but enjoying the journey and celebrate the victories no matter how big or small that I or my teammates and friends have. I don’t want to worry about being the best, but focus on being the best me. Showing up to practice keeps me in shape and helps me feel like I am part of my community of kettlebell friends. Showing up to the competitions and facing The Wall consistently can suck and hurt and make me want to scream with feeling so weak and strong at the same time; with feeling so human. But I need that experience because it makes me better every time for having gone there.

Asking for help from my team was my victory at this latest competition. Having the support of my team helped me get past The Wall better than I’ve been able to do on my own before.

It is a strange life lesson to learn to admit we can’t do it all on our own and need others. But somehow making ourselves vulnerable to ask for help makes us stronger. No matter what our personal Wall may be, we cannot face it alone. We need others to help lift us from time to time.

 

I have a teammate who is fighting Lyme Disease. She is strong and smart and beautiful and courageous and so much more. And she fights Lyme Disease with all the zest and energy and resources she can summon into her life. But she has hit a Financial Wall and so has made herself vulnerable and asked the world, the Universe and her community to help her with the overwhelming costs of her treatment that aren’t covered by insurance.

She’s on the home stretch of her treatment, she can see the end in sight but she needs our help to get her to the finish line. She needs us to cheer for her and help her get past The Wall she is facing. She promises to pay it forward. As her friend and teammate, I know she will. She already does. She has already help me, because she was one of those teammates who cheered for me at our last kettlebell competition, who heard me ask for help and responded, who helped cheer me past my own Wall.

You can watch her video here: http://lymeoutlyndsey.com/fundraiser/ or here: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/no-rules.

If you can, let us help Lyndsey celebrate the victory of her life and her health. Let us celebrate the victory of community and the awesome result that can come when we pull together to help someone reach their goal. Let us celebrate the strength that comes from Lyndsey being vulnerable and honest about The Wall she is facing.

 Please help celebrate by sharing her message with others, by making a contribution no matter how small or large. We cannot live our lives alone, we can try but the joy of life is amplified when we share with others.

 Lyndsey’s online fundraiser will end in three days.

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My journey with Systemic Candida

Dear Emily (and anyone else who may be interested):

Last week on facebook I posted a link to this article about brain fog and gluten :http://celiacdisease.about.com/od/symptomsofceliacdisease/a/Celiac-Disease-Brain-Fog.htm.

My friend Emily asked the following in response:

Thanks for the info! I am starting to realize I probably have more of a leaky gut situation than straight up gluten intolerance and after being a lot better for a bit I recently have been in a big backslide of feeling like crud, mostly because all it takes is a tiny mistake every 3 days and I never get my head above it all. As someone who is farther down this path, what have you found to be the best resources for information and healing?

I decided that I’d just do a blog post about this because maybe what I have to say will benefit someone else besides just Emily.

Let’s just start with this disclaimer: I’m not a doctor nor a specialist of any kind in the medical field. I doubt I’d qualify as a specialist of anything. The only thing I’m confident I know more about than you do is what it’s like to be me. So take my two cents for what it’s worth…and if it turns out to be worth a whole lot of nothing for you because your body is different and your health issues are different, that’s okay. 😉

I’m about a year plus into my ‘recovery.’ Here is a story about my journey. I’m not going to delve into what candida is though because there are lots of sources that explain it better than I ever could.

A bit of back story

I remember not feeling all that well around 2009 or 2010. I was tired a lot, sluggish and I felt bloated. I’m thin enough that when I complained to people they’d just look at me like, “What is your problem, you look fine.” I even had a doctor tell me I wasn’t bloated. So I eventually just stopped talking to people about it. However, I  was frequently doing experiments with my diet to see how I felt and I discovered I felt better not eating bread products or sugar. Sometimes I felt better without dairy and sometimes I was fine with it. I didn’t really have any reasons why I felt better this way so usually I’d eventually go back to my ‘old ways’ of eating. These ‘old ways’ not only included what I thought was healthy: fruits and vegetables and meat but also lot’s of bread and chocolate. (I still really don’t understand why chocolate isn’t it’s own food group.)

In March of 2011 I made a trip back to Prague to visit friends from when I’d lived there in 2005. By this time I had been on a sugar free diet for a year. And when I say sugar-free I mean at that time I ate fruit but I did not eat anything else that had sugar or any kind of sweetener or sugar substitute in it. I was a bit obsessive-compulsive about it but I didn’t care because I felt great.

While in Prague I visited some friends who had made a cake in my honor. Now cake = sugar to me in any instance. But in this case, one look told me this was a decadent, extremely sugary cake. I had gone on my trip assuming I’d do my best to avoid sugar but at some point I’d break my diet.

I really feel strongly that I am not going to put things in my body just for the sake of other people’s feelings. It’s my body, not theirs and I am responsible for it, not them. And it’s their feelings, not mine; which they are responsible for, not me. But occasionally there are situations where saying no seems awkward and without a good, solid reason like “I have an allergy” or “I have a health condition and can’t eat that” it is hard for me to do. And in that moment of looking at this beautiful Czech cake,  I didn’t feel like saying no.

So I took the plunge and broke my sugar diet.

I was fine.

Three days later I was sick. Basically completely lethargic, had no energy and a nasty sore throat. But I did not make the connection between eating sugar and my current condition. I just thought my immune system was weak from traveling and whatnot. So I went home and I did not go back to being sugar-free.

In August of 2011 I returned to Prague for four days for a wedding. My ankles had swollen on the flight in March but I didn’t think much of it; especially since it had gone away the next day. This time my ankles and legs and entire body for that fact swelled up to such epic proportions that I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to fit into the high-heeled shoes I’d carefully selected for the occasion. Every joint in my body was throbbing in pain and I sat on the plane rubbing my legs in an attempt to make them feel better and trying unsuccessfully not to cry. The wedding was on day three and I did fit into my shoes by then. But it wasn’t until day four when I had to go home that the swelling and pain finally went away. The same thing happened on the return trip. I knew then that something was wrong but I didn’t know what.

2011 kind of went down hill for me from there. I suffered from the following: extreme joint pain, brain fog, light-headedness, vertigo, fatigue,  bloating, vomiting and abdominal pain. The vomiting, bloating, fatigue and brain fog seemed pretty consistent. The abdominal pain, light-headedness, vertigo and joint pain came and went randomly. I also had frequent sore throats and was susceptible to any bug that was being passed around at work.

The bloating was such that I’d wake up in the morning and look at my belly and it would seem fine. But by the end of the day I would have bloated up three to six inches past where I’d started in the morning. To be honest, I’ve never measured my waist so obsessively before or since but it did not feel normal to me to have it fluctuate so drastically every day .

The vomiting wasn’t the kind that happens when you have the flu and your body naturally ejects the food. For me, I would eat and the food wouldn’t feel like it went all the way down. It would feel stuck in my chest. All I had to do was flex my stomach muscles (kind of like forcing a burp) and I would vomit. I really didn’t want an eating disorder but I also didn’t like feeling the food stuck in my chest. And really, it’s not normal to flex your stomach and then throw up. This would happen between 1 – 5 times a day.

I went to the ER two or three times over the course of several months with abdominal pain that was so severe I was afraid something inside me was dying or at least having a baby under immaculate-conception circumstances. Every time they’d tell me I had indigestion, that I was fine and send me home. I finally decided that going to the ER was a waste of time and money and that suffering with the pain was the better option.

The fatigue was such that some days all I could do was drag myself to work and back. I felt like I had ‘run’ a marathon crawling on my hands and knees just to get through work. I’d come home and just lay on the couch. On some days off I’d feel like getting my laundry and grocery shopping done was all I could manage. Other days I’d feel great or at least okay enough to fit in a kettlebell workout or a jog or walk. I learned to do what I could each day and rest and sleep when I needed to because I didn’t know what else to do.

All of this was frustrating and depressing for me. My body needed something from me and I didn’t know what it was asking for to heal. Sometimes learning to listen and understand the message can be so hard.

Although I’d mentioned these problems on and off to my doctor, my focus was on a different health issue. Finally, I got fed up enough with how I was feeling that I decided I needed to change my focus and really get some answers. So the other issue went on the back burner and all of the above came to the front. I went to my primary doctor who at that time was a naturopathic physician. I told him I wanted an endoscopy and colonoscopy. He suggested I try an elimination diet. I told him I’d try that after I’d eliminated anything more serious and I wanted to get out the ‘big guns’ first. He said he’d never referred anyone for an endoscopy or colonoscopy. I told him there’s a first for everything and he could start with me and to give me a referral.

After an abdominal ultrasound that returned normal, the specialist agreed to give me an endoscopy but not a colonoscopy. I don’t remember her reasoning but it’s probably fine it worked out this way. They don’t really sound like that much fun to me. The endoscopy came back normal.

I started an elimination diet with my doctor and I went to the other naturopathic physician I had been using as a gynecologist because she was female. I asked for an exam to make sure all my female bits were okay. She decided to send me for a pelvic ultrasound…which is an external and internal event, just so you know. This all came back normal as well.

By this time I was three weeks into an elimination diet that really was doing nothing except making me extra crabby. The female naturopath suggested I ditch the elimination diet. She offered some other ‘big gun’ options instead. These included extensive blood and stool tests that weren’t completely covered by insurance. At this point, I was willing to try anything and pay anything for some answers so I signed up, got the necessary boxes to shit in and sent my samples off to some lucky soul across the country to inspect and play scientist with.

Finally, in June 2012  I found out that I had systemic candida. I also found out I had an intolerance to whey and an extreme intolerance to gluten. So within several weeks of these test results coming back, I was on a sugar-free, gluten-free and dairy free diet.

The Road to Recovery

Although avoiding sugar, gluten and dairy wasn’t a huge change for me I think when you make the mental shift from ‘I want to avoid that’ to ‘I have to avoid that’ it is scary and overwhelming. And I had no idea what systemic candida was either so I had a huge learning curve ahead of me.

Several things happened around this time that added more stress to the situation. My health insurance changed and I had to get a new primary care physician — one who was ‘Western’ medicine style. I was unhappy about this. It was just one thing to add to my list of stresses. I was so overwhelmed that I  dealt with that by just walking away from my naturopath with a diagnosis and deciding to deal with it by myself through diet. And deciding to deal with getting another doctor later when I was ready to focus on that. (I eventually found a doctor I like and also after ten months dealing with the candida on my own with just diet I did go back to see my naturopath as well.)

I like to travel and I didn’t want to miss the vacation I’d planned, even though all I wanted to do was stay home and rest. I was dating someone at the time who although tried to be supportive to some degree also chided me for considering staying home for ‘just a dietary issue’. So in July of 2012, just two weeks after my diagnosis,  I forged ahead with my plans for a road trip. I don’t completely regret that choice because I saw some amazingly beautiful and interesting places and some people I love dearly. But I honestly think if I had allowed myself to stay home and rest like my body was pleading for me to do, I would have done myself a huge favor.

Every one is different, but I’ve ultimately concluded that for me driving 2000 miles in one week while sick, depressed, overwhelmed and stressed to the max with life and health issues is not the way to get better. When my body and self are screaming at me to slow down and rest, I need to pay attention and do it. And I don’t need to justify that choice to anyone. I can try and explain if I actually think a person might need to know or be interested. But ultimately it just doesn’t matter if other people don’t understand. As long as I know I’m doing what is right for me to heal and get better, that is what matters the most.

When I’m overwhelmed and stressed to the max, everything seems hard and complicated. I did try to go dairy, gluten and sugar-free all at once because I felt that change was imperative for my improvement and although overwhelming, it wasn’t that huge of a change from the way I’d already been eating. But other than that I decided to make one change at a time. Either eliminating something or adding something; I did it one thing at a time. I tried one recipe or one new restaurant at a time. I tackled one thing at a time that worried me or stressed me out. Gradually, I started to notice positive changes and feel like what I’m dealing with is less and less a big deal and more a new eating lifestyle.

After a little over a year into this journey it still sometimes feels like I go three steps forward and two steps backwards. I am constantly learning and reevaluating what I need to do with my diet, my exercise, my supplements, etc. But the steps back are either getting smaller or coming less frequently, and the steps forward are becoming stronger, longer strides.

Here are positive changes that I’ve experienced:

-I have more energy. This by far is one of the changes I appreciate the most. I’ve always been goal-oriented. And I finally feel like I’m actually getting stuff done and making progress with my hobbies. The daily housekeeping tasks don’t feel like epic events like they used to.

-The bloating went away. When I do get bloated, I’ve learned that to be an indication  that I’ve had too much sugar or yeast.

-The vomiting has stopped. I’ve vomited maybe twice in the past year. When that happens I know I’ve eaten something that probably has too much sugar or yeast for me.

-The abdominal pain went away for the most part. It still happens from time to time. It still stumps me.

-The brain fog, light-headedness and joint pain have all gone away. When I do experience these, I’ve learned to associate these symptoms with an exposure to gluten.

-Because the brain fog went away, I think more clearly and am more productive at work.

-Because my body started to heal, my immune system got stronger and I haven’t been sick as much and haven’t missed as much work.

-As long as I take my thyroid medication, I don’t feel depressed.

-I’ve lost over 15 pounds.

Here is what my current diet is like:

-Some sort of protein source every meal: eggs, meat or fish. I snack on almonds a lot. (I can eat 1/2 – 3/4 a pound of almonds in one day without thinking about it)

-Lot’s of veggies. I mean a lot of veggies. I try to eat more veggies than meat. At home my goal is to have more veggies on my plate than anything else. When eating out my goal is to at least have a vegetable on my plate

-100% gluten-free. I am probably 90% grain/legume free. I sometimes have beans, rice, or corn when eating out and very infrequently at home. From what I’ve read, they are harder for a person with digestive issues to digest.

-I don’t eat potatoes that much. But still I have a weakness for potato chips and french fries.  Some say potatoes are high in sugar. But seriously, I’d rather have a potato product than any other product that has sugar.

-I am probably 95% sugar free. This also means now I rarely eat fruit except for citrus. (The sugar content is too much for the candida/yeast issue and although I can handle some in small amounts, I can quickly tell when I’ve had too much.) I can now occasionally indulge in a chocolate/candy with regular sugar in it. But for the most part, the only sweetener I use is stevia (because it’s plant based and for me my body tolerates it fine).

-I drink a lot of water and tea. I have a homemade, sugar free hot chocolate concoction that I make with cocoa powder, coconut milk, vanilla, stevia and cinnamon for my chocolate fix. Minimal alcohol.

-Dairy free except for butter. With candida some food intolerances can go away as the body heals. I’m hoping that is the case with the whey intolerance. After a year of being completely dairy free I’ve started trying out kefir and occasional bites of cheese. However, I’m treading very carefully because I don’t want to rock the boat too much so to speak.

-Supplement wise (under the direction of my naturopath) I take the following once a day: multi-vitamin, vitamin D, colostrum, st john’s wort, a probiotic and with every meal I also have a digestive enzyme. Some of these are for the candida and my digestive heath, others are for other reasons.

Here is a list of sources/books/sites that I find helpful

  • The Body Ecology Diet — Recovering your health and rebuilding your immunity by Donna Gates (I’ve clung to this book like some people cling to the Bible)
  • Wild Fermentation — The flavor, nutrition, and craft of live-culture foods by Sandor Ellix Katz (good, easy to follow recipes for making your own fermented foods)

The above two are my favorite and I refer to them the most but the following I also really like:

  • A Sweet Life Without Sugar — Naturally sugar-free and gluten-free artisan recipes by Joan Miller. (mostly time consuming to make but everything is delicious. The sweeteners she uses are stevia, yacon syrup and erythritol. She has a section explaining why she prefers these over others. If you don’t like these sweeteners or don’t want to have to special order them online if they’re not sold near you than this book is not for you.)
  • The Fat Flush Cookbook by Ann Louise Gittleman
  • Chia — The Complete guide to the ultimate superfood by Wayne Coates, PhD
  • The dairy-free & gluten-free kitchen by Denise Jardine
  • Superfoods by Lee Holmes
  • Oil Pulling — Detoxifying and healing the body through oral cleansing by Dr. Bruce Fife (while it sounds weird this book explains why spending 15 – 20 min a day swishing coconut oil in your mouth is good for your health.)

I have also ‘liked’ two interesting pages on facebook. Reading their posts each day is an easy way to learn interesting factoids about digestive and gluten related health issues.

  • Fix Your Digestion
  • Leaky Gut Research

A few other thoughts

I’m a firm believer in our body-mind connection. I try to approach my health issues from various angles.

In addition to all the focus I’ve given to my diet, I’ve also made some changes in other areas of my life. My goal is to live a balanced life that includes not only physical health but also mental, emotional, creative, spiritual and social health as well.

-I’ve seen a counselor for different issues over the last several years. The topics for discussion weren’t related to my digestive issues. But stress on any level can affect us physically. So taking time in whatever way we choose to address our mental health can be valuable.

-I’ve started art journaling and painting. This is a fun and therapeutic. Life is better when it’s fun. So adding anything that brings fun and creativity into your life won’t ever hurt.

-I’ve discovered how great my friends are. I have a friend struggling with similar health issues and having someone to call and compares notes with and provide mutual moral support has been very important. I have other friends who have different dietary, health issues and when we go out we try to find options that accommodate everyone. Whoever you pick, having a support network of people who care about you is vital.

-I’ve tried to work out consistently. For me, this means making it to kettlebell class once a week. This is an important time for me not only for the workout but for the social connection with our teammates. I try to workout with the kettlebells at least one other time during the week at home. Having them at home allows me to fit the workout in when it fits my schedule. I also try to go for a jog or walk once or twice a week as well.

I wish you the best in your journey and hope maybe something in this long post will have been of interest to you.

Ruthie

Larrabee State Park

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There is frequently a disparity between the amount of times I say I like hiking and the number of times I actually go hiking. I decided that needed to change. Since I have a three day weekend every week there really is no excuse. Especially since I bought a Discover Pass which gives me free admission to all Washington State Parks.

So I decided to schedule hiking days into my calendar. I will not plan anything else for these days except hiking. Anything else I do on hiking days is a bonus.

Today was hiking day #1.2013. Since I’ve had the Discover Pass for a month and a half now and hadn’t used it yet I went to Larrabee State Park. It’s only a 15-20 minute drive from my house. It was supposed to be in the 70’s today and I really burn easily and didn’t want to be out trekking around in the hottest part of the day. So I went ‘early’. I got there around 11 am and left around 2 pm. It was great timing. It was cool and cloudy when I got there. I spent time climbing on the rocks and looking at tide pools and interesting rock formations. I sat on a bench and later on a rock and read a book for awhile. And I watched the sun slowly take over the sky and the clouds fade away.

The point of my hiking days is not to be competitive with myself and see how many miles I can hike or how hard the climb is. Although I’m sure I’ll have days when I’ll pat myself on the back for those things. But the point for me is to be outside, tap into the joy that I feel when surrounded by beauty and to feel alive and connected to the earth.

I don’t know how much I walked today…but it probably wasn’t over two miles. But I accomplished my goal of being outside. I breathed the fresh air, felt the sun on my face, got excited about seeing a pretty pink, tiny shell and huge, purple starfish, and felt joy in being alive and living in such a beautiful area.

Here’s some photos of my day. It has been a long time since I’ve blogged and my photo arranging skills are a bit rusty. So please excuse the random placement of things. I don’t know how to fix that. And I don’t care to spend too much more of my time farting around on the computer today. So please enjoy them for what they have to offer and dismiss the sloppy arrangement. Thanks!

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Purple star fish jackpot!

WP_001351P WP_001352 WP_001354 WP_001357 WP_001358 WP_001359 WP_001360 WP_001361 WP_001362 WP_001363 WP_001364 WP_001367 WP_001369 Here’s the really tiny pink shell I found. On zoom and  not on zoom. WP_001372 WP_001373 WP_001374 WP_001375 Three other tiny shells.WP_001382 WP_001383 WP_001384 WP_001385 This is me…just in case you were wondering. 😉WP_001388 WP_001389 WP_001390 WP_001391 WP_001392 WP_001393 The San Juan Islands.WP_001394

Vancouver, BC

In August my Aunt June and I went for an overnight trip to Vancouver, Canada. We had been talking about doing this for the past four years and we finally did it!

We took the train up from Bellingham. It’s a nice, picturesque ride and the border is so much easier to deal with on the train!

The first day we went to the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. We arrived ten minutes before the free guided tour. I am so glad we were able to do the tour because it made the walk through the garden so much more interesting. There is a lot of symbolism in the way the garden is designed that I would not have seen without the guide’s insight. What was really interesting to me was that besides the plants ALL the building supplies and the builders came from China. That means all the wood, stones in the walkways and tiles for the roof were sent from China (950 crates of material). They also sent fifty three master craftsman to come stay for over a year to build it. Amazing!

We also went up to the lookout tower (www.vancouverlookout.com). The day was clear and sunny and we had a great view. We went up twice. Once in the afternoon and then once in the evening for the sunset.

The following day we took the water taxi to Granville Island. We enjoyed having lunch there, looking at all the colorful produce and the various arts and crafts.

Of course, a trip is not complete without food. We enjoyed lunch at  Nuba, an excellent Lebanese restaurant. And had dinner in North Vancouver at Burgoo. Their beef bourguignon was AMAZING. Both of these places I would recommend and want to eat at again if I have the chance.

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Fragrance Lake

Today I hiked to Fragrance

Lake in the Chuckanuts. It was a nice hike. It wasn’t that peaceful though since there was a group of obnoxious kids making tons of noise and then some lady singing opera at the top of her voice. It’s at times like this I think my inner Czech self comes out and I get irritated with how loud Americans can be. The Czechs would never be so loud and that is one of the things I love and miss about them from time to time.

So that’s my rant for the day. I’m writing this on my phone. So it’s an experiment to see if the photo uploads properly from my phone.

Swiss Chard Pie

I’m home sick with a sore throat and general funk. I’m well enough to mope around and do the stuff one never does but always thinks they will do sometime. Like organize the spice rack or sort through old magazines and such. So, here is the link to the recipe for Swiss Chard Pie that I’ve been promising my sister for several years.

I got it from Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food Magazine in the March 2010 edition.

A great thing about it is it’s versatility. I add chicken or sausage as a first layer and then the chard/spinach/kale as a second layer.

The best thing for me was the dough recipe which is perfect for savory pies. Now that I’m gluten intolerant I’ll have to search for another dough recipe. But hopefully the rest of you will enjoy it!