This past year was truly a bit rough for me. I was okay until I started getting back to back autoimmune flare ups and by July, the wheels truly fell off. I tried so many different things, made many helpful discoveries but come the end of the year – I am in worse shape than ever before.
I spent a lot of time looking at past tracking, where I could improve things, what seemed to be working and why it may have stopped. I talked Sara’s ear off. I tried tons of supplements and prescribed meds. I scrutinized months of research and after all that, I came to a few conclusions that have shaped the plan for this year.
If you aren’t familiar with me or my journey – the nutshell version is this. My body is at war with itself due to some pretty trick autoimmune issues that cause my cells to think they need to become Spartan Warriors and attack everything in sight. Food intolerances, chemical sensitivities, reactions to environmental issues and weather changes (esp barometric changes and heat) plus a million other little things can send my body into an inflammatory flare up. You’ll here me call them poofs – because that’s at least cuter than “overreactive inflammatory response”.
When they happen, I can “gain” up to 20lbs overnight but unlike fluid or sodium gains, it doesn’t just go away and it can take weeks to relose it. I have seen specialists, been tested, scanned, poked, prodded and tried about every treatment med or method there is over the last 5yrs. For the last year I tried and discovered many possible solutions but my health has continued to decline.
I think things started to go astray when I got discouraged and honestly more than a bit complacent in places. When I had +30lbs of inflammation gains in 1 month and was losing 4-7lbs, after awhile it took its toll…not only on my physical health but it started to wear me down.
In the beginning, I doubled down my efforts to make things better but when things continued to get worse, at some point I started becoming lax in my food choices.
I was still eating well and within most of the guidelines I should be using but if I was hurting a lot or super tired or just didn’t feel well – I started more and more to either just not eat at all or to eat something that was convenient from a can or box or frozen meal. This often meant that I allowed ingredients into my day that don’t benefit me and I know I should be avoiding.
This started out as possibly one item, for one meal, out of a week but I’ve watched the progression over the last six months especially and I noticed that for the last couple of months when I set up my videos, there was more on the table in a processed form then my rainbow of healthy fresh foods.
Do I know better? Yes!
Did I do what I knew was best for me? No.
This is an area that I absolutely am going to focus on improving. There are a number of reasons that things developed that way and I appreciate that if I had never bought the convenience items in the first place then that would have taken care of part of the problem. But it was what it was.
Not having those items here, making freezer meals, having stuff prepped ahead of time – there are many things that I could have done differently but I didn’t and I can either spend my time beating myself up for it or I can use it as an opportunity to springboard my success and refocus on what I need to be doing. I can’t change the decisions or mistakes that I made last year but I can use them as a learning experience to move in a more healthy direction this year.
So what does that look like exactly?
💯 NO FRANKENCHEMICALS
The first and most important thing I need to do is readjust my meal makeup. Go back to a much cleaner, whole foods focus. Walk my talk. Do what I know is better for my health and set myself up for success by being prepared for the pain days.
🍎 BASIC EATING GUIDELINES
Eat as rainbow style as ever but refocus on fresh, whole foods. Easy peasy!
When using any processed product (anything in a can, bag, box with multiple ingredients) – it must contain 0, and I mean honest-to-goodness, 0 ingredients that are Frankenchemical additives. You know the ones that you can’t pronounce, can’t buy in the store or are sneaky chemical concoctions disguised as “flavors, extracts or blends”.
So this isn’t about whether it contains an ingredient that I know I may or may not react to – it is a very sharp line drawn in the sand that says if there is an ingredient listed that I could not buy and then replicate that product at home – then the product is a no go. Not so easy!
This also means no eating in places I can’t control the ingredients – no eating out and no eating at events. My cousin brought me a plate for Thanksgiving which was so very kind of her but in talking to her afterwards, every single item was created from something that had food reactants in it – everything was from a box, bag or can and my body threw a massive toddler tantrum.
Eating out is even worse. So no more. I have celebrated many a milestone with food and family and this will take some adjustment. I know HOW to do it and have developed plans for situations but part of me will definitely miss aspects of this.
I noticed that especially in the last 8 or 9 months, if there was a product that I tried that I didn’t react to, I was allowing it even if it had ingredients that were questionable or chemically based. This was part of my becoming more lax.
And I welcome you guys to call me out on anything you think might be BS. I will post the ingredient label for any product that is a multiple ingredient one and I’ll also show it in my daily video.
But if you see something that you’re like – should she really be having that – by all means call me out. I need to hold myself accountable first and foremost but this is a long-term learning process and we can all use all the support we can get. In my case I am happy for anyone to ask questions about something and if I know that I have to walk my talk and backup my choices, it is another way that I can increase my accountability.
This means a few things:
🔹 MAJOR PANTRY CLEAN OUT
I need to go through every single item in my pantry and see if it complies with my goals for this year. If it doesn’t, and I’m not keeping it as part of cooking for Sandy, then it will be donated. I am very sad to be losing much of my Asian Foods but I will just have to work harder to make those same items in a cleaner, more compliant way. I’ve already found a brilliant Ramen soup broth base to try…
This also means if I want a certain condiment (mayo, mustard, ketchup, steak sauce etc) – I might have to make it or pay more for a clean version. Bread – I’m gonna bake more this year. Sauces like Marinara and Alfredo – make it instead of jarred.
I already started compiling a list of simple sauces and condiments that I may need to make and I created a list of things I needed to buy. I’ve done some shopping on Amazon and I need to dust off some appliances like my bread maker that I have but haven’t used in a long time. I just cooked a whole chicken and used the carcass to make bone broth. I have beef soup bones roasting today for beef bone broth.
🔹 BE PREPARED FOR PAIN DAYS
My health is not going to change overnight and there are going to be many days when I still feel horrible by the evening. I need to change how I handle that. I can’t continue to just not eat but I also can’t continue to use those convenience foods as a crutch.
I talked in December about making my own freezer meals so that if I did get to that point in the day, I could just take something out that I knew was going to be safe and compliant for me.
I cooked a large rotation of 6 meals. I had a couple of realizations about it and figured out a couple of things that I really didn’t enjoy after they were thawed (from a texture perspective) and I can take all of this and put it to good use in planning what to have prepped. That’s one of the things that I’m working on at the moment.
It’s a lot, yes, but there isn’t any reason I can’t do this. I am restarting my YouTube channel with this refocus. I want it to reflect my intentions and be something I can be proud of (and not feel like I have to explain or defend food choices). I want my lifestyle to reflect my goals and inspire/empower others this year. I want to know I am doing the best I can to change my life and health. I’m excited to see where this takes me.