Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Not Getting Enough Magnesium

Magnesium.

I'd bet money that most people have at least heard of magnesium.  I definitely had before I started supplementing with it last year.  But what I didn't know, was how much I needed it.

Magnesium is responsible for over 300 metabolic reactions in the human body.  Yes, 300!!  Some of those include: muscle function, proper heart rhythm, normal blood pressure, hormone regulation, and it can even help with insulin resistance.  And as many as 80 percent of Americans are deficient.  Crazy right?

I had never thought to supplement with magnesium until I started working with my integrative practitioner last year.  And it didn't take long until I was spouting the benefits of it to everyone I knew.


So how do you know if you need it?

There are actually a TON of symptoms (just type magnesium deficiency into google to find them all).

But here are a few:

-anxiety
-facial ticks
-lethargy
-impaired memory and cognitive function
-irregular heartbeat
-irritability
-loss of appetite

And like everything else in life, they are also symptoms of at least ten other things as well.

So I'm going to tell you my Top 5 things magnesium has helped me with.

1.  Sleep. 

I'm not a good sleeper.  Actually, once I'm asleep, I sleep like the dead, it's the falling asleep that I don't do too well with.  Well it turns out Magnesium is actually a natural sleep aid.  And for me, it is really effective.  About 1-2 hours after I take it, I just get all relaxed and ready to sleep.  And not just relaxed, I get really drowsy. 

2.  Muscle Tension - particularly in the upper back and shoulders

Ever since I was a teenager I have had a tight neck and shoulders.  And without fail, at least 2 times a year, I have to go see my "back guy".  He's actually this amazing massage therapist who does therapeutic work on me because I have so much tension in my back and neck.  I started noticing about 3 years ago that it was getting worse than usual and where before, I would only have to go in for 2 appointments, I was starting to need 3 or more.  Fast forward to last year.  I started supplementing with magnesium and I did feel relief.  It wasn't an overnight miracle or anything but my back, neck, and shoulder muscles absolutely started relaxing more.  I had less headaches and less back pain.  My therapist even commented on how he has been seeing me less! 

3.  PMS and Hormonal Imbalances

I've relegated you all with tales of my hormonal imbalances.  Well as it turns out magnesium helps those out too.  Magnesium is actually involved in the manufacturing of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone so as you can imagine it's pretty important in helping to keep those balanced.  Ever crave chocolate during PMS?  It might be because 1 square of 70-80% Dark Chocolate has about 24% of your daily value for magnesium.  Supplementing magnesium can help relieve PMS symptoms like headaches, bloating, fluid retention, and sugar cravings.  So yes, definitely eat your chocolate.  Dare I say you actually NEED it?  As for me.  In April of 2014, I had my hormones tested and I had an excess of estrogen and almost no progesterone OR testosterone.  After a careful protocol to get those improved which INCLUDED magnesium supplementation, as of July 2015, my numbers are now normal.  Or as my practitioner exclaimed "your numbers no longer look like that of a menopausal woman!!".  Which is awesome cause I'm only 37. 

4.  Insulin Resistance

I have trouble with blood sugar regulation and the dreaded insulin resistance.  And some studies have shown that low magnesium levels have been found in those with high insulin.  I don't have some crazy tale how magnesium has completely cured me or anything, BUT it is part of my get better protocol and so far I've only seen improvements. 

and finally ..

5.  Constipation

I've never been very regular in this area.  Like never ever.  But constipation is another sign of low magnesium.  It's also a sign of hypothyroidism which I also have. So as you can imagine, I was probably a prime candidate for supplementing with magnesium.  And for me, it did help things.  And you probably already knew magnesium was good for constipation because that's exactly what the constipation relief drug Milk of Magnesia is.  Again, magnesium is the relaxation mineral.  So you know, it relaxes!

So there you have it.  It's definitely something to consider if you're dealing with any of the magnesium deficiency symptoms.

I take Pure Encapsulations magnesium glycinate.  And I personally take between 360 - 480mg nightly.  And when I was starting out I was taking as much as 600mg nightly.



For more info on magnesium and supplementing, check out Dr. Hyman's post here.






Blood Sugar Solution Update

This update is long overdue but I've been on vacation and you know how that can just turn your life upside down.

Before I get to the update, let me recap my whole blood sugar situation.  I had followed the Blood Sugar Solution to the letter (food wise) from mid-March to the end of May.  That's when my blood sugar dropped the most (19 points) and I also dropped around 13 pounds. 

Starting in June, I slowly transitioned into one of the suggested strategies outlined at the end of Dr. Hyman's book.  I continued to eliminate gluten, dairy and refined sugar.  I was, however, mostly grain free.  Meaning 70-80% of the meals I had were grain free.  I did allow myself honey, maple syrup, and stevia which I usually used in cooking.  

I cooked easily 90% of everything I ate.  If I went out to eat it was either Hugo's (they list all of their ingredients on their website) or sushi (pretty easy to maneuver).  And on special occasions, I would also order from this local Thai place around the corner from my apartment.  My fiance (who's half-Thai by the way) went to talk to them about some of their ingredients and it turns out, one of my favorite dishes passed the gluten challenge (yellow curry).  I tried not to eat this too frequently because I'm well aware of how Thai food and sugar go hand in hand.  

I also started weight training (Drop 2 Sizes) June 1st.
So at the end of July I had a follow up appointment with my doctor.  My blood sugar had only dropped one more point.  My doctor was happy with that but I had hoped for lower because it still was at high normal.  I also hadn't dropped any more weight. 


We surmised that perhaps my weight training offset any changes in scale weight due to muscle gain because while I hadn't lost any weight I HAD lost one jeans size.  She had me keep my diet the same and we instead focused on some things to help my hormones a little more.



From July to mid-September, I continued to eat 100% gluten and dairy free, and I was eating around 60-70% grain free.  And I stayed away from the refined sugar.

As you can see, I started really strict and with time loosened the reigns.  It's really hard to maintain that level of discipline for an extended period of time because it is VERY restrictive.  And while I wasn't in that crazy restrictive mode, I was doing pretty great by comparison. 

 I had another appointment with my doctor last week.  We went over the usual but I still haven't lost any weight since May.  She wasn't happy about that either.  So we discussed the last 6 months to see what we could come up with.

I log my food everyday using Loseit and they have this great tool where you can see 30 day averages of your calories and macros.  So I looked at my calories and carbs from March to April and from April to May.  Then I compared each subsequent 30 days.  What I found was that while my calories were consistent across the board, my carbs were not.  In those first 2 months I was averaging around 85 grams of carbs per day.  And then after May, it starting creeping up.  In June it was up to 100 grams, then 125 grams, then 150+ grams. 

So she suggested I go down to 80 net carbs (total carbs minus fiber count).  The nurse drew my blood to check my insulin, blood sugar, and thyroid levels.  She also put in a test to check for something called a MTHFR mutation.  It may or may not be inhibiting my weight loss and I may or may not have it.  So, if I end up having it I'll let you know.

So as of right now, I'm really trying to focus on keeping within that carb count to see if maybe that's the magic spot for me.  It's low but not crazy low - completely doable in my opinion.  Yesterday was my first day and I hit it easily.  I'm also still gluten and dairy free.  And it looks like I ended up completely grain free too.  That's something that's also pretty easy when the carb count is that low.  I don't like to "waste" my carbs on grains. 

Yesterday's Menu:

B:  almond flour pancakes with sliced strawberries and bacon
L:  stuffed poblano peppers with chicken and salsa
D:  lettuce wrapped sliders with sweet potatoes fries and watermelon


  






Friday, July 10, 2015

The Secret to Eating Healthy

Today I sat down to eat my lunch.  It was a very simple salad.  Some greens, carrots, red pepper, grape tomatoes, poached chicken topped with a lovely vinaigrette I made with extra virgin olive oil and this amazing balsamic vinegar from a local store in Sedona, AZ.

Wanna see it?


Ok, so I've already eaten most of it but look how nice and colorful it is.

And as I was sitting eating my salad I had an epiphany.  Eating healthy isn't always easy and sometimes you do it because it needs to be done.  I know I've mentioned before how my co-workers like to comment on my food and how they wish they could eat more like me.

Well, the truth is, I don't always like what I eat.  The truth is, sometimes I'd RATHER be eating what they're eating.  But I don't for 2 reasons:

1.  My body does not forgive easily for food indiscretions.  If I stray too far from my regimented eating, then my body strikes back at me and boy is it ugly. 

2.  In my quest for gaining health, I've seen, heard, and read too much.  I know what that bad food is doing to my insides.  I know that in the long run, bad food just isn't doing me any favors health wise.  And if I TRULY want to get better (and I do, I really do) -- and not just lose weight but feel NORMAL again, then I must give my body as much help as possible.

And so I sat eating my pretty salad.  There was no pleasure in any of it.  I was literally eating to get rid of my hunger.  I was eating to fuel my body.  And THAT'S the secret to how I eat healthy.  I know that in order to feel truly good about myself, sometimes I have to make the sacrifice.  Sometimes it's about forgoing what I want in order to give my body what it needs.

And it's not all the time.  Most of the time it's really easy.  But on those days when almost anything else sounds better than what I've prepared for myself, those are the days I just dig in and remind myself that it's just fuel for the fire.

 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Drop 2 Sizes: Phase 2 (Again)

Third time is the charm right?

Yes, this is my third time trying to Drop 2 Sizes.

My first try was in January of 2014.  I had just gained 30 pounds out of the blue and was feeling pretty lousy so I was desperate for something to work.  Alas, I didn't make it all the way thru.

I then started working with my current doctor and was diagnosed with hormonal imbalance, hypothyroid, adrenal stuff, deficiencies etc ...  So my brilliant self thought it was a good idea to try again.   My second attempt was June of 2014.  I was only about 2 months into my treatment.  I finished.  I remember it being underwhelming.  In retrospect, I don't see how I could of thought I'd get ANY sort of results because I can now see how bad off I was.  But according to that post, I lost inches. I did NOT, however, lose 2 sizes.  Not even close.

And then finally I decided to try AGAIN.  Tonight will start my second week of Phase 2.  I can tell that this time I'm getting more out of it.  There are moves that I can do without modifying this time.  In fact, the first move of the first workout was one that I had to modify EVERY TIME during the previous 2 tries.  So I was actually SHOCKED when I started this time and didn't have to modify it at all.  And I think that's because I have made that much progress with my doctor.  Thank God.  So I really feel like this go round will be the first legitimate try. 

I took starting measurements and pictures back in June.  I haven't posted any updates yet because I haven't taken any update measurements at all.  I've thought about doing it but honestly, I've been afraid.  This may sound weird, but I've been feeling SO GOOD lately, I was afraid that if I took measurements I would see that nothing had changed.  And I didn't want to do anything that might make me feel bad.  But as I explained in my last post, I've been on a plateau and I believe now is the time to at least take the measurements to make sure I'm moving in the right direction.   Because you can't change what you don't measure.  Right?

Right.

Oh and one last tiny, little thing.  I just placed an online order over the weekend for a new pair of jeans because my old ones ripped.  I ordered them one size smaller.

WHAT?!?!

:)

July Fireworks and Working Out!

Hello world.  I hope everyone had a spectacular July 4th.

I don't know how it is where you live, but in Los Angeles there are just way too many people who get their hands on fireworks.  And not those pew pew tiny fireworks, those BIG BOOM BOOM fireworks.  And they are usually drunk and not qualified to handle such items.



My assistant's apartment almost burned down because of said people.  Thank goodness both he and all his worldly possessions made it out alive.  Seriously people, cool it with the fireworks.  You will be JUST as patriotic without them.



Lots of things to talk about on this fine Wednesday morning.  First lets talk about my weight.  I am still holding steady.  In fact, I still pretty much weigh the same as I did at the beginning of May.  And I'll be honest, I'm heart broken.  Now, I'm trying to not let it get to me because I'm aware there are many things that still need to be fixed in my body, but I thought I was making headway.  In fact, I felt like I DESERVED to make headway.  But alas, life had other plans.  In any case, sitting and pouting will absolutely get me nowhere so lets try to troubleshoot what is happening.

Lets look at some of the factors:

Food wise, I'm eating the same things and save the 4th of July weekend where I splurged, I have been eating around 100 grams of net carbs per day since February.  Calories are roughly the same, protein and fat are roughly the same, I'm still avoiding the foods I've been avoiding and everything.  So I don't think food is the problem. 

Workout wise, I'm STILL doing the Drop 2 Sizes program.  In fact, today starts Phase 2 week 2 and I feel like I'm really killing it this time.  Probably because I have more energy.  In any case, I really feel like I'm getting stronger.  So perhaps the plateau is a building muscle thing. 

Health wise I hit a little snafu.  In June I started to feel pretty lousy again.  Old symptoms were creeping back in too frequently (fatigue, sleeping problems, hair problems etc ..).  So after a dialogue with my doctor, we realized I was not taking enough progesterone.  In fact, I was taking 75% less than what she wanted me on.  That's a big difference.  I was taking 25mg and she had wanted me on 100mg.  She sorted it out with the pharmacy and I'm one week into my new dose.  So far so good.

Now when I lay it all out on the line like that it just becomes glaringly obvious doesn't it?  So what's probably happening is that I'm gaining a little bit of muscle which has offset any real loss on the scale AND with my meds a little messed up, my body hasn't been working as efficiently as it could.

I have to be honest, I hadn't really put 2 and 2 together until I just typed that all out.  Probably should have thought that thru a little more before I had my pity party.

Ok, so here's what I'm going to do:  I'm going to take some measurements.  If I HAVE been gaining some muscle then I should be down.  And secondly, I'm just going to give it some time.  Which in my opinion is one of the WORST THINGS EVER.  I don't know about you but there is nothing worse than when my doctor tells me "you just have to give it some time to work".  There is no comfort in those words because all I hear is "There is nothing you can do.  You have no control over this".    Those are not the words you want to tell a control freak, which I am.

But that's what I have to do. 







Monday, June 8, 2015

One Month Check In

It's been ANOTHER month.


It wasn't the craziest month but I did get thru a major hurdle.

HOUSEGUESTS.


I don't know why but sometimes I find it hard to eat how I eat around other people.  It's not that I feel tempted to eat something that I shouldn't, but sometimes I find that I have to actually DEFEND myself.  I've oft found myself in situations with food pushers and food preachers.  Food pushers are people who think you need something else on your plate.  And it's usually something fatty, sugary, or fried.  Food preachers are people who like to tell you what is wrong with what you're eating and that if you just eat what they tell you, then all your problems will be solved.

Seriously folks, I really just want to eat my food in peace.  I KNOW sometimes I don't eat the most exciting things.  And in all honesty, sometimes I even get BORED with some of my food.  But I'm eating it because it's helping me become healthier.  That's all.  It's not a competition.  A co-worker said to me the other day in the lunch room that every time he looks at my meals it makes him feel bad about what he eats.  I told him to not feel that way because for all he knows he just caught me on a "good day".  And then I went back to my desk and thought about how food makes people feel LOTS of things.  I wasn't having a "good day" with my lunch, I was having a NORMAL day with my lunch.  But I didn't want him to feel bad.  And then here was someone who actually felt bad about himself just by looking at what I was eating.   Crazy right?

Food is powerful stuff.  But I have gone astray.  My point was that I was having houseguests and so for the first time since my lifestyle change, I had to plan for someone else's meals.  I really don't like that.  I'm not a food pusher.  I know I eat healthy and that I should want the rest of my family to follow suit but I don't want to make anyone feel bad about themselves.  Change has to come from within.  And I believe that the changes I've made in my life have been radical and they've only stuck thus far because I was ready.  And many of you may disagree with me but I am firmly aware that dishes that I make and LOVE do NOT taste good to others.  Don't get me wrong, it's not that I think the FOOD doesn't taste good.  I just believe that my taste buds went through a major overhaul when I started eating clean.  Things taste differently to me.  Fruit is sweeter, salt is saltier, and broccoli now tastes like ice cream.  Ok, maybe not that broccoli thing but you get where I'm going.  So I didn't really want to try to cook much.  And while eating "paleo" at restaurants isn't that big of a deal for most people, my pesky gluten intolerance does NOT allow for me to be willy nilly about just any old meat and vegetables.

Well, long story short.  I was successful AND unsuccessful.
First my successes:
1.  I managed to sneak our favorite (and very safe) restaurant into the mix TWICE
2.  On a laid back night my guests ordered pizza and while they were waiting on delivery I whipped up my favorite pizza so I could enjoy pizza with them.
3.  SNACKS.  I ate small snacks throughout the day so if they wanted to eat something special that I couldn't have I was covered.
4.  HONESTY.  I would check out the menu to places that were suggested and if I could find ABSOLUTELY NOTHING that seemed safe I was honest and asked for another suggestion.  And you know what?  They really didn't mind.

My FAILS:
1.  GETTING TOO COMFORTABLE.  At one restaurant I ordered my meal without asking any questions and when the food came, my gut was telling me to ask before I ate.  I ignored my gut and I ate.  I got SICK.


Actually the GETTING TOO COMFORTABLE reared it's ugly head one other time but I was lucky in that the questionable food ended up being safe.

You see, when it's just me, I'll research and ask questions and if I doubt anything, I'll pass on it.  But when I'm in front of people, I tend to just go with the flow.  Maybe it's because I wanted to be a good host or maybe I just wanted to feel "normal" again.  Either way, it's something I will work on for the future.


Other than the one sickness, it was a VERY successful time.  Everyone had a really great time.  I also have a big family vacation coming up in September and now I feel way more confident about it.

In other updates ....

I ended the month of May with a bit of a plateau weight wise.  I didn't gain and I didn't lose.  And on June 1st, I revisited my Drop 2 Sizes workout.  I guess I just felt like I was ready to give it another go.  Today is the start of Phase 1 Week 2.

Until next time ...




Friday, May 8, 2015

The Blood Sugar Solution continues ... Blood Tests are IN!

Lots to talk about.  So I apologize in advance for the length.

It's been just about 3 weeks since last I posted.

First of all, I can't believe it's been almost 50 days since I started the initial 10 day Blood Sugar Solution.  It's crazy how time flies.

So as I said in my first post, I had started the Blood Sugar Solution mainly because of suspected PCOS, insulin resistance, and my high blood glucose test results.  Secondary reasons of course include weight loss, hormone balancing, and health but I initially bought this book for the sole reason of getting my blood glucose levels DOWN.

And as you know the initial 10 days were a success.  Well, as far as the things I can measure at home they were a success.  I lost 4 pounds, a good amount of inches and I felt great.  It was around this time that I received a book in the mail that I had forgotten about.  I had signed up via a promotion months ago for a free book by Dr. Sara Gottfried (whom I love) called "The Hormone Reset Diet".  As I have stated previously, I have Estrogen Dominance by way of low progesterone.  I've known this for over a year now because my initial test results with my practitioner showed this.  But we didn't try to combat it til recently because my thyroid was the first thing on the list and it took us almost a year to get that at a manageable place.  Anyway, so I'm in the midst of tackling my blood sugar when I get this book and I'm excited because in my gut I just KNOW that if I could get my hormones balanced it would make a world of difference.

But I was conflicted because I had committed to doing The Blood Sugar Solution (from hence forth to be known as TBSS) until my next blood test.  Well imagine my surprise when I sit down and open her book and the foreword is by Dr. Mark Hyman (author of TBSS) so I'm hopeful that perhaps I'm already on the right track.  And then as I dig deeper and deeper into the book I realize I'm already doing like 99% of what she suggests for hormone balancing.  And as far as diet was concerned, it was almost spot on with what TBSS was having me do.  I was super excited because that meant what I had already been working on was doing double duty for me.  It was helping my blood sugar AND my hormones.  Not to mention that my doctor had JUST prescribed me a bio-identical progesterone cream.  Now all I needed was time to work it's magic.

And then came the end of my first 30 days.  I hit 10 pounds lost.  That's huge for me.  Granted, that big loss of 4 pounds in the first 10 days really helped make that number so big but still, I was ecstatic.  But I knew I still had another 3 weeks to go until my blood test and so I stayed the course.

Those weeks went fast.  I had my blood drawn on April 24th and then we immediately went on vacation the next day.  We took a trip to the Grand Canyon and Sedona because neither one of us have ever been.  It's a pretty long drive (7-8 hours) but totally worth it.  Seriously.  It was awe-inspiring.






And even though my blood had been drawn, I STILL stayed the course.  It wasn't the easiest thing on earth but it was definitely beyond doable.  Especially because my fiance has been doing this with me the ENTIRE TIME (FYI he has lost TWENTY pounds so far and NO he is not overweight).  I packed LOTS of snacks and did some googling on restaurants so I knew what I was in for.  It worked out great.  The only thing I had to make tiny exceptions for was sugar.  I allowed it in certain foods because I thought it was for the greater good.  For example, I packed us some organic beef jerky that was gluten free but it had been cured with sugar.  I also packed larabars, sweet potato chips, baby carrots, homemade ham spread, grain free granola, lots of water, and unsweetened almond milk.  And when we got there we were pleasantly surprised to find that there were a lot of healthy options everywhere.  We only went to restaurants for dinner and it was easy enough to find steak/chicken and vegetables.  Menus were even marked for gluten!  In Sedona, we hit up a Whole Foods and replenished our snacks for our drive home.

That brings us to May and I'm STILL on point with food.  Besides the sugar I allowed on our trip, the only other "discretion" I had was on May 2nd.  We went to see Avengers: Age of Ultron (we are HUGE Marvel fans) and in celebration of the movie, we took some non-GMO popcorn (grain) that we bought from Whole Foods.   Yeah, that last sentence there makes me sound like such a hipster but I kid you not, we felt like we were sneaking handfuls of candy from the candy jar.

And then finally, I had my doctor's appointment on May 5th.  I'm not going to lie, I was pretty nervous.  I had been working so hard on getting my blood sugar down.  And all I could think the day before was "What if it didn't work?".  Seriously, crazy nervous.  I didn't care that at this point I was now down 11.2 pounds I just wanted my blood sugar to be down.

And it was.  It went down NINETEEN POINTS.  That's HUGE!  I do need it to go down just a little bit more to a place that she's more comfortable with but she feels CONFIDENT that it can be done.  My insulin also went down.  In fact, almost ALL of my numbers were rocking the normal range.  And not high-normal, NORMAL-normal.  Well, ALMOST all of my numbers.  My testosterone is a little high but she feels like that is a result of my progesterone cream and it should resolve itself in a couple of weeks.  And besides, she said what I'm doing already is what she would tell me to do to get it down otherwise.  So the plan now is to wait THREE MONTHS til I see her again.  That's the longest we've gone between appointments in over a year.  Trust me, it's a good thing.

As for my diet, I told her what I had been doing and she agreed it was best to just keep on keeping on.  She said my insulin resistance is improving and the hope is that with more time under my belt with my diet I will eventually REVERSE it.  Can you imagine!!??  After that, she would adjust my diet for maintenance.

So there you have it.  I have 3 more months but I'm not worried one bit.  I'm so excited about my results that I'm hopeful for the future now.  I can honestly say that hasn't been the case for awhile.  Oh and since my doctor's appointment I've lost another 2 pounds.

So since I started TBSS on March 23rd, I've lost 13.2 pounds and dropped my blood sugar by 19 points. 

It's been crazy but honestly it's been worth it.  I'm always hesitant and nervous about the future but I'm going to do my best to keep at it because I SO want to see those numbers down even more when I get my next blood test in August.

I'll keep you posted!




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