Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Turning Back to a Holistic Approach

I mentioned earlier this week that I opted to take a step back this year. I was feeling burnt out on training. I was also tired of following such a structured meal plan.

There were noticeable benefits to doing both, but I was at a place where I wanted to put my energy elsewhere. I wanted to relax. And relaxing for me meant decreasing some of the unnecessary pressure in my life. The constant training and meal prepping felt like unnecessary pressure at the time.

I had spent much of 2013 and a good part of 2014 following a modified elimination diet. I was struggling with stomach problem from my hiatal hernia - primarliy acid reflux and nausea. And I was trying to train for a Marathon and then had dreams of training for a Half Ironman. Eliminating Gluten, Dairy, and Processed Sugar helped manage those symptoms. They also helped decrease some of the chronic inflammation I experience on my left-side.

The swelling I have in my left side has been something that I have experienced for the last 10 years. My left arm is always swollen. Sometimes just a little, it is visible, but it doesn't really bother me. Other times to point where it is numb and pretty uncomfortable. It has just been something I have grown accustom to.

My doctors have referred to it as stenosis and vascular Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. It is caused by one of the leads (re: wires) of my pacemaker/defib. And as long as I have my robot heart - that wire will be there - so it is just the price of doing business. Despite the fact that the swelling is a nuisance, it is a relatively mild side-effect considering my ICD allows me to *ummm literally* live, but also lead the active happy lifestyle I have become accustom to.

A few weeks ago I decided to explore acupuncture in an attempt to treat this chronic condition, and I have been amazed by my results. I have had 4 treatments and I have noticed a significant improvement. Here is how my acupuncture treatments and results have gone so far...
Treatment #1 - I didn't notice much change.
Treatment #2 - I noticed an improvement in the range of motion of my left arms for approximately 3 days.  The colour improved significantly. My left arm is often red and angry looking due to the poor circulation, but it started to take on a more natural colouring.
Treatment #3 - I could actually start to see the natural shape and muscle in my arm - something I have not seen in over a decade! This a was HUGE! (and to be honest not something I was expecting - I was skeptical)
Treatment #4 - The swelling decreased for a longer period of time almost 5 days. And there was no swelling at all below the elbow anymore.

I am shocked that I have been able to see such a noticeable change in such a short period of time. And it is definitely something I plan to continue. I am hoping that by the end of the year I will actually be able to eliminate the swelling full-stop. Which is not something I would have thought was possible 4 weeks ago.

My adventures in acupuncture have helped reminded me how important and beneficial a holistic approach to health really is.

Admittedly, this is something I have always known, but I have been lazy about it lately. I know that certain changes in my diet have helped manage the inflammation in my body in the past, and it is something I have been thinking about for the last 4 months. But honestly, I just didn't want to make those changes.

I like cheese. I really like bread. I have been enjoying plenty of processed sugar lately. And I didn't want to give that up. I didn't want to put in the extra work to meal prep and plan ahead. But after starting my acupuncture treatments, I have realized that I need to start prioritizing my health and also myself.

I met with my friend Cara, also now my Naturopath (<--- you can find her here, or you can find her here), this morning to discuss next steps. When I sit down and put it all together, there are a lot things going on and a lot of reasons I need to get back into more structured routine...

  • Inflammation - as mentioned above, this is something I really want to work on
  • Acid Reflux - definitely still an on-going problem, but it always worse when I am stressed (aka now)  
  • Poor Sleep - I have always been a bad sleeper, but it seems like it getting worse all the time, and Cara mentioned it could be caused by my acid reflux
  • Eczema - I have had flare ups on and off for years
  • Preparing My Body for a Healthy Pregnancy - it is no secret that following my miscarriage in August that getting my body back into a healthy place so we can try again, is one of my top priorities
So here we are, these are all the reasons why I know I need to start making a change. And that despite knowing better, there have been a lot symptoms I have just chosen to ignore because it felt somehow easier.

I am going for initial blood work this week and I am starting off with some small changes..
  1. Eat more Protein. (*Reasons why I love Cara... "ummm so I have seen your food posts and you definitely need more protein. I would never say anything before, but since you are asking..." haha Okay Check!*) She mentioned focusing on getting Protein, Carbs, and Fat in each meal/snack and I know that is not something I am doing now. I am basically a Carbo-holic
  2. Cut out all Processed Grains and limit Gluten
  3. Eliminate (or at the very least severely limit) Dairy
  4. Limit Coffee - I don't want to get rid of coffee all together, but I am willing to scale way back to 1 cup a day (as opposed to my regular 3-5)
I am definitely ready.
Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,