Studio Musings

Monday, July 9, 2018

Finding my Way Back to Me

It's been so long since my last blog post!  As my desire to blog has slowly returned, I've debated whether I should try to revive my poor, neglected Baublicious, or whether I should simply start fresh with a whole new blog.  In the end, I decided there have been enough endings and transitions in my life this year, I'm not ready for another.

That elimination diet I mentioned in my last post, back in January?  The one that was supposed to last 30 days?  Well, I ended up having to stick with it well into April, continuing to refine and eliminate additional foods until I could find a stable spot for my body to start healing. The good news is it has worked.  My health has improved significantly in so many, many ways.  Even areas that I simply took for granted as 'the way things are', like seasonal allergies, haven't been as bad as previous years. 

The only fly in the ointment is I can't stay on my very restricted diet forever, and I'm still having significant troubles reintroducing foods. Yep, I'm still in stuck in the reintroduction phase - it's slow going. I still have bad days, when my body decides to reject the latest food reintroduction.  Thankfully, the bad days are interspersed amongst the much more frequent good ones.  The bad days help me remember just why I embarked on this journey in the first place. 

The good news is that for the first time in forever, my mind keeps turning to creative endeavors not because I feel like I 'have to' or 'ought to' do them, but because I truly want to.  At the same time, I feel like I'm relearning how to be creative.  Rebuilding my creative muscles and stamina.  Last month I focused on daily sketching.  I signed up for a 30 day "Find Your Flow" workshop with Karen Abend, and committed to drawing for at least a half hour every day through the month of June.  My biggest challenge was giving myself permission to create wonky, imperfect, and often incomplete sketches, and simply enjoy the process.  So far so good! 

This happened to coincide with an invitation from my mother-in-law to join her on an Alaskan cruise earlier this month.  So I have plenty to blog about!  I just need to retrain myself to put blogging into my routine.  For so long, it's taken all of my focus simply to accomplish the must-dos on my daily lists.  It feels amazing to have energy enough to reach out for creativity, for friendship, to find my way back to the me that makes me smile.  Makes me feel like dancing!

Monday, January 15, 2018

Two Down, Two to Go

This is a totally non-bead related, non-artsy post, fair warning.

Health-wise, the past few years have been a bit of a roller coaster as I've dealt with a series of auto-immune issues.  Things flared up again big time this past fall, to the point that I could barely breath during the day and only slept in 10-15 minute increments before waking up choking.  Really not good!

This fall I got to visit with a whole slew of specialists, including an otolaryngologist who sent me to another specialist to verify that my hearing hadn't actually been damaged (it hadn't thank goodness!), and gave me referrals for environmental allergy testing as well as a sleep study.  But he discouraged me from being tested for food allergies.  I believe his concern was that in the state I was then, the results would say I was sensitive to everything.

Instead, he suggested that I cut out specific foods to see if my symptoms would improve, and suggested that I do an elimination diet, what he called the "Gold Standard" to let my system heal, and then slowly reintroduce 'suspect' foods while keeping a food journal to track sensitivities and reactions.

With the holidays fast approaching, I decided to put it off until the day after New Year's.  January 2nd, I jumped in with both feet - cutting out everything that I seemed to cause problems, and a few extras that I was told to cut, just to be thorough.  Check out my "No Fun" list of all the foods I'm currently avoiding - isn't it fun?  (Not!)  This is supposed to go on for a full four weeks before I start the reintroduction process.  Weeee!

Here's what I've learned so far.

Week One: Cutting caffeine, sugar and wheat out of one's diet all at once is truly no fun.  In fact, it was pretty darned awful.  Crushing headaches, joint pain, fevers, nausea, other things best not to mention; if my energy levels hadn't been pretty good, I would have thought I'd caught the flu.  But the good news, is if you do it all at once, then when it's done it's done.  I don't think I could have gone through that multiple times.

Week Two was more of a mental challenge.  I don't love to cook, and this diet pretty much insures that I have to cook every meal at home because it seems that almost everything prepackaged includes something I'm avoiding.  Even luncheon meats - if it's not added sugars, it's garlic powder (my one cheat is a little bit of bacon).  Figuring out how to make large batches of food that still taste good as leftovers with my limited ingredient list when I'm sick of cooking - yep, that was my challenge.  Mostly, I was grumpy at all the things I can't eat right now. 

Early in the week I also dealt with some energy issues.  I'd head out to walk to the bus and find myself extremely light-headed, and my legs wobbly.  Finally figured out that I needed more starchy carbs in my diet - I'd better not develop a sensitivity to sweet potatoes, because they are currently my best friend.   Once I figured that out, I was even able to make it through a light work out at the gym on Sunday for the first time in months.  Baby steps - I keep reminding myself. 

Otherwise, I am seeing a definite improvement in many of my ongoing symptoms.  Yippee!

from Practical Paleo by Dianne Sanfilippo
Now, I'm heading into Week Three.  

Week One I put together a meal plan. Week Two, I kept telling myself to put one together, but never actually did because I was too busy being grumpy.  Week Three, I'm determined to make a real meal plan and try out at least three new recipes.  I'm debating a recipe for Broc-Cauli Chowder from Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo.  Would it really taste good? Especially without the garlic?  Maybe I'd be safer with the Butternut Sage soup on the next page?  Hmmm...

Either way, I need a new blender, so I've been researching options.  Hoping not to spend too much, and I want something really, really easy to clean.  I hated our old blender (dead now for ten plus years); the glass container was too big and heavy, and soooo difficult to clean.  This time around I think I'm looking at a personal blender.  Lighter weight, and easier to clean.  Hopefully it will also work reasonably well.  Keeping my fingers crossed.  I'm also thinking about buying a hand-crank spiralizer.  Zucchini noodles may be in my future.

I fear that's where all of my extra bandwidth has gone, these first two weeks of 2018.  I am wide open to recipe suggestions; if you have a favorite recipe that fits (or can be made to fit) my limitations, I'd love to see it.  I'd also love to hear your experiences if you've done a similar elimination diet in the past (or are doing one right now).  Even with my nutritionist's recommendations, I really feel like I'm making this up as I go.