Thursday, July 4, 2013

Major Lifestyle Change

I recently started following a Paleo eating plan. How I came to this decision is kind of a long story probably no one cares about, so I'll skip it. I also won't go into too much detail about how to go about following it, because I'm still very new to it and would hate to give wrong information. If you want to know more about the diet, I suggest starting here and here. I did want to share about my results so far.

I am 99.9% sure I have an autoimmune disease called Primary Raynaud's Disease. I've never been formally diagnosed, but I have all the symptoms plus a family history. Basically, my body attacks the nerves connected to small blood vessels. When these damaged nerves are exposed to cold, the blood vessels spasm and pinch off. It's very painful. I have extensive nerve damage all over my body from this. I'm 99.9% sure I had an active attack over the winter, because it got a lot worse. The biggest reason I wanted to try this eating plan is because it eliminates foods that can cause inflammation, thus helping with autoimmune symptoms.

Today is day 33. I want to be very honest about this first part: The first three weeks were horrible. Your body detoxes from all of the junk you've been eating over the years. These toxins are stored in fat tissue, and when you no longer take in new junk, the old junk pours into your blood stream so it can be processed. I had headaches, fatigue, stomach issues, muscle aches, mood swings, it was ROUGH. BUT if you can tough it out through this phase, you come out feeling pretty great. (Also, the fat that was storing all these toxins is no longer needed, and the weight often comes off quickly. I lost 7lb the first week and am down a total of 12lb over 4.5 weeks. This was not my primary purpose, but it's a great side benefit!)

I committed to following the diet for two months to give it a try, and then would reevaluate. I'm already seeing fantastic results. This past Saturday, Papa Runner and I were at the Empire State Building at sunset. Once the sun went down, it got cool quickly what with the height and the breeze.

He asked me if I was cold.
"No, I'm not cold."
 He gave me a look and said, "Are you sure, because I'm cold and if I'm cold, you're freezing."
"No, I'm really not cold."
He reached out and touched my arm and said, "Hon, you're freezing."

And that's when I realized, I was cold. But I wasn't in pain! This is the first time in probably 20 years I've been cold without also being in pain. I am rather shocked by this. I was just hoping to prevent any further nerve damage. I didn't really expect the old damage to reverse, and certainly not after only 4 weeks. So I have to say, I'm pretty sold on this eating plan. I'm not completely healed, though. On our way home, we were in an airport restaurant that was really cold. After about 30 minutes, I had spasms in my fingers and feet. But this is still a huge improvement; normally it would have happened in less than 5 minutes.

I'm still working out the kinks of this plan, especially with regard to endurance running. Since I'm not carb loading, I don't seem to have as much energy for long runs. I'm trying to get more sweet potato and squash into my diet on my running days. I also used to run with sports beans and sports drinks, both of which are now off limit. I've replaced the beans with dried fruit and nuts and the drink with fruit infused water with a little salt added, and that seems to do the trick for me. Overall, though, I think I can stick with this long term.

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