I am back with a literal and figurative point to prove. After a humbling medical DNF in Placid, I came home to nurse my injuries and wipe the slate clean. I had nothing but time while laying in bed allowing my spleen and ribs to heal to read, research, watch videos, read blogs and take notes on everything triathlon.
The first thing I felt I had to address was my diet. I considered myself to have been eating the “right” foods for my Autoimmune Disease, cutting out all things Gluten as I was allergic to wheat. I wasn’t a label reader by any means, the extent to which I would look was if the packaging said “Gluten Free” it was fine for me to eat. Lazy? MMMMM, Maybe. For the most part, I’m like every other single parent working two jobs it was time, distractions and everything in my life was fit into a neat little compartment, I didn’t have the time or energy to put into structured shopping and meal prep. I was a linear thinker when it came to nutrition and “diet”. I knew I had to follow the rules pertaining to the food pyramid. Eat your veggies, proteins, grains and dairy. This stuff is mashed into our lives from the time we are small. As a child of the 70’s and 80’s there were no water bottles at lunch for us. We had trays stacked up outside of our classrooms of those little red milk cartons that make the fantastic bubbling sound with a straw. Admit it, you just giggled because you did it too.
I opted a few years ago to try various, internet and multi level marketing promoted shakes. What a learning curve. Every product I tried or was suggested to me was made in a lab, compounded into a power to be consumed once or twice a day. Are these good for some people? Yes. Are they expensive? YES. Were they right for Me? NO.
For each new shake trial, most days I felt worse than I felt better. It became cyclical for me with a combination of good days and bad days, trying to find that perfect “shake”. Daily I wondered what I was doing wrong and why it was working for all these other people and not me?? The more I read and took I notes, one thing kept becoming more clear. Eating right is not a “one size fits all” thing. It is a thing that is specific to each individual person on a cellular level.
Because, you know...SCIENCE.
In September, 2018 after Ironman on my follow up post Spleen injury I was 5 feet 5” tall and weighed in at 155 pounds. I thought I was in relatively good shape and kind of just resolved myself to the fact that this was my “healthy weight”. I thought my Hashimotos was for the most part managed as well as my asthma and other AID symptoms. (Prior to being diagnosed with Hashimotos Hypothyroid with Autoimmune (Celiacs) I was 5’5” and 124 pounds in October, 2010. At my heaviest before finding the right dose of TiroSint (150mcg) I was 178 pounds in April, 2011. 54 pounds. In 6 months. Holy cow. I looked and felt terrible.
The end of September, I bought the book “The Plant Paradox” written by Steven R. Gundry, MD. It was the first time in recent memory that everything that was going on in my body made any sense. I felt empowered. Shortly after, I called my Mom, Joan on the phone. “Hi, Mommy!!” “Hi, Baby!!” (Our daily greeting for each other. ), “Mom, I know you already think I am a crazy person with the Ironman obsession, but I need your help” “Sure, what do you need?” I began to explain to my Mom in detail this super structured, daily food plan and diet I needed to try. I got the usual “Your Crazy” from Mom but surprisingly it was followed by a “I think this is fantastic and I’ll do what I can to help”.
I first had to address my “vices”. I don’t drink or smoke but, damn do I like my candy and potato chips. I had become dependent on their comfort food feel on a daily basis. Dare I say, I was addicted to simple sugars and starches. I went through my house and purged it of any and all synthetic sugars and potatoes. (I cannot confirm nor deny that I cried a little). Next came the grains. They all got packed up and stored into the bomb shelter in my basement, along with anything that contained any Soy byproduct. (I genuinely had no idea that Soy is in almost everything) This was becoming a labor of love. I love my chocolate, however I had zero idea that most commercial chocolate has soy in it. I spent 45 minutes in my local health food store reading the back of every label of dark chocolate. Know where I found the best one? Starbucks. As much as I love my dairy, that went too.
Then, I proverbially sat back and waited to embrace the suck. The suck of withdrawing from synthetic sugar and grains. It was hard, but tolerable. When it got bad at work and I was stressed, I would immediately have a thought pop up to grab for a comfort food. I was crabby and a touch irritable but it was tolerable. I refused to get on the scale. (I do this every morning religiously to keep track in my upswing of maintaining water weight) I began to follow a daily, structured routine of certain foods and started to religiously meal prep. My Mom helped. She would help me with my grocery shopping, reading labels with me. Everything became about “pastured” meat and dairy. Makes sense if your allergic to certain grains, to stop consuming things that consume grains. I would come home, Mom would have meal prep suggestions and find the best prices on pastured chicken and beef. Courtney then jumped on board. “If your doing this, then I’ll do it too. Maybe it will help my Crohn’s”. It became teamwork.
About three weeks in, I noticed it. My anxiety level decreased. My clothes began to feel loose and I genuinely began to feel like I had some energy back. Initially, I thought it was a coincidence between my spleen healing and feeling better. But quickly I realized it wasn’t.
Mid October, I went to Labcorp and had my annual blood work for my thyroid. Dr. Fomin runs my Vitamin D, TSH, T3, T4, Cortisol and Thyroid Antibodies. I went to see Dr. Fomin on November 8th. Dr. Fomin is a whirlwind of an Endocrinologist, her office staff is incredible. She comes buzzing in shakes hands, sits at her little glass computer desk and asks me how I am doing as she is pulling up my lab work. I state that I am well, I now weigh 142 pounds, however my hair is falling out and my anxiety level has been a bit off the charts at night as I am not sleeping well. She looks up at me and back at the computer screen and asks what I am doing different. I explain to her my diet and all of the changes I have made in the last two months. I talked to her about my training schedule and how well I have been doing with it.
She comes back from around her desk and says…”Well, these symptoms are due to you now taking too much Tirosint” Wait. What?! She said “Your Thyroid antibodies have come down 60 percent, you have lost weight and your numbers show your taking too much, so we need to lower your dose. That is what is causing your symptoms”. She told me it looks like I’m well on my way to “healing” my thyroid. Gave me a Script for more blood work in 6 weeks and told me to call her after I get it done.
You know that feeling you get when you WIN at something? That was the feeling I had walking out that door that day.
Eating the right food initially was a labor of love, it turned into a love of eating right. It made me more driven than ever before to be the best version of myself. I committed 100 percent to eating only the things I should eat to give my body the fuel it needs to succeed in healing. Two weeks ago, after two really long training days (usually adds two pounds of water weight) and 5 12 hour shifts, I got on the scale. Unprepared for what I was going to see. 139 Pounds. Oh. EM. GEE!!! This morning, I weighed in at 137.5. I have never been hungry, I have no gas or gas pains, I have zero joint pain, my anxiety level is almost gone (minus the one or two pucker factor jobs I have had at work), the brain fog has completely dissipated. I am back to my 03:30 am wake ups and two hours of training before work. The most important part is I feel fantastic and have a positive mental attitude, which is palpable to all who know me.
Teamwork, has made my dream work and for that I am grateful.
Here is a one day sample of what I eat on the Medic Truck: (Most of what I get is from either Whole Foods or ShopRite)
Coffee is life. Medium roast coffee with one teaspoon of coconut sugar and some Organic Heavy cream from Pastured cows and 1 tablespoon of organic MCT Oil.
1 tab of AltRed
Banana with shredded coconut, chocolate flax and chia seeds.
“So Delicious” brand Coconut milk yogurt. (The Key Lime is crazy good)
Raw, unsalted almonds.
Broiled brussel sprouts baked with avocado oil and pink sea salt. (I love snacking on these while on the Medic truck)
1 pan fried then baked chicken breast, with organic pastured fresh shredded cheddar on top and ½ cup mashed red sweet potatoes with kerrygold butter and pink salt.
½ avocado or broiled asparagus
If I really am in a jam and need something sweet, 1 teaspoon Manuka honey. (Keeps the bad virus JUJU away)
For 2019’s Tri season, I am now a proud member of the Speed Sherpa Nation (www.speedsherpa.com). I have an entire, national Tri family who now has my back. They help me train, keep me motivated to help me be the best version of myself. Feel free to read all about them and their mission on their web site!
Next week Denise and I get in the pool for the start of our training and my cycling classes at Cycles 54 in Wall, NJ start January 3rd...can’t wait to tell you all about our training shenanigans! Until then, stay safe and be good to each other! ~ T