Okay, so I’ve been absent from my blog for a while. I’ve had so much going on in the past few months that I have had a hard time sitting down and putting it in writing.
First, I started the Institute for Integrative Nutrition’s Health Coach Program mid-March. The information that I have learned in just 8 weeks has been amazing. I think, “Oh, I need to blog about this,” but by the time I sit down to do it, I’ve listened to another lecture that I also want to write about. I think this is a major example of what tends to go on in the mind of an analytical person- paralysis by analysis. I sit down and look at everything, then keep looking at it, and looking at it. I have every intent to do something with it, but I enjoy the analysis portion too much. Maybe you can relate or maybe you think I’m crazy.
Anyway, one of my pre-course lectures was by Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride. She is a neurologist with a nutrition clinic in London. Her book is called the Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) and she talked about how the gut is the basis of all disease and many disorders that we have today stem from a leaky or dysfunctional gut that does not properly absorb the nutrients we eat. As a neurologist she focused mainly on treating depression, dyspraxia, autism, seizures, and other learning disabilities.
As I listened to her lecture, I thought, “Wait a minute, what’s dyspraxia?” so I went and looked it up. Well, kids with dyspraxia often are later than other kids to sit, crawl, stand, walk, speak, potty-train, build a coherent vocabulary, etc. Besides speech problems they also have problems with fine and/ or gross motor skill control. Um, that was describing my son. He doesn’t have any gross motor skill issues now, but he had major physical therapy through ECI as a toddler and eventually walked at 22 months. His fine motor skills are a little behind and his speech is delayed as well.
I kind of struggled with this info. I had been wondering if his developmental delays were something that he would grow out of or something that required intervention and treatment. It seemed like this was the answer. I had spent so much time searching when he was a toddler, why did I never find dyspraxia? I was reluctant to start to get an official diagnosis because I don’t want some doctor to push a bunch of drugs on him. Plus he’s been poked and prodded by lots of “ologists” and I didn’t know if it’d be worth it go to another one. Especially since the treatment for dyspraxia now is mostly speech, physical, and occupational therapies. He already gets speech through the school and has done amazing. I finally decided that an official diagnosis would help, but started him on the GAPS diet anyway.
The GAPS nutritional protocol itself is not easy. He can’t have sugar, only naturally sweet foods like fruit and honey. It’s not just gluten free, it’s completely grain-free. The only dairy he can have is the fermented kind, like yogurt and kefir and I have to make those for him from scratch to make sure that all the lactose is completely fermented out. The week before we started this diet I spent more than 50 hours shopping, prepping, batch cooking and freezing, and finally cleaning up the bomb that my kitchen had become. Ever since then I have done a lot of cooking from scratch and playing around with recipes to figure out something that my kids will like.
GAPS is a very high animal fat diet to help the brain and fix the gut. However, competition preparation requires food that is lean with healthy fats like coconut, olive, flax, and walnut oils added in. So I actually end up cooking two different meals. Pretty awesome, right? Not really. I had these grandiose plans of doing a competition in Galveston in the middle of May, but just did not have the focus to get done to competition shape during all this chaos, especially during that crazy prep week when I spent so much time cooking.
I’m not sure if you’ve ever tasted grain-free baked goods, but let me assure you that you wouldn’t be impressed. The only flours you can use are almond and coconut and, besides being very expensive, they make very dense heavy breads and pancakes that end up tasting very “eggy.” So, as I’m cooking and baking, I’m also sampling to see how it’s going to taste, and to get an idea if Wyatt will like it or not. Then I would add a little something and sample again. After that week of poor sleep and too much sampling of high fat, dense seed and nut flour foods, I was a wreck. I decided the May show was a bridge too far.
Another thing that hit me hard while all this going on was that my daughter had to get glasses and she got diagnosed with dyslexia. I had been nearsighted when I was younger, until I had the eye surgery in my twenties and so was my husband so I didn’t even think that she might be farsighted. Devin could always read stuff far away so I wasn’t sure why she all the sudden stopped liking to read books. I wasn’t too worried though. My husband can pick anything up by watching it being done once. He’s fixed multiple complex problems with my car by watching a YouTube video and then going out and doing it. I just figured that’s how she best learns as well so I didn’t want to push her and make her hate reading all together.
She finally admitted that things were blurry when she tried to read so I took her to the eye doctor. Again, this was something that caused me a lot of guilt too because I hadn’t taken her sooner. I haven’t had any vision problems since I had eye surgery so it’s not something that I thought about. Well, anyway, she got to pick out her cute glasses and she likes wearing them.
Then a few days later the school district tested her for dyslexia and said that she did have it. Double whammy. She’s made mostly A’s her whole time in school. I had no idea that she might have dyslexia. Her attitude has been great though. I’m not sure if you watch the Disney Channel, but one of the shows for older kids called “Shake It Up” has a teenage actress on it named Bella Thorne. She has done some Disney Channel PSA’s for dyslexia and told the story of how she found out she had it when she was a kid, worked hard and read more every day and now reads one grade level above her peers. Devin loves that show and has seen that PSA numerous times. When we got the results back from her test, she ran upstairs, grabbed her books and said that she was going to read more like Bella Thorne so she could beat dyslexia. That’s my girl!
Meanwhile, I have regular every day stuff going on, like trying to build my business, clean my house, do laundry, and get my workouts in. Sometimes things are really slow in the business department and I get kind of frustrated. I mean, they always say that it takes a couple of years to build a business, but it’s hard to remember that when you feel like you’ve been at it for a while and progress is slow. I keep thinking of Oprah. To say the woman is amazing is an understatement. Even though she had built herself an empire, it still took her several years to get the Oprah Winfrey Network off the ground. That’s how all new business are, they just take time to build. I’m definitely not a better business woman than she is so I keep telling myself to keep plugging along, keep being consistent and getting my message out there. People will eventually hear it.
Okay, so you can see that I’ve been a little busy and stressed as well as feeling guilty. Some may think that my stress is a walk in the park, while others think that they would not be able to deal with it. It’s all a matter of perception. I just let stress build up until every little thing just bothers the heck out of me. That kind of stress and subsequent lack of sleep can completely ruin any weight loss efforts, forget about getting lean enough for a show.
How? Well, in all the spare time that I don’t have I’ve been reading a book by Dr. Libby Weaver called Accidentally Overweight. Her PhD is in biochemistry and her theory is that there are 9 different puzzle pieces that have to be in place for a person to lose weight. They are: calories, stress hormones, sex hormones, liver, thyroid, insulin, gut bacteria, alkalinity, and emotions, and she talks about why each and every one of them plays a role in our biochemistry. Your eyes may be glazing over at the thought of reading that, but I have found it very interesting.
Stress wreaks havoc on our goals because when we are stressed we tend to pump out a lot of adrenaline. Our body doesn’t know that stress is more psychological these days instead of literal so it is preparing us to flee from danger. Our autonomic nervous system is the nervous system that controls the processes in our body that happen automatically and it has two main components, the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. Parasympathetic is in charge of the rest, digest, and recover functions, like muscle rebuilding, digesting food, fighting infection, hair and nail growing, etc. Sympathetic is in charge of the life saving measures like breathing, heart rate, pupils dilating to see more in less light, the fight or flight instinct, etc.
The sympathetic nervous system is fueled by glucose, which is quick burning fuel while the parasympathetic is fueled by fat, or slow burning fuel. If you are always stressed, your body thinks that you are in danger and is constantly preparing to run. All of your rest, digest, and recover processes are put on hold. Your body can store lots of fat, but it only has so much space to store glucose so after a while of sympathetic nervous system dominance, when the glucose levels get low it will either take it from your muscles or cause you to have a craving for a quick sugar source. Prolonged stress can lead to increased cortisol which packs even more fat on. Basically, at that point your body is preparing for a long-term stressor like famine or a war. If you were to cut your calories at that point, you would be telling your body that it is right, there’s a shortage of food due to a famine and it better pack on the fat if it wants to survive.
You may think, “But I’m not THAT stressed. I’m not in danger.” The truth is that your body doesn’t know the difference. It can’t tell the difference between the physical stress of eminent danger and the psychological stress of today’s world. We have to be able to deal with stress better in order to lead healthier lives.
I know that I don’t deal with stress very well, I like to hold it all in. As far as my body is concerned, I may as well be constantly on the verge of getting ripped apart by a bear. As a result of all the stress, my body wanted to hold onto the fat. I’ve been doing some awesome muscle building in the off-season, but you won’t really see it, until I can coax my body to lose the fat. I also had some bad cravings for sugary things that I hadn’t had in a while because my body needed the glucose. My immune system has not been what it used to be either. I recently got sick for the first time in over a year. Last fall I took care of two sick kids and a sick husband on two separate occasions and barely got the sniffles. Now, with my compromised immune function, some usual seasonal allergies turned into a horrible sinus infection.
I have had to learn a lot really quickly in the past few months. To start with I take more adaptogenic herbs in the form of Ionix Supreme by Isagenix. They help my body deal with stress the healthy way. I also have learned to stop and take several deep breaths. Not lung-only breaths, but ones where I stop holding my stomach in and let it fully expand. That calms me down and lets my body realize I’m not in danger. I mean, you can’t take deep breaths when you’re running from a bear. I also have had to take more time to relax and stretch. Not only has that helped me recover from some grueling workouts, but it’s also helped my body just loosen up in general. On top of that I am lowering my caffeine intake, from coffee in particular. I just drink black coffee so there are no calories, but caffeine works by stimulating the adrenal glands which have already been over firing and causing too much in the way of sympathetic nervous system dominance. I drink less caffeinated teas like unsweetened green tea, kukicha, rooibos, oolong, etc.
My point of all this is that whether you’re trying to bust a weight loss plateau or get down into a single digit body fat percentage, your body is not going to lose fat when you’re stressed and not getting good recovery time. Forget looking good in a swimsuit, you’re going to be more open to sickness and other kinds of degenerative diseases as well.
I’m now about 7 weeks out from a competition in Miami and I’m getting things together and getting my focus back. I’ve got a little bit of a groove going with making Wyatt’s food as well as batch cooking my food, but I still have to decide, am I going to do this competition or not? Feeling guilty and kicking myself for not catching something sooner or being too hard on myself for not being perfect will not help at all. I am so grateful for the wonderful husband and kids that I have. They are healthy, happy, and well adjusted. Their learning disabilities will only affect the way they learn, not who they are or who they become. They just need to be kids and know how much I love them. Being stressed and guilty is not going to be helpful to them in anyway. I’ve got to just own my chaos and move forward.
If I’m going to do this contest, which I am, I have to have laser focus in these next few weeks. There’s no “kinda” prepping for a show. I don’t want to walk out there next to all those ladies and say, “Well, I’m a little more jiggly because I didn’t get to prep as well because I had stuff going on.” There’s no category for that in the judges’ criteria. It’s not like golf where I can calculate my handicap based on life events. You either do it, or you don’t. I have to keep my diet exactly on plan as well as keep my stress to a manageable level and make sure to get all my workouts in.
I hope my confessions with stress and other things helped you see how stress may be effecting you as well. Unfortunately, too many in the fitness industry have given the misconception that fat loss is only about calories in vs calories out. If someone is overweight it’s got to be because they are too lazy or eat too much. It’s just not that simple. While that does work for some, the body is far too complex for that most of the time.
In future blogs I’ll let you know how I’m doing on my competition prep as well as explore the other “puzzle pieces” to fat loss and true health.
Questions? Comments? Please let me know.