Update: My Mysterious Illness

At the beginning of December, I was feeling pretty discouraged by an on-going, persistent roadblock in my health. Waves of dizziness and vertigo hit with unrelenting regularity. It was a little scary to feel so out of control and out of sorts and to not know what the trigger was or when it would hit next. Sometimes in class, I would stagger out of the room and get to the bathroom as quickly as possible to avoid being sick in front of my students or fainting. Deep breathing became my best strategy for calming down in the midst of an episode. And I went to my doctor for a variety of tests that all left me with no conclusions as to the cause. What makes it so unnerving is that it was both predictable and unpredictable, and definitely connected in some way to my emotional state or hormonal state. It would increase intensity at certain points in the month and disappear at others following somewhat of a pattern. So in order to combat this mysterious situation, I turned to some some dietary changes and creating new healthy, mindful habits. Now you know the origin of my resolutions to be healthy and happy from earlier.

Since the autumnal holiday of Thanksgiving, I have really felt and noticed that if I eat crap, I feel like crap. With reducing my dairy intake and switching my morning milk in my coffee to almond milk, plus taking a probiotic, my belly gut feels so much better! I thought the dairy switch would be hard but actually because I feel so much better skipping out on the cow’s milk, it has been easy to side step and embrace the overall better vibes and energy I have gotten in exchange. With this extra energy, I have had the courage and stamina to cook more often and authentically from scratch which has in general made me feel happier in the kitchen and excited because as the kiddos are getting older they are getting SO into helping in the kitchen. More vegetables, fruits, and goodness is making all of us slim down on those extra pounds we were carrying about. So with the extra energy and the slimmed down 5lbs, it has also been easier to get into a consistent workout plan with lots of slow flowing yoga and some strength training. I am feeling stronger and this positive momentum always has me feeling like I can keep it up and going. So things are feeling good right now. I still got a dizzy spell about a week ago but just one and that is SUCH AN IMPROVEMENT that I could cry in gladness over the dramatic change I am feeling from some positive dietary changes and activity choices.

The other piece that is probably helping me feel overall healthy and lighter is letting go. A part of me has wondered if some of my nauseous feelings and lightheadedness were related to my deep-seated desire to have more children which is in direct confrontation with David’s reproductive choices. While I was telling myself I was making progress because I was stifling it down better, I had a sneaking suspicious that perhaps some of these symptoms were psychosomatic. Was I acting pregnant because I wanted to be pregnant? During break, I tried to reflect on this a bit and figure out ways to shift my perspective from “woe is me” to a viewpoint of choice and empowerment. A friend from high school reached out to share a bit about gender sadness she was experiencing and how she connected to some of my previous sharings on the topic. It felt very humbling in the moment to realize that I am not alone and it gave me a feeling of stability within the whirlwind of emotions I have carried about me since David’s procedure. After that conversation, I thought to myself, “hmmmm if some of my longings for another child stem from gender sadness, and if I am not alone in these feelings, perhaps there are other moms out there who have written about gender sadness in missing out on having a boy?” There must be a mom out there with a gaggle of girls who has expressed a tinge of sadness of what it would have been like to have had access to the part of her heart that wants to love a son. I googled and googled and googled and asked David to google for this and we found…..nothing. At first I was like, wow no one is sad about only having daughters and then I thought, what the heck! Why aren’t women sad about missing out on the love of a son? My sons’ love is AMAZING! It is playful, messy, and intense, it is sweet and and gentle. It is boyish and not gendered, it is one of the most beautiful bonds I have ever experienced. My perspective has dramatically shifted. I don’t need a daughter in my life to live fantasies of dress shopping and superficial nonsense that I have been holding desperately too like some deranged Disney villain longing to live our her princess fantasy. And instead I was reminded that sometimes when I need a miracle I look into my sons’ eyes and realize I have already created two.

Maybe its causation or correlations but healing my tummy and healing my heart was a lot of healing this past month, and I definitely am feeling the changes.

Vegan Pledge

Today, Monday, November 26, 2012 ,David and I are officially starting an entirely whole-foods, plant based diet. Yes, you might think this is a radical approach to cut meat, dairy, and all foods that “had a face or a mother at some point” from our diet, but I am excited for this endeavor.  It most definitely will not be easy.  David and I have grown accustomed to eating meat and are too addicted to mac n’cheese. In the one year since we married, we have each gained 10 pounds of what I like to call “comfy weight.”  But, really this means that while we try to cook home most nights, we often ditch our own kitchen for something more convenient out of doors. David in particular has been categorized/demonized as a carnivore extraordinaire. Just the very idea of David eating veggies over meat will have many family and friends scratching their heads. Isn’t he from the South? Doesn’t he love his ribs, chicken wings, steaks, and burgers? Does he even eat vegetables? Ah, but little do the naysayers know that in fact this “carnivore” is a herbivore at heart. I will not be taking David down the path to vegetarianism kicking and screaming.  Rather, he is coming willingly especially after a Thanksgiving weekend in which he ate as much meat as physically possible (just shy of getting meat sweats) before this sudden and abrupt halt starting today.

Why now?  Well, why not!  Perhaps we do not want to be totally cliche by making this into a New Year’s resolution that people will inevitably be expecting us to break two weeks into the new year. Or perhaps we know that if we don’t start today then tomorrow will just never come. There is no better day then today the old saying goes. On Friday night we watched the documentary Forks Over Knives and realized that we have a great deal of information at our fingertips that has pointed us to the same conclusions made in this film. We have seen countless other documentaries, read books, blogs, and have noted that most of our doctors are vegans or vegetarians. Dr. Oz is a vegetarian, my father’s cardiologist is a vegan and my doctor has often discussed with me taking the same pledge to plant based eating as each of the individuals. So here I am making it. For some reason the commitment feels more validated when I write about it on the blog. As though each one of you will help hold me accountable or at least my writing about it will hold me accountable to it. Gorging myself on Thanksgiving and feeling bloated, full, and tight in my clothes afterwards also helped with the decision!

Yesterday was our “last hurrah” in the animal protein world. We went out for a delicious post thanksgiving brunch. Eating those eggs hit the spot.  I have always loved eating brunch and devouring as much coffee, potatoes, and eggs benedict as humanly possible. This time though I thought I would be sad as I said good-bye to my delightful, full-fat and protein rick brunch but I wasn’t.  I was actually excited to get the meal over and to start on my new path with David to more wholesome and nutrient rich eating habits. And with the last swallow, the pledge began.

Of course sticking to this pledge will require a great deal of work: planning meals, educating ourselves on the nutrients we need, and just plain ignoring/changing our old eating habits. Thankfully, I am not doing this alone. David and I will “struggle” through this dietary shift together and hopefully be lean, green, fighting machines on the other side!

Here are some helpful blogs we will be using during the transition:

Smitten Kitchen
101 Cookbooks
Oh my veggies