The Girl with the Scarlet Letter

Have you ever had one of those moments where someone told you something and for a split second you had built it up to be so magnificent in your mind, only to drop down about 14 levels of joy once you figured out what it really was?  I had one of those moments yesterday.

I have come to accept the fact that I probably won’t be able to eat (with any confidence anyway) at most places. I no longer throw the early-diagnosis-esque tantrums like I once did if the menu doesn’t have a gluten-free option.

Yesterday was no different…I was going to a cornhole tournament/football watching function at a local bar…where yes, everyone does know your name.  I had confirmed that there would in fact be Woodchuck Cider available (my favorite GF beer!) but since I hadn’t been there since my diagnosis, I already expected that there would be nothing ‘safe’ for me to eat.  My pre-diagnosis trips had included quick glances at the menu to find the greasiest menu item available in an attempt to soak up a portion of the beer that I was undoubtedly ingesting, of course none of the items being gluten-free.

Right before I walked into the door after setting up cornhole boards, the girl that was in charge of the function said something to me about being gluten-free. Then she said, ‘I have something for you to eat.”  What?! I about wet my pants. Had I hallucinated that I’d have a safe food? Could it be that I wouldn’t have to sit there for hours without something to snack on (i.e. something to soak up the alcohol)?!  I was in disbelief.  I felt like Charlie Bucket discovering his golden ticket!

I wondered what it was…a GF dip of some sort…a burger without the bun…a delicious salad with GF dressing. It was a bar after all, so the food running through my mind was not exactly all diet friendly.  What could it be?! What was in store?!

She turned to reach in her bag to pull out my GF surprise…my mind was running like a slot machine….Chips…Fries…Chips…Jackpot!!!!  She reached in….oh I can’t handle the suspense anymore…hand in her bag…I’m salivating…she grabbed the bag…stop the madness already, I’m starving…and she pulled out my treat…

A perfect peach.

Trust me…I am more than grateful and so incredibly humbled that she thought of me and thought enough to even offer me something to eat.  Her kindness to someone she had only just met meant a great deal to me.  And trust me, I know that a peach was a far, far better choice than what I might have previously ordered. And for that, my waistline thanks you, Tricia.

But amongst the smell of burning grease, beer, and hot dogs…I was momentarily deflated.  This is what my ‘cheat days’ have turned into: GF beer and fruit.

I didn’t eat it there because I tend to end up looking like the child below when I eat peaches…half my makeup dripping off the bottom half of my face but sticky and smelling like summer.  I did absolutely destroy it when I got home and it was delicious!!!

I do want to mention that it is not a requirement for me to eat when I go out. However, being able to have a little snack while the rest of my friends are indulging on Eat This Not That’s worst offenders does allow me to feel a slight sense of normalcy…something I haven’t felt since I was diagnosed.   I can’t hide in my own kitchen forever.  I know I need to suck it up and deal with it.

I’ve become that girl that restaurants hate.  I’m the one that walks in and the kitchen staff instantly starts whispering “There’s the girl with all the demands…There’s the girl that is adamant about salt and pepper only on her salmon and absolutely no other bulk seasoning…There’s the girl that requests that we change our gloves and utensils so we don’t contaminate her food…There’s the girl that proclaims that if we accidentally give her something with gluten that she will get violently ill on the spot and run off all the other customers.” (Ok so I won’t exactly get violently ill the second it hits my tongue but I do say that if I feel like the waiter/waitress isn’t listening to me. You’d be surprised how well they pay attention if they feel like they might to have to clean up vomit if they don’t comply.)

I feel at times I need to wear a t-shirt with my demands. I need a nametag with my requirements.  I should be sporting a scarlet letter of my own.  There’s THAT girl….the marked girl…the different girl…the girl with the scarlet G.

But, THAT girl lost weight this week….

 

I’m slowly learning not to sweat what I can’t control.  And that my body is much happier in the long run. I may have had beer and fruit at the bar…but by God my stomach didn’t hurt afterwards!  And for that I did truly hit the jackpot.

And you better believe I’ve got peaches on my grocery list…

“Be not afraid of growing slowly; be afraid only of standing still.”

~ Chinese Proverb

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If I’d Only Known Then What I Know Now…

My, how time flies. It seems just like yesterday that I was a 10 year old kid, going for bike rides in Sardis Woods. Time was spent playing outside and daydreaming about boys in Teen Bop magazine. Summers were spent on the beach with no care about what was poking in or out of my bathing suit. Those were all good times and my only dread was finding out that we were having something gross for dinner.

Me - Around age 10.

Then one day it dawns on you that you’ve made quite a few mistakes over the course of your life, only now you’re wise enough to label them as “experience” instead of “mistakes”.  Whether your mother sits you and your sister down for an EE (educational experience) on an article she read regarding an uptick in deviant teenage behavior or you find out on your own in 8th grade that sneaking out at 1am with your best friend will lead to you being grounded – you learn. Hopefully. This weight loss journey thus far has let me to reflect on a lot of the lessons I should have learned a lot sooner in life. And with that I present you with another list of…

The 40 Things I Wish I Had Known When I Was Younger:

  1. Don’t do anything to lose weight you can’t continue for life; the weight will just come back and HUNT YOU DOWN!
  2. Food isn’t a best friend, soother, lover or caretaker. It’s just food. Energy. Fuel.
  3. If berating myself really worked, I’d be thin as a Pixie stick. It didn’t. I wasn’t. Stop it.
  4. What other people might think of me is none of my business.
  5. Fat-free is not the answer. Snackwells will expand your @ss.
  6. Self-esteem is an inside job.
  7. Don’t let high school PE classes sour you on physical activity. Exercise is AWESOME. Those tacky gym suits are not.
  8. Eat whole, real, identifiable food. If you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it.
  9. When you find yourself in a hole, put down the shovel.
  10. You are enough. Just as you are. Today. Treat yourself like it.
  11. Prioritize your spending. A good pair of athletic shoes that you use will make you look better longer than a Brazilian blow-out.
  12. To thine own self be true. No one else will ever care about you as much as you do.
  13. Be charitable. There is always something you can give away – be it your dollars or your time.
  14. Be present in your own life. This is it. Now. Don’t wish it away.
  15. Don’t lose weight to get attention or please someone else. The only person involved in weight loss is you. (And anyone who treats you differently because you’ve lost weight isn’t worth your time.)
  16. There is life after high school/college. Don’t let those successes or failures determine the course of your life. Don’t rest on your laurels nor wallow in your failures.
  17. Even if it is all screwed up now, it doesn’t have to be that way forever.
  18. Never cosign. Ever.
  19. In consciously seeking healthy foods we like (or better yet love) to fulfill our real hunger, we’ve chosen to create opportunities versus destroy abilities.
  20. Learn boundaries – your own and others.
  21. Hard times, bad situations and bad moods will ALWAYS pass. ALWAYS.
  22. Drinking alcohol can be lots of fun, but hangovers really, really, really suck.
  23. Crying is a sign of strength, not weakness.
  24. Love is sometimes neither kind, nor patient, and especially not gentle. Love hurts. There is no getting around it.
  25. Disappointments are very often blessings in disguise.
  26. What people remember about you most is how you made them feel.
  27. You only have one family. Yes they are yours and they are not going away. Get used to it.
  28. Champagne, vodka, gin and beer don’t mix well.
  29. If he’s not ever calling before 11 p.m., he’s not interested in a real relationship.
  30. If you don’t have the money to pay cash for it, don’t buy it.
  31. Box dye jobs look like box dye jobs (especially if you’re going for blonde).
  32. Eyebrows really don’t grow back if they’re overly tweezed.
  33. Nude underwear is really the only acceptable color to wear under white pants.
  34. This moment — however good or bad it is — will be just a blip on the radar two years from now.
  35. A teaspoon is not the same thing as a tablespoon.
  36. Buying it one size too small won’t make you lose weight any faster.
  37. Learn to appreciate the contrast in life. If every day was Saturday and I could eat chocolate cake and pizza for every meal, wouldn’t that lose its appeal after a while?
  38. Growing old beats the alternative — dying young.
  39. Being fat doesn’t mean you’re defective, broken or damaged. It just means you haven’t learned how to take care of yourself yet.
  40. What matters is not where you start but where you finish.

Making more and more progress! Being forced to eat differently because of my celiac disease is definite doing wonders for my waistline – and my bad habits.

I’ve got things under control at home but out and about is a different story. Went to a wedding this past weekend, and I got angry. Soooo angry! All around me were plates of mac & cheese, rolls, chicken fingers and stuffed mushrooms. People were laughing over beers and cake pops. I was banned to the raw vegetable tray while sipping wine. Yes, I do feel much better so it’s definitely for the best. As my first event since diagnosis, it was hard. I was sad. I was pissed off. Yes there were tears shed. I didn’t have a chance to prepare ahead of time and research each and every ingredient before I got there. I felt like I was on a float in the middle of the ocean…Overwhelmed. My world was spinning.

I shouldn’t let food have this effect on me. And in actuality, it’s not all about the food. I’m in mourning. I’m mourning the care-free attitude I can now have at events. I can’t just go and toast with friends over fondue or throw back a beer at a football game over Bojangle’s chicken. I know I can make “arrangements”. But I don’t want to make arrangements…I want to just go and not worry about it. Those days are gone…and while I’m making it work, it isn’t without grief.

Nonetheless, I’m still feeling better than ever. Even my joint pain has disappeared! This has solved a lot of problems I’ve been suffering from for years. At the end of the day, this may not be an easy road, but it sure will be worth it!

Until next time…

“The years teach much which the days never knew.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Diagnosis and the 5 Little Stages

I’m grieving. Yes, I am grieving the loss of bread…pizza crust…everything bagels…beer.  I’m grieving stress-free trips to restaurants…grieving easy family get-togethers and stress free events.

I was diagnosed with celiac disease last week.  So thankful (to the point of tears) that I finally have a firm diagnosis for what has perhaps been plaguing me for over a decade. It’s likely that issues I’ve been fighting since I was a child could be the result of CD.

As this is my first post about it…I’m going to go ahead and nerd it out for a paragraph or two and give you a few ins and outs of the disease (afterall, it’s helpful to be educational every once in a while)…

Celiac disease is a lifelong autoimmune disease affecting mainly the small intestine that affects nearly 1 in 132 individuals in the US. Those suffering from the disease are unable to ingest gluten, a protein found in grains like wheat, barley, rye and malt. Eating gluten acts as a poison (always exciting), damaging the hair-like projections called villi that line the small intestine, leading the intestines to stop absorbing nutrients. (See picture below.)

The pictures show the difference between healthy villi (left) and damaged villi (right). The damaged villi gets brittle and flat. The efficiency to abosorb nutrients to our body has reduced tremendously.

If CD goes untreated, it can damage the small bowel and lead to an increased risk of certain long-term conditions and cancers.

The cause of celiac disease is unknown, although according to the Celiac Disease Foundation, it may be linked to a group of genes on Chromosome 6. Some experts believe that stressful events such as surgery, severe emotional stress or childbirth may trigger symptoms for the first time.

What are the symptoms?  Well…there are many. Celiacs may experience some, all or none of these:  abdominal cramping, distention and bloating, chronic diarrhea or constipation – or both, fatty stools, anemia, malabsorption, nausea and vomiting, depression, mouth ulcers, bone or joint pain, fatigue, infertility, and osteoporosis.  I experienced most of these (although to preserve any dignity I still have I will not specify which ones)…and there are also additional things my doctor believes may be the result of CD.

Now that you’re edumacated on the what and the why…you may be wondering how you cure it.

Well (frown) – there is not currently a cure for celiac disease. There’s no medicine to fight the effects of gluten should it be ingested. However, (happy face) the relief from the disease is 100% in my control (and some of you know how I am about control).  I am in charge of my “treatment” – no pill to take, no shots, no weird concoctions to drink every morning…100% Hannah E. Hayes regulated.

Eliminating all gluten from the diet is the only way to combat CD. It is the only proven treatment for healing the gut and promoting regrowth of intestinal villi. (Three cheers for happy villi!) The time it takes to fully recover depends on how long the intestinal damage has been occurring.

According to my doctor, my insides look like a war-zone…but after being on a completely gluten free diet for the last few days…I feel like I’ve been reborn.  Distention has been alleviated…stabbing pain in my side is gone. I feel incredible.

However, as a self-proclaimed carbohydrate addict, this has not been an easy last few days…I am currently in the midst of what I would like to call: My Gluten Free Journey through the 5 Stages of Grief

1)      Denial – My doctor had suspected that this is what had been plaguing me…but prior to the results, and even a while after, I was in a serious state of denial – As bad as I was feeling, I was sure there was no way some stupid bread protein was causing all my distress…afterall, how stupid does it sound? “Sorry…that pasta you just ate is making your villi lay down.”  Someone at work was eating pizza in front of  me and all I wanted to do was lick it. Certainly licking it wouldn’t hurt me (although it turns out, it may have), but he probably would have hurt me for licking his lunch. I was convinced that I’d never be able to live or follow this new diet…I of course was wrong.

2)      Anger – The day of the diagnosis – as I was trying to figure out what to pick up for lunch on the way to work, I became extremely upset. I felt like gluten was in EVERYTHING. And in all honesty…it’s in a lot of things: Soy sauce, vegetable broth, bread (obviously), beer, lunch meat, salad dressing, soup…even Communion wafers (how will I explain that at the pearly gates?!).  I was angry that even going to a family function where food would be served would be such an ordeal. I was pissed off about having to stand and wait for the pharmacist today so I could ask her whether or not my Adderall has gluten in it. (Side note : Some pharmacists need to get it together – not you of course, Betsy.  Pharmacist said, “well I don’t really know what gluten is so I don’t know what to tell you.” I can’t be the only one that has a gluten restriction in Greensboro…certainly I’m not the only one who has ever said anything to this Pharmacist about it. As cross-contamination is one of the most detrimental issues with a gluten-free lifestyle, I found myself quite frustrated with the lack of concern.)

3)      Bargaining – Maybe, just maybe, I’ll start to feel better…then a little bread won’t hurt…soup won’t hurt…a sip or two of beer won’t kill me.  Despite my doctor’s warning (that I needed to treat this like I would a severe peanut allergy) – I was contemplating whether or not I’d be ok with a cheat day…or a cheat meal at least.  Well, without really trying to “cheat”, I had a flavored vodka drink the other night. While plain vodka should be free of gluten, most manufactures make no gluten-free claims when it comes to flavored liquors as there is significant cross-contamination normally. Well – that one little drink, fought back. While it wasn’t severe, I could certainly tell that I had made my insides extremely angry…so despite my original theory…there is no cheating or slipping up. I can’t take feeling that poorly anymore…it’s not worth it.

4)      Depression – Am I sad about no more gluten? Hell yes I’m sad. I’ve always wanted to travel to Italy…for the food of course. The pasta, the pizza, the meatballs (why can’t I have meatballs? Breadcrumbs are used as a filler)…wine is ok…so I can enjoy that. But I can spend a lot less money and fly over a lot less ocean and enjoy wine here…I’m sad that I won’t be able to enjoy wedding cake at my sister’s wedding…I feel like such a burden with my family, especially in the event of a get together…I’ve got a cousin with a severe peanut allergy and no one has ever yelled at him for being special, so I don’t know why I feel like it will be different with me…I guess there’s just a lot more involved in determining whether something has gluten vs. whether or not it’s got nuts.  I’m sad that I’ve been diagnosed with a disease that I’ll never be able to get rid of. I’m sad that my future children will have to be tested for CD and may have the same limitations.

5)      Acceptance – While I may be sad at what can no longer be – I feel fantastic. All of my symtoms went away. All of them! I haven’t thrown up in 3.5 days (which is a record lately). I don’t hurt after eating. I have energy again! ENERGY!!!! I haven’t know what that was like for months!  I started researching the heck out of being gluten-free…I’ve read other blogs on the subject…downloaded recipes…even found an amazing Gluten-free bakery that just opened in the area (www.lindysgoodiesbakery.com).  Corn tortillas are my new BFF.  The vast array of gluten-free options coupled with the fact that I have never felt better or healthier in my life is why I have happily reached the point of acceptance with my celiac disease. 

And…the icing on the cake…I lost weight this week!!!

Can’t begin to tell you how grateful I am that I’ve got some direction. It hasn’t been an easy road, and to those of you that have suffered along with me, I apologize for the roller coaster…but get ready.  A new and improved Hannah is emerging…and she is going to let nothing stand in her way! Except maybe a biscuit…

“The most significant change in a person’s life is a change of attitude. Right attitudes produce right actions.” ~Willam J. Johnston

Damn the weekends!

I love the weekend. I love not having to get up to the horrid squawk of an alarm, having an excuse to stay in my pajamas all day,  or go out late and overindulge in a selection of adult beverages. I wish they lasted longer and passed by slower. But weekends are extremely hard for me. I’m out of my normal routine and my eating suffers severely. Sometimes I go on a food spree and don’t get right until Monday.

“Let’s Get Ready To Rumble” ought to be playing loud and proud in the background. When it comes to me and my trigger foods…rumble it is! I act as if I’m never going to eat again. From a quantity standpoint, I bet I could give Joey Chestnut a run for his money…although he’s got me completely beat on the speed. I love food too much. Love the taste of it too much to not savor every bite. But is savoring 1,000,000 bites a day on Saturday and Sunday really necessary, Hannah?

Trust me, it’s not like I sit on the couch inhaling a full-size bag of potato chips or licking every morsel out of a Costco size can of chocolate frosting. My meal selections just aren’t as diet friendly as one would hope. Saw a good analogy earlier in the week to describe them…”more Paula Deen than Rachael Ray.” Ohhhh, the butter!

And it never fails, these weekends just keep coming around every 5 days. (Thank goodness!) I’ve got to find a way to work through them instead of having an out of body experience for 48 straight hours….finding it hard to fit back in my body at the end of the weekend. There’s not any room!

By Friday night, I’m sick of counting calories, prepping vegetables and washing pots. Healthy dishes take planning and prep time. Come Sunday morning, the guilt comes crashing down. By Monday I’m clinging to the back of the wagon, cursing my lack of will-power. Without fail, I get that awful guilt-ridden feeling that all my hard work and exercise during the week is for nothing. I know I have to break the cycle, but I’m struggling in my attempt.

Down 0.2 this week...not great...but better than a gain.

This never ending cycle of undermining my efforts is starting to get on my nerves, not to mention ruin my weight loss. I’ve got to stop sabotaging myself and my progress. There seems to be no rest for the weary…or the weary just can’t rest when it comes to weight loss. I will not give up!

“I may not be there yet, but I’m closer than I was yesterday.”  ~Author Unknown

You Know You’re Out of Shape When…

Happy Valentine’s Day!!

Well today was the first day with the trainer…I know…so romantic! I really contemplated not going this morning at 5am when the alarm went off.  Not only was I worried about how badly I was going to hurt afterwards, but it was about 3 hours before my normal wake up time.

I sucked it up and went, though…and I’m glad. I definitely think it’s going to be a great opportunity for me to have a qualified individual push me outside my comfort zone.  I thought it was a Monday, Wednesday, Thursday thing…wrong. It’s Monday thru Friday. What doesn’t kill me will only make me stronger. The way my legs are feeling right now, however…I’m thinking it might kill me.

Otherwise…this past week was a relatively uneventful one. I did allow myself a cold beer (or 4) over the weekend…still managed a loss this week, although not a huge one.

Close to that 10-pound mark!!! I can taste it! (Ok…do not reward with food, Ms. Hayes….I can feel it – there that’s better!)

The post tonight is going to be a short one…I’m exhausted and know that alarm is going to go off sooner than I want it to. I will however, hone my inner Dave Letterman and leave you with a Top 10 list…

Here are the Top 10 Signs You’re Out of Shape:

10. Taco Bell sends you “Thank You” notes.

9. You cramp up while watching the NYC Marathon.

8. There is no combination of bread and cheese that you wouldn’t kill a man for.

7. You’ve ever torn something just trying to turn off the alarm clock.

6. When you look down in the shower all you see is belly and the tip of your second toe.

5. Your legs rub together so much that you’re not allowed to enter California for fear of starting fires.

4. Your knees left a suicide note on the bathroom counter.

3. You have a 0% chance of putting on your shoes without sitting in a chair.

2. You were passed at your last 5K by the 7 year old kid picking of the cones at the end of the race.

1. If you add your blood pressure reading to your cholesterol count, you get a number between seven   and eight hundred…thousand.

Hoping to be less sore the next time I type…until then…much love! ~ HH

“God grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change, the courage to change the one I can, and the wisdom to know it’s me.”