Category Archives: Diet Challenge


I know I have not been updating a lot recently and have really fallen out of the blogging realm, but I have been trying to figure out my health since March and have had some real struggles which happens to most of us living with an autoimmune disease.  We might have several years of feeling like we have this under control only to wake up one morning and have our health take a downward spiral.  Luckily my disease is still offering my symptoms that I can live with meaning I’m still working every day, teaching my yoga classes and participating in life. The hard part is that I don’t have an ounce of energy left for anything else.  That is a probably for so many reasons but mostly because dealing with an autoimmune disease means we have to learning, studying, trying, trialing, succeeding and failing all the time and getting lazy about it doesn’t help anything.

I was faced with a choice for a medication change.  I could continue taking my medication but instead of taking 1 time a day on an empty stomach take it 2 times a day both have to be on an empty stomach.  This gives me an increased dose and spreads the doses out during the day in the hopes of being in my system longer and being more effective.  The other option is to try a new biologic drug on the market. This drug is the first FDA approved medication for Lupus & Mixed Connective Tissue Disease in 50 years.  Not since Plaquenil has a new drug been FDA approved. Well here we are.  Talk about trials and errors, since this drug is so new there is not enough long term research for this medication.  However, without people to try it how will we ever get the long term affect studies we need?  I say this but also know that I’m not in a desperate enough situation to be the guinea pig so I have to give this real thought and weigh all my options. I’m not 100% opposed to trying it out but need time to think about it as well.

The problem with the first option is that finding 2 times a day when your stomach is truly empty.  Morning is easy, but later in the day it gets harder.  I was thinking about this so much over this past weekend that it was stressing me out. I was feeling like a prisoner in my disease which I haven’t felt for so very long. I have been living with but also managing my MCTD for 14 years and now I feel stuck, a little afraid and frustrated.  I sat in the sauna thinking about all the years that I felt relatively pretty good. Remembering where my mind was, how my body felt, what I was doing on a daily basis.  I was a student of my disease, researching all the time, choosing health as my other full time job, trying different things all the time and journaling what worked and what didn’t.   I left that sauna knowing that I was becoming a student again.  I got out my books, journal, notes and started to study.  Cleaned the pantry and cleaned the fridge and starting new.  It will take some time to figure this out but I have time, in fact I have let the last year go by being a bit lazy about my health.  The focus begins again and process is about to start over.   I am going to embark on the AIP – Autoimmune Protocol in order to get my body and mind back to base-line.  The AIP is a regiment of nutrition, exercise, meditation, medication (if prescribed by your doctor), sleep, and stress management.  It is strict, it is not easy to adapt, but once the body is back to base-line then the healing, transformation, and new normal can begin.

I have the support of my husband and feel grateful for his strength as I sort this out. I do a lot of talking out loud and even crying and yelling which he unfortunately gets caught in the middle of, but sometimes it just takes his quiet demeanor to keep me in check.  Together we will figure this out with the help of other resources as well.



I have been at my clean eating challenge now for just about 2 weeks. Not enough time to really establish concrete information but enough time to analyze a couple of things. The first is if I do not get enough food my mind starts to play me. For instance, I got caught up in meetings and food was not a priority, I didn’t feel hungry and thought I was ok until I hit a wall and just knew that I needed something sweet. What I needed was food but what my mind was saying is that it was deprived and wanted something rewarding. I did not engage in my sweet tooth and instead had a bigger than normal meal when I had time and the sweet need subsided.

I work in an office environment and as you can probably guess there is some sort food around here at all times and if I don’t stay on top of my food my brain can get out of control thinking it needs to partake in the goodness around here for no other reason than it is here. I have been able to put all cravings aside at home but I’m also having big beautiful filling dinners so the need for anything after dinner is not existent. My goal is to get to the point when I am nourishing my body enough that all cravings go away but I don’t know that if that is realistic. I hear of other people saying they don’t have cravings and read posts and articles of people who can change their taste buds so that berries seem too sweet sometimes. I long to be in that boat but don’t have a clear understanding how long it takes or if that is truly possible for me.

I have found that I don’t need snacks the way I once did at 10am and 3pm so I know things are changing for the better but I also haven’t gotten to the point where if I cannot eat food that my body is ok with the intermittent fasting approach either. I also move a lot during the day and in order to keep up with my activities I need the food so fasting isn’t really that important but life does get in the way and I would like to be able to go about my day as normally as possible and if food is not an option for several hours perhaps that will be ok and my mind won’t start gravitating to sweet things.

I do realize like I said at the beginning that it is too soon to tell exactly what kind of changes my body is making. I have been cutting back on gluten and grain now for 2 years but the sugar I didn’t tackle because I really do enjoy sweets and I enjoy indulging in them with my family and husband when I want. After our escapade to camp this year and really over indulging I decided I don’t have to cut them out forever but I would like to make a change enough to have them when I want and not think about them nearly as often as I do.


Ever have those sluggish days and you just aren’t sure what causes it, why you are dealing with it, or when will it go away? I have many times myself but have you ever had sluggish days and you know exactly what is causing it? Can you tell I’m having a sluggish day? I am having a sluggish day and it actually started yesterday. I was going back through my journal trying to pinpoint my trigger for why I might be feeling this way and it hit me after reading a few days of my journal, the whole reason I keep a journal but I digress.

As I’m reading I see that I started my after vacation detox of getting back to real food and took out all grains and sugar as of Sunday. Notice I didn’t say carbs since I have been eating a lot of vegetables and had a couple of days of sweet potatoes to keep my body performing strong during my weight training and Insanity sessions. With that said however I did some research and about the 3-5 day mark your body starts to revolt a bit and you become very sluggish, a little irritable and your performance drops. After a about a week the sluggish is supposed to subside and the performance should come back. I was not rocking my work out very well yesterday and took this morning off since my body is feeling pretty tired. On Sunday it will be 1 week and I can see where I go from there.

The plus is that I don’t have those cravings in the afternoon like I was before and I feel like I’m eating a little more than I was before but my trainer will analyze my food journal and let me know if he believes the same to be true. I never get blamed for eating too much but I certainly have weeks where it shows I’m not eating enough and that may be life, the fact that I’m a woman with my own head games, timing, or all of the above. As my trainer has me lifting heavier it is more important than ever to get out of my own head and make sure I’m eating enough to perform such tasks without the risk of injury. I have made 3 commitments to myself this week and doing quite well with them but they are also difficult so I’m taking it day by day with a refocus on the importance of each one. My first commitment was to drink a green drink every day, ok this one is not difficult more a habit forming task which is going just fine. I like the drink and since it has pre and probiotics so I can only see it being a benefit. There is no sugar in this drink as I’m being extremely careful about grains and sugar.

My second commitment is to eat real food and although I had a lot of preparing to do over the weekend each day has been full of real foods that are filling and satisfying and I have used an apple once this week for a sugar craving that I had but that was early on and I don’t see apples as my issue. This is hard for my brain to commit to long term but maybe my taste buds will over power my brain and if I don’t want the grains and sugar I certainly realize my body does not “need” them.

The third commitment and also my hardest, to get off the scale addiction I have had for my entire adult life. I have used the scale to measure my success but losing weight in the form of muscle instead of fat does nothing for my performance but it certainly looks good as I look down between my feet and my brain registers I’m doing well. My life should dictate if I’m successful in the way I look, feel and perform. These words are so much easier said than done but I am willing to try. I have a pair of pants that I am using to measure my success instead of the scale. As time goes on I hope I’m pleasantly surprised and if not I may ditch this pants thing and go back to the scale!!


Happy Holidays to all.  Now that Christmas is over and New Year’s is just around the corner my question is what happens next? What does my 2014 look like, what new challenges will I try and what goals will I set? The end of this year has been so great for me and I have found a new strength and a new drive.  I wasn’t feeling great at the beginning and middle but the last several months have been much better.  Working with a trainer again has given me great strength and doing my Insanity classes has increased my endurance and stamina and as well as running again has shown me that even at age 41 I’m very capable of doing what I want as long as I take care of myself.

I am not one to make New Year’s resolutions but there are certain things that I want to recommit to this year. I’m having deja vu which is probably because I said that very thing last year and here I am another year in saying the same thing.  This is probably typical of most people as we try to better ourselves or see things in ourselves we would like to change we use the New Year as a place to do it.  In the past I have set goals not resolutions and last year I used the word resolution which was “commit” I was very committed this year to family, work, health and fitness.  I really want to focus my attention to my diet, nutrition and truly putting sugar in my past.  One thing about myself is that I have a serious sweet tooth and yes I indulge it regularly but after several days of doing this, like right now, I feel terrible.  Nothing else has changed just the sugar consumption but I know if I hadn’t indulged as much I wouldn’t feel so exhausted, bloated, sluggish, irritable and did I mention exhausted.  I do realize that the holidays bring on a level of exhaustion and fatigue with or without indulging in certain foods but my fatigue is just compounded.

I will say again, I want to recommit to a cleaner, more natural diet and eliminate sugar from my diet. This is an ongoing goal that I have to fall down, pick myself up and keep trying.  I have tried many times and honestly for about a year after my MCTD diagnosis I was sugar free but I was eating gluten back then so I didn’t feel so deprived and eating things with no sugar wasn’t easy but it felt doable.  Now I have reached a place in my life where I think I can either be gluten free or sugar free but not both and I need to change that mindset.  I believe my body wants to be both; I just need my brain on board. I have been experimenting in the kitchen way more this year than any other time in life and I’ve created some really incredible meals, desserts, salads and smoothies so I just need to expand my knowledge and try to remove sugar or sweeteners from those recipes.  I was listening to a podcast that discussed Xylitol and stevia and how these two “natural” sweeteners don’t spike the blood sugar levels or cause the liver to adjust how it functions.  I’m still doing research on this so I clearly understand the difference between these two sweeteners and other sweeteners so if anyone has information please let me know.


On this morning of my challenge I got up early mainly because I just wasn’t sleeping and went out walking.  I ended up walking 15056 steps this day and with first fresh air it felt good.  I didn’t do any yoga today but I’m really missing weight training.  I miss the Cross Fit too but if I could add one more thing into my mix it would be weight training.  I did do a few reps of lighter weights and didn’t seem to have residual side effects of fatigue from it so I might add it back in.  The idea is to take things out and see what I can put back in.  Walking and yoga are great for the mind but nothing for the strength of my body.  Also I’m in the mind frame that more is better not less, which I need to change I know but change comes slow.

This day I was feeling very moody and very forgetful. I have resided myself to writing down everything that is important or even slightly important and using my note pad to keep me on track.  No one seems to notice or even care so I keep a note pad with me and write down what I need.  It is challenging to be so forgetful but this will pass once I have the right combination of medications.

I’m on the hunt for a new rheumatologist since I fired mine and I really do need some medical guidance in my autoimmune life so I have instructed the help of others who might know someone close by and perhaps I need a woman this time that would be more understanding and able to help me when I’m silently screaming for help.  Speaking of help I’m going back to basics to see if I can help myself. I remember when I was first diagnosed with MCTD and had to take it one step at a time, one goal at a time, one achievement at a time.  I’m back at that place, for different reasons but same concept.  On this day I made my goals easy and achievable. Walk 11K which I did and eat no sugar products what so ever no matter how hard or loud the cravings get.  I kept telling myself you can eat all the sugar you want tomorrow.  Just one day and back to sugar tomorrow if you hold off today and it worked.


So after you purge your pantry and fridge what do you replace it with? I did a lot of research on this for the same reason I didn’t want to throw stuff away I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on stuff I didn’t need or wouldn’t really like.  The staples I chose were to stock my pantry with nuts and seeds of all kinds in raw form however.  Also Paleo doesn’t really like the idea of peanut butter because peanuts are legumes and that doesn’t fly with Paleo.  I replaced my peanut butter with almond butter and I like it much better. I found it at the regular grocery store for a price of my left arm, I looked at

Amazon and found that I could afford it by giving up a few fingers but then someone said try Trader Joe’s. Seriously, that was the best advice. I got a whole bunch of almond butter, nuts and seeds from there.  They really have great prices.

Oil is a tough subject because EVOO is good for drizzle not for heating but coconut oil is great for cooking.  I looked all over and since I thought the almond butter was expensive the coconut oil blew me away. I did invest in a organic, cold press version that cost my first born some day but I really do like the way it heats up and it was well worth the purchase.  Have a good balsamic on hand to make salad dressing unless you can find one without sugar.  Oh yeah, Trader Joe’s has that too Green Goddess and it tastes great. These are staples that can be in the pantry when you need them and then at the store weekly we buy our fruits, vegetables and meats that we don’t get from our CSA share.  We get lots of vegetables and eggs from the share but very little fruit. The idea with fruit and Paleo is that it is OK in moderation and stick to berries. I have decided for me to have 1 serving of fruit first thing in the morning after my workout to replace some of the sugar I burned and just pick whatever fruit I want for the day.  The rest of the day is based on meat, eggs, vegetables and then supplement with some nuts and seeds if I need them to stay satisfied.

Dairy is another controversal subject because true Paleo don’t eat dairy but I like a little cheese from time to time. I did give up my yogurt although my husband won’t which is fine for him.  We have switched to real cream if we need it and now we use coconut milk as the main “milk” but I do like almond milk also as long as it doesn’t contain sugar of any kind and many have cane juice which is sugar just a nicer way to say it. As I start to feel better the dairy might be eliminated altogether but I do want this to be a long lasting change and will need to make some changes in steps.

Shopping this past weekend was really easy especially since we only had to go to produce, seafood and meat isles.  We did stop down the cookie isle for my husband’s guilty pleasure which he is holding on to strong.  Now I just have to figure out what to do with the food and find some recipes.


This is a 2 part blog because I want to tell you about my cross fit class this morning but I also started the 21 day primal blueprint transformation.  First up, cross fit, I arrived and there were 6 of us at class.  She was only taking 4 at a time so as the weeks went on and I did miss all of last week she decided to add to the group. This is OK by me because it just means the energy is better with more people. 5 women and 1 man. Way to go Mr. we need a little testosterone at 5:30am.

She gave us a WOD work out which I learned means Workout of the Day. It consisted of 25 squats, 25 push-ups, 25 lunges each leg and 25 crunches. You do as many rounds in 30 minutes as you can. The rounds to beat is 10 which happened  a couple of weeks ago when I wasn’t there. The group has already done this workout but I haven’t had the pleasure yet. You all know my nemesis is push-ups so I’m thinking if I can get through 6 rounds I’ll be doing great. If I only do 5 I won’t beat myself up about it.

The timer goes off and we start. Squats are no problem but the next is push-ups and although she won’t allow wall push-ups or ball push-ups she does allow knees.  First round of 25 push-ups not so shabby. Knock out the lunges and crunches in no time so I start round 2. I’m still worried about the push-ups but the 2nd round isn’t bad either and I knock out another round and on to 3 before I know it I’m at my 6 and still going strong.  My push-ups get slower and slower so I really push hard and fast through squats, lunges and crunches.  No problem on those exercises even the more I do them. Before I know it she says 30 seconds left and I’m finishing round 9. 10 was the rounds to beat and I was right there.  No one got over 10 but 3 finished 10 full rounds.  She said we would do it again in a couple weeks to see how we are progressing.  That class showed me how strong I’m getting and staying.  My MCTD is not taking my muscle this time and I believe because it is do to consistency and nutrition.

The 2nd part of my blog today is about Day 1 of the Primal Blueprint Transformation. Purging is the first thing on the list. Not my body but my fridge and pantry.  I must admit that I really started purging at the end of June when I knew that carbs and sugar were not my friends and started the Paleo Light diet of just not eating sweets, bread, pasta and rice.  I also share the house with a non-paleo but I do believe he is coming around to believing what he is seeing in me. With that said, he still wants this granola bars and cookies and I won’t be taking those away from him.

We went to camp for a week and we have to pack a lot of food and since everyone was carb eaters I just took all the cereal and cookies and crackers that my husband wouldn’t miss and knew it would get eaten up in the week. It did so I didn’t have any carbs to bring home.  I still have beans and some spaghetti sauce containing sugar in the cabinet that I can’t bring myself to get rid of.  This is the discomfort I’m feeling so my husband said to give it a week for my mind to adjust and we’ll donate the rest of the foods that we won’t eat.

We got back from camp this past weekend and had to go to the store to get groceries for the week and I made sure they were all real, whole foods with no sugars and carbs.  Actually there was nothing in any boxes, cans, jars or any other packaging that would need preservatives for shelf life.  When I was putting away the groceries the only thing that went in the pantry were bananas while everything else went in the fridge.  I did put some turkey burgers in a box in the freezer but made sure it was just turkey and nothing not real. I figured on days when I needed something fast I could grill one of those with lettuce and tomatoes and be all set.  Things are feeling good and I’m starting my transformation successfully.  However, if I hadn’t really started this process so long ago this would feel really uncomfortable because no one wants to throw away good food and I can’t say that I would have done it either.  I think it takes time to figure out what to do with the food and then replace the food.