"Losing weight is just hard."

If you remember from some of my previous posts, I've been waiting several weeks to see my regular doctor to get my lab work done that the naturopathic doctor requested. Walking into the appointment I knew that it was risky; knew that there was a good chance that the doctor wouldn't order all of the tests that the naturopath was wanting. What I didn't expect was to leave the appointment disappointed and frankly, offended.

So what are you coming in for today?

This is a new doctor for me. I've only seen her once before. She doesn't know me, doesn't know my past. I gave her the short version of all of my girly health issues as she starred at me with a blank expression on her face. I then explained all of my current symptoms and what I believed to be the problem (hormones? maybe early menopause?) I told her that I was worried about my inability to lose weight and that the naturopath believed that it probably has something to do with everything else going on with me and that I agreed. I then handed her the prescription for the lab work.

After she explained that she didn't like requesting lab work from out-of-network doctors, here, in a nutshell, is what she said:

I see over 2,000 patients and I have this same conversation with almost all of them. If losing weight were easy, we wouldn't have the global weight issues that we have. If you are in early menopause then all of your symptoms are typical. Losing weight is just hard.

I wanted to rip her head off, cover it in chocolate icing, and eat it for lunch.

Here is what I wanted to say back to her:

Losing weight is hard? Really? WOW! I'm so glad you told me! I had no idea. Tell me, Doc, how am I supposed to reconcile the fact that every doctor tells me that I am overweight and should shed a few with the fact that my body won't let me because I am going through something that I shouldn't be going through for another good 15 years? Does this make sense to you, because it sure as hell doesn't make any sense to me. I am here for more than just weight loss. I'm here because I know that something isn't right with my body and that stupid diploma on your wall says that you're supposed to help me. Clearly you have no intention of helping. Basically, you're telling me that I just have to accept this is for what it is and live with headaches and fatigue and an inability to lose weight--no matter what the hell I do--for the rest of my life. Bullshit. You suck.

Actually, I said something similar but left out all of the sarcasm and cussing.

She ended up ordering and few of the labs and referred me to and OBGYN for the rest. (Yea! Another doctor!) I left wanting to scream, "And this is why we seek out help from alternative doctors! Because you people won't give us the help that we need!" I've never been opposed to traditional medicine, but when you can't get the help that you need, when you feel like your doomed to a life full of feeling less that 100%, you have no choice but to seek out alternative help.

Next week I'll see the OBGYN who, fingers crossed, will order the rest of my labs. If not, I will most likely have to pay out of my own pocket for the rest. At this point, I'll pay just about anything NOT to have a doctor look at me and say, "Huh. Sucks to be you."

Pathetic at Week 3


So today is the start of week three of my new...healthy...lifestyle. I pause between between each word to try and show my lack of enthusiasm.

Did it work?

I wish I could start this post by telling you HOW AWESOME everything is. But I can't. I can't because right now in this moment I don't feel awesome. It's hard to feel awesome when you get on the scale after two weeks with no alcohol, diet coke, no processed foods, or dairy, or sugar and see NOTHING. No change. Nada.


So I did it. I cheated. Today the boys wanted to go to Islands for burgers and I had no intention of ordering a salad. Last week Derek took the boys to Habit for burgers (yep...we enjoy our burgers) and brought me home a salad with a patty on top. And it was okay. It filled me it. It did the job food is supposed to do. It served its purpose.

Today's cheat (a Big Wave with CHEESE and a whole wheat bun...and fries) also served a purpose. And today that purpose was to make me happy. Because I wasn't. I wasn't happy this morning to see no improvement whatsoever.

To answer your questions, I still have gone to the lab for my blood work. Unfortunately, that won't be done for another week. So I don't know anymore about my health than I did two weeks ago. And as far as exercising? Well...I've been good and bad. That first week my energy level took a major hit. On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being super hyper, I was at a negative 30. My energy level seems to be picking up. I think it has a lot to do with the Maca supplement that I take twice a day. But even with a little improvement in my energy, I still haven't been exercising a ton. Derek's been traveling and the boys are around all the time making it hard to go to yoga (when the HECK does school start?) and it's been a million degrees outside. Enough excuses for you? I know. I know. I should find a way to exercise even if it's just walking around the block twenty times. But I just don't...feel like it.

I'm not feeling guilty because I know how unproductive that is. Instead, I'm giving myself some grace. I've had some changes in my life lately, had some "stuff" going on, which of course includes my new healthy lifestyle. Completely changing the way you eat and having to say goodbye to some dear, dear, albeit destructive friends like Processed Food and Sugar hasn't been easy. Adding exercise into my daily routine will be another major change for me.

Yes, I totally understand that when I DO start exercising regularly (and I will...eventually) there is a good possibility that I will see some movement on the scale. Except that is not what has happened in my past. In my past, I've worked my butt off--red face, sweaty, stinky, worked my butt off--to see NO CHANGE. You can see why it's hard for me to be very motivated to work out.

Which leads me back to the blood work and the hormones and the mess that I am beginning be believe more and more that I am. I am so ready for that blood work to be done. I need a reason. I need my luck to change. Do I want something major wrong with me? Of course not! I just need to someone, preferably a health care professional, to look at me and tell me what the deal is.

So tonight, to make up for that burger, I will enjoy (big fake smile inserted here) my healthy smoothie and pray that tomorrow will be a better day.

Gardening in the suburbs.

I bought myself a present a few months ago--a raised vegetable garden. Normally a present that I would buy myself would be more along the lines of a purse or a big chunky necklace (if you know me, you know I love my big chunky necklaces!) But I've wanted to put in a veggie garden, but our soil here is hard and full of rocks. Not to mention that we have rabbits that my husband likes to shoot (oh, that's a whole other blog post right there!)

When I was very little, my parents had a suburban garden on the side of the house. I don't remember much about it other than having it. My grandmother, who was raised on a farm in southwestern Oklahoma, always had a garden too. It just seemed like having a garden was what you did. And now it's my turn.

My garden isn't very big. About 2' by 4'. Just big enough for me not to become totally overwhelmed. I actually started gardening by accident. I used to have a compost bin on the side of the house until some critters got into it. A few months after emptying out the compost, this was left behind...

A pretty little tomato plant with actual tomatoes growing on it. I was so excited. "I'm a gardener!" I exclaimed to the Golfer. "No you're not. That's what they call a lucky accident." Well, whatever they call it, I get to claim it.

So across from MY tomatoes, we started the Freeman Family Farm. After the Golfer built the raised bed, I hired some local child laborers to do the planting for me. Here's the oldest mixing the organic soil and the compost together.

For this very first round of planting, I decided not to try to grow anything from seed and go with some already growing. The Golfer says that's cheating, but I say it's just smart.

I kept it seasonal. We have red, green and yellow peppers, jalapenos, basil, strawberries, cucumbers, squash and that blank space in the front is okra that I did start from seed. The Golfer put in a irrigation system for me so that I wouldn't come home to a dead garden every time we leave town. We also planted a watermelon plant near the tomatoes. So about the time that everyone is carving pumpkins, we'll be carving a watermelon.

This is the Freeman Farm today! The cucumber vines have taken over the whole thing. I have some little bitty peppers and jalapenos growing and the signs of some squash and cucumbers on their way as well...

It's fun to go outside and show the boys how these vegetables are growing. I think there's probably some mama merit badge somewhere for growing a garden with your kids. If there is, I should get one.

The strawberries, which I thought would be the easiest, aren't. They aren't very big and juicy like a strawberry should be and they are a little warped and weird looking. They taste good, for the 2 seconds that it takes to eat them.

But something is eating my tomatoes and it's making me angry! Those tomatoes that I had absolutely nothing to do with, are now being eaten by some kind of worm that is eating 100 times his weight and size in tomato leaves and probably rabbits (or worse...)

Guess no one said gardening in the suburbs was easy.

I don't like to move it, move it. Don't like to...move it.

Tomorrow starts my second week. I'm unsure what to call it. My new diet? My new lifestyle? My new health? My new life? Whatever this is, it's new. As the saying goes, out with the old...

So far, so good. I've avoided sugar and alcohol, even when going to dinner with friends. The restaurant served the wine (that everyone else was enjoying) in these fabulously big glasses that I would have loved sipping out of. But I said no. I drank my club soda with lime happily. That's right. Happily. (The wine would have made me even happier, but that's beside the point.)

Unfortunately, my energy level hasn't gotten much better. This great site that my friend Jennifer recommeded to help me with my switch to a paleo diet said that that the first 2-3 weeks when switching to a paleo diet are hard. Your body is detoxing off of all of the junk that it is used to having. My energy level was already low without a new diet making it worse.

Which brings me to exercise. I don't like it. I don't like to exercise. If it happens accidentally, great. Accidentally as in you get a little exercise by walking briskly through Target or carrying clean and dirty laundry up and down the stairs. But on purpose? Yeah, thanks, I'll pass. I don't like to sweat. I don't like to be overheated. Exercise causes both. Honestly, if I could spend the rest of my life not working out,  ever, I'd be a happy lady. But that's not how it works. I suppose I could never work out again if I wanted to weigh 500 pounds and be unhealthy, but I don't want that. So that means I have to get up and move it.

So God sent me yoga. Not hot yoga, but plain good ol' fashioned yoga. That's right. God sent it to me. I had prayed and prayed to fall in love with exercising, that I find something that I actually enjoyed doing. He knew how much I didn't like to sweat so He sent me yoga.

I still struggle to get out the door. I am a professional at finding other things to do than work out. But with my new...lifestyle...I've made a promise to myself. I've promised myself that I will move every day, that I will get up and move and that hopefully that movement will turn into exercise. So I walk the dog or I head to yoga and I never, ever regret it when I do.

The Doctor's Detox Smoothie

A big part of my getting healthier is starting with a smoothie. My doctor wants me drinking this at least 5 mornings a week for the next 2-3 months. Drinking a smoothie every morning for breakfast? No problem!

Except here is a pic of the typical smoothie that I'm used to drinking:

OJ, organic vanilla yogurt, a banana, blueberries, some spinach, a little flax seed maybe some chia seeds. Healthy right? Of course it is. Nothing wrong with a smoothie like this. My boys love smoothies like these and I'm so glad. I mean, how else do you get your kids to eat spinach and flax seed?

The problem for me is that this kind of smoothie makes my blood sugar spike. The sugar in the juice and the fruit and the yogurt starts my day on a sugar high. I can't do that any more. So here's my new smoothie. My liver detox smoothie:

First is the liquid. Either one cup of water or coconut water. I recommend it being cold. I use the coconut water.

Next comes the greens. Either spinach or kale. A good hand full will do.

Then some red cabbage. Never thought I'd be putting red cabbage in a breakfast smoothie.

Adding to the veggies are some beets. I've really grown to love beets. But I love them roasted in a little olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. In a smoothie? Uh...sure.

Next I add 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon. Apparently cinnamon is really good for you. Lowers blood sugar, lowers cholesterol, treats yeast infections, is an antioxidant, may reduce inflammation, and fights bacteria. Awesome right? Love cinnamon! My problem is that I'm used to getting my cinnamon on toast with butter and sugar. Now it's going into my smoothie.

My doctor has me add the following supplements to my smoothie: resveratrol (found in red wine, yea!) and tumeric (anti-inflammatory and disease preventative). I have to add 10ml of each. Both of these are an important component to my liver detox.

Yea! Something sweet! You can add either a pear, pineapple, or mango to my smoothie. Berries are not recommended.

Two new words that I love: good fat. Avocados are a good fat, just like me. I like to think of myself as a good fat. I added 1//2 of the avocado. Could also add some olive oil, another good fat, but I like the idea of creamy avocado better.

What I don't have a picture of is the protein powder that I have to add. It's called Vital Clear and it is a veggie based protein powder that is for liver detox. 5 scoops of Vital Clear goes into my smoothie.

All of this will make for a very thick smoothie, so be sure you all plenty water or coconut water. I've found adding a little ice helps too. Makes is a little colder and a little easier to drink.



Thank goodness for the beets, tumeric, and red cabbage that turn it this nice red color. The whole recipe makes about 16 ounces=1pint. About the same about that you would pay good money for at your local smoothie shop.

I'm not gonna lie to you. That first sip is a doosie. Especially when you're used to always drinking a sweet smoothie like I was. But the more you drink it, the more you get used to it. With each sip I try to focus on how healthy this little drink is going to make me while trying to ignore the Pop Tarts that my boys are scarfing down next to me.

The Sugar Addiction is Real

Yesterday was Day One of my liver detox. To say that it sucked would be putting it mildly. Giving up caffeine and sugar both in the same day was the dumbest thing that I've ever done.

I felt like total crap. The morning started out fine. I was so good. Drank a smoothie, passed on the coffee, took my Maca, and had a healthy lunch filled with veggies and protein. And then I started to get a headache. It was a bad one. One that stops you in your tracks and makes you feel like your brain is going to start oozing out of your ears at any moment. I had ZERO energy. I couldn't get off of the couch. I was so fatigued, so tired, I felt like I hadn't slept for DAYS. It was terrible.

Laying on the couch, eyes closed, unable to sleep because my head hurt so bad, the same phrase kept playing over and over again in my head. "This sucks. This suck. This sucks. I can't do this if this is how I'm going to feel every day. I can't do this. I can't do this." But I'm going to have to do this. I prayed that tomorrow would be a better day.

Here is my problem. I didn't realize until yesterday afternoon how much I use sugar and caffeine to get me through my day. Sugar is my friend and my worst enemy. I didn't realize how much I needed it to feel good. I. Am. Addicted. To. Sugar.

Hi, I'm Stephenie and I'm a sugar-a-holic.

Not in a eating cookies and cakes and candy all day long kind of way, but in a fruit, fruit juice, diet soda, processed food, fast food, piece of chocolate after lunch, ice cream at night kind of way. And each time I had that sugar, my blood sugar spiked causing all sorts of other issues. Hello Hypoglycemia! I have truly become dependent on sugar to function and now I'm having to take my body off of it and my body isn't liking it. Not one bit.

This morning started out the same way. Had my smoothie and some eggs and bacon. Felt okay enough to run to the grocery store to buy the plethora of veggies that I need for my paleo diet. But I had no energy. On a scale from 1 to 10, my energy was at a 1 at best. It was 9AM and I felt like I had just finished walking 39.3 miles (I've done that. Believe me, I know what it feels like.) Just putting the grocery bags into the trunk felt like a major ordeal.

So I headed to Starbucks.

Yes, I allowed myself to have a skinny sugar-free vanilla latte and it was the best thing I've ever had. Like manna from Heaven it was!

Since my coffee fix, today has been better. I'm making sure to eat something every 2-3 hours, like the doctor told me to do. I've decided that trying to change all of my eating habits, while giving up sugar and caffeine simultaneously, was a BAD idea. So I'm allowing myself that one cup of coffee only and I'm saying goodbye to my beloved Diet Coke at lunch. I'm focusing on eating lots of protein and veggies only and having NO sugar of any kind.

Because I have do this if I want to feel better. This won't suck. I can do this. This won't suck. I can do this.

A holistic approach.

Holistic Doctor Mill Valley CA 
 :: photo credit here :: 

I'm one of those people who looks healthy, but on the inside not so much. Apparently, my insides are all out of wack and my body has had enough.

For years I have been trying to lose weight. I have proof of it here and here and here. But no matter how hard I worked out, how much sugar I stopped eating, I could never lose any weight. And then there were the headaches. A few years ago I started having horrible, migraine worthy, headaches that were making me miserable. Are still making me miserable.

My "regular" doctors were no help. The answers that I received were to work harder and to see a neurologist for the headaches. A neurologist? That advice was neither reasonable or helpful. I was frustrated and beginning to feel like this was simply my life. I had started resigning myself to the fact that this was how it was going to be for me. But one of my best friends snapped me out of all that crazy talk.

My friend Amy, one of the smartest, prettiest, healthiest, all around best people I know, recommended that I find a holistic doctor. She had started going to one several years ago and it changed her life. She reminded me that God had given me this precious gift--a body to take care of--and I needed to do whatever it took to take care of myself. So I started to search for a new doctor. I live in Southern California. Finding a holistic doctor shouldn't be hard.

So yesterday I went to see my new naturopathic doctor. I was a little nervous. I had no idea what to expect. I'm all about being as natural as possible. Whole foods and yoga and healthy choices, yeah, I'm all about it. But would this lady end up wanting to do some kind of weird voodoo treatment that involved chanting and drinking some kind of weird, homemade brown stuff out of Bell jars?

Not even close.

I liked her right away. She spent a lot of time just listening to me. Typed out everything I said with a keyboard in her lap while never taking her eyes off of me. I've never had a doctor listen that closely before so it was a little strange at first. But I could tell that she was working on putting a puzzle together about what was going on with me.

I told her that my main symptoms--in a nutshell--are an inability to lose weight no matter what I do and horrible headaches 2-3 times a week. She asked me a ton a questions based on what I was saying. Told her about a menstrual problem in 2009 (non-stop bleeding) that led to a D&C and Ablation and because of that I no longer have a period. Told her about my occasional "funks" and my low energy levels. Told her about my stresses with motherhood, a wife that travels, and regular life crap.

And then I held my breath, praying that she wasn't going to tell me that I needed to work out harder and see a neurologist.

She didn't diagnosis me in a traditional sense, but explained everything that she thinks is going on. Right away she said she wanted to run all of the blood work for the hormone tests that my OBGYN didn't do when I was having my bleeding issues. So I have to get my regular doctor to order those labs for me. She actually wants to try and bring back my period. I thought that I had just gotten lucky not having one anymore, that I had one some kind of great female lottery, but she said that not having one has most likely effected my estrogen levels (hopefully the blood work will show that.) Basically it's like I'm in early menopause which she said isn't good at all for someone so young (loved it when she said that) because it will be bad in the long run for my bones and heart. She put me on an herb, Maca, to help bring back my period.

She also thinks I have issues with my adrenals (adrenal fatigue), that I'm hypoglycemic (big, huge problems with stabilizing my blood sugar) which is causing all of my headache issues and that I possibly have a thyroid problem. Wow. I didn't realize that I was such a mess! All of this, along with the hormones and stress, are all related, all connected. They feed off of each other like the perfect storm. They effect my my metabolism, cortisol levels, and my weighty issues. When she was explaining it all to me I had my own little light bulb moment. The moment was that someone cared enough to put all of my symptoms togehter, to make sense of them all, and offer me a way to get better.

She wants to detox my liver, which is necessary for the blood sugar to stabilize. This is a huge part of my getting healthy again. She has put me on the Paleo Diet--70% veggies and a few grains, 10-15% protein, and 10-15% good fats. No processed anything, no sugar, no caffeine except for in teas if possible. I have to make a smoothie every morning with a protein powder called Vital Clear (for liver detox), spinach or kale, red cabbage, beets, a good fat, and any other veggies I want to put in there. Can also put cinnamon, water, an one fruit like a pear or mango if I want (uh, yeah, I'll probably want.) I also have to put 2 supplements--turmeric and resveratrol--in my smoothie. Basically, this will be my "medicine" every morning that I have to take, along with the Maca. I have to do this for 2-3 months, which is usually the amount of time that it takes your liver to detox.

I go back to see her at the end of August. By that time I will have my blood work back and have a liver that is partially detoxed and I should be feeling the positive effects of it. Adjusting to this new diet won't be an easy change, but honestly it's the way all of us should be eating anyway! But the bad thing is that I forgot to ask her about alcohol. I'm assuming that it's a no because of the sugars. I've gotta add a lot more protein to my diet and be better about what kinds of snacks I eat, always putting fruit with a protein, fat or veggie. I shouldn't eat fruit alone because of the blood sugar spike it causes for me.

That's probably a lot more info than you, my kind reader, ever wanted to know about me, but writing this helped me process a lot of the info. I desperately want to be faithful to this and stick with it. I really believe that if I can do this that I will feel like the way God intended me to feel.

To be continued...

I'm still here. All of me...plus some.

You know how anorexics walk around believing they are fat when in truth they are very, very skinny? I have the opposite problem. I walk around thinking that I look just fine and then I see a picture of myself and realize that some 40-year-old fat woman has taken over my body without asking my permission!

So I'm off today. Off to the doctor. I'm wishing that it was a plastic surgeon so he/she could replace this irritable fat woman with a much more desirable version of myself, but no. I'm actually going to see a naturopathic doctor to look me over from head-to-toe. I'm tired of working out and getting nowhere. I'm tired of being tired. I'm tired of constantly waking up with a headache ("It's not a tumor!") So as a 40th birthday treat to myself, I'm going to find out what's wrong with me.

The Golfer offered to tell me what was wrong with me for free. Yeah, he's hysterical.

I'm just hoping that this doctor doesn't tell me that this cranky 40-year-old fat woman has permanently taken over my body and I should just learn to meditate and get over it. Cuz that would really suck.

(P.S. I had no intention of anyone ever seeing the above picture. Sure, it's great of the boys. They look quite sweet actually. But there's this fat woman in between them and she's really starting to piss me off.)

paying attention part 11: so what would happen without medication?

I never planned on medicating my children. When I nursed them as babies and daydreamed about all of the wonderful milestones that lay ahead, learning how to successfully swallow their daily ADD medication wasn't one of them. So in April, almost two years after his initial ADD diagnosis, I decided to try something. I decided to take Bentley off his medication. I didn't tell anyone. I didn't even think that much about it. One morning Bentley looked at me and said, "I don't want to take my medication anymore." And without much thought I simply said, "Okay."

It wasn't hard because I had become more and more unhappy with medicating our son. I was tired of him being in such a bad mood every afternoon. He would get into the car after school agitated and irritable. It's hard enough being a preteen, and it's even harder being a preteen with medication making it worse. And that was what it seemed to be doing; making things worse.

When your child is diagnosed with ADD/ADHD, you know that one of the first decisions that you are going to have to make is whether or not to medicate your child. Soon after Bentley's diagnosis I joined several parent chat rooms on reputable ADD/ADHD websites. I needed to hear what other parents thought. I needed to read about their concerns, their fears, their worries about medicating their children. The Golfer and I struggled with what to do: weighing the side effects and the negatives with the benefits and the positives. Finally we landed on the best decision we could given what we believed and what we had quickly learned. Isn't that what we do as parents? Try to make the best decision we can in the moment based on the information we have at the time?

Three different types of medications and one antidepressant later, we were no longer sure if our original decision was the best decision. So, like I said, I sent him to school without medication to see what would happen. I didn't worry. I knew that even if it was for only one day there wouldn't be any permanent damage done. He could always hop back onto the pill popping wagon if he needed to. If all hell broke loose, I had a cabinet full of meds to solve the problem.

He got into the car that afternoon...different. He was happy. He talked about having a good day at school. He laughed and smiled and acted like a normal 11-year-old. I pulled his papers out of his bag. Everything looked normal. No bad grades. No notes from the teachers. I checked my email. Nothing from the school. He had made it through the day without medication and all was good.

So we tried it the next day. And the next. And the day after that. He was happy. He was eating. He was sleeping. He was still making good grades. He talked about friends. He played on the soccer team. He took his standardized test. He finished the school year with straight A's and a special award in Spanish. (Hola!) All without medication. And he was fine. He was better than fine. He was...normal.

What did this all mean then? Did his ADD suddenly disappear? Had we dreamed the last two years? Was he misdiagnosed? Unfortunately, no. His ADD symptoms were all still there. He was still distracted. He still had trouble focusing. He was still messy and had horrible handwriting. There was no question that he still had ADD, but he seemed to be coping successfully. Without medication.

And then we found out something. We found out that the Golfer might have ADD too.

Stay tuned...