Tired

I’ve been tired for about a month.  Exhausted tired.  The kind where you could fall asleep anywhere, anytime and if you just closed your eyes, you’d be out.  Going to bed at 8:30pm and you’ve fought to stay awake that long.

I can check WebMD and so much more to self diagnose (I’m every doctor’s nightmare, really) but I did the right thing and finally went to the doc.  We ran a CBC with an iron test, checked my thyroid and did a metabolic panel.  All came back normal.  Normal…sigh…

So then I go to things like “Are my meds gluten free?”  “Am I accidently getting glutened?”  “Is it the weather?”  And all kinds of other questions.

It has been a crazy year with the changes at work, taking on more with Lions, writing more and so much more.  I know for the last six months I haven’t been sleeping well because my neighbors weren’t the quietest people.  They are moved out so I’m sleeping better.

Or maybe this is my body’s way of saying “slow down, take it easy”.  I’ve been trying to listen, to go to bed even if it’s early, to step back from things if I have to.  To say “no”.  Our bodies tell us when it’s time to take a rest, to fix ourselves and to just take it easy.

I think it’s that time.

Staying on the Positive Side

Let’s be honest, sometimes life gets us down.  This is a story of getting down and then getting over it.

I have a pretty positive outlook on having Celiac Disease, having to eat gluten free and not getting to eat things like egg rolls and Chinese food in Chinese restaurants.  About once a year I get PF Chang’s and satisfy my Chinese craving for a bit.  It’s not as much as I used to eat it but it helps.  Eating gluten free isn’t really that bad either.  It could be worse, I could be allergic to dairy, avocados, and almonds.  Things that I eat EVERY day.  But it’s just gluten, right?

Well, last Monday was my “feeling sorry for myself” day.  I had been at JUCO (the Junior College World Series) which happens every May in Grand Junction.  It’s basically a week of sunshine, baseball and more sunshine.  I spend as much time attending games and chillin’.  Memorial Day I got to the stadium at 11 and stayed there all day.  I had brought my usual snacks to tide me over and had plans to jet at 6 to grab a bite to eat before the 7:30pm game.  Plans changed and I ended up taking photos of the team the Grand Junction Lions Club hosted (every year we host one of the teams) and not going to eat.

Mind you, this was my fault…I will admit that.

I had, earlier in the day, started wishing that I could go to the concession stand, pick whatever I wanted and just EAT.  Not have play 20 questions with the gal behind the counter and then hope that she was right.  It’s like playing Russian Roulette, really.  I was tired of being different, of not being able to grab food and go, to have to leave the stadium to get something to eat and then come back, try to find a parking spot and…it was too much.  I’m guessing the sun and heat had something to do with this breakdown as well.

But I had a pity party.  I almost started crying and had to compose myself several times.  Sometimes being gluten free really sucks.  In fact, I found this and posted it to Facebook:

Don't you ever just want to be normal?

Don’t you ever just want to be normal?

I had friends comment on the picture from “Be strong!” to “I have those days” to “I wouldn’t eat normal for the world, I know how it hurts me”.  The support was so good.

I ended up getting fries.  They told me that they were gluten free.  I hope they were right…

So, I had my moment, ate my fries, watched the game, went home, went to bed and the next day I was fine.  My outlook was better.  Sometimes you just have to have a moment and move on.  The sun always comes up tomorrow, I’ve been told…and that is a true statement.

The moral of the story is twofold:

1.  Have a pity party, get mad or sad or whatever and then MOVE ON.  It’s life and the way it is whether it’s Celiac or a dairy allergy or something else.  It could always be worse.

2.  Stay positive.  Negative energy only brings you and everyone else around you down.  The more negativity, the less people will want to be around you and, when you really need support, it won’t be there.

Gluten free isn’t always the most glamorous or the most fun but it’s the most healthy for me.  It could be gluten free or death and I choose gluten free.

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Summer Eatin’ Tips

I wrote this article for a local newspaper a couple years ago but the tips stay true to this day.  Enjoy!

Summertime conjures up thoughts of barbeques in backyards, picnics over the 4th of July and company parties. Food items that are often served at these functions can be quite frightening for someone who is gluten free: hamburger and hot dog buns, pasta salads and many desserts are just a few to list. Here are some tips for eating gluten free yet enjoying the summertime festivities!

First, find out what will be served. If it’s pulled pork, find out if the BBQ sauce will be on it, if there was a marinade, etc. Hamburgers could have seasonings in them that have a wheat product as a filler. Hot dogs may not always be safe to eat and you may need to call the manufacturer. Finding out what will be served, and doing your homework, will make eating so much easier. It’s always a good idea to ask and plan ahead!

Second, bring your own. If buns will be part of the meal, bring gluten free buns. Udi’s makes a great gluten free hamburger and hot dog bun. If you aren’t sure about salads being served, bring a small portion for yourself.

Third, watch contamination. That knife that is in the mayo may have just been on a “normal” bun. It may be a good idea to bring some condiments that you know are safe.   Also ask that your hamburger or hot dog be cooked in a totally separate area on the grill as cross contamination can occur there as well.

Fourth, ask about any marinades or spices that might be on the food. Many marinades use wheat as a thickener and spices sometimes use wheat products as a filler. These hidden sources of wheat can be a concern. Just as to see the labels to make sure they are ok.

If your host or hostess has told you “not to worry about it”, just remember to have a back up plan. A good snack in your bag like Glutino’s pretzels or Nut Thins chips will be a great idea to keep you on track with your gluten free diet. You can also bring along something that you know will be ok for you to eat such as Mission Tortilla Chips and a jar of salsa.

Just remember: it’s ok to ask. Don’t be afraid to protect yourself this summer by asking what is in the foods you are about to put into your body. Then after you’ve asked, enjoy your summertime foods!

How do you do it?

This week we decided, at work, to start rotating and each Friday we take a little “brunch break” at work.  Not only does this give us a little break in the morning but each one of us gets to make something and share the recipe with the rest of the bunch.  One of my co workers was searching recipes and kept asking “can you have this?” and “can you have that?”  Of course when it comes to biscuits, pancakes and so many other breakfast foods, they are off limits for me.  The poor girl was trying so hard and I kept having to say no.

She then said “I don’t know how you do it, I would starve.”  Interestingly enough, when I asked friends what things they heard the most when you’ve explained your gluten free diet, the most common were “how do you do it?” and “you can’t eat anything.”

I will start with the question.  You do it because you have to.  Believe me, this isn’t something that I’d choose.  I do miss eating pancakes at a restaurant, biscuits and gravy on a buffet and egg rolls.  Oh, how I miss egg rolls.  But it’s something that is necessary for me to live.  To not live in pain.  To remain healthy.  You read labels, all of them, because wheat is hidden in so much.

Then to “you can’t eat anything.”  Well, if you mean you can’t get a Big Mac from McDonald’s, then yes.  Not that I’d eat that if I could…nasty.  You can eat, you just have to do research and, yes, it does take time and effort.  But I eat, I eat a lot.  You just learn what you can and can’t have.  You learn to shop around the outside of the grocery store, which is typically the healthiest choice anyway.  I eat lots of brown rice, quinoa, veggies and chicken.  I get creative.  And yet, I don’t look all skin and bones.

I feel bad for my co workers and anyone else that tries to cook for me.  Some of my friends have become experts in reading labels, in asking and, when all else fails, in sending me pictures of the labels of foods I may eat at their homes.  It isn’t the easiest thing in the world but it’s done because it’s needed.  And that’s how I do it…the short version!

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The Journey

It all began with my dad.  It was June of 2009 and dad’s health had been going downhill for quite some time.  He didn’t have energy, was looking pale and, as a good stubborn German man, refused to go to the doctor and had been refusing for months.  I will never forget the Sunday that we had done a trip through the orchards and when mom and dad dropped me off, as usual, I invited them up to my condo which is on the second story.  Dad flat out said “no” because he didn’t have the energy.  I had gone over there a few days later and dad could hardly walk across the living room without stopping to gather his energy so he could keep going.  He had turned into an old, old man in front of our eyes.  My brother emailed me, asking if he needed to fly in from Washington state.  I told him no…but I honestly didn’t think dad was going to make it.  Later, he would tell us that he wasn’t sure he was going to live much longer.

A couple of weeks later I received a phone call while I was at work.  It was my mom and my dad had driven himself to the ER from his part time job at a golf course.  They had found a hernia and would have to do surgery.  When they did the pre surgery blood tests, he came back severely anemic and ordered an upper and lower GI to find out where they internal bleeding was.  Otherwise, why would you have such severe anemia?  The gastroenterologist did the tests and told mom that they biopsied a portion of his upper GI but he was pretty sure it was Celiac Disease.

What?

My mom is super resourceful so started doing research so when the test came back positive for Celiac Disease, she was ready to rock n roll.  Everything got put into a box and I was the proud recipient of TONS of food.  Mom started baking and cooking gluten free, dad was mad at the world.  Here he was, in his 60’s.  He was already a diabetic and had a thyroid condition…why this too?  No bread, no pasta, no beer…Father’s Day was right around the corner so I did my due diligence as his daughter and found gluten free beer.  It was no Bud Light but it worked!

We would later find out that all of these autoimmune diseases work hand in hand and when you have one, you are very likely to have another.

Mom’s research took her to find that if you have a relative with Celiac Disease, you have a 1 in 22 chance of having the disease too. A few months later I took a blood test and it  came back positive for Celiac Disease.  I spoke with my doctor and she told me that as long as I didn’t have the symptoms, to keep on living my life the way I was.  (BTW, this is NOT correct.  If you are diagnosed with Celiac Disease you must IMMEDIATELY start eating gluten free).

As time went on, I starting having symptoms.  I had always been anemic but now I was having intestinal issues.  I would eat and then head straight to the bathroom because it went through me so fast.  I would have severe cramps and would go home and just curl up on my couch, praying they would go away.  I was bloated and had no energy.

I finally decided it was time to go gluten free.  Should be easy, right?  My mom and dad had just gone through it and I was sure it would be easier for me.

I went through the purging process as well, taking food out of my pantry and donating it or giving to it friends.  I then headed to the grocery store, Vitamin Cottage, actually.  I will NEVER forget standing in the pasta aisle, looking at the mac and cheese and wondering which box of $5 mac and cheese was actually any good.  Which $6 pasta was any good.  I was overwhelmed and, before I could start crying, I bought a box of mac and cheese and went home.  It was overwhelming and I cried all the way home.  The mac and cheese sucked.  It was expensive so I ate it all and cried more.

The next day I put on my big girl panties and went to City Market.  I bought a few things because a girl’s gotta eat.  I asked mom for help.  I tried things and figured out which ones weren’t good, although I’d eat it anyway because GF food is EXPENSIVE.  Most breads were only good for toast, buns were hard, eating out was horrible and still can be bad.  It was FRUSTRATING.

But I’ve lived and I’ve figured out what is good, what isn’t, where is safe to eat, where make my tummy hurt and in this, I’ve found friends who are going through the same thing.  It’s so much easier when you have people who know exactly what you are going through.

And that’s my journey, so far.  I know there is more to do, this is my platform and there are many more people who feel alone in this world, or who haven’t been diagnosed with Celiac although they’ve been diagnosed with everything under the sun.  And the true cause is Celiac Disease.

I ask that if you know someone who has Celiac Disease and feels alone in the world, share this blog.  If you have a question for me, ask.  I’m here to help, I’m going on this journey for a reason.

Me and Dad at a Broncos vs. Bears game

Me and Dad at a Broncos vs. Bears game

A Helping Hand

Celiac Disease hasn’t been the most fun thing.  I mean, you eat something you shouldn’t or accidentally get cross contamination and end up in the bathroom for the rest of the day or curled up on your bed in pain.  Doesn’t sound like a great way to spend an afternoon.

Through my work with Gluten Free Grand Valley, writing for the newspaper and being vocal on social media, I have gained attention, hopefully as an advocate for those with Celiac Disease.  Because of this, I get lots of questions, lots of emails and phone calls and people who are friends or friends of friends stopping me at gatherings to ask questions because they have been diagnosed or because someone they know has been.

A couple of these things happened this week.  First, I found out that a friend’s sister was diagnosed a few months ago.  We happened to be at a birthday party and I was having a glass of wine and she started asking me questions about being gluten free.  She then proceeded to tell me that she had been diagnosed Celiac.  We, of course, spent the rest of the evening talking about food, restaurants and all that goes along with Celiac Disease…over a gluten free pizza, I might add.

The second was someone who is gluten free is moving to Grand Junction and contacted me about Gluten Free Grand Valley.  I directed her to the Facebook page but we started a dialog on how scary it is to move to a new city, to not know what grocery stores to go to or what restaurants are safe.  We plan on having coffee when she gets here so I can help her.

Sometimes being given the burden of a disease can be just that, a burden.  But I look at it like this:  God put me on this Earth for a reason and gave me Celiac Disease for a reason.  I believe it’s to help people.  That’s not being said with bravado or boasting, it’s a fact.  I hope that I can help as many people as possible whether it’s simply giving them a cookie recipe or if it’s guiding them through the first year of eating gluten free.  I hope that I can always lend a helping hand.

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Coming in like a Lion…

I’m having a hard time believing that March is nearly over.  It seems like the longest, fastest month ever.  I hope you know what that means and, if not, it doesn’t matter.  It’s how this month feels.

March came in like a lion with putting my baby cat, Punky, to sleep.  It’s honestly still hard to be at home, not as hard as it was the first few days but I still find myself looking over my shoulder to make sure she’s not behind me in the kitchen and I still can’t go into her room much, even though it’s technically my office.  All in time, right?

I’m finding that March has been a difficult month for so many of my friends.  From death of family members to hospitalization of family members to cancer treatments to illness to…it just seems like it’s never ending.  I feel for all of my friends that are hurting right now and I worry that I’m not emotionally able to meet their needs because I feel drained.  I want to be there for them and am trying hard.

I wonder, sometimes, why it all hits at once.  Why it seems like everything flows along so well with everything, everything, and then everything blows up.  I’m certain that God is trying to get our attention about something, trying to say “Hey, don’t forget that I’m here” because we often think we can handle things all by ourselves, we want control.

I’m very thoughtful tonight.  Through my run after work, I tried to just clear my mind and focus on my pace.  I was able to do that but found myself going through the list of people in my life who are hurting, who are right now just trying to make it day by day and work through emotions that I, most of the time, can’t even fathom.

So, I have a feeling that March came in like a lion and will leave like a lion as well.

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If you can’t say nothin’ nice…

I don’t always keep in tune with what is going on in the world.  I typically do enough so that I can talk intelligently and know the facts.  I don’t like to sound ignorant so I educate myself.

Not everyone does this, which was evident by this interview that included TV talk show host, Joy Behar.  If you haven’t watched it, please do.  Unless you are in a good mood because it will tick you off.

I spend time trying to educate people about being gluten free:  what my reasons are, what it means and how I keep myself healthy.  What irritates me the most is people not educating themselves on why they are eating gluten free.  Admittedly, a lot of people that don’t know why they are eating gluten free are the ones who don’t have a medical diagnosis that requires it.  They do it because they feel better or, in some cases, because it’s the newest thing.  There are those people.

Ms. Behar is a prime example of talking without education.  Of speaking out of ignorance.  We are “needy” because our diet requires it.  Celiac Disease isn’t something in our head, it’s a REAL disease.  In fact, Ms Behar, I invite you to feed me pasta and hang out in the bathroom with me while my not real disease kicks in.

Part of me hopes that this negative publicity is a wake up call to this lady but, who am I kidding?  I have seen her before and she isn’t the brightest bulb so I am highly doubtful that it will change.  I just hope that other people won’t pay attention to her…and we can continue our education and bring positive light to eating gluten free.

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Getting rid of the bad

Tomorrow I start a detox. Yup, with the new year, it’s time to get back into line. I had been doing pretty well until the two weeks before Christmas and then it was all bets off. It’s so easy to get into bad habits of eating things that aren’t good for you or having a few more beers a week than you used to. All of a sudden you’ve gone from pretty in shape to having a tire around your middle that wasn’t there just a few short weeks ago.

I know that the New Year typically means that people hit the gym more, make resolutions to eat right or start a diet and just to be healthy overall but why does it take the New Year to push us in that direction? And how many of us stick to our “diets”?

I started with Arbonne almost a year ago. For those that don’t know, Arbonne is a health and wellness company and, through the consultants, we do a 28 Day Detox Bootcamp as I call it. Others call it a Clean Eating Program, it’s all the same.

I did my first one in May of 2014. I sell the products, I should know how they work, right? Boy, was I in for a treat. It’s an amazing program where you eliminate foods that are known allergens (dairy, gluten, soy) as well as other items that are acidic to your body like coffee, alcohol, soda and the like. I’m already gluten free so that part was easy for me. The hard part, I thought, would be giving up soda and coffee since I knew I was addicted to both. What I learned about myself and what I put into my body was amazing!

For one, our bodies store the acidic items in our fat cells and is why we gain weight. Think about a water balloon as a fat cell. As you add acidic items (water) to the cell (balloon), it gets bigger. As you remove acidic items (water) from your diet, the cell (balloon) shrinks. Another thing I learned was that our bodies will go through a withdrawal process when eliminating items but my biggest one wasn’t caffeine, it was sugar. Sugar is in EVERYTHING. It’s crazy. Third, I learned what was important to my body and when to listen. For the first few days I felt like I was in a fog and couldn’t think right. I figured out that I was missing healthy fats and when I incorporated almonds and avacados into my diet almost every day, I was a wiz!

Most people lose weight on this detox but they lose inches and that’s what I was most impressed with. I also felt better and my dad, an almost 40 year diabetic, was able to reduce his insulin to the lowest he’s ever seen.

I’m not trying to sell this product, I’m saying that I’m ready to get back to healthy. I’m ready to get back to feeling good and getting rid of my spare tire I’m developing. It’s not a New Years resolution, it’s a lifestyle change. I’m not saying, after my 28 days, that I won’t have a drink here or there, eat some nachos, or have a cupcake but for the most part I’m going back to healthy and getting rid of the bad that’s lurking out there.

By the way, if you haven’t read the book “Wheat Belly”, I highly recommend it. I am in the midst of reading it and you will be amazed at how food production has changed and will make you rethink what you put in your body!

Starting anew

While most people were spending New Year’s Eve with family and friends, I opted to stay at home.  It’s been a weird week and then when I got home from work, my cat was sick and thought it was better to cuddle with her and make sure she was ok.  When your fur baby is over 18, you never know…

I had time to think while watching a marathon of “Wings”.  I had read a blog by Ashley Castle, a world-class traveler and Arbonne consultant, earlier in the day and it got me thinking:  What are my goals and dreams?  What do I need to change to reach them?

I actually met Ashley this summer.  She was working on the Mutual of Omaha Aha! Tour.  When I came in for my interview, she spotted my Arbonne necklace and made a connection.  Once an Arbonne sister, always an Arbonne sister.  Since then I’ve followed her on Facebook and via her blog.  I won’t lie, I’m pretty jealous of her lifestyle as she is always traveling somewhere, it seems.  But she is by no means a trust fund baby, she has worked hard to make it all happen and she is a travel writer so makes a living by the sights she sees.  The point is that that was her dream and two years ago it HAPPENED.  Now, someone didn’t just give it to her…again, she worked for it, it was a GOAL.

She makes goals in four or five areas of her life every year.  She WRITES them down.  I’ve had my Arbonne consultants ask why they should write their monthly goals down.  Here is the reason:  you are 70% more likely to reach a goal if it is written down.  If you don’t write it down, the likelihood of reaching that goal drops to 7%.  (Thanks, Ashley!).  In reading that, it made me think this:  “If I don’t write a goal down, I really have no intention of doing it.  I have no DESIRE to reach that goal.  It’s just a “if I do it, then it’s cool.” kind of goal.

I will be following Ashley’s method of creating goals in my life from professional to different aspects of my personal life.  I also will be focusing on the positive.  This includes cleaning out the negative friends, acquaintances, books and so much more from my life.  I will be limiting some relationships because they are “poisonous” which may mean cleaning out my Facebook friends…the horror!  I will be downsizing because we all have too many “things” in our lives.  Things do NOT equal happiness.  I will cross one or two items off of my bucket list.  I will run more races, will take the time to FEEL better about myself which will translate into looking better, if that can happen.  Haha!  Just kidding.  I will take time for ME.  We don’t do that either.  Taking time for yourself isn’t a bad thing, being selfish with “me” time is a GOOD thing.  If we don’t take time for ourselves, we are no good for anyone.  As a social butterfly, this will be a hard one for me.  I hate missing out on things!  I will try new things because if you don’t try it, you don’t know if you like it!

This is a start to my new year.  This will be a new year, a new me and a great new time in my life.  This is the year I turn 40 and I won’t go into it kicking and screaming.  I will welcome it because it means greater things are ahead.

I hope you had a great New Year’s Eve and that you have an amazing start to 2015.

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