My Venture into Exercise

Yep, there she is. That’s my mountain bike, which I affectionately call Black Beauty.

I’ve missed my bike.  I will tell you why in a minute.

First, let me tell you about myself. It is obvious that I’m not your average mountain biker. By now you probably know that I’m not a twenty-something-year-old male. No, I’m a 37 year-old woman and I enjoy a wide range of activities that your typical almost-40-year-old-woman doesn’t; I enjoy riding my bicycle on trails.

Here’s the truth: I’m not a good mountain-biker, but I get a lot of satisfaction out of tackling my fears. I get afraid when I come upon steep, rutted hills or big rocks. Most of the time, I get off my bike and walk when I think a part of a trail is above my skill level, because I’ve encountered more than my share of falls. But there are times when I accept a physical challenge and I complete it successfully. I like that the best. It gives me confidence. And I love speeding down dirt trails on my nearly 15 year-old bike and feeling the wind in my face, the sun on my shoulders.

At this point, I should say thank you to by brother, Steve, for “lending” me those bar-ends seen in the picture above.

This is the Liberty Canyon connecting trail. It winds around, over and through those little hills. It is good for beginners and is one of my most favorite routes.

So back to why I haven’t been riding. I began the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) about 7 months ago. I had read Breaking the Vicious Cycle by Elaine Gottschall and decided to change how I was eating. My gastrointestinal problems were getting increasingly worse. I had had enough. But I was totally unprepared for the massive changes that I experienced when I began SCD.

Chicken soup and even plain old hamburger upset my stomach. It was rough. I had no energy. I couldn’t think very clearly. I lost a lot of weight. I kept myself on the introductory diet for a month (huge mistake) because I thought anything else I ate would probably send me to the bathroom, too. If I ever eat chicken soup again, it will be too soon.

But with the help of family members and a lot of research online, I figured out a few things. I progressed from the introductory diet into the phases. I made more mistakes, but they have informed me of what I can tolerate and what I cannot. And I’ve read a bunch of research about my GI issues.

For a few months, things have been going well. I’ve been feeling more full of pep and I’ve put on some weight.

I decided it was time to get back in the saddle again… the bike saddle.

I’ve gone on a few rides. I’m trying not to over do it. Firstly because I’m out of shape from inactivity. Secondly, because I’m afraid if I go too long, leaky gut could make another appearance in my life! Ugh, NO THANK YOU!

Since I began biking again, which was two weeks ago, I’ve gone on probably six rides and I’ve gained a few pounds from the additional muscle that I’ve built in those two weeks. I can see a difference in my body and I feel stronger, too. Things with my GI tract seem to be holding steady but I will continue to be cautious.

I’m telling you all of this because I know what it is like to have GI problems and to be unsure if SCD is going to help you. It is difficult to make it through low-energy times. It is disappointing to step on the scale only to find that you’ve lost more weight. I found it extremely hard not to be able to do activities that I enjoyed because I didn’t feel ready.

Hang in there. Do the work. Research your problems. Keep a food log. There is health and life ahead, just keep trying.

Next up, surfing! 😉

xo

Theresa ~SCD Griddle

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Essential Fats!

Sometimes I hear about good fats.

I usually don’t pay attention.

I haven’t worried much about my fat intake because I’m active and have digestive issues, so I always figured any fat is probably okay for me. But now that I’m trying to heal myself through diet modification with the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, I want to make sure that I am eating enough of these good fats.

Good fats are monunsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, like essential fatty acids. At the molecular level, unsaturated fats have a double bond, which makes the molecule easy to break. Molecules termed mono- have only one double bond, but those called poly- have multiple double bonds. (If you want more information about “good” fats vs “bad” fats, go here.)

Do you know how important essential fatty acids are?

When I refer to good fats, I am talking about essential fatty acids. These are polyunsaturated oil molecules known as omega-3 (alpha linolenic acid) and omega-6 (linoleic acid). They are necessary for good health, but the body cannot synthesize these, so we must ingest foods rich in essential fatty acids.

There are other fatty acids that aren’t known as “essential” because humans possess all of the enzymes required for their synthesis. These are incredibly important, like eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), (these are found in fish), and gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid (DGLA) and arachidonic acid (AA), (these last three are derived from omega-6 linoleic acid).

Essential fatty acids serve many functions such as:

  • mediate inflammation (extremely important for those of us with IBD)
  • play roles in cellular functions
  • make healthy, flexible cell membranes
  • affect mood and behavior
  • protect us from cell damage by neutralizing free radicals

Really, these fatty acids affect our whole bodies. If you want to learn about them, go here and here.

People can be deficient in their essential fatty acids. It is most obvious in the skin; dry skin (who doesn’t have dry skin?), scaly or flaky skin, cracking/peeling fingertips or heels, lackluster skin, and small bumps on back of upper arms. There are many more symptoms. In order to see a more complete list, visit this link.

Is easy to be deficient in the omega-3 fatty acids because alpha-Linolenic acid (ALA) is tough to get. It is such an important micronutrient that I have begun to specifically search it out. It is found in these food sources:

  • Flaxseed oil and ground Flaxseeds (the oil is legal, but the seeds are SCD-illegal)
  • English Walnuts (higher concentrations), Walnut oil, Black Walnuts (lower concentrations
  • Canola oil (SCD legal but not recommended)
  • Soybean oil and firm Tofu (both SCD-illegal)
  • Kiwi fruit seeds
  • Purslane (an herbaceous weed that grows almost everywhere in the U.S. – unsure if this is SCD legal)

ALA easily oxidizes, which is why producers partially hydrogenate oils that contain it. According to The Green Kitchen Handbook, by Annie Berthold-Bond, “manufacturers removed essential fatty acids from oils in the interest of preserving their shelf life.”

The omega-6, Linoleic acid (LA) is much easier to acquire. It is in various oils, seeds and nuts like:

  • Safflower oil
  • Sunflower seeds and oil
  • Pine nuts
  • Corn oil
  • Soybean oil (SCD-illegal)
  • Pecans
  • Sesame oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Other sources include almonds, chicken fat, egg yolks, lard and butter.

The oils containing LA also have saturated fats. These are fat molecules with structures of single bonds are more difficult to break. They are stable and have longer shelf lives. This has led to their widespread distribution and thus, are much easier to incorporate into your diet.

These good fats are so important, but don’t take my word for it. Here is an excellent article that explains much of this information in greater depth and also gives intake recommendations.

See you later, I’m going to run out and pick up a bottle of flaxseed oil!

Theresa ~ SCD Griddle

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Bad Food Advice

This past weekend, I went to the library.

I had some free time. See, for the past couple of month I’d been studying like crazy in order to pass a few exams (they went well, by the way). I’m on the road to licensure in landscape architecture- well, I think I am. I don’t receive the results for a few more weeks.

Anyway, my exams are over for now and I wanted to find a book at the library, something light. I walked through the stacks,  perusing the titles, hoping one would catch my eye since I didn’t have any particular book in mind. I had to stop when I realized I was in the middle of their ‘food and diet’ section. They had a ton of books on the subject, of course. I noticed the book called Naturally Thin by Bethenny Frankel. I pulled it off the shelf and briefly paged through it.

On page 219, one sentence caught my eye. It said, “This one’s for all you low-carb people.”

Hmmm, I thought, Bethenny is giving advice to low-carb people. This is going to be good (she didn’t disappoint).  A side note: I am one of these said Low-Carb People because I follow the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, which doesn’t exclude all carbohydrates, but a lot of them.

She writes, “I love a few choice bites of steak, but I also know that too much red meat isn’t good for anybody.”

How does Bethenny Frankel know that too much red meat isn’t good for people?  Did she conduct a few nutritional studies?  Did she ever read research papers about it? Does she know that so-called “studies” are often skewed and full of misinformation? And how much is “too much” anyway?

This is more of her advice: “Give your body a rest: don’t eat red meat more than twice a week, and never eat more than a piece the size of a small sponge in one meal. You don’t need it, and after a while, you won’t want it, either.”

Ha! Never eat more than a piece the size of a “small sponge”- ha ha, how big is a small sponge?

She concludes this paragraph by writing, “But eating pounds and pounds of red meat every day is no way to be healthy or naturally thin.”

Right.

What if I told her that I eat about a pound of red meat everyday and have done so for over 6 months? That my gastroenterologist advised me to go on a high protein, low carbohydrate diet? And I am the healthiest that I’ve been in over 15 years.

It is advice like this that has sent the American diet in the wrong direction. Way to lie to readers who don’t know better, Bethenny. What rubbish.

 

Snarkily yours,

Theresa ~SCD Griddle

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Skinny Bitch

I am a skinny bitch.

I’ve been thin my whole life. There have been times when I’ve hated this title and instances that being called a skinny bitch gave me a little jolt of confidence, too. But these days, I loathe it.

During almost any point in my childhood, while trying on clothes for my mother (to see what I’d outgrown or what items I may need), she’d invariably say, “Theresa, you are so slight.”

My mother never said this to make me feel bad and I truly didn’t mind. She was right, I was thin. I didn’t care very much about it. I was how I was. I just wanted to stop trying on clothes so I could go out and play.

In middle school I became more self-conscious about my weight. The girls would say out of meanness, “Theresa, you’re so skinny.”

I understood that I was not a good skinny. I felt bad about my body. I was a toothpick, not a curve in sight. All bones and no meat. That growth spurt was difficult to live through. I would have given anything for a little heft. I was embarrassed about how I looked, but wasn’t everyone at that age?

Well, of course when I stopped growing so quickly, I gained some weight. I survived high school and college, and managed to feel pretty good about myself.

In my twenties, being a skinny bitch became an inside joke between a few friends and I. They were a little on the heavy side and liked to sarcastically call me that… at least I think it was sarcasm. I thought it was a funny joke and I liked the title. I liked my body and how I looked, never mind that eating at restaurants always upset my stomach. I tried to keep the fact that my digestive tract wasn’t working properly a secret. I looked thin and normal, but was totally unhealthy.

I had a great body image (and practically non-functioning guts) from then until…. I started SCD. (If you don’t know what SCD is, check this out). I made a HUGE MISTAKE and remained on the intro diet for almost a month. I lost more than ten pounds. The weight melted away. I looked more angular and bony and didn’t know what to do. I lost it so fast that it scared me.

My activity level also took a hit. I’ve always been an active person, but when I began SCD, I had no energy. I quit pilates. I stopped biking to work and began driving. In fact, I barely had enough energy to go to work.

Skeletal with zero energy.

I tried to hide my weight loss. I started dressing differently for work. I wore layers and baggy clothes, but my coworkers still noticed (even my face got thinner). They started commenting about my weight and asking me how SCD was going. They were suspicious of this medical diet. They wondered if I’d developed an eating disorder (which really pissed me off).

My ‘Intro Diet Fiasco’ was seven months ago, but lately, one of my neighbors has brought it upon himself to tell me that I’m getting too skinny. Good lord. As if I needed his opinion. And I thought that I haven’t looked better in months!

Thankfully my husband, family and friends were and are supportive. This has been a huge help to me on my SCD journey.

Now I find myself in the opposite position from where I was in my twenties; these days I’m getting healthy on the inside, but am too skinny on the outside. People don’t understand this concept. They think if you look good, then you are good. Those of us on SCD know that this is not true.

Currently, I am building momentum. I’m not in such a bad place anymore. My energy level has been great for months. Occasionally I go on walks or hikes. I have more variety in my diet with each passing week. I’m slowly gaining weight as I’m getting healthier.  And about my clothes; most of my pants are still a bit too large, but I wear a belt (I refuse to buy a whole new set of business-appropriate work attire because I will gain the weight back some day. Besides, I like my current wardrobe, or at least I did when it fit…). And hey, my shoe size didn’t change. I can still wear all of the cute shoes and boots that I want!

Insults from jerks are difficult to deal with; comments from well-meaning people are often really hard to take, but I can deal with both types. You may think I’m not healthy, that I’m too skinny, but looks can be deceiving.

You have no idea what is really happening; it is called healing.

 

 

Let me know if you have had a similar experience while on SCD. I’d love to hear about it.

XO

Theresa, SCD Griddle

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A Quick Note

I’m trying to become a licensed landscape architect.

For the past couple of months, I’ve done a lot of reading and studying. It was okay, relatively relaxed. I could fit in a blog post here and there. But it has become much more intense over the past month because some of my licensing exams are this week.

I’ve not been very communicative, but you haven’t missed much, dear Reader. To sum it up, this is what I’ve been up to: eat, work, read, study and sleep. Thank God my diet has been going well, or I wouldn’t have been able to concentrate on my books.

I’ve been thinking about this blog and I’m totally looking forward to getting back to it soon. I’m sorry for the long absence!

 

See you again soon!

xo, Theresa

SCD Griddle

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A Balanced Life

Lately, I’ve had a lot to do.

I’m busy and you’re busy. We are all people with places to go and people to see. I don’t know how you deal with stress, but when my schedule gets hectic, my priorities become obvious.

For many years, what I regarded as important was wrong-headed. In the past, my husband was first on my list of priorities, followed by a very close second and third (I’m sorry to say), my job and my night classes. My health and “stomach problems” were somewhere much, much lower on the list. In fact, they were so low on the list that I ignored them for years.

These days I’m following the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) to heal myself. Feeling healthy and taking care of myself is much more important to me now. I’m willing to compromise unnecessary things in order to maintain a balance. It is hard to do, but I am determined to take care of my family while I consistently eat well to improve my health. Now that I’m in a crunch time, I’ve kept my schedule in equilibrium by shifting a few things; I get up before the sun rises  to work a few hours, then I go to my job. When I get home, I can focus on my family without feeling stressed.

I’ve cut out a lot of things in order to keep this balance.

I don’t watch much television anymore and I go to bed early. But these days, I actually have time to go on a date night with my husband. Or see friends. Imagine that! What has really helped me maintain order and harmony in my life is the SCD. This also requires some give and take. Yes, I’ve cut out complex carbohydrates and refined sugar. But meal preparation is a snap, thanks to bulk cooking, and my health is still improving.

I cannot describe how happy I am to have my diet and my health under control. And I’m glad to have my priorities straight.

 

xo,

Theresa ~ SCD Griddle

 

 

 

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The Best Approach to Diet Modification: Contentment

Bad attitudes will get you no where quick.

Since the beginning of March, I harbored a bad attitude. See, I’m on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD). I struggled for 4 months while I tried to solve a few gastrointestinal problems by modifying what I ate. I went about doing the physical work of eating the proper items listed in Breaking the Vicious Cycle and in the stages listed on Pecanbread. Little did I know that my attitude toward SCD, or any kind of diet modification, would ultimately determine my success.

Fast and furious.

I approached SCD with a fast and furious attitude. When I began, I attempted to power through the stages because the faster I progressed, the quicker I’d be able to eat like a “normal” American. Basically I was unsatisfied, wanted more variety and I was hungry. I missed my creamy (real cream) coffee with sugar, I longed for a piece of cake and I craved chocolate. I desperately ticked down the foods listed in the stages. I spent hours in the kitchen; peel, cook, puree! I ignored many of the signs that my body tried to give me. Like the time my stomach felt flip-floppy after I devoured bananas fried in olive oil. I carried on, grateful that I didn’t end up in the bathroom after that banana, although many, many other times I did.

My new way of eating took over my life. I constantly stopped by the market to pick up this or that. With all of the busy-work, I didn’t face my ingrained attitudes. They remained un-mined and unexamined. I put on blinders and endured months of little success on SCD. By June, things got so bad that I faced the decision: quit or keep going. I stayed on SCD. I had more work to do.  I researched my issues; fructose malabsorption, leaky gut and phenols.

I started over. From the beginning. But this time around, I was armed with way more information. After a meal, I listened to the signals that my body gave me. It has told me lots of things. I have been doing the physical work of food preparation, which has dramatically decreased, and I’ve also scrutinized my deeply-held beliefs.

This time around, I have an attitude of contentment.

Being satisfied is the most powerful health-building attitude. Previously, I endured a few frantic months of utter failure, but now SCD is working for me. I am advancing through the food stages slowly and purposefully. My bodily reactions are my guide and I am extremely grateful to have arrived at this point.

Who knows if I’ll ever get back to a semi-normal American diet. At this point, I don’t really care. I am just happy that I’m not in the bathroom.

 

How did you approach diet modification? Did it work for you?

 

xo,

Theresa ~SCD Griddle

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