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Living with Allergies

“Oh it can’t be that bad.”

“It’s all in your head.”

“You won’t even notice it’s there.”

“You just don’t like it.”

All things that have been said to me by family, friends, and even restaurants when I’ve expressed that I have an allergy to Pork and Grapes.

I have very odd allergies, and to make matters worse, my husband is allergic to Mustard, and my roomie is allergic to Shellfish. This makes not only eating out difficult, but grocery shopping a chore.

We constantly have to check ingredients. We used to use Miracle Whip because it was the only Mayo we could get that was safe, with no mustard, but they recently changed their recipe, so now all we can get is Helmans, which we don’t like as much in some of our recipes.

While the Shellfish and Mustard allergies are pretty bad, they are pretty easily avoidable (as much as I love shrimp, I’m perfectly fine keeping it out of my house to ensure that Roomie lives to the next day). The big issue is my Grape allergy. Grapes are hidden in all sorts of foods, even in things you wouldn’t think Grapes would be.

Like Country Harvest Omega 3 bread. I love Country Harvest, it’s the kind my Grandma always got and it’s the kind I always ate, but now I have to check the ingredients on EVERY package because some of them use Raisin paste as a sweetener.

It’s amazing how many things have Grape in it or are made from Grapes. Here’s a small list:

Balsamic Vinagrette
Raspberry Vinagrette
A1 Sauce
Pretty much any juice blend
Raisins
Country harvest bread
Cream sauces for pasta
Wine/Champagne
Grapeseed Oil
Razors/lotions that use Grapeseed Oil

Yes, I even have to look at the ingredients on my RAZORS! I grabbed one package of high end razors a number of years ago (I actually can’t remember the brand) and used them once… I had a rash that looked like I was getting Measles due to the fact that their moisturizing strip used Grapeseed Oil.

When my allergy started when I was a child, it was minor. I ate a pack of raisins, or grapes and I would cry that they were hot or spicy in my mouth. Then I started getting hives from them. Then two weeks ago, I was at an Aloette party, and I tried a bit of lotion on my arm. Within 5 seconds of putting it on, my arm was red, swollen, and itchy. I washed it off immediately, but it was too late. about 5-10 minutes later, my chest and throat were getting tight. I took a Benadryl and rushed to the hospital. Luckily the Benadryl worked, but it was still very scary.

I rate restaurants on how well their service is in regards to my allergies. There have been a couple where they’ve shrugged off the issue, and I’ve noticed Pork in my dinner, or could smell the Wine in the sauce. Then there have been restaurants that were so wonderful that the waitstaff alerted the manager to my questions, he came out and went over the entire menu with me, then personally supervised my meal being made to ensure that I could enjoy it without fear.

There was a time in highschool that I thought people’s reactions to peanut butter was being taken too seriously (I mean, not being able to eat peanut butter for 3 days before a child goes to preschool seemed a little over the top), but as someone who has very severe reactions to foods, I can understand a little bit more now.

These allergies have necessitated me making my own food at home a lot, just to ensure that everyone in the house can eat safely. We don’t buy premade frozen Shepherd’s Pie or Lasagna, because there’s too much chance that Mustard could be used to spice something. We are very careful to check all ingredients now, even if it means our grocery shopping trips take twice as long, and this helps a bit with eating healthier, and meal planning.

When you take an hour and a half shopping just to make sure your food is safe to eat, you tend to plan meals so that you don’t go shopping as often.

Unfortunately for us, there isn’t much that can be done to “cure” allergies, it’s something we just have to live with. At least in this day and age it’s more acknowledged, and restaurants are more able to accomodate these requests.

I just ask, as a person who has lived with allergies for the bulk of her life, please, don’t ever try to tell a person that they just don’t like a food or it’s all in their head, and please, for the love of EVERYTHING, don’t hide what they’re allergic to in whatever you’re cooking for them, just to prove the allergy isn’t there. That’s a perfect way to having your friend/relative in the hospital, and VERY upset at you.

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More Pressure Needed

This weekend was my first anniversary. It got me thinking a lot. Last year at this time I was sitting in Hawaii, relieved because I didn’t need to worry about my weight any more. My dress fit (mostly) and I could stop restricting my diet in hopes of dropping those last few pounds.

To put it bluntly, I was an unhealthy dieter, as so many women are.

I decided that my best way to lose weight was to just eat subway subs, following the subway diet, I mean, it worked wonders for others, it would work for me. I watched Biggest Loser, I read diet books… but I didn’t use my head.

All things considered, I am not fat, I’m 160 lbs and 5’6″, I’m bigger than what “beautiful” is right now, but I’m comfortable in my skin, I’m proud of who I am, and I’m sick of feeling like I need to adhere to society’s ideal. Every woman is different and I’m trying to keep that in mind as I go through my day.

That being said, I have some issues that need to be dealt with.

My husband and I went away for the weekend. We pointed our car North and kept driving until we got to where we thought was good (it eneded up being 10 hours of driving each way). I have to say, the side view mirrors in cars are VERY unflattering. In any other mirror I don’t mind my face, but in those mirrors I have the double chin to end all double chins!

I took some stock of my life, where I am now compared to where I was a year ago. I haven’t gone up in weight, however I still have way too high of a body fat percentage.

I’m supposed to be at 20%, I’m sitting at around 35%, which is down from the 37.5% that I was at in November, which means I’m making some good steps forward, but I have to keep going.

Taking stock of my life I realize that I eat WAY too much fried foods, rich foods, snacky foods. I need to make better choices, and in order to do that I need to educate myself. I need to learn about good foods that I can snack on that don’t involve gallons of vegetable oil and pounds of salt.

I need to add more green, and maybe some orange and yellow to my diet. I was doing good at this last summer, but over the winter it dropped off. Now that the nice weather is back, I can start walking down to the grocery store and stocking my desk up with fruits and healthy snacks.

I’m also trying to work on my exercize. I used to think that in order to make my body look more the way I want to I needed to strength train. I’ve been educating myself here too, and I’ve realized that for the most part I’m pretty strong already (need to work on my upper body but it’ll come). What I really need to do is cardio, I need to work off this layer of fat that I’ve got and help it slim up.

I don’t want to become skinny though, I’m happy with the shape of my body, however I’m concerned with my health. My family history has a frighteningly long list of health issues, and a lot of them stem from weight. The majority of my family, including both parents, have weight issues, and I’m trying to break the mold with this.

I’m trying to go jogging, or for walks at least, on my lunch. I’m making a point of heading to the gym on Saturday mornings at least, with the reward of going knitting afterwards. I figure I’ll work on my cardio as I have time throughout the week, and I’ll work on my strength training, with some cardio, on Saturdays.

I’ve also started up my SparkPeople account again. I’m tracking my food and I’m going to be reading a bunch of the articles on there to learn about healthier options for foods. I know about dried fruits and things like that, but I want to delve deeper and start making a good life change.

For starters, I need to eat more than just Cheerios and Milk for breakfast, add some cheese… a banana and apple, it might be a good breakfast… I just need to balance out my meals.

Oh… and I definitely need to skip the snack machine.

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Finally Spring!

So, we had an INCREDIBLY long winter here up in Canada, this morning, we woke up to it being nearly freezing temperature.

This has been a big set back for me. See, I’m hoping to work more cardio into my workouts, and for me that’s mainly running or dancing. Now I’ve been working on dancing a bit (I love Japanese Pop music, and they have some fairly difficult dances to their songs, so I’m practicing those and dancing along.. maybe I’ll eventually get the courage to take video of me doing it… but not right now), but the running is hard.

I get bored easily, and I really dislike running on treadmills. I’ve managed to do some over the winter by going to the gym and watching tv while I run, but it’s just not my thing.

Now, however, the weather is getting nice enough for me to run outside and enjoy… or.. not.

My issue is that while I’m not “Fat”, I am VERY out of shape. I used to dance 4 hours per week, and 3 of those hours were consecutive on one day. I was able to keep going and dance all I wanted, and now I’m lucky to be able to jog for 5 minutes without feeling that I’m going to die.

So I really have to push myself with my running.

Anyway, today I knew it was going to be beautiful out so I brought a change of clothes, and decided I was going for a jog on my lunch break. Just before I went out I checked my route to see how long it was, and to make sure it was safe.

I was going to start off slow, a simple 1.5 km approx jog, and see how I felt.

5 years ago this would have been easy as pie. Well… this is how it turned out for me today:

Jog for 700 m – I felt good just before I started out, but 10 steps into my jog, my ankles were complaining, so I stopped for a few seconds to rotate them and loosen them up. I’d done some quick stretching prior to heading out, but clearly not enough. I then started jogging again and thought “wow, this isn’t so bad”… I didn’t realize that I was on a small hill and that was helping me. Once the hill evened out it became a lot harder, and for the last 100 m or so I was chanting in my head, “just to the corner, just to the corner”. I was going to let myself walk and catch my breath for a bit because I felt like my chest was going to explode all Alien style in a second.

Walk for 270 m  – so I was going to walk from one corner to the next, and I did… sort of. I felt like a beached whale or something. I couldn’t catch my breath, my throat was killing me, and my chest hurt. I kept coughing because apparently when I exercize my body goes into “Mucous production mode” and tries to smother me in order to get me to stop. About 20 m from where I’d decided to jog again I started feeling better, but still sore in the chest.

Jog for 350 m – Now here’s where my route plan went awry. See… that lovely little hill I jogged DOWN at the beginning, I now had to jog UP, only at this part of the run, the little slope was a cliff… or at least that’s what it felt like to me, but I was determined to jog it, or at least the majority of it. So I started up the hill, and about half way up my chest was ready to explode again. I told myself that I was going to make it up the hill or I was going to die… no alternative. About 80% of the way up I decided I was going to walk the last bit of the hill and then jog back to work.

Walk for 65 m – Trying desperately to grab my breath again, I wasn’t going to let myself go that easily! I was only letting myself walk to where the hill flattened out, so… I walked slower, to give my body more time to recouperate. By the time I hit my start up point again I was not happy, but I was determined.

Jog for 270 m – This was my home stretch and I was fighting myself all the way. My body wanted to throw a 3 year old tantrum and my brain had to turn all Mommy on it. I came up to my last corner, and there’s a car lot on it. I spent a good minute and a half lecturing myself mentally as to why I was not allowed to cut the corner and had to continue to jog until I hit my work parking lot. When I could see the parking lot, I tried to imagine a finish line rope across it… it didn’t work much, but it helped a bit.

To add insult to injury, all the pictures of joggers and such that I’ve seen have these beautiful people who look like gazelles as they run their races or through the woods. All are smiling, all are strong. I felt like an elephant with a broken leg, gallomping along my path, huffing and puffing. There was no smile, I was just concentrating on ensuring I had oxygen getting in my lungs.

I would just quit right now, figuring that running and I are just not meant to be.

But I know myself.

And that’s why before I even started, I gave myself a goal… then TOLD people about it.

I’m intending on running an 8 km race in July, it’s called the Dirty Dash, and it raises money for local charities. (It also has a 4 km race, but I’m pushing for the 8 because I can always downgrade).

I know that if I don’t run it, or just give up I’ll look pretty stupid to all the people I’ve talked about it.

Right now though, it’s been an hour and a half since I finished my run and I still feel kinda light headed and like my chest is tight. Oh well, it’s something that I need to do in order to change from a broken legged elephant to a graceful gazelle….

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The other side of healthy living

When people talk about healthy living, they quite often focus on eating right and exercizing regularly. They talk about their physical health, their progress with it, and how much it has changed their life.

However, just because you change patterns with your eating, your exercize, your lifestyle, that just doesn’t complete full healthy living. There’s a whole other side of healthy living that a lot of blogs and books don’t cover.

They’re like society, they only worry about the superficial. Do you appear healthy? Are you healthy on the outside?

Now don’t get my wrong, some of my favourite blogs are food blogs, recipe blogs, exercize blogs. I love Oh She Glows, she has some of my favourite recipes, I also read the blogs at Bodies in Motivation, where I really feel pushed to continue with my exercize schedule, even when I don’t want to. The big reason I enjoy these two sites is because they do focus on other areas of healthy living.

The inside part of it.

Healthy living isn’t just how you look, it’s how you feel, how you think, how you live.

You can train yourself to not go head down in a tub of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream (hello personal comfort food) whenever you’re hurt, tired, or depressed. But if you don’t deal with what’s making you hurt, tired or depressed, it’s just denying yourself something for the sake of denying yourself. To prove to yourself that you’re strong, you can get past these urges, and look, you fit a size 10 now.

It’s not a matter of “getting past” urges, it’s dealing with what is causing the urges. If every time you reach for the ice cream it’s because you’ve had a fight with your Mom, then you have to deal with your Mom!!! Otherwise, if you distract yourself from the ice cream by running on the treadmill, you’re just changing one obsession for another, and that’s not healthy!

You may have  a good body, but if your mental state isn’t there, you’re not getting the healthy body with the right reasons.

As part of that, I’m working towards healing some past hurts this year. My “bad feeling” obsessions are as follows:

-Youtube (I distract myself from real life by watching videos of other people’s lives)
-Romance Novels (If I felt unfufilled in my relationship with my husband, I’d find a different one in a book)
-The afore mentioned Ice Cream (When I got upset, I didn’t care about my body so I’d give up and eat my favourite dessert)
-My Imagination (When life becomes boring or to tough to handle, I escape to a story/movie that I have going in my head… it’s weird, but it’s a coping mechanism from childhood)

So, these have all become unhealthy things in my life. I’ve already taken steps to improve some of them.

Youtube

I have already started cutting back my internet time. I calculated out how many hours I spent watching youtube videos, and it was more than I care to reveal here. I was wasting my life away in front of my computer. So I’m cutting back on that, I’m trying to get myself down to maybe an hour a day. Which means I’m missing a BUNCH of videos because I just don’t have time to watch them, but it’s something I need to get past. Due to this extra time I’ve been able to hit the gym more, cook dinner, and read more… which brings us to:

Romance Novels

I checked last year through my library, journal, and memory, and I discovered that throughout the year of 2010, I did NOT read a full book other than a Romance novel at ALL. This, really saddened me. I mean come on… am I that sad of a person that the only books I read are romance? I’ve given myself a mandate. I need to read more for education and self healing. This is not to mean that I CAN’T read fiction or something, but I really want to stay away from Romance this year. (I’ve read one romance novel, but I started it at the end of December and finished it on New Years… I’m still counting it, but it’s just one, and I haven’t read any since). I’m going to put a page up top that lists the books I read this year. I’m hoping it looks a lot nicer than last years, which I’m too embarrassed to post.

Ice Cream

I should probably add Chips to this as well. I love snacky foods, and sugary ice cream. As stated above, I love Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream, particularly Hagen Daaz, and I also really love chips. Now my cruddy eating usually falls around visits with family that don’t go well, fights with hubby or general feeling bad about myself. To counteract this I have placed some rules on myself. I’m not allowed to have change on my at ANY time (the vending machines at work are cheap and too easily accessed). Ice Cream is not allowed in the house (ok, so sometimes it is… we have a tub of it in the freezer right now, but when this happens, I’m not allowed to have more than a small scoop of it a day… and my hubby is very helpful with this in not eating it in front of me, or making sure he only gets a small bowl so I don’t feel like I’ve got such a piddly little amount). I’m also not allowed to eat ANYTHING after a major blow out with family. I’m notorious for gorging myself on any food I can find. So if it takes leaving the house to go for a drive with hubby or what, I just can’t have anything to eat until I’ve calmed down. Or if I NEED to eat, then it must be small and healthy, like a salad, or pita or something.

This may sound a little out there, but it’s what I need to do to curb my eating. I’m also not allowed to substitute the elliptical, jogging, or walking for the food. I must just STOP and deal with my emotions before I can continue. I have an addictive personality, and thankfully I never got into drugs, smoking, or to deep in alcohol, but I get addicted to other things very easily so I have to place limits.

My Imagination

This one I really will have problems with. It’s something I’ve had as long as I can remember. And if I could get the stories I’ve written in my head out on paper I’d probably be a famous author or screenwriter right now. But I’m not, and I can’t, and these different lives I’ve lived in my head are not exactly healthy and are really just a way for me to not live in the real world when things get too tough. My hubby always knows something’s not right when my eyes glazing over increases, because I’m not really there with him. I’m not sure exactly what I can do to stop this escape, like I said, it’s something I’ve done since I was a wee child. I had a difficult childhood and this made it livable, when things were too rough, I had a better life to live in my head, and it always had a happy ending. It’s hard to type this out, but as I’m typing for me, and not for anyone else, I need to get it out there.

Having it on the page makes it real, brings it to the forefront and makes me realize I need to work on it.

The only other thing I can think of the escape the spiral of my imagination is to enter counselling. That’s a big step and a somewhat frightening one for me.

It may just be the only way to get my inside healthy…

It amazes me sometimes how my writing goes. This post isn’t anything like I originally planned it. The good thing though is that I’m not trying to write for someone else, this is an open journal yes, where people can see what I write, but it’s a journal for me, to look back on and see how I’ve changed. And this post is truly just me, typing and letting my thoughts take over.

Sorry if I bore you 🙂

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The Issue With Time

Over the last 5 years I have had an interesting relationship with my weight. Prior to those 5 years I absolutely hated my body. I didn’t know at the time, but I was struggling with a hormone imbalance, accompanied by my body having difficulties absorbing a number of nutrients and minerals. The result of this was that I was 95 lbs, had yet to fully hit puberty, and was continuously hit with a string of colds and the flu. I was 23 years old, and I looked like a 12 year old boy, peach fuzz included.

My (not yet) hubby was my best friend at this point, he was my supervisor at work, and my ride to and from. At that point in my life, he saw more of me than my family, and it was he who pointed out that certain things about me were not normal. Even more detrimental, my health was very nearly costing me my job, what with the amount of sick days I was taking.

After a couple months of prodding (and nearly a full month of being on my period, complete with cramps so bad I was passing out, while running a chop saw) I finally agreed to go to the doctor. He took a quick look at his charts which had my complaints and said I should have come to see him about this 10 years prior. He did some testing, put me on the pill, advised that I change my diet and add suppliments to help my body absorb everything it needed, and sent me on my way.

In the first 6 months I went through 4 years of puberty… It was a bad 6 months. However, I came out the back end with a woman’s body, less peach fuzz and a frame that was 30 lbs heavier. For the first time in my adult life I looked at my body and I was pleased. I had some not so good outside influences who were “concerned” about how fast I put on the weight, and advised that I should diet as I was “perfect” the way I was before and if I wasn’t careful I would be “fat” and “ugly”.

I was 125 lbs, I was 5’6″ tall, I was at the low scale for my healthy weight and really had no reason to be concerned. I attempted to ignore these comments, but they were persistent and eventually they crept into my thoughts. Over the next two years, I slowly put on another 20 lbs, the main part of this was that I had stopped my dance classes due to lack of funds. With the lack of activity, I gained weight.

Now at 150 lbs, I was staring down the finish line to my wedding, having “helpful advisors” giving me tips on how to look my best, and ordering my dress one size smaller than I was when I tried it on as incentive. The last 4 months coming up to my wedding I lived on Subway salads and that was pretty much it. I dropped to about 145 lbs, but my dress was still a little tight.

On the honeymoon I stopped caring. I ate what I wanted, when I wanted and didn’t let the voices in my head natter too loudly. I had a doctor’s appointment shortly after my return home, to find I was now 159 lbs, this is where my struggle really began.

It’s been nearly a year since that weigh in and I’m still sitting at around 160 lbs. I’m trying to make changes that will drop me back to about 150 lbs, but it’s hard. I look at my body and to me it doesn’t look bad. Then those “concerned voices” start up again in my head, pointing out the flaws, screaming that I’m getting ugly and fat. Telling me my husband won’t want me. I try to push them away, but they’re still audible.

Time heals all wounds… But it can create some too.

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