Day 5 of the 78 Day Challenge

Thinking today about my recent visit with the dietitian. It was basic visit, too basic for me. I’ve read a lot, watched a lot of videos, and listened to quite a few professionals in health care over the past twenty or so years. But, I needed to see a dietitian to get the okay on dietary changes so that my neurologist and general practitioner might know I’ve seen a professional to approve how I feed myself. It’s a messed up system. After all, who knows our bodies better than ourselves? Still, I visited with hopes that she could give me new insights that would help me along my journey. Here’s what I came up with.

She encouraged me, as health professionals do, to pre-plan my meals and write out a shopping list. She told me that it’s okay to sometimes go out to eat and indulge in my favorite pizza, but I should have a salad as well so that I would fill up and not eat as much pizza. I was frustrated as I left with that simple advice, late on my way to another meeting.

Today, I thought about it a bit more as I indulged in some of my favorite pizza choices along with a large salad and some pickled beets. I realized that even with the salad and beets that I could easily eat just as many slices of pizza as ever. I’d just added a bit more food rather than cut any out. With that I was reminded how little food has to do with physical hunger, at least that’s true in my world as a reasonably economically stable white person in the United States today. Eating is more about filling a space, emotional or social or maybe something else, but it isn’t simply physical. We eat for the comfort of eating. I certainly don’t go to Pizza Ranch for the quality of their food. I go to read a book, enjoy some quiet time, imbibe in some stuff that is rich and greasy and some that is sweet, decompress from whatever stress I’ve been facing. I don’t go to fill my caloric needs. That’s not why we eat, at least not the primary reason. The question then becomes, how else might I fill those needs?

I don’t know the answer to that yet. I do know that answer needs to be found for my happiness. Meanwhile, I think I hit six cups of fruits and vegetables today, and, not surprisingly given that I went to Pizza Ranch, I wound up high on calories, carbs, proteins, fats, and sugar. Still, much better than a lot people in the US, so it’s okay. I am on my way.

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Day 1 of the Challenge

I took a nap yesterday after writing my post, declaring my intent with the 78 day challenge to increase my fruit and vegetable intake, lower my carbohydrates, and just generally improve my health and lower my weight. I woke with one thought in my mind– “What the heck was I thinking???”

Well, the dice were tossed, so I am here to play the game. Today was a good start. It began with a smoothie. A cup of greens, one of mixed berries, and one of rhubarb with a bit of almond milk and maple syrup to sweeten and a few pecans on the side. It was surprisingly tasty. I had wondered if the rhubarb might be overpowering, but it worked well.

Breakfast was followed by a visit to my dietitian to follow up on earlier discussions on how to improve my diet so that I might become less dependent on my epilepsy medication and reach my goal weight as well. She added a few ideas that may prove helpful, encouraging me to work on my meal planning and move away from red meats in favor of more fish, among other things. There wasn’t a lot new there, but it was good nonetheless.

Lunch was simple, just some homemade tomato soup with a little cheese thrown in and some broccoli and hummus.

Dinner was the most complex meal of the day. Broiled walleye with a side of leftover mashed cauliflower and another of yam chips. Dessert was mixed berries with banana and sugar-free chocolate chips covered with just a bit of maple syrup and some whipping cream.

A quick review of the numbers told me that my carbs were still at 174 for the day. My goal is 100. I could get much closer by taking out syrup, raisins, and sugar-free chocolate chips. Taking out the yams would have put me well within range. I have to ask myself though what is most important to me? Is it that carbohydrate goal or enjoying a little bit of sweets? I don’t know. I do know that my carbohydrate levels must have been simply out of control before I started down this path a few years ago and that a keto diet sounds painful!

Still, it was a good start and I am happy with how I did.

The 78 Day Challenge

Probably about fifteen years ago or so I started having headaches, bad headaches. At their worst they’d cause me to black out and cause nausea and exhaustion for days. Then about six years ago a housemate discovered me having a seizure. The seizures continued and I finally had a diagnosis. I had epilepsy.

While after a couple of tries my neurologist and I found a medication that dealt with the seizures and my headaches were largely gone with only a very rare occurrence. There were a couple of problems though. My medication causes brain fog. High doses make even simple tasks like spelling a big challenge and short and long term memory became an issue. Another problem was simply that I don’t like taking medicine and don’t want to take it for the rest of my life.

So, about two years ago I decided to embark on another path. I had my foods tested. The testing came up with nine food sensitivities. I leapt in taking my allergens out of my diet and starting to heal my gut. The results were great! I had been obese when I was first diagnosed. Upon changing my diet the weight started to come off. Ultimately, I lost about 50lbs and got to a reasonable weight. Adding in CBD oil over the past six months, I’ve been able to cut my zonisamide use by more than half and stay seizure free.

I’m still taking medication though and after two years of my diet changes I find myself slipping more lately and going to some of those bad for me foods. Pizza is a big one for me. Too many carbohydrates and too much dairy in general. I’ve added back a few of the pounds I lost and I’m noticing a bit fatigue lately.

It seems time to up the game again and I’ve realized that I need a form of accountability. That’s the 78 day challenge. My next neurologist appointment is in 78 days. I want to take some significant steps toward healing my brain and making my body more healthy before that visit.

I’ve been listening to Dr. Terry Wahls recently and am intrigued by her work, particularly by the idea of eating nine cups of vegetables a day. I’m intrigued because that’s a lot of food and I admit it, I like to eat. It’s also a way of looking at diet as a gift. So much of our food consumption is based on denial. I want to eat a diet that encourages me to take in a variety of delicious foods that treat me well.

Over the next 78 days I want to aim for that nine cups of vegetables a day, limit my bad carbs and dairy consumption, and increase my good fats and turn to healthy proteins. I am aiming to lose that last 25 lbs, get rid of that fatigue, and get a positive report from my neurologist.

I am hoping that you’ll join me on this journey. I’ll be updating here 3-7 times a week to let you know how it’s going. I would love to hear about what you are doing to care for yourself too!