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hello august, goodbye gluten!

August 2, 2010

“Try not.  Do, or do not.  There is no try.”  -Yoda

It is time for some major changes.  For the past few months I have been trying to do too much and, in doing so, not really doing anything.  It is time to focus.  It is time to regain control.

It is time to decide what is worth doing and do it (and forget the rest).

This is about so much more than my body stuff, but it’s all connected.

Last night I had a moment of horror when I realized I had forgotten to pick up my boss’ newspapers while he was out of town for the weekend.  Such a small thing… and such a huge breakdown ensued.

I would have done anything to go back in time and remember to pick up his papers.  I felt like my integrity was shot, that the relationship with my boss was ruined, that there is something wrong with me or else I would be able to do all of the things I intend to do.  I wanted to punish myself and I felt like I wasn’t allowed to relax.  I was in crisis mode, big time, and I was relinquishing all of my power.  I knew I was doing it and didn’t know how to ground myself.  I felt like the stress was poisoning my body… all over a silly newspaper.

Sam (bless his heart) stayed up with me and helped me put this into perspective, because the issue at hand was smaller than it felt and yet the implications were significant.

When the small things feel out of control, it is a sign.  It tells me that I have to renovate my life.  So this is what I am going to do.  It’s not that I haven’t been doing the right general things… I have been (which is why I didn’t understand why things weren’t working!).  It’s just that I have been spreading my energy too thin and letting myself drown in the details.  I have let my belief that there is something wrong with me come to life.  I don’t need to do this.  I don’t want to do this.

And I can feel what I need to do:

*rearrange furniture, organize closet, get apartment in working order and enjoy the cleanliness of my environment

*get rid of about 1/3 of the stuff I own

*clean and take care of my car

*gather more data regarding grad school applications

*study more regularly for the GRE

*realize what projects I am not committed to and end them once and for all

*keep a healthy distance between myself and the caretaking urges I have for my family (current family crises are a big part of the stress I’m trying to manage these days)

*wake up 1/2 hour earlier each morning

*write in my journal more often again

*meditate (min. once per week)

*spend more time outside

*make workouts more fun!  keep changing it up like I did this week 🙂

*stop keeping track of workouts on Daily Mile (it’s starting to feel oppressive, like working out is a duty rather than something I want)

*shop weekly at the farmer’s market

*take natural supplements that reduce cortisol levels

*and, last but not least, turn July’s half-assed gluten-free diet into a 100% gluten free diet for the month of August, and then re-evaluate.

(Why gluten free?  What’s the deal, Diana?)

I guess I haven’t officially written about my gluten suspicions, research, and experiments.  It all started about a month and a half ago when I went out to an Italian dinner with Sam.  Even though I have basically stopped eating white flour this past year or so, that night I ordered a chicken sandwich on focaccia bread.  Thick, floury, homemade focaccia bread.  It was yummy, but I started to feel a little weird.  I stopped eating it and took the rest of the sandwich home with me.

The next day, there wasn’t much to eat around the house so I gave the sandwich another shot.  After eating about half of the leftover portion, I started feeling weird again: shaky, uneasy, stressed… and then I realized my heart was racing!  My body was definitely telling me that something was wrong, so I looked up “heart racing” and “white flour” or something along those lines.  I read about the different effects of a wheat/gluten allergy, and low and behold, heart palpitations were on the list.  I noticed that I have several of the other symptoms as well, including the rash on my calf that I haven’t been able to get rid of.

I have always suspected that this pesky little rash is a food allergy.  It itches after eating, but I couldn’t pin down what ingredient was making it itch because so many different foods triggered it.  The dermatologists said it was just eczema and not food-related.  They gave me some topical cream, which I stopped taking the minute I read the possible “side” effects because one of them was Diabetes!  Uhhh,  I’d rather have a little patch of dry skin than Diabetes, thanks.  You’d think they would have mentioned that before advising me to use it.  (Ah, how I love doctors…)

So I gave up on it for a while.  But when I was doing my wheat-allergy research after the focaccia incident and learned that one of the common symptoms of wheat-allergy is eczema, I had renewed hope that I can fix this problem.

I also have a few friends who have lost a significant amount of weight after switching to a gluten-free diet. (I am using wheat and gluten interchangeably, but there are some differences between the two; gluten is a broader category than wheat, and I’m not sure which is my specific allergy, if any).  Given that a gluten-allergy can explain many significant issues of mine, I decided to give a gluten-free diet a try.

I ate a very strict gluten-free diet for several days after my little research session, but I may have jumped the gun.  I didn’t have any substitute items around the house, so I pretty much didn’t eat carbs for 3 or 4 days.  I noticed that working out was way harder during that time (duh), and so I backtracked to my regular eating patterns.  Then I got some gluten-free stuff from Trader Joe’s, but a little bit after that I went on my trip to New York and it really wasn’t possible to avoid eating wheat on that trip, at least not without having established the gluten-free lifestyle before going.

Since I got back, I’ve been pretty good about avoiding gluten, and my rash is definitely calming down.  But, as with too many things I’ve been “trying” to do lately, I haven’t really done it all the way.  Interestingly, when I do eat something containing wheat, I notice my rash itching about 10-20 minutes later every time!  So I want to dedicate August to my gluten-free experiment, and I am excited to see what happens.  I have a very strong feeling that this may be a big piece of my body’s puzzle.

This afternoon I am going to make a colorful list of all of these things that I want to change and I am going to stick it on my wall by my bed.  I’m going to start making the changes I want to make and I’m going to feel powerful! And when I’m not doing any of these things, I will just BE, and trust that I will get there. That’s the plan anyway ;-P

❤ Diana Banana

image courtesy of,r:13,s:0&tx=86&ty=36

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