Monday, January 4, 2016

2016 Health Goals

If 2013 was the year I tried, succeeded and failed miserably to remedy my health, and 2014 was the year of health problems galore, 2015 was the year of stabilization.  I spent most of the year not ill.  I've learned to recognize flares when they begin and start culling them before they get worse.  Halos around lights? Now that I know I have it, NSAIDs to keep my scleritis at bay so I don't lose my vision. Weight going up without cause?  Cold sensitivity increasing beyond usual limits? Time to get my TSH checked and see if my thyroid is acting up.  Remove gluten and dairy to control my Celiac/hiatal hernia/god knows what else is going on in my stomach.  Stomach lock ups? Time to go back to rice and broth and then slowly build up to see what else is going on.

In fact, the last of that happened right around the solstice last year.  The GI flares I have are where my stomach locks up and the pain - not nausea, but pain - makes me vomit in about 30 minute to 1 hour and a half waves over the course of 24 hours.  Well, usually it's 24 hours.  My GI flare in December lasted almost a week and a half.  By the time I broke down and went to the doctor, I was severely dehydrated and had lost seven pounds in six days.  I now have regular medication for stomach acidity and intestinal spasms to help combat what's going on.  However, I also did an elimination diet and I think my lactose intolerance, which is typically just mild discomfort and bloating, turned into full flares.  Not surprising. I'm already not supposed to be eating dairy between being intolerant and having autoimmune problems, but the holidays caught up with me and I let some cheesecake and such slip.  Never ever again.

I also now apparently can't handle even small amounts of spice, and peanuts officially have to go.  Sad day.

Up until this most recent flare, I've had elimination "suggestions" from my doctor.  However, after this last round, my doctor officially gave me a diet I hands down have to follow.  This isn't a suggestion.  My GP is all clouds and rainbows and sunshine as she always has been ever since I was about 3 feet tall, so if she says something sternly, you listen.  Strangely enough, it's the exact same diet my personal trainer put me on.

At least I can definitely call my goal of creating a diet plan for 2015 complete.

All of that being said, let's look at this year's chart.

Yet again, health is the area I'm least happy with.  However, it did see an improvement from 2015. Last year, I needed seven goals, but this year I only need six.

Let's look at my pentacle chart:

Daily mental exercises belong more in Knowledge and my daily schedule goal goes more for Personal.  That just leaves a healthy BMI and getting my TSH to between .4 and 4.  It's not much, but I think I can work with this.

Maintain Medication

In order to get down to .4-4 for my TSH levels, I have to maintain my medication.  I try to be as good as I can about it, but MAS has so many side effects that work against me. It often feels like I'm trying to think through mud, a symptom called brain fog.  Brain fog makes me highly forgetful. It muddles my words, makes it hard to talk or understand when someone is talking to me and makes me feel generally stupid.  I can't tell you how many times I've gone to bed and simply forgotten to take my medication.  Flat out forgotten.  Never mind that it's something I need to do every night and it should be and has become habit.  But then, one night creeps along and I forget. And I forget and forget and forget and now I'm off.

Add in my extreme anxiety with needles, which makes getting blood work difficult, and you have a mess on medication maintenance. I mean, sometimes I faint. Sometimes I vomit. Sometimes I can't drive home for an hour or two.  And if I have work scheduled, I can't afford that.  So, at best, it takes me taking off a full day of work, going to the doctor's office in the morning so I can avoid any sick people because my immune system hates me, and knowing that I at least have all day to recuperate if I end up passed out on the cot from simple blood work that I have to get every six weeks.

I am on anxiety medication. It actually has helped a lot (when I can remember to take it too), but it doesn't always help with this.  Some days I'm good.  Some days are more like a nightmare.

All of this being said, getting on top of my medication is key.  So here's some steps I'm going to take immediately to try and combat this issue:

  • I now own a pillbox.  There's a certain stigma that comes with pillbox usage I've been attempting to avoid but, if I can't remember my medication and I'm hurting my health, I need to let go of that.  Now I just have to remember setting up my pillbox every week to use it.
  • My Personal goal (coming soon) of getting a daily schedule down will help. As a small business owner, my schedule is everything. More often than not, I find myself working from the time I get up to the time I go to bed with little thought as to what I do around that or when those times are.  A daily schedule is meant to set aside chunks of time for me.  It'll come with that.
  • I'm setting an alarm. I used to have an alarm at night. I stopped using it because I got into the swing of always taking my evening medication. Then it suddenly got away from me. Time to do this again.
  • I'm getting my husband's help. Granted, he doesn't have the best memory either (gosh, aren't we a pair?) but two heads are better than one!  So they say.
There's not much else I can do.  I can form the habit but I know my head will try to break it.  Alarms will absolutely help probably the most because it helped a lot when I first began.  My pillbox will help for the harder medications. I have one pill I take once a week and one pill I take every other day, which is darn near impossible for me to remember even when I am in the habit.  The other goals will support those.

Create an Exercise Schedule

The rest of these pertain to getting that "healthy BMI."

Even when I went to regular exercise classes, flares would come up and I'd lose track.  When I lost the weight the first time, I lost it mostly at home and by myself.  There was a lot of midnight running involved.  Having a flexible schedule I don't have to get in my car for is something I need recreate. I don't have any specifics here, but I'll do some research and try to put together something for January.  Then I plan to revise it every season change, especially as I hit months I can exercise outside.

Learn One New Recipe a Month

With my diet being super specific now (lots of avocado, chicken and fish and low-carb leafy greens, less fruits and gluten-free carbs, with no dairy, nuts, gluten or extreme spices), I don't need to worry bout coming up with a plan.  However, I do need to make such a limited diet more appealing.  That's a harder one when you really only have about 27 foods to can consume.

Every month, I'd like to find one recipe I'd like to perfect into a dish I truly enjoy.  I would turn this into a table and specify an ingredient to be each month's focus so I get variety, but honestly, I really just want to leave it open.  If I can find something that's tasty, diet friendly and I can get "addicted" to, that's better than nothing.

For example, because I can no longer have soy, mayo's mostly off of off the list (there are some options out there but none I've liked the taste of).  That's limiting because I really like egg and tuna salads.  I want to work on creating an egg and/or tuna salad with avocado that I enjoy more than just egg and avocado, tuna and avocado or all three.  This is going to rely on outside ingredients that still fit the diet and spices that aren't too spicy. I already have several recipes I want to try bookmarked and ready for use!

Lose 15 pounds (x3)

However, despite all these building blocks, getting the weight off has to be key. I would be at least one full block happier if I could drop 15 lbs.  I have 45 lbs to lose.  If I can do that three times, I'll have fulfilled my weight loss goals and gotten three times as happy in my health.  In the end, this means I have to lose just 3.75 lbs a month or just less than one pound a week.  I think this is more than doable.

Last year and the year before, I had a bunch of rewards set up - money towards a new wardrobe, gifts to myself along the way and so forth.  Each time I lost progress, I'd look at the rewards I'd earned and felt like I couldn't use them because I didn't really earn them.  The reward system was actually more punishing than I thought it would be.  This time, I just want to lose the weight.

Last year, I had a lot more descriptive goals.  I honestly just felt like I couldn't keep up.  There was too much going on and too much to keep track of.  This time, I want to keep it simple: Get my meds under control, learn some new recipes, create an exercise schedule and lose some weight.  Let's see if this works better!

Here's how I'm tracking it:

Health Goals - 0% Complete for the month.
(Pictures and some notes on this month's progress)

Create an exercise schedule [Create in January, review every season]. - 0% complete.
Maintain Medication [Pills taken x/30 (or 31 or 29) days]. - 0% complete.
Learn and perfect one new recipe per month [x/1]. - 0% complete.
Lose 15 lbs (renew as needed) [Lose .86 pounds a week]. – 0% complete.

Coming up:
2016 Home Goals

To my audience:
What are your health goals for 2016?


  1. Good luck on all of your health goals! If you would like help with recipes, I would be glad to assist you.

  2. Hi Marietta,
    You know, I don't think mayo has dairy in it, but just to be sure, there's a "primal" mayo out there now ( that would probably work -- though it's not really cheap. I haven't tried it yet but I want to.
    Anyway, best of luck with your goals! These posts have been really inspiring and helpful to me. I love reading your blog, on so many levels!
    - CRB

    1. You're right! It's not the dairy that's an issue in mayo. It's actually the kind of oil that's typically used as I can't have soy. I hear there are some mayos on the market that don't use vegetable/soybean oil as their base, but I've also not much liked those. It's still worth looking at avocado, which I know does well with my stomach and I've been told to get more of, as a substitute.

    2. I hear ya on the vegetable / soybean oil. I think the primal mayo uses avocado oil. I've tried making my own with olive oil, but apparently my kitchen skills exclude emulsification, and I end up with a gooey mess. Maybe I should try again...

    3. Have you tried Just Mayo? No soy, no dairy, no eggs, no gluten, no GMOs. I absolutely LOVE it! They sell it at Target.

    4. The doctors told me to get more avocado into my system anyway, so making an egg and tuna salad with avocado would be just the thing. I think, at this point, I'm less interested in finding a replacement mayo and more interested in trying to get my diet to align with what the doctors and my trainer are telling me I need to do, restrictive as it may be. But thank you for the suggestions!

  3. My suggestion for med taking? ( I have the same issue sometimes)
    -Take the meds around the same time each day
    -Put a reminder note on your bedside stand that says " Have you taken your meds today?" etc.
    -Make it a part of a routine. For me I take my meds after eating in the morning. I keep them in an insulated pouch from thirty-one, because it hold them well and seems to work for me. Also I keep it in the same place. (My purse or a shelf in my kitchen)
    Consistency helps eliminate some of the confusion, and as a fellow Virgo, organization and a system accommodate the anal side of our brains ;)

    Pinterest has a lot of great recipes. I'd recommend keeping a list of which ones you want to try and which ones worked etc. ( of course I'm sure this all way sound familiar!)

    Best wishes on your progress. I would like to lose thirty pounds. I've gained it over the last few years, and all of it is to a sedentary job AND not making working out a priority. When I did that in the past, I did notice results. But life happened and if I don't make it a does not happen.


    1. Sorry for the grammar errors above *cringe* voice recognition doesn't always work the best...

    2. You're fine! I completely understand. My voice recognition program once turned the word "them" into the DC character Shazam - at least I'm assuming, because it even capitalized it. I'm... almost sort of proud of that.

      That being said, thank you for your suggestions! Most of them I've either listed above or already utilize, but it's worth hearing it repeated. My biggest problem is my own condition, which makes me struggle to remember things, even if they're laid out in front of my face. I can look right at something or have someone scream what I need to do in my ear and my brain will attempt to completely block it out. My husband is going to be probably my biggest help. Despite having my pill case right next to my hand and my alarm having gone and went last night, it was his reminder that made me actually take my pills. But I've been on track so far, so it's only a matter of time!

      Good luck with your weight loss goal! I'm sure you'll be able to do it this year.

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