Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Staring Down the Challenges

Last week during the first week of my Zero Excuses Challenge, I had the additional challenge of eating out a couple of times.  The idea of eating out initially filled me with dread.  Especially since I so badly wanted to really give this challenge a good chance.  However, these plans were made before the challenge and I did not want to back out because then I would have missed out on a fun time with friends!

Friday evening we met two other couples out for dinner - at an Italian restaurant.  Yes, I was in the land of pasta, bread and grain type carboliciousness.  Our friends were very generous and even offered to change the restaurant but I told them no, I was up for the challenge, so off we went.

Of course, the very first thing that arrived at our table after the drinks (I stuck to ice water with lemon!) was oven hot homemade foccaccia bread with flavored olive oil.  OY. I determinedly ignored it and Mr. Helen said thank you he'd eat my piece.  I sat there perusing the menu trying to figure out what to do since most of the items had cheese and/or pasta or both.  Even the baked fish was wrapped in potatoes.  Then I came across this:  Penne "Jack" Style: Grilled Jumbo Shrimp, Sauteed With Sweet Sausage, Roasted Peppers, Basil With Marinara Sauce.

I knew I could make this work if they would just serve me the meat and sauce with no penne!  I didn't even look for a substitute for pasta as ya'll know I don't believe there is any and would rather just do without. (No fake spaghetti squash Rich!)  I did however ask if they would serve it over sauteed spinach to up the veggies in the dish.  Everyone else ordered pasta and fish and you know what?  When my meal came to the table, several people were oohing and aaahing and saying they were going to get the Penne "Helen-style" next time they visited the restaurant!

My second eating out experience came on Sunday afternoon.  My friend Em texted me on Friday and asked if we could get together for lunch.  She's in the midst of dieting to get into her wedding dress so she requested I find a place with Big Ass Salads!  I knew just the place:  it's actually a pizza place but their salads are really yummy.  I chose the Grilled Vegetable Salad:  Mixed greens, grape tomatoes, black olives, topped with grilled summer squash, zucchini, eggplant, mushrooms, red onions and feta cheese.

I asked them to remove the feta cheese and add a grilled chicken breast.  It was delicious.  Since I forgot my camera, Em took a photo so I could share:
Doesn't it look yummy!  I have to admit, I honestly did not miss the cheese because this salad was so flavorful.

Overall I am just pleased that I was able to go to dinner, have fun and fellowship with good friends and also enjoy good food. 

The other challenge that I haven't talked about yet, well, it's a bit hard for me.  You know I went to the specialist last week.  What I really wanted was to walk in and have them say this is what is wrong, this is what you should do and this is when you'll be all better.  Unfortunately, no such luck.  In fact, in addition to having to submit to even more testing, I got some upsetting news, though I had suspected as much:  It looks like I am pre-diabetic. Because my numbers are just over the top of the range, I am not being given medication but I am being encouraged to eat a very clean diet and continue my exercise and see if in a few months the numbers - both my weight and my sugar - will come down.  All fine with me since I didn't want to have meds anyway.  But I have to admit, Wednesday was a hard day for me - I was very upset and disappointed, feeling once again as if my body has betrayed me.  I mean really, isn't being hypothyroid enough to deal with?!!

Then on Monday I went back to my GP (who has managed my healthcare very well according to the specialist) wherein she informed me that in the report she received from the specialist and in looking at the bloodwork I had done in September, I am also insulin resistant (the specialist never mentioned this!) and she wanted to talk to me about Metformin. Additionally it seems that my thyroid levels are trending upward.  (Both of these things would explain my unexplained weight gain of late.) I could feel my brain starting to shut down and I just wanted to lay down on the exam table and cry.  We spent a few minutes talking about it, with me telling her about the challenge and the Paleo style eating I'm doing.  I told her I lost 3.5 lbs. in the first week and I begged asked her to let me try this for a few weeks. 

As she was listening she also seemed to be skimming the specialist's report and suddenly said, "Dr. Gonzales tested your insulin and thyroid again?"  I answered yes but that I'd only gone on Saturday.  She told me to wait that she wanted to see if the results were available in the lab's online system.  A few minutes later she came back and said, "I have good news and so-so news:  it seems like maybe this Paleo thing is doing for you what Metformin would do because your insulin has dropped 1 1/2 points since September.  So I will agree to hold off on the Metformin for now.  (HURRAY!!!) However, since September your thyroid has climbed 2.5 points and right now you are in complete thyroid shut-down.  Also, your irons levels are terribly low.  Both the iron and thyroid would explain the fatigue you keep mentioning.  So, we are going to up the meds for that and you'll have to start having bloodwork done every 2 months again."  (SIGH.  SIGH.  SIGH.)

A mixed bag for sure.  But I'm going to deal with it and face it down like I am facing down the Zero Excuses Challenge.  I will not let these things get the best of me! What I'm proud of, is that even though I cried a little and whined to Shelley and to Mr. Helen, I did not turn to food of any kind, not even "good for me" food. 

Eating out, not eating for comfort - little challenges met with victory.  I'll take them!


  1. Oh Helen! I'm sorry. I know that feeling so well. It's tough to receive news like that. I got the same thing. Well, similar. And I understand not wanting to take the metformin.

    There is also a book called the Insulin Resistance Diet book. When I follow it I lose weight. Don't ask me why I don't follow it. Stubborn? Anyway, my mom follows it and has gone from 230 pounds to 153 pounds without even exercising. It's pretty easy to follow and doesn't tell you that any food is off limits.

    You can beat this!! No doubt!

    Good job on eating out! That's a tough thing to do but you did it.

  2. Congrats on your victories!

    I was diagnosed insulin resistant and prediabetic (diagnosed hypothyroid three years ago). I kind of knew I was prediabetic. I follow a primal lifestyle, dropped the grains and over time my fasting number went from 163 to high 70s/low 80s. The glucose monitor has become my best friend. I'm having bloodwork done tomorrow with a new doc. I've been feeling tired, but think it's low Vit D.

    Have you read "Wheat Belly"? I highly suggest it.

  3. Wow Helen. Sobering news. But maybe came at the right time (is there a right time??) I mean, you got a headstart on the challenge before you got the news. And really great and creative job on fixing the restaurant menus to suit you!

  4. Okay, first I need to know the two restaurants :-)

    Second, Tim was recently diagnosed as prediabetic...yes, tall, thin, Tim who never overeats and everything in moderation. I really think it's the carbs he was eating and the lack of protein. We've changed a bunch of things up but his numbers haven't budged. Naturopath may have him see the hormone specialist to rule out other imbalances.

    And finally, I know how scary it is to get a bunch of diagnoses and to have to do a bunch of trial and error things in order to get better. It's frustrating and disheartening, but it sounds like you've got a great team on your side. Hang in there!

  5. Hugs Helen. I am glad you are showing improvement in the numbers even with such a short time on the paleo (hate that word) way of eating. That bodes well for you, I think.

  6. First of all congrats on the non scale victories of not turning to food for comfort!

    When you look at your health challenges being insulin resistant, thyroid issues and borderline diabetic your weight loss for week one is even more exciting. Perhaps this way of eating is going to be the answer for you Helen.

    I'm cheering you on! :)

  7. Sorry about the pre-diabetes diagnoses - but luckily with diet and exercise, you can stave it off.

    I too have been out to eat twice and have found ways to get around our eating plan - and its still tasty too!

    Thanks for your suggestion of almond or coconut milk in place of real dairy - never even thought of it!

  8. Although I hate that you are getting such rough diagnoses, it sure does seem like you're in the "good news, bad news" scenario right now...and luckily, you're seeing not only weight-loss as a result of the paleo diet, but also actual improved health - real numbers - and that is where you can see how much you are able to control and change this. By god, if anybody is up for this task, it's you!

  9. I hate my thyroid. I'm 40 and I've been diagnosed hypo for several years (looking back through old medical records, 13 years, the first eight years without treatment!), and now it appears I have a goiter, getting an ultrasound on it tomorrow.

    My husband has been diabetic for about 10 years. He's on several medications, yet doesn't doesn't really exercise, eats fast food for lunch Monday-Friday. On the occasions he has a salad (couple of times a month) he seems to think eating a salad topped with tons of cheese, bacon and croutons is still healthy.

    I'm sure you will take this as the warning it is and do everything you can to change so that you can remain healthy. It sounds like you have two doctors that are going to stay on top of this for you!

  10. Sending a big hug your way Helen. Sounds like your docs are a great team, hopefully they'll get things all stabilized and before you know it, the numbers are just where you want them to be. Take care!!!!!

  11. You did amazing while eating out...if a restaurant isn't willing to make simple changes, it isn't a place to go so I'm glad you found something.

    Keep to your know what is healthy and your body will respond regardless of the numbers...and it appears its working you go girl!

  12. First of all I sent you a big virtual hug. I would rather be able to give you one for real because you need it.

    I can totally understand you were upset hearing all of this. You know that what I'm doing is similar to Paleo. My plan has a forum where people can write (personally I don't write there, no time, rather read blogs, but I do read there sometimes). I've read some stories about people that were diabetic who got off medication after following the plan. So I do believe Paleo is good for you with a diagnose like pre-diabetic.

    What I'm most happy about is that you didn't skip social events because of Paleo. Personally I don't believe in doing that after all these things make life fun. You found a way to get a great meal and have the company of good friends. Good for you.

    Take care Helen. I'm no doctor and expert but if you want to talk, you know where to find me although you have great backup from Shelley and Mr. Helen.

  13. Hang in there, Helen, and I think the diet might really help you get some of your numbers stabilized a bit -- not just your weight numbers. I'm taking classes in physical anatomy (final is tonight!) and we've been studying the digestive and endocrine systems and how they all inter-relate. Being on the paleo diet I think will help get some of your numbers like your iron and insulin re-balanced. That can only help!