Day 20

It’s almost too exciting to think about…. my RA being in remission through diet. I still don’t know what’s going on, but it appears to be something really great. My inflammation is noticeably decreased. Even my right hand is now showing big improvements. I got a few more degrees of range on my knees. I was able to get down from standing on the reformer without a step stool. I was able to sit on the step stool and get up by myself, using the counter.

My knees are doing strange things, unfortunately they’re things that hurt. I dare say my tendons and such are having a hard time keeping up with how loose my knees have become. The joints don’t hurt, but the surrounding tissues seem to crackle, pop, and occasionally get very painful for a few minutes. I think that might be good.

It’s almost too much to think about…. too much to wish for…. what if……?

Day 19

Day 19 rocks.

The bad: my neck has been out of alignment for days now, and it’s been driving me crazy. I haven’t lost any more weight.

The good: my neck seems to be back in alignment today, but still sore. My flexibility has had huge improvements. My hands are looking better. I am sore when I try to see how far I can bend my knees and hips, but they seem to be bending further than in a long time. My swelling, although still coming and going, appears to be slightly better every day. There’s times when my skin seems to be “hanging” on my fingers (aka, my fingers are much thinner than typical). I’m having periods of typical fatigue, but my better times seem much better. Sometimes I feel like I could run (a long lost skill), but I’m not there yet.

Gosh, I hope these improvement aren’t all in my head.

We went to Chili’s for dinner. I had fajitas without the stuff… basically steak and onions. Yummy, but very salty.

Chris is still supporting me. He’s mostly following the diet, with occasional alcohol and Boost.

Until later….

Day 17

Well, I did not lose a single pound the entire second week. The good news is, I’ve lost 2 more pounds this week, bringing the total to 10 pounds.

Now, week 2 sucked. My RA was up and down, my brain was foggy, I had a couple of dizzy spells (I think caused by lack of hydration), etc…. Minus the RA part, my husband was having similar issues. I get brain fog frequently, which seems to go with my RA. This was highly unusual for him, and he didn’t like it. He bailed on the diet on day 15. So, he’s still supporting me, which I appreciate, but he’s had to add some other things into his diet to make it work.

The last 3 days, my brain has cleared, my cravings are quite minimal, but my body is still not settled. Although my swelling seems less, my pain seems the same or a tad worse. On top of that, my neck keeps getting out of allignment, which doesn’t seem to be related to RA. My pains are very different than typical. Part of me wonders if swelling is down, so that makes tendons and muscles loose and not supportive. Time will tell.

In the meantime, I’m more than half way to my 30 day goal. I’ve discovered that both blueberries and/or blackberries make a salad delicious, and my son thinks so too.

More to come!

Day 12

Well, it felt like a huge setback this morning, but is turning into a mild bump in the road. My RA, for reasons unknown, was quite horrible starting at around 4:00 AM. Usually I can pin it down to sleeping too long, stress, etc… but this morning I wasn’t sure what it was. Perhaps hormones. There was definitely a DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) component to it. I did an exercise on the reformer that I hadn’t done in a while, and every muscle and joint used hurt. It was a slow morning. It’s funny how that happens with me… I last used the reformer 36 hours previously, and this was the first indication of a problem. I’m not sure why the rest of my body hurt.

Anyway, 2 ibuprofen and 2 hours on the couch, and I’m back to normal. Despite feeling so badly this morning, I wasn’t significantly more swollen, and in fact, I think my joints look pretty good. I should think about photographing them over time.

My mother-in-law, who got me books on Paleo for Christmas, called this morning. She is thinking about starting it based on how good my husband (her son) looked after 1 week on it. Exciting!

Now, the food updates! The bacon brussels sprouts were great. I would eat them again any time. The bad part…. gas! Wow! Serious gas! The meatloaf with the fiber discards from juicing was also very good. A ballpark recipe: 1 lb grass-fed beef, 1-2 tsp garlic powder, several good shakes of Italian seasoning, and about 2 cups of leftover juice fiber consisting of carrots, apple, pear, and collard greens, mixed together and baked at 350 for about 50-60 minutes.

I didn’t weigh myself this morning, but suspect I’ve stayed the same. My husband said maybe we ought to weigh ourselves only once or twice a week so as not to get discouraged. I still say I’m in it for the RA help, and whether or not this works will depend much more heavily on that than my weight. Still, I think he is right and maybe weighing myself daily might be discouraging. But hey, I’m still down 8 pounds in 12 days. That’s pretty great.

Day 10

Well, the day started rough. I felt so great yesterday, but so tired, that I went to bed early. Too much sleep almost always ends up bad for my RA (and I wonder if I’m the only person who has this RA problem… everybody else seems to love their naps… NOT ME!) Anyway, it wasn’t very painful, but I was very stiff. I took an ibuprofen, and have felt great the rest of the day.

My eyes continue to seem a little better, but not as good as I’d like. They’re still very dry in the AM or any time I lay down. In case I didn’t explain my eyes yet, I was diagnosed with thyroid eye disease 6 months or so ago. It’s horrible in that your eyes can bug right out of your head. Google it for some pictures, and you’ll immediately get the point. I’m not that bad, and I hope to keep myself from getting that bad.

Food was good today. We had homemade juice this morning, and I used the fiber discards from the juice to make in a meatloaf tonight. It’s in the oven now. I sure hope it’s good. We’re also making bacon and garlic brussel sprouts. I’m not one for sprouts, but the bacon sure makes the house smell good. Hopefully the taste will be there. I’ll let you know next post.

I’ve been able to wear my wedding ring for the first time in 6 years. I stopped wearing it when I was pregnant with my son, due to swollen pregnant fingers. I wasn’t able to put it back on due to swollen RA fingers…. quite unfair! Despite being 15 pounds lighter than when my husband first placed it on my finger, it’s still tight. I have noticed how much my fingers change size over the course of the day since wearing it again. In the AM, my hands were real cold, and the ring was actually loose. As soon as my hands warmed, it got quite tight again… again very interesting.

Both Chris and I lost 8 pounds as of 3 days ago, but neither one of us have lost a pound since. I hope the weight continues to come off, but as long as the RA improves, I will try to be happy even if I don’t lost the weight.

Oh, the sugar cravings are significantly diminished today. That’s a BIG DEAL! I could hear chocolate chip cookies calling me all the way from the store.

Day 8

My initial intent was to write a post every day, but it just hasn’t happened. So, here is a grand update….

As of this morning, I have lost 8 pounds. Yes, 8 pounds in 8 days… a bit freaky! my favorite meals have been fillet minon, salmon salad (baked salmon with olive oil and dillweed, broken into flakes on a red/purple salad mix with homemade dressing and lemon juice), and some concoction we have yet to name which included chicken, sweet potato, and pineapple cooked in coconut milk. Yum!

I am trying to work on the pilates reformer every 2 days, which has been going ok.

In terms of how I feel, I realized I was a bit dehydrated (getting dizzy on standing a few times), so have increased my water intake which helped immediately.

My skin seems tons more hydrated/oily, but not in an acne sort of way. I’m less itchy.

I am seeing possible RA improvement in both hands, particularly my left. My knees, although still stiff, are tons better than earlier this week.

I am unsure if the swelling in my eyes is improving, but they’ve seemed less dry the last 2 mornings.

One gross, but good thing… I have had chronic plaque on the back of my bottom 2 front teeth that I can’t ever get to stay gone (dentist thought it was my meds, would scrape it off, and 2 days later it would be back). It has shrunk significantly and is almost gone.

Chris has also lost 8 pounds (now down to 140 pounds). He has noticed some changes in his mouth, and he looks younger, partially as he’s lost weight in his face, but also because his skin appears more youthful.

We’ve eaten out a few times, which means we’ve sort of cheated. I’m sure we weren’t eating grass-fed beef, but we did eat beef and veggies. I’m sure they were cooked in some oil of unknown goodness, but we avoided the gluten (as far as I know) and the dairy. Hooray for us!

Hoping for a good second week and more excitement. I have a doctor’s appointment at the end of my 30 days. Should be the perfect time for an RA workup.

Day 3

It’s always a better day when there is plenty of food to eat. I made another pot of soup…. a whole chicken with cauliflower, carrots, celery, and onion plus lots of herbs.

3-4 pounds down on the scale this morning, total.

Breakfast: garlic chicken salad
Snack: jerky and cherries
Snack: blueberries
Lunch: Garlic chicken salad
Snack: blueberries, dates
Dinner: chicken/vegetable soup

Worked out on the reformer. Less cranky day.

Day 2

Day 2 went better than day 1. I made sure I had lots more food to eat. It’s a full-time job, just getting food prepped to eat.

The books said you’d likely lose 3-5 pounds in water weight the first week or so. I woke up a few times in the middle of the night having to go. I was down 2 pounds on the scale this morning.

I discovered the joy of dates. They’re pretty tasty, a nice treat.

Breakfast was chicken, fruit and carrots.
Jerky as a snack.
Lunch was chicken on lettuce, carrots, soup, and a few cherries.
Another snack of jerky.
Dinner was hamburgers. Now I have to say that getting lean (93% fat free) ground beef made for a hockey puck of a hamburger. We’ll have to figure out how to get that easier to chew and more flavorful. The answer may lie in meatloaf, although eggs and tomatoes are currently our for me for 28 more days, so I’m not sure I can make that any less of a hockey puck.

My RA seemed a smidge better today. It might be coincidence, as it has its ebbs and flows.

Day 1

Well, it was an interesting day, to say the least.  I think the reason you supposedly lose weight on this diet is because you expend a lot of effort trying to figure out what you’re going to eat.

Breakfast: chicken (cooked last night), blackberries, and carrots.

Snack: homemade grass-fed jerky (dehydrated last night) and a carrot

Lunch: chicken (made last night), blackberries, carrots, clementine

Snack: jerky

Snack: blueberries

Dinner: Salmon and homemade soup (didn’t realize until too late that the vegetable broth had tomatoes in it…. oops).

How I felt: Hungry all day, but not “sugar crashing.”  My energy level maintained all day, until cooking all the meals for tonight and tomorrow.  Then, I was pooped.  I craved something sweet, and lots of berries were on sale, so I got 10 pints of blueberries, some raspberries, and some kiwi.  Hopefully that will last me the week or more.

29 days to go.

Twas the Night Before Paleo

Since my diagnosis of RA in 1996, I have held out hope of finding a way to make it better or eliminate my symptoms without medications. Pretty quickly after my diagnosis, I started taking supplements, 16 of them if I remember correctly, and altered my diet to exclude meat and dairy products. After about 8 weeks or so (I can’t exactly remember), I got chicken pox and so ended that phase. I was not going to the store poxed.  Instead, I ordered pizza for a week! The diet did seem to help, but not nearly enough.

I have read many books and articles about helping autoimmune diseases. Some have been scientific. Some have not. It’s hard to tell what is real and what is crazy. My favorite was advertisements for emu oil as a cure for RA. I think not. I really think anything that claims to cure it is likely a hoax.

Some common threads have stuck with me as possibly making some sense. One has been that RA is a disease of modern times, not ancient ones. Another of these has been “leaky gut syndrome.” The thought is that some foods and e-coli get through your intestinal wall when they shouldn’t. I’ve seen a couple of scientific articles that weren’t necessarily studying leaky gut syndrome, but supported it none-the-less. One, I seem to recall, said that people with RA have higher levels of e-coli in their joints than the general population. Leaky gut has made sense to me. I also developed a life threatening food allergy around the same time as my RA. That seemed strange to me. I’ve also had some serious issues with constipation on rare occasions, never having those issues before. Before Enbrel, the drug which I credit for making me the functional person I am today, I would fast on really bad RA days. I would typically feel much better after skipping some meals. I don’t know if this is crazy or not. I guess it’s just a few leaky gut things that line up in my head.

Long story short, after trying my own version of non-researched caveman diets (because I really don’t believe we ought to be eating so much sugar and flour), which typically involved cutting out sugar, wheat, and sometimes milk, my mother-in-law showed me an article about Paleo. For Christmas, she bought me 3 books about it. The books made sense and put a little science behind the leaky gut theory.  The overall theory is taking us back to what our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate for millions of years.  Supposedly, our bodies and genetics have not yet adapted to our modern agriculture diet of the last 5-10,000 years.  There were some interesting pieces of research behind the Paleo theory, but the diet itself does not appear to be put through good testing as of yet.

So, here I sit, the night before Paleo, January 8, 2012. I’ve read 1 book thoroughly and skimmed through the other two. My husband has agreed to support me on this, although he refuses to eat any eggs and may cheat on occasion. For 30 days, I plan on going full-out, no cheating with the auto-immune conditions. My rules as I understand them are: lots of lean meat, lots of vegetables and some fruits. For my first 30 days, I am also skipping out on eggs, nuts, tomatoes, peppers and eggplants (no loss on the eggplants for me) as this was recommended for people with autoimmune conditions.  I may try to build them in, if the diet seems to help, at the end of 30 days.  I am also taking Vitamin D (which I take anyway) and fish oil (to get my omega 3s up and in balance with my omega 6s).

We shopped for food this weekend, picking up some lean grass-fed ground beef, wild-caught salmon, 2 whole chickens (I would have preferred a turkey breast, but all the ones I found were quite processed or out of my price range), chicken breasts, vegetables, and fruits. Currently, I am making jerky in the dehydrator and 1 chicken in the crock pot. I ate a fair share of chocolate today… may as well get that out of my system. I guess I’m ready to go.

So, I can’t believe I’m going to put this out there for the world to see, but here it is. My name is Lori. I’m 39 years old. I’ve had asthma and allergies for 36 years, a food allergy and RA for 15 years, Grave’s Disease for 4 years, and thyroid eye disease for 9 months.   I’m 173 pounds. I’ve been on Enbrel for 12 years. I’ve had prednisone for about 7 of the last 15 years, but not currently.  My RA is currently under relatively good control.  I’ve been doing pilates with an exercise rehabilitation specialist for the last 16 months.  Let’s see what this Paleo does!