Paleo – Cholesterol

Ok, I eat meat.  I eat a lot of meat. We keep a freezer stuffed with beef (when the freezer doesn’t break and melt all of our yummy meat).   I eat eggs, bacon, sausage, pork, chicken, turkey, beef, and fish.  Probably a little heavier on the bacon than I ought to.

You might think I’d have a problem with high cholesterol.  This is far from the case.  Now, I wish I had the results from my cholesterol test 3 years ago, before I was Paleo. I should try to get a copy from my doctor.  I remember the choleterol was in the 140s (which is good).  I also remember my triglycerides were getting high, and I believe 1 more point would have had me too high.  When I went Paleo, I had my cholesterol done 3 months into the diet.  I had it done again last month.  These are my results:

Cholesterol (under 200 is good)
2012: 147
2013: 141
Triglycerides (under 150 is good):
2012:  74
2013: 40
HDL (good cholesterol, higher than 40 is good):
2012: 44
2013: 52
LDL (bad cholesterol, lower than 100 is good):
2012: 88
2013: 81
VLDL (as I understand, also bad cholesterol, only tested in 2013, 7-32 is normal):
2013: 8

Rheumatoid Arthritis – Skinny Fat

I recently got a new Paleo book, The Paleo Miracle: 50 Real Stories of Health Transformation.  It was very interesting, taking 50 different people, most with health issues, and talking about their Paleo Diet experiences.  I noted several of the stories talked about being “skinny fat.”  These people often spoke about having an average body weight, but their body composition consisted of a lot of fat, not muscle.  Paleo seemed to change that for some of these folks.  That got me thinking…. I’m Paleo, and I’m skinny fat.

Don’t get me wrong!  At this point in my journey, skinny fat is awesome.  I was fat fat, which is not awesome.  But that got me thinking even more…. why am I skinny fat?

Part of the Paleo movement also involves exercise.  Many Paleo folks are into Crossfit, which is a very intense exercise program that I long to be able to do.  It’s a goal, but it might not be a reasonable one for me.  I do exercise, but I struggle with it.  My neck keeps getting out of alignment, ending my exercise routines and sometimes necessitating physical therapy.  However, part of what would help my neck is if I could grow some muscles around it to keep it in place.  The very thing I’m trying to do to help my neck also seems to make it mad.  Sometimes RA really sucks!

When I was first diagnosed, back in 1996, I was in college.  My “college job” was working at a large department store.  I unloaded trailers.  I stocked shelves, and I could carry 50+ pound boxes up a 12 foot ladder with relative ease.  I walked a lot.  I was fit.  I weighed about 7 pounds less than I do now, but I was way thinner and way stronger.  Where did it all go?

If you have RA, and you don’t know this term, you should!  Rheumatoid Cachexia.  It seems to be a little known aspect of RA.  None of my doctors have ever even mentioned it to me.  I read about it in a book.  Google it or just click here to read up on it:

Did you read it?  I hope so, cuz guess what!  On top of everything else we have with RA, we also have MUSCLE WASTING!  Can you believe it?  So now, think about what fatigue means to you, think about muscle wasting, and connect the dots.  What is your body composition like?  I think I have the arm muscles of a 6 year old child.  Seriously.  I know you don’t believe me, so I’ll post pictures below.  And please appreciate that I show you all of my embarrassing flaws!

So, here’s what I think!  I think if you’re not exercising, you’re doing yourself a great disservice.  I know it hurts.  I know it sucks.  Figure out a way to do it.  Talk to your doctor.  Find a physical therapist to get you started if you need to.  But let’s face it, this is an important part of your treatment, whether your doctors talk about it or not.  And if you do it right, it WILL make you feel better.  I won’t scare you with the finer details, but the same book that I read (Strong Women and Men Beat Arthritis) that talked about RA and rheumatoid cachexia also talked about what happens when people lose too much muscle mass, like with rheumatoid cachexia.  You don’t want to know.  Let’s just say you should exercise like your life depends on it.

My arm muscles, like that of a 6 year old <sigh>.

Paleo – That Funky Smell

You would think not much could ruin your Paleo lifestyle.  You buy food,  you cook it, you eat it.  Let me tell you a story.  It’s a story of how to ruin a Paleo lifestyle.  It’s a story of meat.

We bought 1/4 of a grass fed cow a few weeks ago.  See this post: We still had a lot of meat in the freezer before buying more, but timing being what it was, we opted for more, lest we run out.  Our church is having a bbq this weekend, and we decided to donate the burger, being we had tons.  A kind woman from church stopped by to pick up the burger (she’s also Paleo, and we rant and rave about our burger).  My husband went to the basement to get some out of the freezer, and well…………..

We had shampooed our carpets 2 days before, and there was this funky smell in our house that I think we were attributing to wet carpets.  It had been unusually humid, and they took 2 days to dry rather than the typical 4 hours.  So, my husband is yelling up from the basement that there’s a big problem.  Oh $R$#^)O!  Initially, we thought the freezer door got left open, but upon further inspection, the back of the freezer cracked, yes CRACKED.  All of our meat defrosted, and there was bloody stinky oozy nastiness all over the basement floor, including under the freezer and under big heavy metal shelves piled with stuff so they’re not easily moved.  Am I painting a stinky picture here?  Bloody, stinky oozy waves of meat goo were all over our basement floor (which is thankfully cement).

That was a lot of meat.  It cost a lot of money, and now we need a new freezer to boot.  It’s been a very sad day, and I’m not sure we’ll be able to get meat again any time soon.

I need a hug.


RA News – Using Your Own Cells to Treat Your Disease

I like the idea of using my own cells to treat my own condition.  I would like to think that means less side-effects, but who knows?  I wonder what the risks are, the timetables (we remove your cells, treat them, then give them back).  What are the risks if you accidentally get cells that belong to somebody else?  Is there a test to make sure they’re healthy before they get re-injected?  And biggest yet, in my mind, what is the cost?  Currently biologics seem to be running around $2,000 – $4,000 per month.  If they could get away with only treating every 6 months, could they keep the costs under $12,000?  This line of thinking is good, but I’m still looking for science to go further back in the chain of disease.  Why aren’t our suppressor T cells working?  Let’s fix THAT!


RA News – Rosehip Powder

Articles like these are good and bad.  Although they mention “inflammatory” arthritis, I always like to see “rheumatoid” listed.  I want to know the research was done on my kind of arthritis, not just those with osteoarthritis, which seems to be the major target of the study.  Still, I find things like this encouraging on my road to more natural forms of treating my RA.  What do you think?

Adapting – Edema Gloves

So, I thought that I only had one more post on hand adaptations, but it turns out I have two!  I would have forgotten about these little babies, except I hurt my knee.  Yes, my knee.  I keep overdoing it on the flippin Pilates Reformer, so bad that this morning I needed to put a knee brace on for a few hours.  Of course there, stuck on the velcro of my knee brace, were my edema gloves!  Ha!  Another hand adaptation post!

Edema Gloves, keep the swelling down in my hands

I got these edema gloves when I got my hard splints, during stint I had with an occupational therapist around 2007 or 2008.  They were one of those things that I didn’t know I needed until I needed them.  Basically, they’re good for keeping the swelling out of your hands.  Given I’ve lost 51 pounds, I dare say I might need a smaller pair.  I don’t think these are tight enough now, BUT they still do work, especially when swelling wants to creep in.  You do have to be careful though.  If you’re too swollen, they can dang near make your hands turn blue (ok, yeah, no near about it… one day my hands were blue!).  I’m not sure what you’re supposed to do then… take them off I suppose.  Swollen hands are better than blue hands?  You know, I always think of these questions when I’m no longer seeing the person who could answer them!

Anyway, I tend to wear them at night on occasion.  If I’ve had a bad RA day or better yet, if I did something stupid with my hands that I know I’m GOING to have a bad RA day tomorrow (you know, like paint the garage, shovel dirt in a wheel barrow all day, or something REALLY stupid like wash the windows). I put the gloves on and sleep in them.  They don’t keep all the swelling out, but they keep some. Wait, who wants a bad hand day in honor of clean windows?  Yeah, you’re a sicko!  Or your family is coming to visit, in which case you’re partially forgiven!

Edema Gloves - Can you wash them in the washer? What if they shrink? Does it matter if they shrink? Why don't I ever think to ask these big questions? Or why doesn't it come with washing instructions? Hmm... Am I a help at all?

These were ordered (with input on correct size) through an occupational therapist.  In other words, I recommend you talk to one to make sure you get the right size and instructions.  And find out how to wash them.  And come back here and tell me!

Love to all!



Rheumatoid Arthritis – Exercise and DOMS

DOMS = Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness.

For years and years after my RA diagnosis, I struggled to exercise.  Although I typically felt fine during the exercise, 1-3 days later, you’d probably find me bed-ridden for up to 3 days.  I know I’m not the only RA person to feel that way.  I’ve certainly heard a lot of stories!

I started “open gym” or as I like to call it, “exercise therapy” in 2010.  The hospital where I was getting physical therapy just happened to be starting this program, and I was their first patient.  They were taking folks who had trouble exercising due to a medical condition (RA, weight loss surgery, heart conditions, MS, etc…) and helping them come up with an exercise plan they could do and stick to.  It cost $150 for six 1-hour one-on-one sessions.  A major bargain if you ask me!

When I started, I was in terrible shape.  I couldn’t even bend my knees to 90 degrees.  My weight was 185 pounds, and I couldn’t get my knees around the circle to pedal a bike!  I had embarrassingly little strength.  Yet, we started.  My goals were simple: get stronger, be able to alternate my feet going down the stairs, and squat.  As usual, I did fine while there, but within a few days I would be almost unable to walk.  I’d go back, and she’d cut my workout in half, and the same thing would happen.  For several weeks this went on.  But, I was motivated.  I wanted this to work.  The staff there believed in me, and it was flippin’ fantastic to have somebody see how my body revolts, to “get me”, and to keep going with me.  So, I continued.  Eventually, it worked.

The hospital had tons of equipment for me to figure out what I liked.  I tried a variety of exercises while there, but my favorite became a Pilates Reformer.  The hospital had a Reformer, and about a year into the program, my husband and I bought a used one.  I think I liked it because I didn’t have to get up and down from the floor, and it all worked on adjustable spring tension (no impact).  We also did a lot of exercise with no equipment at all, but sometimes that was getting up and down from the floor (not my strength!)

When I wasn’t making the progress I wanted on my knees, my old physical therapist (who helped me with some back/posture issues) came by and recommended talking to my rheumy about having my knees drained.  My rheumy (on the same floor of the hospital) agreed, drained them, and afterwards I immediately went to exercise therapy.  Although my one knee wouldn’t drain, the other did, and they were both injected with a steroid.  Wow!  They measured my knee bend before and after.  I don’t remember the numbers now, but it was an enormous immediate improvement.  It was so good, in fact, that walking to the car afterwards I injured my back.  My posture (which my old physical therapist had been helping me with) suddenly changed with the knee drained, and I had to relearn my appropriate posture all over again.  2 steps forward, 1 step back.

Still, things only went uphill from there!  I lost 12 pounds with exercise, and now have lost 51 pounds total with the Paleo diet.  My range of motion and strength are hugely improved.  And yet….

Here I sit 3 years from when I started.  I was having an awesome week.  I was working on my reformer at home 2 nights ago and was doing so well, I decided to increase the spring tension, making all of my exercises slightly harder.  2 mornings later, I sit here writing this post.  Everything in my body hurts.  I feel like I’ve been hit by a car.  I can barely walk.  It’s a “moving in slow motion” kind of day.  Joints affected are all of those I exercised (my fingers from gripping, my wrists, my knees).

I would love to see some good research on delayed onset muscle soreness and RA.  It’s the only thing that makes sense to me.  Everybody gets DOMS, but why does it seem like I get it so much worse.  And why does it feel like a flare?  It behaves like one, and I often confused it for one, but I don’t think it is.  I suspect in 1-2 more days I’ll be fine, like nothing happened.  In RA world, that’s nothing, but in the real world, that’s a long flippin time.  Glad it’s summer!

Later gators!

– Lori

Paleo – Hunger Autopilot

So, I goofed.  We all do it.  I don’t work in the summer.  I get off schedule.  I get LAZY!  I had no food prepared in the house and little to even scrounge up.  So, I took my son and ran a zillion errands all day on an empty stomach, preparing to make grocery shopping our last stop.  By the time I got home, I was a blibbering idiot.  I can’t say I was hungry or shaky or anything, other than I WANTED FOOD!  I was running on autopilot.

Because I got some port chops (something I’ve never bought before) to make a recipe in my new OMG That’s Paleo cookbook and the pork needed to marinate for an hour, my husband kindly whipped up some warm arugula salad (arugula and bacon… how awesome is that!)  Feeling better, I whipped up dessert:  We were eating the blueberry crisp before the chops even made it to the grill, and now the whole pan is gone.  I think I’ll make more tomorrow and maybe the next day and…. well, it was good in a very non-guilt sort of way.

You know, I need to learn to love to cook.  How do you learn to do that?  I have a coworker who loves to cook (especially smoke meat, which is how we wound up getting a smoker last month).  Anyway, he cooks all the time, freakin late at night (who STARTS cooking dinner at 10 PM?).  I guess people who like to cook, uninterrupted (kids in bed) cook at 10 PM.  I’m in bed at 10 PM, most of the time, except in the summer when I’m crazy, disorganized, and shopping on an empty stomach.  Hmm, 9:16 PM…..