When I googled the definition of homeostasis, I got this: “the tendency toward a relatively stable equilibrium between interdependent elements, especially as maintained by physiological processes.” I heard this term recently, and thought it to be a great way to think about my RA issues, but there might be a much simpler definition: balance.
I realize more and more every day that I can control so much of my health, especially my rheumatoid. I know there are many people out there who haven’t taken this journey, but I really believe it can be done. Will it cure me? Probably not. Will it allow me to live many more disability free years? I think so. Will it treat my pain and fatigue? Absolutely!
Here’s part of the deal though. I’m up and down. The last 6 months or so, I’ve been up and down a lot. Leg cramps, kidney stones, low thyroid (a medication issue, not really anything I can control as I will need to take the meds forever as I have no functioning thyroid), some RA pains (mild), and lately some reflux (still trying to figure that out!) Does that scare me or bother me? A little bit, but not as long as I get back to my balance, my homeostasis. In my best recent homeostasis, I’m 133 pounds, have a little bit of muscle/strength, no fatigue, no pain, sleep well, feel good. In my best recent homeostasis, I’m happy, have more energy, and am less prone to a shock to my system.
How do I get to my perfect homeostasis? I’m not 100% sure, but I’m working on defining it. I’ve determined that it needs better definition, but I also believe that my perfect homeostasis definitions may change over time. Right now, I’m thinking about my “best” homeostasis rather than perfect, because I think my “best” can still improve.
Here’s what I know about my best homeostasis:
- It includes the Paleo Diet, which has impacted my RA, triglycerides, energy, pain, blood pressure, fatigue, weight, liver function, thyroid eye disease, cholesterol, and more all in a positive way.
- It includes keeping my Thyroid Stimulating Hormone around 1.0 (or crazy things happen to my body).
- It includes exercise, particularly light to moderate strength work.
- Good sleep.
- Near perfection in all of the above
Here’s what I think I know about improving my homeostasis, but I’m still working on:
- Improving vitamin D level (dang it if I can’t get above 26).
- Improving magnesium levels (which I hope will improve glutamate issues I have)
- Juicing. I think this helps, and I’ve gotten away from it. I have to revisit.
- Better gut health, which I think has improved, but still needs work I “think” around fat digestion and gut flora.
Here’s what I’m currently struggling with:
- Leg cramps, which might be low magnesium.
- Reflux which might be caused by my magnesium supplement.
- Getting back to 133 pounds. I got up to 145 when my thyroid levels tanked, dropped to 140, and have stayed there for quite a while.
- Getting my stress under control.
- Getting back to exercising, which I think got messed up when my fatigue kicked in due to low thyroid.
- Can’t wait until I’m out of work for summer, so I can focus better on some of these things. It’s so much easier to decrease stress when I’m not working!
Random things that I do to mess up my homeostasis:
- Sit out in the cold and rain to watch my son’s baseball game
- Change shoes
- Get stressed out/take on more than my body’s capability
- Sleep too much (yeah, I have more issues with too much sleep than not enough)
- Eat out when my food might be cross contaminated with non-Paleo things.
- Cheat too much with dark chocolate??? (RA? reflux?)
- Drink green tea or have balsamic vinegar (hives)
- Go to bed too early
- Drink alcohol (seem to tolerate rum better than anything else)
- Getting cold in almost any fashion
- Not being perfect
- Probably thousands more things
About being perfect. I can’t be. I don’t think anybody can be. Sometimes I want to have an alcoholic drink or eat an entire bar of chocolate after a stressful day. And you know what? I can, and I do. I just know it will break homeostasis, and I’ll have to be better the next few days to get it back. What happens if I don’t get back to my rules? Well then, my homeostasis will change for the worse, and I won’t get back to the happy place I was. That won’t work for me. I make choices daily that determine how my body will react. If I continue to make the wrong choices, my body isn’t going to be the happy place I want it to be. So, I try not to make too many wrong choices. I choose the harder diet and the stricter rules because it pays off.
What’s your best recent homeostasis? What can/do you do to change it for the better or worse?
FYI, it’s 3:00 AM, and I’m up writing this because I stayed out in the cold and rain at my son’s baseball game. I got too cold, came home and got in bed too early, and I’ve been awake since 1:00 AM. I made the decision to get out of bed, as this break in sleep will likely help me have a better RA day tomorrow than sleeping too long. Decisions.