Whole 30 And Thyroid Health

When you’re diagnosed with a thyroid problem, there aren’t many reputable resources to explain exactly how to eat to support this ailing gland.

I have read a lot about what you can’t eat and that tends to be discouraging. Gluten and sugar are not your friend with hypothyroidism and there are lots of inflammatory foods to be avoided as well.

Unfortunately, the American diet is built around gluten and sugar.

I discovered something called the Whole 30 several years ago and decided to revisit this eating plan as it aligns well with thyroid needs. Essentially, it’s a 30 day eating plan that eliminates foods that are traditionally inflammatory and many that commonly cause digestive issues.

That means you can’t have any kind of grains, dairy or sweeteners so there’s no rice, quinoa, corn, yogurt or most processed foods. Fast food is almost completely off the table as is the Diet Coke that I so often turn to in times of exhaustion.

You’re meant to eat meals of vegetables, lean proteins and healthy fats. There’s no measuring or counting calories. No one cares how many carbs are in a banana. You just eat whole foods and you eat till you’re full. If you’re hungry on the Whole 30 you’re doing it wrong.

I actually finished day 30 earlier this week and intend to keep going for a while longer.

So, how did it go?

I feel amazing.

The first couple of weeks were rough but life suddenly became wonderful when I hit my stride.

For the first time in a couple of years I have zero pain in my body. My joints and muscles feel great. Getting out of bed is no longer a crisis. The fluid in my ears is gone. The weight gain has stalled and the brain fog is still there but not nearly so bad.

Since last Friday, I have accomplished a bunch of yard work, some stuff inside, run errands, hiked and have been busy at work. A year ago, I wouldn’t have been able to do even a fraction of this stuff.

It feels like a miracle.

I know that nutrition is important to the human body but my entire life feels transformed. After thirty days, you’re supposed to start reintroducing foods to see how your body responds but I don’t feel ready. So I’m going on for a couple more weeks before deciding what happens next.

There’s some soul searching to do.

Truth is, eating Whole 30 at home is easy if you know how to cook. Eating in public is hard. Try going to a family reunion, a work lunch or a fast food restaurant and find food that meets the rules. I have made a meal out of deviled eggs with the filling scraped out and plain veggies without dip. The only fast food option has been a Wendy’s baked potato and a plain salad. Even sit down restaurants are hard to navigate.

So I pack food as much as possible but trouble begins when that’s not an option. Luckily, going hungry for a day seems like a fair swap for a life without muscle pain.

So, the question on the table is what am I willing to live with? What can I live without? Is dessert worth the foot pain tomorrow morning?

I am inclined to say that I’ll continue with Whole 30 at home. In public, I can just do my best. At lunch with coworkers I can have the cauliflower crust pizza but not worry about the sugar in the pizza sauce. All those great mom and pop diners are still within reach if I know the fish and chips are a treat but that I’ll be back to baked fish and steamed veggies tomorrow.

Food can be medicine or it can be poison. Some foods will help support my thyroid and move me forward while others will send me backward. I need to think of foods in this way. How do I want to feel tomorrow?

That’s the question.

Choose Wisely: Social Media Can Be Friend Or Foe

Lots of friends are leaving or at least cutting back on social media exposure. There’s too much negativity, too many lies, too much sales and not enough meaningful interactions.

And I get it.

I have learned things about longtime friends that I do not want to know. For many, it is a window into the soul that tells me that I have been frighteningly wrong about the hearts and world views of many.

Then there are the people who provoke feelings of inadequacy because their lives look so perfect. They’re buying cars and taking expensive trips you could never afford. Plus, there’s always someone peddling something. That high school friend who ignored you for twenty years until she decided to sell 31 bags comes to mind.

Social media can be downright annoying and sometimes hard on your mental health.

But there is good too. Facebook and Instagram have given me access to all sorts of people and information that would otherwise be much more difficult to find.

That’s why I am careful of how I cultivate my feeds. There are some people who I unfollowed years ago because I know their contribution to my world is detrimental. They bring stress and negativity. They don’t earn their keep because they only point out the wrong without offering solutions. They have nothing good to say about anything.

I like people who can be realistic, who talk about the bad but encourage intelligent dialog. These are my people.

I follow some news organizations that report fairly and thoroughly. I belong to groups and pages that provide me with beautiful images, inspiring words, book recommendations, travel ideas, vegetarian recipes, mid century advertising, home decor ideas and all the other things I find interesting.

I know which pages have followers with useful comments and which pages to avoid the comments. Blocking trolls and scammers is easy. So is unfollowing a page that you don’t care for anymore.

In other words, I manipulate social media to make it work for me.

Instagram seems to naturally attract a more positive audience than Facebook so I’m starting to dwell more there.

If you don’t believe me, follow CBS Sunday Morning on both platforms and study the responses on each. Say they post a story about visiting a national park. On Instagram, the comments will mostly be from people saying how much they love that place, want to visit, vacation memories are amazing, etc. On Facebook, that same story is loaded with complaints and people who blame this president or that one for something totally unrelated. It’s like they’re just looking for a soapbox to vent whatever asinine thing is on their mind.

People really can take anything good and mangle it into a travesty.

All the same, social media has given me a chance to connect with people I have met once in real life. If not for social media, I wouldn’t have taken the Ford Tri-Motor airplane ride last year. I wouldn’t be anxiously awaiting the West Virginia Book Festival where I will finally get to meet author William Kent Krueger this fall. I would not have found the Apple Seed storytelling podcast that has brought me great joy.

The Whole 30 would be much harder if not for social media as it has helped me find great recipes for black bean meatballs and realistic ideas for batch cooking. I may never have found the British version of the sitcom Ghosts!

Cousins scattered across the country would be mere names in a family tree instead of friends. A quiet coworker who loves her cats, flowers and rocks would just be a nice lady I chat with briefly. The man I connected with in a fascinating conversation about race while standing in line at a historic house would just be a memory.

This book! I saw a review in a book group and knew it was for me. I’m halfway through and it’s wonderful!!

HOW would I get all my ideas for random road trips? Sometimes they send me to get a grilled cheese sandwich in a great diner two hours away only to discover a neat abandoned theater and country roads that feed my soul. You never know where one simple tip will lead!

So yeah. Social media can be terrible. But my life is richer thanks to social media. It’s all about how you choose to use it and who you allow to have a voice. Not everyone deserves space in your head so they certainly don’t deserve space in your social media feed.

Choose wisely.

Somewhere In Chelsea

Somewhere in Chelsea, a window asked a question.

What Are You Made Of?

It’s a bold question and one I didn’t expect to be thinking about as I traipsed through the Big Apple on a whirlwind Christmas adventure. We all probably ought to be ready with the answer but I’m not sure I know anymore.

And maybe that’s ok. We don’t always need all the answers.

It has been a long and challenging few years for the world in general and for me specifically. Adventure season will be here soon. Maybe I’ll start to remember then who I am and what I’m made of.

So, you know I have to ask What are you made of? I can’t wait to hear.

A Key To Happiness

Anticipation is one of my personal keys to happiness. No matter what, it’s important to always have something to look forward to. Luckily, that something doesn’t have to be big.

Sure, it’s amazing having an exciting trip to anticipate. Yet, it’s just as effective to look forward to browsing at the library or settling in on the couch with some popcorn and a movie this weekend.

I suppose this is why I like to plan as much as I do. I looked forward to my trip to see the Franklin Park lights starting the minute we scheduled it. Today I’m looking forward to a much needed tune up at the chiropractor. I lead such a glamorous life!

It is much healthier to dwell on the good in life so I’m always looking for ways to be more satisfied with what I have and to be generally more happy.

I’m also anticipating the start of my No Spend Challenge. Officially, it begins on New Year’s Day but I’m thinking Friday would be a great kick off day.

I have enjoyed months of excess – holiday shopping, eating out, travel and fun have again defined this year. At least the good has tied with the bad – the thyroid issue – for top billing.

I crave the quiet of winter and the calm that comes from a No Spend Challenge. Consequently, I’m excited to get started.

When I do this, I focus more on self care and relaxation. I go to bed early and cook nourishing foods. I read more and cozy up with a soft blanket more often. I am kinder to myself during a No Spend Month than any other time of the year. That doesn’t mean I don’t do anything. Part of this month involves decluttering, getting organized, picking up old hobbies or even trying something new.

If I adventure out of the house, it will likely be a cold Saturday hike on the way to the grocery store or maybe a morning getting lost at the library. But don’t worry. Adventure season will be here in a few months and I’ll be back at it sooner than you think!

It is incredible how full and beautiful life can be when you focus on appreciating what’s before you at home rather than constantly running around seeking more.

Stay tuned. I’ll write another day about my own No Spend Challenge rules and my perspective on what it really means. I was kind of surprised that this will be my sixth year in a row and I’ll tell you about how it all has evolved since that first year.

It wasn’t always so easy and I have never before anticipated January so eagerly as I do now. Just a couple more days of commitments and vacation fun and I’ll get started!

Make A List

Lists are a great way to keep track of the things that are important to you. They help you know what to pick up at the store, which chores to do when, and what to pack for that trip.

Lists are also powerful tools for getting your life on the right track. If you’re struggling to declutter life, here’s one way lists can help you. It’s a three step process.

1. Make a list of the things that matter to you.

2. Make a list of the ways you spend your time.

3. Compare the two lists and adjust accordingly.

Keep repeating this process until the two match.

This sounds simple but can be a surprisingly difficult thing to navigate. I began working on this years ago when my volunteer activities began to feel like a full time job that cut into my mental peace.

You can use this strategy for helping to know what to keep when decluttering, how to spend your money, how to use your time, and what’s next in life.

Give it a whirl and see what you think. You may be surprised at how the values you live by stack up to the values you say you have.

It’s worth a shot, wouldn’t you agree?

Nature As Sanctuary

When I think of time spent outdoors, the words that come to mind involve peace and solitude. As I have aged, I have come to recognize the outdoors as a place to seek spirituality and a connection to my own self.

The human spirit and heart need places that have not been altered by human progress. We need places where the only expectation is that we breathe.

Go to the forest. Walk until you can hear no more car engines or people talking. Plant your feet upon the ground and stand tall and with confidence like a rooted tree.

Close your eyes and breathe in and out slowly. Feel your blood pressure lower. Now open your eyes and lift your face toward the heavens. Watch as the wind rustles through the leaves above. Listen for the mighty bullfrog, the delicate cricket and the rhythmic woodpecker in the distance.

Listen. Look. Breathe. Repeat.

Study your surroundings and the way the light hits a hillside, transforming one patch of vegetation into something lovely, bright and vibrant in contrast to the other side of the hill which remains dark and mysterious.

Look down and notice the pebbles and dirt beneath your feet. Study the stray leaves and bird feathers along your path.

Do this enough and you will understand that you are traveling a path that is designed just for you. Not the one the world tries to tell you is right or that you imagined for yourself.

Your path, your peace, your soul.

People need natural spaces. People need the quiet of the forest. People need the bubbling rhythm of a stream to wash away their worries. People need clean air to cleanse their minds.

You need these things.

Trust me when I say that the stress, grief or other difficulties you face won’t magically go away just because you stand in the woods. However, your ability to cope and to face the challenges of your life will be infinitely improved when you spend time in nature.

Some people go into the woods to get lost. Personally, I go to find myself. I feel more like me when I spend time with nature.

It’s like a good workout, therapy and church service rolled into one. Don’t believe me? Go to the woods and find out for yourself.