Thankful Tuesday

Adventuring has been put on hold for the last couple of weeks as I focus on getting flower beds under control. I’m about halfway done but am hoping to work on weeknights this week to free up next weekend for something that doesn’t leave me dirty, battered, sun burned and covered in poison ivy.

It’s time to hit the open road and have some fun!

Meanwhile, I’m enjoying the exercise and the sense of accomplishment. It has been as good for my mental health as it has been for the flowers and, for that, I am grateful.

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.

A Bumper Crop

If anyone out there is in the market for poison ivy, honeysuckle or a nameless ground covering vine that will ruin your life, I have a bumper crop of them all growing right here in my yard.

After years of outright neglect, I woke up one day earlier this month and decided that I would finally transform my beds of invasive plants and weeds into something that can actually hold flowers.

So far, I’m about thirteen hours in and still going strong. I’m basically digging out everything and setting aside the plants I want to keep for easier access to the junk. Once a section is cleared, I go back to replant the things that stay. So it’s literally a few feet forward and a couple of feet backward.

The above pictured yard cart has been tamped down and piled high so many times, I lost track of the loads of debris carried off so far.

Surprisingly, I haven’t run out of steam or interest. It seems that this kind of physical labor has been good for my mind since all that digging, raking and tugging is good for working out aggression.

So, I come in filthy, tired and sore, popping a Tylenol on the way to the shower every evening. Plus, I have a sense of accomplishment as I fall into bed. That’s kind of neat too.

There’s something about ending your day covered in dirt to make you feel accomplished and better connected to the earth.

Lake Katherine In Spring

Lake Katherine State Nature Preserve has become one of my favorite places on earth. I had hiked there a few times over the years but it was always in the dead of winter or on sweltering Indian Summer days and always with someone else.

Last year I had a chance to explore solo and saw the place with new eyes.

The trails aren’t too long or too difficult for most hikers. But you can piece together a few trails for a longer experience. Each of them offers something outstanding to enjoy.

I stopped by after work one night earlier this month and was struck by how beautiful it is everywhere you turn. I was a little sad that I didn’t pack my camera that day because I saw a ton of birds, butterflies and dragonflies that my iPhone simply couldn’t manage. One dragonfly seemed to stick with me, providing unexpected company for several minutes.

It was a delightful end to a work day and much needed respite from life’s chaos. We all need that sometimes, don’t we? Remember this- there’s not much that can’t be fixed by fresh air in your lungs and dirt beneath your feet.

Here’s something I wrote about Lake Katherine last fall. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed composing it from the trail.