Assessing Your Health: Anti-Inflammation Challenge Week 1

On February 1st, we talked about journalling our health baseline and getting our anti-inflammatory plan together. Have you done it? If not, go do yours right now and then come back, or read on to see what my Assessment looks like if you need some inspiration.

Need even more motivation to do this? Just in case you missed this on Wednesday, Anti-Inflammatory Challenge participants can be entered to win a copy of either Nourishing TraditionsThe Paleo Solution, or The Primal Blueprint at the end of the month by commenting with their own progress and challenges on each of the Anti-Inflammation Friday posts (this is the first of four Friday posts).

Okay, here’s my assessment and plan.


Anti-Inflammation Challenge Baseline Health Assessment and Plan

1. Basics

How do you feel physically? Generally I feel fine. I have a lot of aches and twinges that I attribute to asymmetric carrying of a 22 pound child on my hip for much of the day and very little exercise. I’m tired a lot, which I attribute to not sleeping very much.

What physical concerns do you have?  Specifically, my diagnosis of an auto-immune-related skin disorder and my likely allergy to most common treatment for that condition. Generally, feeling like my body which used to be so strong and healthy has gone and fallen apart on me without my permission.

How do you feel emotionally? The unknown of how to respond to my recent diagnosis is stressing me out and the potential down-the-road complications scare me. I’m worried about my little boy and his weird blue hand thing. Finally, I’m frustrated that when I called my doctor to express my concern about the reaction I was (possibly) having to the medication she prescribed, she told me to find another doctor, in essence firing me as a patient and leaving me with another thing to manage.

Height: 5’9”

Weight: 165 (My “ideal” weight, what I weighed pre-baby-#2 and found very comfortable and easy to maintain when I was sleeping and getting to the gym, is 155. To all you ladies and gents out there that think 155 is a lot of weight, I’ve got one thing to say: muscle density counts.)

Before picture:

I sucked in my abs as hard as possible for this photo.

2. Current Lifestyle Assessment:

Hours of sleep/night: 4 to 7. Highly variable based on son’s waking schedule.

Typical sleep schedule: Chores and computer work until 11 or midnight. Asleep around midnight, usually awake between 4 and 6 am to nurse son, often continue to drowse while nursing.

Typical meals: Highly variable but generally healthy, I’d say. Almost no processed food. Almost everything homemade from whole foods. Dinners are usually salmon or meat, veggies and whole grains (rice, whole grain pasta, wheat berries, etc.). Lots of fruit – I love fruit! – fresh, frozen, dried or home canned peaches, berries, apples, pears etc. make up snacks. I garnish with lots of fermented foods like salsa, pickles, etc. Yogurt is used as an ingredient or on its own. We have the occasional homemade dessert. I eat a lot – very large portions. I have bread when I make it, and milk or cream in coffee. I use lots of fat: lard, butter, etc. for cooking. No soda and only rarely juice in the house, but I’ll drink a diet coke when I buy a Costco hot dog. I don’t make a lot of treats, like cookies, etc., but I tend to eat a lot of them if they are around (which is why I don’t make them often…).

Caffeine use: Frequent. 3-4 cups of coffee a day.

Alcohol use: More frequent than I’d care to admit. At least a small glass of homebrew or wine a night, but often 2 or 3 glasses.

Tobacco use: None.

Other drug use, prescription or otherwise: None.

Vitamins/supplements taken: None.

3. Anti-Inflammation Challenge Goals:

Diet plan: From Feb 1 – Feb 29, I plan to eat lots of veggies, meat, eggs, seafood and fruit with very limited quantities of dairy and legumes and no gluten. I’m going to drink lots of water and tea and stay away from caffeine (maybe one cup of coffee in the morning…), alcohol and sugar including, for now, “natural sugars” like honey, maple syrup, etc.

Exercise plan: Walk or task-on garden at least 15-45 minutes per day, attend the functional fitness class at my gym 2 days a week. Play with kids.

Sleep plan: Computer off by 10 pm; lights out at 11 pm latest. Ideal: computer off by 9 pm, lights out at 10 pm.

Other: Generally, I think most “supplements” give you little more than high-priced pee, but for the duration of February I will supplement with 2000 mg of Salmon Oil (600 mg of total omega fatty acids) and 4000 IU of vitamin D3.

I’d also like to rock this challenge to the best of my ability without having to buy a lot of new stuff. So as much as possible I’m going to try to make what we already have in the house work within the rules of the challenge as much as possible. Except for the coconut oil – I had to buy the coconut oil.

Finally, I will continue to make progress figuring out the proper steps to take in terms of treatment for me and my son.

4. Progress So Far

Since Feb 1st I have followed my outlined goals and I feel…well, pretty much the same, actually. But it’s only been two days. One shouldn’t expect miracles overnight. But one thing I noticed yesterday (Thursday) was a decrease in my hunger pains. I can get sudden and dramatic hunger pains – like I start salivating and need to eat now. Sometimes I even feel a little light headed. Usually it passes and its not that big of a deal, or I shove something in my mouth and then I’m fine. But I’ve noticed that I’m not hungry as often and I don’t feel that need to eat as critically.

I have definitely stuck to the diet. The only thing I’ve caved on is caffeine – I’m still having a large cup of coffee (without sugar or milk) in the morning.

The best part of the anti-inflammation challenge so far has been giving myself permission to drop the kid in childcare for 2 hours and just take a long, leisurely walk around my home town in the cold winter sunshine. I was by myself, with huge waves crashing up on the beach and the mountains clear and sparkly across the water. It was wonderful.

In terms of treatment goals, I have scheduled two appointments, one with a conventional doctor and one with a naturopath, to get alternative opinions on what the best course of action is at this point.


If you haven’t yet done your own health assessment, now’s the time. You can click the “Print/PDF” button under this post if you want to use mine as a jumping off place. The print feature will you to delete all the stuff that’s about me so you can fill in your own info.

So let’s hear it, Challenge participants – what is your primary goal from this Anti-Inflammation Challenge and how are you going to reach it?

Worst Soil Amendment For Tomatoes?
Refactoring In The Garden

Comments

  1. Wow, if this is your before photo for this challenge, you look great! I started on a health change a couple of weeks ago and at the (almost) end of week one, I was feeling discouraged: no change in feelings (I thought), weight basically the same, and a bitterness that I couldn’t have a beer or wine was strong. Now I will have week two almost completed (Monday) and I have lost 5 pounds, heartburn gone, cravings gone. I am looking forward to the workouts. I have always despised those weight charts. I really feel like they are geared towards a small segment of the population. I am much shorter than you and 140 is a great weight for me. Those charts tell me I am in the “overweight” range. I like how I feel at 140-145 and I think I look ok.

    One area I think that really contributes to our health is stress. Not just the obvious stress (e.g. financial worries, health concerns, stressful bosses, etc.), but the less obvious ones (traffic, bad air, weather, noise or light pollution and so on).

    Much luck to you! You will definitely start feeling a change in a week or so!

    • Gina: re, charts: Those things are a crock of manure. When I was in the absolute best shape of my life, at 150 pounds and 12% bodyfat (the picture in this post was taken then: http://www.nwedible.com/2011/07/being-everyone.html) I could find weight charts that said I was borderline overweight. In actuality, I was borderline underweight, and was certainly overtrained. Body composition and overall physical capacity (ie., are you strong) is a far more effective way of measuring overall health and fitness, imho.

  2. You put up these posts at about the right time. I don’t think I can do the anti-inflammatory diet, though. I just found out I have sky-high cholesterol! I’m in my early 30s (it’s partly hereditary)!! The doctor said get it under control, or I “get” meds. So, no red meat for me. But I’m trying to balance this with an ulcer problem. So, no oranges either.

    Physically I’m a little out of shape. I’m 5’8″ and 160lbs. I live a mostly sedentary lifestyle but have been building up to a strenuous training program. I just have to start slow and watch that I don’t injure anything. (I’m training because I need to be in shape for the house I’m building this summer.)

    Emotionally well, I’m not ignoring the problem. But I am ignoring the emotions that come with it. I just figure my problem’s not hopeless and I can probably do something about it so there’s no point in addressing any lurking fear about dying of a heart attack at 35 and leaving my son without a mother. No point at all. I’m far better off concentrating on the problem at hand.

    Diet? Well, I’m not a rabbit food person. But I’m eating kale anyway, ’cause I have to. I really have to watch the frequency and the amount though – I already couldn’t get too hungry or too full as either one can cause intense stomach pain.

    Oh the horrid complications. Sorry for going on about it, but I’m still suffering from sticker shock as I only discovered the cholesterol problem two days ago.

    No before body shots for me – I don’t look as good as you do!! But there will probably be an after one when I’m hoping I get my 8-pack Army abs back. Hooah. :)

    ~Beth

    • Tammie Haley says:

      Beth, I think you are doing a great job turning things around for you body. I think you are doing exactly the right thing to get your cholesterol under control. Exercise is a huge help and you are doing just that. Perfect that you are building up slowly. It is much easier to keep building up to where you want to be. Eating foods with a lot of healthy fiber, natural plant based oils and fresh herbs/veggies and fruit do so much for turning around the cholesterol as well. As for red meat? Well, I see mixed things when reading the research. I think the biggest problem is a lot of our red meat hasn’t been raised organically and grass fed. Most research hasn’t been about the effects of organic red meat, but rather red meat as a whole. Sure too much of anything is never good. You could try small amounts some of the other red meats (like lamb, elk, and bison) these usually don’t spark inflammatory responses to our systems. Wish you the best on this great change you are working on.

      • Thanks, Tammie. I am in agreement about the overprocessing of meat that we find on grocery store shelves. But I almost never buy red meat (maybe 2x/month) and can’t afford organic. I can’t wait to get out of the city this summer so I can raise my own livestock. Well, after I build the house. I think I’m going to have to eat by the numbers though – paying close attention to the foods I can eat in regards to my stomach problem, and then determining which combinations of foods give me the necessary nutrients etc. It’s a pain, but better than a massive heart attack in 10 years. Or two, or whenever.

    • I know what it’s like to get blindsided by a problem you didn’t know you had. Totally get it. :) Sounds like you’re out of shape in the same way I am – compared to a previous *really in-shape* benchmark. I’m not in any way a medical person but I would strongly encourage you to look at the effectiveness of any cholesterol medication *on women in your age range*. It is my understanding that there is very little evidence to support cholesterol lowering medication in people outside of a pretty narrow range, ie, men in their 50s-70s. Just something to consider and potentially look into. And I’m not a woo-woo person about science with an alternative agenda, but all drugs have side effects and those should be weighed against the real likely effect for you. Ok, getting off the soapbox….all done now. :)

      • Erica, well, on the plus side, we can commiserate. I don’t want to take any drugs either; especially as the statins are supposed to have nasty side effects. I believe in controlling most things through diet if at all possible, (not that I’m communing with nature naked around the maypole or anything) and drugs will ultimately only lead to more problems or a drug regimen. But try telling that to the VA, I might as well be going to the free clinic for all the respect I get for not wanting to take meds there.

  3. First, I want to say that if your doctor “fired” you, you’re better off finding a new doctor anyway.

    Here’s my (long) plan, based on what you wrote:

    1. Basics
    How do you feel physically? Mostly, I feel ok. I get migraine headaches and haven’t found any definite triggers other than wine, which I don’t drink now. My right shoulder and right hip sometimes ache, but I attribute that to poor sleeping posture and being right-side dominant in all I do.

    What physical concerns do you have?
    Migraine headaches to the tune of 6 to 10 days a month (2 to 3 consecutive days, 2 to 3 times a month). I treat the pain when it happens with Rx meds, but would prefer to have fewer or no headaches so that I don’t have to treat them. I have hypothyroidism being controlled by medication because I no longer have a thyroid gland. I have seasonal allergies, mostly to pollen. I have osteopenia for which I take Boniva once a month. The aches in my shoulder and hip mentioned above are generally tolerable, but I would prefer not to have them.

    How do you feel emotionally?
    I have typical mom/wife/homemaker stress. We suspect our granddaughter, who lives with us, has ADD/ADHD or a similar condition. Dealing with her can be very stressful at times Our insurance is great, but pays nothing at all toward mental health. Trying to find a mental health doctor who is both affordable and doesn’t have a months-long waiting list is stressful.

    Height:
    5’7”

    Weight:
    162. I am happy with my weight. I spent many years, from childhood until my late 30s, looking waif-like and malnourished. I hated it. I found out in my late 30s that I had an overactive thyroid gland, which kept me from gaining weight. Since that was remedied, I am now “normal”, IMO. I am a bit squishy, but not fat. I feel much more feminine than I ever did when I was thin. I like my weight now and while I don’t intentional try to keep it on, I hope to not unintentionally lose much of it. I don’t think I ever want to weigh less than 150 again.

    2. Current Lifestyle Assessment:

    Hours of sleep/night:
    6 to 8. I don’t feel well when I get more or less sleep. When I need it, I take a melatonin supplement to make sure that I get enough sleep.

    Typical sleep schedule:
    Most often I turn out the light at 11 p.m. and rise at 6 a.m. I try to stick to this schedule even on weekends, but often stay up later and sleep later, much to my detriment.

    Typical meals:
    Lots of variety, but probably healthier than most Americans. Proteins include venison, locally/humanely raised pork, and free-range eggs, all from within our county. We eat free-range, organic chicken occasionally. Some shrimp, some fish, some processed brats and smoked sausage. Dry beans. Homemade bread that is half white flour, half whole grains. Whole grain pastas. Other whole grains like rice and quinoa. Some fruit and berries, but more veggies, many of which are grown in our backyard. Homemade yogurt and kefir. Kombucha. Full-fat dairy products, but not usually organic or raw. No soda purchased at home, but we’ll have it when we eat out if we want it (we don’t eat out often). Fats include lard, bacon drippings, real butter, coconut oil, peanut oil, olive oil, and I don’t hesitate to use them. Almost no cold/boxed cereals – exceptions are bran cereals and granola. Very few baked goods and little candy, but on holidays/birthdays, anything goes. No artificial sweetners. White sugar, cane juice crystals, agave nectar, honey, molasses in baked goods and drinks. No wine, but beer and bourbon. Salty snacks are our weakness, but our favorites are plain potato chips, plain tortilla chips and popcorn. We try to stay away from cheese puffs, powdery flavored chips and microwave popcorn.

    Caffeine use:
    Frequent. Coffee and tea throughout the day until supper (and my tea is very strong). No caffeine for me after about 5 p.m., but my husband still has it that late. Our granddaughter consumes very little caffeine.

    Alcohol use:
    As much as 2 serving of beer or bourbon a day, but often much less than that. I abstain more days than I drink.

    Tobacco use:
    None. My husband and I quit smoking 10 years ago.

    Other drug use, prescription or otherwise:
    No illicit drug use. Prescriptions include Boniva for osteopenia, Synthroid as a thyroid replacement and Zomig for migraine pain. Inderal to help keep migraines less frequent and less severe. OTC Allegra as needed for seasonal allergies. Occasional OTC drugs such as ibuprofen, decongestant, etc.

    Vitamins/supplements taken: Daily multi-vitamin, Vitamin D, taurine. Melatonin when needed to promote sleep.

    3. Anti-Inflammation Challenge Goals:

    Diet plan:
    I won’t be making many changes in February, but hope to use more natural sugars in place of white sugars, including honey, molasses, agave, cane crystals, etc. I would also like to reduce the amount of sugar I use in my tea (I don’t use it in coffee). I plan to continue eating meaty meals as we have been, but will try make sure grain products are whole grain and that veggies are plentiful. Although I already use the fats listed on the Primal diet pyramid, I plan to drop out some of our peanut oil and replace it with coconut oil.

    Exercise plan:
    This is where I could make improvements. I am sedentary by nature and don’t enjoy most sports. I do, however, like hiking, walking and dancing. I am going to try to incorporate more of these activities into my day, even if it’s just for 10 minutes or so.

    Sleep plan:
    I like my 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. sleep schedule, but I need to be better about sticking to it. I’ve had several nights lately that I didn’t get to sleep until midnight and several weekend mornings when I slept more than 8 hours and felt sluggish. I want to avoid those scenarios if I can.

    Other: I want to be more conscientious about what I’m eating. Even if I don’t make many changes, I want to stop and take notice of what I’m eating and not just gorge on a bag of chips thoughtlessly.

    Like Erica, I want to use what we already have on hand before I buy a lot of new items. I did, however, by some cane juice crystals to use in tea and will buy more honey, molasses or agave if needed.

    4. Progress So Far
    After just two days, I haven’t done much other than make plans. But I do notice a feeling of well-being from our meals, not because I’ve changed anything, but because in seeing the Primal pyramid (my first time to see it), I was pleased to have confirmation of many of the things I’m already doing.

  4. Tammie Haley says:

    So you know those hunger pains you used to have an that dizzy feeling. That is a sugar crash. It is a prediabetic condition. Your body was saying you had eaten a large amount of simple sugars, it processed it quickly and now there isn’t enough sugar in your body to deal with the insulin still around. Your blood sugar levels got too low. With this new diet you are not dumping a lot of simple sugars into your body so you are on a more even level. As for the caffeine, your brain make receptors specifically for caffeine. If you don’t get enough then the brain starts producing signals that you NEED more. It works just like a drug addiction. You can either go cold turkey and deal with 3-5 days of feeling awful as your body decreases the receptors or you can wean yourself off more gradually. Like 1/2 cup less for 2 days then another 1/2 cup less for 2 days. I assume you are drinking organic coffee. This has a lot less residual chemicals in. Hope some of this information helps. I think you look great. Keep up the great work. And yes, the Vitamin D (3) and Omega 3 and 6 really do help. You could try cooking more with sunflower oil, olive oil, flax seed oil and not taking the Omega 3/6 suppliments. It is really the same thing just not in a capsule.

    • Thanks Tammie, great info. Yeah, I’m pretty up on things like blood sugar, the glycemic index, insulin resistance, etc. The light-headed “must eat!” feeling was primarily a first-thing-in-the-morning occurrence, and it wasn’t every day. There are very few simple sugars in my diet. Almost none, most days, actually. So, to be frank, I suspect finishing off the evening with a few glasses of wine was basically priming me for a massive sugar crash the next morning…since wine is pretty much juice for grown ups. :) I’ve broken myself of caffeine addiction before and I feel *great* when I do – no late afternoon slump. But, honestly, we’re gonna have to go baby steps on the coffee, mostly because my life (kids, etc.) will not allow me to be a raving asshole for 3-5 days until I get that stuff out of my system, and it’s enough to de-habituate myself to the wine and homebrew right now. ;)

      • Tammie Haley says:

        Yeah that “adult juice” will do just what you said. With the ethanol and the natural simple sugars found in wine, it will set up an insulin spike. Sounds like you figured it out though.
        I really don’t know if I could easily give up my one cup of coffee. Other than herbal tea I really don’t drink much else.
        I can’t wait to hear more about how you like the new eating plan. It will be interesting to see what work and doesn’t work for you.

  5. Have you thought about the Bastyr Clinic? It may not be as close as you want….

    • That’s where I have my naturopath appointment scheduled, actually.

    • Thank you, I’ve recently been seairhcng for information about this subject for a long time and yours is the best I have came upon till now. But, what in regards to the bottom line? Are you positive concerning the source?|What i don’t realize is actually how you are now not really a lot more smartly-favored than you may be right now. You are so intelligent.

  6. Vestpocket Farmer says:

    Okay; just finished the assessment and saved it as a doc on my desktop. I’ll be putting sticky notes up around the house today to support the plan, filling my vitamin sorter and dragging out the tv/vcr and tapes.
    I’m being fairly gentle with myself about this…I am a child of the Universe no less than the trees and the stars, you know. :-D Besides—I really need this to be doable, I need to accomplish this. Precedent is good.

    • Good job Vestpocket. This is not about killing ourself or going crazy, but being kind to ourselves just like we would to any other animal in our care. I know you would give any livestock or pet in your care only appropriate and healthy food, and would prevent them from eating things that would harm them, and would make sure they had plenty of fresh air and free range time and space to move as appropriate, etc. Basically, for one month, we’re going to treat ourselves with the same respect we treat our animals and just see what happens. Good on ya.

      • Vestpocket Farmer says:

        Well, THAT went straight to the center of my brain.
        –0-O–

        Puts the whole thing in a new perspective. Yah.

  7. Hi Erica,

    I applaud your effort!! I started the Paleo diet on January 2nd and feel great. I have no desire to go back to my old eating habits. The one thing I didn’t give up in January is “adult juice”. My goal for February is to continue on the Paleo path and eliminate alcohol for the month. I have noticed over the last few weeks that my body is not handling a glass of wine or bottle of beer very well. I am not sure if it’s the change in eating habits, but my body is trying to tell me something. I look forward to following your monthly challenge.

    • Hi Janell – I have yet to meet someone who’s done paleo/primal and not said, “I lost weight and feel awesome.” The wine is hard…I’m being strong about the wine but caving about the coffee…for now! :) It’s amazing, when you start listening to your body it’s voice has a tendency to get louder, doesn’t it?

  8. Ah, homework for me when I get home. But hey, I just got a new laptop so it’ll be fun!

    And in our house we call it “no-no juice” per Community.

    • Did you do your homework? ;) Hope you’re rocking your laptop. Thanks for participating, Amy.

      • Several episodes of Glee and one of Grimm later, here it is! And yep, the refurbished Mac is awesome!
        Anti-Inflammation Challenge Baseline Health Assessment and Plan
        1. Basics
        How do you feel physically? Ok, but not great. Less energetic than I’d like. Also, I took a hike a few weeks ago and realized I got winded incredibly fast.
        What physical concerns do you have? Joint issues, as I have bad knees, and I need to get them evaluated to see what’s really wrong with them. During a recent doc in the box trip for an ear infection the nurse practitioner said my blood pressure was a little high. Overall health worries, as I’m heading into my late 30s and I’ve never been good about preventative health maintenance. I need an overall health assessment.
        How do you feel emotionally? Kind of stressed, mostly about money. And stressed a bit about my weight because I’ve spent my life since I hit adolescence being at least slightly overweight and I’m tired of it. I’ve never really tried to lose weight/get in shape and I’d to see how I do.
        Height: 5’4”
        Weight: 190 lb.
        Before picture: Need to get one in the daylight

        2. Current Lifestyle Assessment:
        Hours of sleep/night: 6 – 7, but I’m getting up too late because I’m not going to bed on time.
        Typical sleep schedule: Finishing up my shift at my second job or a practice or class, then needing a few hours to unwind before I go to bed and usually eating dinner late because of that.
        Typical meals: Breakfast: egg muffins with cheese and veggies and a piece of fruit ,or yogurt with honey and fruit or nuts. Snack: mixed raw veggies and some cheese cubes Lunch: leftovers, soup, chicken or egg salad and crackers; salad or coleslaw; fruit or a sweet Dinner when I cook: baked chicken; soup; pasta and veggies, Italian sausage, shrimp, baked fish, occasional roasts or more elaborate dishes. Usually served with a simple cooked veg such as kale, brussel sprouts or cauliflower. Quick dinners are usually a sandwich, quesadilla or leftovers. Snacks are tortilla chips and salsa, potato chips, cheese, occasional baked goods, chocolate. If I’m at my second job a salad, sandwich or bagel. We usually eat out one dinner and one lunch a week.
        Caffeine use: 1 cup a day (12oz)
        Alcohol use: a few beers and mixed drinks a week
        Tobacco use: None, I quit 10 years ago.
        Other drug use, prescription or otherwise: None.
        Vitamins/supplements taken: None.
        3. Anti-Inflammation Challenge Goals:
        Diet plan: My aim is to cut out most or all of the refined flour and sweets I eat at home and to up the amount of veggies we eat, cooked and raw. Investigate new ways of cooking lean meats and beans. Experiment with fermenting dairy products (my SO has the veggies covered, he’s on a kraut kick). Try more grain free baking. Stop eating out of boredom, watch snacking, and when eating out go for local, quality restaurants. Track my food so I can really see what I’m eating.
        Exercise plan: I belly dance, so dance class, practice or a yoga, dance or exercise video 5 times a week. Supplement with hikes and walks.
        Sleep plan: Lights out by noon on week nights, and hopefully before that so I can get up earlier on work days because I’ve been cutting it close in the mornings
        Other: Look into Omega 3 supplements.
        4. Progress So Far
        Er, okay. It was a tough week because I had something going on after my day job every day and meals were totally off. I have been tracking my meals, but I’m working on using up food in my house so I’m not totally off all the things I’m trying to eliminate. And I need to pick up a pressure cooker for easy bean cooking.

  9. This is so timely for me! (Thanks for the challenge!) I am 47, 5’7″ and about 30 pounds over my comfortable weight of 140. I’m concerned that I always used to be 5’8″ and don’t know where that extra inch went, I’m tired ALL the time, even if I manage to sleep 10 hours, I have to drag my ass through the day. I don’t exercise, at all, except for big work days on the farm. I’m getting married in May and have the most gorgeous dress, except for the fleshy parts of me that bulge out here and there. I am in serious need of toning. :-) My issues are my love of good cheese, bread, nuts and micro-brews! I started my own challenge in January, working more at adding things in, than taking things out. So far, I haven’t bought a loaf of bread (making whole/organic of my own and eating very little of it), and have doubled the amount of water and produce consume. I got the most beautiful Keen walking shoes, but have yet to use them. :-( Since January 1, I have lost 6 pounds as of today. It’s time to kick it up! (ps-I spent all day trying to decide if I would post this or not…I don’t even want the books, I just want to hold myself accountable. That’s the hardest part for me. I wish I had the balls to post a sport bra photo-LOL!)

    • Forthright and awesome starting point, Pam. Congrats on your upcoming wedding. It sounds like you are making awesome steps. 1.5 pound/week fat loss is actually a really nice pace…keep that up for 14 weeks (assuming your wedding is mid May) and you’ll need to take your dress in substantially because you’ll be 20 pounds lighter! I’m glad you ponied up and posted – we’re all in this together.

  10. Talk about hotness! I can’t believe you’ve had kids with that kind of ‘Before’ picture.
    It will be interesting to see how your anti-inflammatory challenge goes…looking forward to more updates :)

  11. I just recently discovered your blog. It is ironic you are doing the anti-inflammatory diet. I was finally diagnosed in late November with an auto-immune disease that affects my skin after suffering since summer. I’ve had little help from the medical community other that I need to be on antibiotics indefinitely. My other options were harsh drugs or surgery. The most positive information I have found on my disease is in the internet community with those who have used diet to keep it under control. I did research on the anti-inflammatory, SCD and the GAPS diet. I’ve been on a hybrid of the three since my diagnosis. It wasn’t too hard since I already ate good foods. I just had to cut out my indulgences that I allowed because I did eat so good ;). I have realized that sugar including alcohol, gluten, dairy and some acidic foods can be triggers for me. I felt the best when all carb except those found in veggies were eliminated. Although I have back slided into some GF breads and rice. I tried to eliminate caffeine but have settled on one cup of coffee. I also have incorporated lots of turmeric and ginger in my cooking along with fresh garlic, which I take first thing in the morning like a pill. I think the bone broth found in the GAPS diet is also an important component. I feel the answers to controlling my condition lie in following a strict diet. Although it is hard to stay consistent and I love to cook using whole foods from our garden. I have a son with autism and one with asthma. The Universe has been putting me on this path of whole foods as medicine for years knowing it would be fundamental for me and my entire family’s health…I discovered you through listening to the growing your grub podcast.

    • I love what you are saying, and it sounds like we’re in a very similar situation with the auto-immune skin condition. I’m going to look into GAPS and see what of that to incorporate for myself. Bone broth and ginger are always welcome around here. Thanks, and welcome to the blog! (I loved talking with Steve at Growing Your Grub – he’s so nice!)

  12. Max Morgan says:

    I take Tumeric capsules (3x/day) and use Frankincense essential oil (2 drops/3x/day) for inflammation and pain management. Here’s a link that explains their efficacy:

    http://naturalmedicinejournal.com/article_content.asp?edition=1&section=2&article=235

    • Thanks Max, the naturopath recommended turmeric. I thought I’d just swallow some 3x/day but that got really old after 2/3rds of a day. I’ll see if “pill form” is, literally, easier to swallow.

      • sandy dolan says:

        Hey Erica,
        The Turmeric capsules are the way to go–I’ve been taking them for over a year, and they really help the inflammation. The other supplement I stand by is red krill (much easier to take than sod liver oil–too gross for me), and it also helps with the *bad* cholesterol. I have lupus (diagnosed in 1990), and I’m always looking for a way to keep the pain meds at a minimum, so thanks for the blog and the challenge. I’ll be doing my *homework* here shortly.

  13. Catherine says:

    First off, I want to make sure that those who posted that they will be using honey make sure that it is LOCAL honey, not purchased at the big box stores. Testing has indicated that MOST honey purchased in stores is from .. gulp .. CHINA! Additionally, it has no pollen in it indicating that the bees are simply being fed sugar water and converting it into something LIKE honey but with no of the healthy components that honey has.

    That said, at 49 and with a 3 year old I’m feeling pretty healthy. However, there are the aches and pains associated with being out of shape, and having had back surgery 8 years ago. I also am hypothyroid and take daily meds for that and have ulcerative colotis and take meds 2x’s daily for that (hate that!). So many healthy foods are unavailable to me due to the colotis .. milk, some dried fruits such as prunes, raisins, craisins, etc. but the more dense fruits seem to be ok such as apple and mango. Also many grains such as wheat bran and oatmeal. Makes for a challenge to eat at times.

    I don’t go by the “charts” for weight/height either as they always said I was underweight. At 5’8.5″ (was 5’9″ before surgery) and 145 pounds, it seems small but I have a VERY small bone structure for my height and am actually a good 15 pounds over weight … I know, sounds crazy but I spent most of my adult life at 122-125 pounds until I met my husband and always had sooo much energy. My weight crept up to 132 by the time we married a year later and when I got pregnant with my first I went up to 170. I fought my weight from then on at between 140-150 but had finally gotten it back down to 132 and finally felt great AND had lots of energy when I got pregnant with my second child (funny thing was had SEVERAL miscarriages between them and finally had a viable pregnancy ONLY after I reached a lower weight!)

    Life is stressful with a 9 year old with ADD and a 3 year old who just hit his terrible 2′s, a second house that needs to be finished so it can be rented (2 mortgages until then!) and a hubby who wants to sit in front of the TV more than do things aroun the farm .. oh, did I mention I turned our 2 acres into a working farm .. over 40 fruit trees, veggie garden, berries, grapes and chickens? Yes, my life is full … too full for the time I have in a day, thus I am lucky to get 6 hours of sleep in a night.

    Additionally I have Runyauds (sp) disease which causes constricting of blood vessels in cold weather so I am a fair weather gardener, aching to get out as soon as I see the sun. Due to really cruddy weather and non-stop deer damage last year I didn’t get in the garden to work hard at all and am in bad physical condition (for me). I’m still huffing my 3 year old little 35 pounder around like he weighs 10 pounds, carry the 40 pound chx feed bags around, etc. but am out of breath when I do too much arobic exercise. I also have seasonal allergies and take meds as needed for that. I take daily Omega-3 (and notice when I don’t … brain fog) and vit. D as well as a cranberry pill to keep away bladder infections.

    We eat very healthy although I could do a better job of eating more regularly … I think my biggest problem is not eating enough .. it makes your body think it needs to go in starvation mode and store fat. I just don’t get hungry very often so I have to remind myself to eat meals. My goal is to get the exercise I need on a daily basis, eat more veggies/fruits and get our other house finished and rented to relieve the financial stress that I am constantly feeling. Our eldest is on meds for ADD … didn’t want to put him on meds but he as having a horrible time concentrating in school he was coming home crying and the meds have done WONDERS for him in school and at home and additionally we are working with a child psychlogist to help him cope better.

    I think that covers the items noted. Obviously I am under some pretty good stress … turned around in the mirror this morning and had a cold sore from one hour to the next! Time to get some stressors out of my life! Calling a contractor to get that house done first thing tomorrow! Thanks for making me thing about these things!

  14. Be sure to check out the GAPS diet for healing your gut. No amount of proper diet will work if your gut is damaged.

  15. I found you and the anti-inflammatory challenge through a friend on Facebook, who knew that I am working to treat inflammation through natural supplements and diet right now. I have poly-cystic ovarian syndrome, which causes insulin resistance, and increasingly over the last 6 months is causing me painful inflammation on a daily basis through out my body. I am anti-pharmaceuticals that treat pain because my mother died of pain pill addiction (I wonder if she had what I have and never knew how to treat it in a healthy way). So I’m researching all I can about the healthiest approach to becoming pain free.

    It’s just really great to not feel alone in this journey. I am joining you on the challenge, though may not post often.

    Thank you for shining your light in the world in this way.

  16. Darling, with a BEFORE picture like this, who needs an AFTER? Get some more sleep but don’t mess with perfection.

  17. It makes ashamed of myself that when I read your weight and saw your picture, my first thought was “well, fuck you!” It feels incredibly unfair to me that after two (or was it three? I haven’t been reading very long) children, you look so beautiful and fit. I am just about to turn nineteen, am five feet and four inches tall, and weigh 220 lbs. I haven’t weighed less than 209 since I was 15 Yeats old, and now I worry about whether I ever will again. Because I have a major hormonal disorder, i continue to gain weight even though my diet is nearly identical to my boyfriend’s, who weighs 140 lbs and looks like an Abercrombie and Fitch ad.
    So, my reaction to this post was to want to hate you. But then my second reaction was to be ashamed for hating you. You are doing a wonderful thing by taking care of yourself so well.

    • Actually, I weigh more now than I did when this photo was taken. No, that’s not accurate…I’m BACK to the same weight, after putting on almost 15 pounds from the stress of 2012, which was not a great year for me. So sadly this anti-inflammation diet was not the turning point I had hoped, and I’m starting up again fresh with a focus on my health here in early 2013.

      I don’t know what your situation is re: your hormonal disorder, and obviously that is going to complicate things and make things harder, and I’m sure you are under a doctors care. But I do know that 19 is not the end or the peak or anything like that. I was overweight at 19, and 20, and on and on. In fact, I was a size 16 when I got married at 21 and weighted 200 pounds when I got pregnant with my first child. I was 260 pounds the day I delivered her, and re-stabilized after the delivery at 220. It took five years of consistent, progressive changes in the way I ate and the way I moved to go from 220 to 150 lb. I looked hotter at 30 than I did at 20. So just know that how you look at 19 does not define you for the rest of your life.

      Also, most relatively active 19 year old males can eat an entire cows worth of hamburgers, 15 doughnuts, 47 pizzas and 4 gallons of milk every singe day and still look like they could stand to bulk up a little bit. It does no good to compare yourself to or base your diet on someone with natural testosterone and human growth hormone levels so high that they mimic illegal steroid use in any other context. Good luck to you, Rowan, thanks for reading.

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