In a week and a half I'll test for my Red Belt in Taekwondo. This represents a rank that I've long been intimidated by, and still am slightly. It's well beyond my initial goal when I began. The amount of material required for red belt testing is more than any rank I've advanced so far. Throw in a bunch of dive rolls and board breaking, and I still have a few things to pass off before testing, but I'm far enough along to know that it will all come together for testing.
This shows just the advanced belts, there are 12 belts total. If I keep testing at every opportunity, I'll be black belt recommended in December (I'm not sure when my final black belt testing will be). Basically everything I learn now is in preparation for black belt testing. It gets intense at this point, with more self defense demos coming up, as well as the sparring requirements. I began taekwondo just because I expected it to be hard, I wanted a challenge, something new. I didn't expect it to come naturally, I didn't even expect to be able to do it all. That has actually made it very fun. I also did it to get more of a backbone, and that is working. For those who know me in real life, don't be too surprised if you find that I do voice my opinion now and then or stand up for something. My online friends and readers may not think of me as wimpy, because I'm brave on paper, but in real life I've always been quiet, soft, and one who avoids confrontation at all costs.
I also do taekwondo simply because my body works, and I am thankful for that. I am thankful that I CAN. In my early twenties I was in nearly constant pain to some degree, mainly my lower back. I was also sick and tired most of the time, sleeping 11-14 hours a night, plus naps. I never would have thought anything like this was possible for me. I love proving my past self wrong, and proving that anything is possible if you are willing to sacrifice and work and take a leap of faith (or 20). I've been tested for Lupus, Multiple Sclerosis, and a few other doozies in my past, and I am ever so thankful to have a clean bill of health today. I'm 35, so maintaining that will take work from here on out. With age, it becomes harder to lose weight, harder to keep my immune system in balance, and harder to keep my hormones in balance, but I am optimistic and will continue to work at it. I want to still be kicking and doing yoga as a senior citizen, and that will take work and self-control.
My diet has improved significantly since figuring out and eliminating the source of wheat in my pills. My cravings are less, my appetite is less and for more healthy foods. I'm losing weight and feeling and looking better, and stronger. There's always more work ahead, no more coasting, but things are looking up! I haven't been cheating, and when I don't cheat, I lose weight, simple as that, thanks to Dr. D'Adamo's research (things used to not be so simple, but enough background for today!)
This is a long story, so here are the clif notes: if you are celiac or wheat sensitive only take prescriptions or over the counter meds that are guaranteed gluten free. Recheck them now and then too.
So after some cyst trouble with my former method of birth control, I went back on the pill. It was nice to be rid of the cysts, but it caused me to get a monthly migraine that put me out for a week at a time. I checked everything, changed everything in my diet and environment, changed types of pill (but same brand) even had my heart checked for defects that could cause migraines, but of course, the answer is always in the last place you look, and it was the first place I should have looked. Of course, I had other gluten symptoms that I blamed on other things, even eczema and a bit of dermatitis herpetiformis, which I blamed on trying some of my kids' gluten free oats. Then I finally thought to check my prescription, (TriNessa and MonoNessa), to find that they didn't claim it was gluten free, or that it wasn't. The starch could be from any source the feel like using, and perhaps wheat starch is getting cheaper due to food allergen labeling laws...more foods companies are sticking with corn starch. (P.S. my heart is in good shape).
So I stopped taking Nessa in the fourth week (the inactive pills) and my budding aura faded never to return. (I believe the inactive pills had the most wheat in them, as the DH flared up in that week as well). The name brand, Ortho, had been fine before, and is gluten free, but the Nessa generic is not. As elated as I am to be without migraines (and cysts), I'm appalled at how easily I could have prevented the migraine misery (one google search would have done it). I did not know wheat caused me to get migraines, although I probably had nearly-constant auras back before BTD wheat-freedom; I just didn't recognize them as migraines at the time.
A constant drip of wheat toxin is NOT a good thing. I feel like I could conquer the world now, without it, yet I'm still healing from all of its effects. I'm taking Deflect on an empty stomach a few times every day, with a little D-Mannose thrown in for good measure. My lower back still is a bit achy and I'm a bit emotional, so I'm looking forward to progress on those fronts in the coming weeks. My appetite has decreased (I was even beginning to crave wheat, without even knowing I was getting some, I'd forgotten how addictive it is! I still could never intentionally eat it, but the craving had been long since forgotten.)
So I'm a little angry, mainly with myself. Allergen labeling laws could be improved as far as medications go, too. Foods have to declare wheat, meds can leave it ambiguous. Fortunately some will volunteer the information. Check your meds! Whether you are new to wheat freedom and not getting the results you hoped for, or it is old hat to you and you may have even become complacent or forgettful about it, check them! At least I don't have to take very many pills, thanks to BTD, so that's less to check up on!
I found a picture of myself in 2004, after losing the baby weight from my first pregnancy, and then some, in preparation for the next pregnancy. (I gain 40 pounds per pregnancy regardless of compliance). I was almost a waif back then! You don't know what you got till it's gone, right? I'll get back there. I'm thinking of how high I'll be able to jump and how much easier black belt testing will be, my goal is to let go of the fluff by the end of the summer. That's easy when I stick to the diet. I'm going to start a bit of running, it's quick stress relief even if I only run a short distance, and it was one of my keys to weight loss before, just for the stress relieving aspect.
One of my dietary downfalls was having kids who are celiac and gluten sensitive...there are too many goodies in the house that won't make me instantly regret eating them. It's easier to have self-control while shopping, then the junk never makes it home. But when it's staring you in the face and you haven't had lunch yet and/or you're stressed out, that makes it a bit harder. Not too hard though, the choice is always mine to make. There are a few of their treats that will no longer make it into the shopping cart, on account of how much they tempt me, but they will still have plenty of other stuff to eat.
I am now the proud wearer of a red/blue belt in taekwondo! Testing day was a crazy one, and I ended up without lunch or dinner prior to testing, and with my kids in tow. I did make a green smoothie, which powered me much more than I anticipated: Water, one leaf of turnip greens, one whole key lime, a bunch of spinach, handful of cranberries, handful of frozen fruit (peaches, pineapples, blueberries), a spoonful of agave and a banana. Despite not having time to physically practice, and being on the tailend of a sinus infection, I found myself jumping and kicking higher than ever, and my focus was better than ever (had no choice but to focus intently or else my kids would make me lose focus entirely). I ended up winning an award for outstanding advanced rank adult tester...for a moment I thought I may have been the only adult tester in those ranks, but twelve and up counts as adult, so I don't think I was the only adult (but definitely the oldest one). I'm fourth gup, so four more tests before preparing for the big black belt test. That could be within the year, but it could be longer. I'll just keep pushing forward. The last of the major gymnastics is for my next test, which is intimidating, and once I get past that, there should be no stopping me. The sparring is also rather intimidating, but it sure does sharpen my skills. Earlier this month I got my first "breaking in" when it comes to sparring, because the class was small and so I got matched with teenagers with much more experience than me. That was interesting and hard, but it made a major difference in my skills and attitude, so I can see that it is necessary. By the time I totally switched into "fight mode", I was too exhausted to fight, but I did get some good kicks in at that point despite my fatigue. Then I had a hard time getting out of fight mode when it was time to go home. I have a bit of trouble balancing and controlling my autonomic (sympathetic and parasympathetic) nervous system, but I think it will improve with experience. I certainly feel more capable of handling a dangerous situation than I was before, but know that I could use plenty more practice.
Christmas went well, diet-wise, with only a slight bit of cheating over a very short period of time, but it was mostly made up of good choices. A few too many meals were skipped in the preparations, but that was somewhat made up for with green smoothies.
In many ways I don't want to review my year, because I don't feel like I've made much progress in many of the things I wanted to change about myself. At the same time, it was a healthier year than the previous one, and it has left me a stronger person: physically, mentally, and hopefully spiritually. So much of life is just raw endurance, and I found that I've got plenty of that raw material inside me. While I don't have a lot to show for most of my efforts, I cringe at the thought of what state I'd be in if I hadn't worked so hard.
Last week my taekwondo instructor got me turned onto the idea of green smoothies. She made one for us in class and it was pretty good, the best part was that it was edible and it made me feel really good. When I finally made it to the grocery store after a crazy week, I bought some of the ingredients that greensmoothiegirl recommends. While I don't agree with all the vegan raw stuff that Green Smoothie Girl recommends, I do like this smooothie and it is a great way to make sure I get more fruits and vegetables in my diet every day. (I've been a vegetarian, and that didn't work out so well, I could probably survive it with the nutrition knowledge I have now, but an O cannot thrive on a vegetarian diet).
For mine, I used one or two sprigs of mustard greens, a handful or two of spinach (a black dot for most explorers but neutral for me, you could use another neutral tasting green), a whole key lime (cut off ends), a TBSP chia seeds, and water, blend that all really well, then add frozen fruit of choice (I used the Costco blend minus the strawberries and honeydew), a handful of frozen cranberries (rinse them if you didn't before freezing), blend until just smooth, then add fresh fruit, like a banana, and sweeten to taste with agave. The mustard greens and lime give it a ginger-like flavor, which was kind of nice. I made the mistake of adding the key lime at the end, and it didn't get blended up enough without sacrificing the coldness of the frozen fruit, so I changed that to adding with the greens. Yesterday I made one when I didn't feel up to taking my kids to yet another Christmas party. I was tired and had a headache, but then I felt fine once I finished up that giant green smoothie.
Today the snow is coming down and I've got the stay-at-home-and-cook bug, so I'm making Ris a'lamonde. That is a traditional Scandinavian Christmas food, made with rice cooked in milk, then whipped cream added along with toasted chopped almonds and a whole almond (and a prize for whoever gets the whole almond). I'm making mine with almond milk (or almond cream, more like), instead of regular milk, and agave nectar instead of sugar, and almonds are neutral on my swami, so I get those. I don't have any cherry sauce yet, and may not go to the store to buy any cherries today, but they taste great on it as well.
I just took it off the stove, stirred in some almond extract and put it in the refrigerator. I won't be able to put in whipped cream, but the almond milk was so creamy and frothy that it may not need it. I have to test it out before Christmas, because my sister makes it every Christmas for the whole family, and I want to have some that my son can eat. The big question is which version will I choose? If my first taste test is any indication, I think I can be quite happy (and of cours, healthier) without the milk. By the way, yes, I do have a lot of Scandinavian ancestry, but the tradition really came because my sister served a mission for our church in Denmark. From that, we got the tradition of ris a'lamonde and aebleskiver (which turn out just fine with my type O gluten free pancake mix).
It's been a month since I blogged! Basically, I've just been moving forward and doing what I can. My son had a flu then a birthday, so that filled up last week. The week before that I tested for my blue belt in taekwondo! The belts are beginning to mean more to me as I am now in an advanced rank (5th gup). Up until now, the belts meant I just showed up. That is always important in life, to just show up, but now I feel like I'm also really accomplishing something. Most of all, I'm now proving my former self wrong. I never thought I could make it this far, and now that I have, I am going to go all the way.
I'm pleased to report that I can actually do a dive roll from being pushed and a break fall from standing, I'm getting the hang of sparring, and I know some mean self-defense. From a person who never did any gymnastics of any sort and especially no fighting, this is a big deal. All this from somebody who tends to get injured badly just by walking to the mailbox, and who used to be laid up for months from small injuries and back pain. It is so cool to have joints that can take a beating and be fine within a few days. I am so grateful that my body allows me to do all this. Do I get sore, yes. Do I get bruised and injured, yes. I do, and I love it.