Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A New Lease on Lifestyle

So tomorrow I'm going to the dietitian for the third time.  It's been kind of different that I expected and I thought I'd share a little about it on the blog.

First of all, I think this whole thing is a bit more involved than I realized.  I guess I thought I'd just go, we'd discuss healthy high calorie foods and then I'd come back in a month or something.  Maybe that was naive.  Because, um, no.  After my initial visit, I went back one week later and I'll continue to go every two weeks following until I gain the desired poundage. Secondly, there is this money thing.  The supplements and "medical food" and tests and labs and oh yeah appointments are expensive.  Fortunately, we're in a good situation financially and insurance covers some of it.  Finally, (and I really should have expected this), I'm supposed to keep a very detailed account of what I eat and strive to get certain established recommended servings from each of the various food categories on a by no means small list.

Really, though, even though it's kind of daunting and seems like a lot of work in a way, I know it will be worth it.  When I stepped on the scale right when I got to the very first appointment, I was two pounds down from my appointment with Dr. McMinn.  I was actually sitting right on the scary number that she stressed I not get below.  I'm not sure if a scale was off, I had on heavier shoes at my gyno visit, or (the most probable) the most recent dairy detox after trying to gradually (unsuccessfully) reintroduce it has really kicked my bootie.  Either way, it was enough to scare me and make me realize that this is worth the commitment.  When I get a little overwhelmed by the list (because um, I'm not much of a cook. or a meal planner. or a grocery shopper), I've also been trying to think back to Annie first year when I had to really work at keeping her on a strict schedule and making sure she ate lots of good solids plus nursed.  I was extra diligent about every feeding and for periods I had to wake her up at night.  I made most of her baby food and I never let her skip  her solids like I do with Graves sometimes.  I reminded myself that I could do that and I can do this.

I also think that this is going to be really good for me longterm and for our entire family. It's more than just about eating and not eating certain foods, this program (which is called First Line Therapy) is all about an overall healthy lifestyle.

The first thing we did focus in on, though, of course, was food.  Kelly (the nurse practitioner) and Kristin (her nurse) discussed the diet plan they had come up with for me.  My recommended caloric intake is at least 1800 and those calories need to come from an assorted variety of categories.  Here is my basic plan:

To explain the "medical foods"-- that is just a powder that can be put into shakes or smoothies or whatever.  It's full of protein and other good stuff that I need, especially since I'm going sans dairy these days.  Even without the lack of dairy, Kristin explained that breastfeeding in general "strips" you of nutrients, so really I think any nursing mom could benefit. You can also get the same supplements in the form of snack bars. 

Another thing Kelly recommended was some fish oil capsules.  Even though I am taking a calcium supplement, there are other nutrients that I'm missing by cutting out dairy.  One of these things (I don't remember what it's called) can even change how your brain works and could slow down it's functioning.  It can increase the occurrence of anxiety and depression, which as most of y'all know, I'm already at risk for.  Moreover, it could even effect Graves's brain development.  What a scary thought! 

We also talked about staying hydrated.  I know I don't drink enough water, but the requirements seemed really difficult.  I was concerned that it would be hard to drink so much water AND get the extra food in that I need.  I think it's going to be a gradual process and may need to include cutting back on the Cokes (now that I drink caffeine free, I like to indulge!).  Kelly said that's why my lips have been so chapped lately and why it was hard to find the vein to draw my blood- I've been dehydrated.

Then we discussed other lifestyle patterns- sleep, activity, and stress management.

Just like with Dr. McMinn, we talked about fatigue. I did explain that I attribute my profound tiredness more to the constant demands of two sweet little persons- and the occasional demands of one hunky big person ;) I also shared with them, re: the pallor, that I had not really been worried about it because I'm naturally fair and having had a baby in April, I didn't have a lot of tanning options this past Summer, as opportunities to be poolside just didn't seem practical.  However, I do understand that a better diet will obviously benefit me in this area regardless.

Next up was exercise.  While it's not advisable to start any marathon training right now or to do any super high calorie burning activity, Kelly said increasing my walking would help with my energy and my appetite.  Also, she said it would be good to get some small hand weights because after your fat is burn you start loosing muscle mass and then if you're not getting enough nutrients, it starts to effect your bones.  Right now, I'm at the muscle level probably.  ::Shutter::

The last thing we touched on was stress management and a lot of what we discussed was getting adequate rest, exercise and SUNSHINE.  I felt like I got a ton of helpful information!

I went back a week later and not only had I gained the two pounds back, they did a little body composition test they do every time and my numbers looked like they were really improving.  It measures a lot of different things, but the main things we focused on were my fat free mass, my intra-cellular water, and my overall cell health. My fat free mass went up, meaning I'm not just adding fat to my body. My intra-cellular water also went up, meaning I was more hydrated and my overall cell health went up, basically just meaning I was becoming more healthy. 

I'm kind of nervous about tomorrow's appointment.  With our big trip this past weekend and with a sick baby this week, I've been less diligent with everything.  I'll just have to get back on track this week. I'm really glad I have the tools now to do it!


The Niemeyer Nest said...

I found this very interesting especially since I am dairy-free too. I have never been on a diet in my life and have always been able to stay trim with little effort. Eliminating dairy has caused me to drop 8 pounds below my pre-pregnancy weight. I cannot really tell the difference but it must be significant because I get lots of comments. That's just to say that we do not always perceive ourselves the way others perceive us. Please share the important nutrient that can can cause problems with brain development. YIKES! Have you had any Halloween candy? That seems to be fine with Henry- he seems mostly intolerant of butter, cheese and milk! Just wondering if you were having that same experience with Graves.

Mary Louis Quinn said...

Sounds like you are headed down the right track! Is Omega 3 fatty acids what you were trying to think of? They are found in fish oil capsules but can also be found in flax seed. I put ground flax seed in things like smoothies and also in muffins or breads. It's easy and you don't even know it's there! I have a recipe for zucchini bread on my blog that you and AP would both probably like.

Sarah Broadus said...

this could be a huge part of your testimony as a mom. What we go through to get them here (natural birth) and the issues we deal with after (other than poopy diapers) take a pic now and in 3 months after doing this plan. compare your pics. It shows that you love yourself enough to make sure you are in the best health you can be for your family. Way to go SD. (oh and if you ever need a meal planner/grocery shopping buddy..give me a call! or a tweet!)