Sunday, February 8, 2015

Who I Am

You know how, over the years, you get used to how your body works? You tolerate discomfort and incorporate it into your personal belief about who you are or how you function.

For instance, for at least 30 years I've known that when I do any kind of cardio I sweat. A lot. Like in the 80s, when I would attend a step aerobics class, I knew the instructor was always keeping an eye on me. My non-stop perspiration factory, which started as soon as warm-up got underway, made me look like a medical risk. And through time, all the activities I love - hiking, tennis even kayaking - would open the sweat faucets. When we lived in Hong Kong, I had to carry a washcloth with me to mop up, just walking around the city streets. I was embarrassed but heck, I learned to laugh about it. Sort of. I figured, that's just who I am.

And the heartburn. Every day I chewed multiple Tums years before newfangled drugs like Ranitidine was available. It seemed like almost any food would bring on the unpleasant burning and burping of acid indigestion. Nasty business, and it was a godsend when I learned I could take one ranitidine or famotidine each morning and have a day without gastrointestinal distress. So what? That's just who I am, and I had a solution.

keratosis pilarisThe worst, though, was the rash on the back of my upper arms. Unsightly at best, often itchy and sore, it's called keratosis pilaris and is subcutaneous, and years of attempting to treat it with creams or abrasive scrubs or both did nothing except cause more inflammation and occasionally bleeding. I went to dermatologists and on internet bulletin boards (yes, that long ago) looking for answers and bought expensive products that never worked. I once had a massage therapist ask me if it was contagious. Ew. Sometimes it would subside for a day or two, but it always returned, so I filed my nasty rash away as untreatable, because the dermatologist said it was, and that's just who I am.

Even though I'm fairly active (definitely not sedentary) I've gained enough weight to put me close to my red flag point, the that's how much I weighed when I was 9 months pregnant number!  I figured, heck, I'm 64, that's what happens when you're post-menopausal. Everything s...l...o...w...s down. That's just who I am.

But I have friends who aren't 25 or 30 pounds overweight, and who aren't training for marathons either. So I thought, maybe this isn't who I am, and decided to do something about it. My big move was to stop eating everything wheat. I honestly don't know why - it just seemed like an easy first step. You know, get rid of all those evil carbs like bread and pasta. No pizza (hardest of all!) or english muffins. No "healthy" turkey on whole wheat sandwiches. I didn't change anything else, except replacing wheat products with more fruit and vegetables.

This became an easy habit, because for some reason I no longer craved those wheat-y carbs. I didn't know it, but I had gotten off the wheat-driven glycemic roller coaster. (That's a whole 'nother post.) After about 3 weeks, here's what else I noticed:

  • Excessive perspiration? Gone. I play tennis 3 times a week, and would come home sopping wet. Not any more. I can go to a meeting or shopping after a couple of sets and not look like I just stepped out of the pool! I go to an amazing Black Mountain gym, Ascending Fitness, 3 or 4 times a week, and always needed a towel to mop my face, arms and hands throughout a workout. Now I often forget the towel because I don't need it. Sweaty lady? That's no longer who I am.
  • Heartburn? Gone. I haven't popped a ranitidine in 2 months (except for the day I really wanted a slice of pizza and within 10 minutes was feeling the painful effects.) Acid indigestion lady? That's no longer who I am.
  • Keratosis pilaris? Gone. My arms are smooth, itch- and pain-free and I know I can wear sleeveless tops this summer without cringing. Ugly upper-arm rash lady? That's no longer who I am.
  • Weight? Let's just say it drops off slowly and steadily. I've lost about 15 pounds since early December 1 and think I need some new clothes. Fat, post-menopausal lady? That's no longer who I am.
Every time I noticed a new positive effect (it didn't happen all at once), I'd Google it and soon I connected the dots. This link says it all.

I honestly believe I'm less moody and, well, this next part is very personal, but here we go. Before going wheat free I had unusual potty habits, that, like the other issues, I incorporated into my who I am profile. I'd either have to go to the bathroom 4+ times before leaving the house in the morning or be constipated to the point of being incapacitated. Two years ago, while visiting my mother for Christmas, we had to postpone opening presents because of this. I once had to cancel a tutoring appointment because I couldn't leave the bathroom. I'm happy to report that my morning routine has been predictable and uneventful for a couple of months.

So - what is it? Gluten intolerance? Or is it because commercial wheat bears no resemblance to the wheat we consumed 50 years ago? Is the culprit wheat treated with chemicals and hybridized to guarantee bountiful crops? I dunno. Maybe it's both.

All I know is that I'm wheat-free and that makes me happier and healthier.

It's who I am.

1 comment:

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