Saturday, October 25, 2008

Get On the Ball

After eliminating most of the foods to which I'm sensitive as well as soy (more on that later) I have noticed a significant reduction in runny/stuffy nose and lethargy - both are common reactions to foods the body is sensitive or allergic to. The headaches, on the other hand, had lessened in severity but were still occurring regularly.

Two weeks ago my co-worker swapped her desk chair for an exercise ball. She had visited a local green design firm where all employees were using them. After mentioning this to my acupuncturist, she recommended using it to see if it would prevent headaches. "One of the worst things we do is start putting kids in chairs at school. The body isn't designed to sit that long." And most people essentially do this until they retire! Imagine all the stiff necks!

She then felt around my neck and found the stiff muscles that were related to regions where I had recurring migraines. Virtually all of my migraines were in my left temple and behind the eye. My left neck muscles were particularly tight.

For $20 I can say the exercise ball has been the cheapest and one of the most beneficial investments in my health. I've been on the ball for two weeks and I haven't had a headache! I had no idea how crucial good posture was to health. Did I mention that being on the ball is fun too? Or that your abs will be amazing? Or that stronger abs/core will protect your back? Or that it might even help your mood? Or that you can literally tell your boss you're "on the ball?" :P

What are you waiting for?

Note: I purchased the Reebok exercise ball at Target. They sell them in three sizes by your height. $20 bucks gets you a dvd, pump and of course, your fun new chair!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Saving Face

I've been MIA on the blog scene trying to save my face. Although I had evaded the dreaded teen sheen (acne) a mild form of it found me in my late-twenties, making its way to my forehead and chest. WTF. Aside from the embarassment it was frustrating to feel that nothing I tried was working.

I worked out (release the toxins!), showered regularly and exfoliated, ate what I thought were good foods, and used what I thought were efficient skincare products (proactive, mud masks, holistic facial lotions - I tried a lot of variations). Didn't work well. Dermatologists prescribed creams that bleached my clothes. I didn't stick with them long enough to see if the bumps would flee. Then I discovered something...

During a recent two-week detox experiment, where I only consumed fresh juices and whole fruits/vegetables, I noticed that in three days my skin was amazingly clear. I had my first clue!

Naturally, the bumps returned when I resumed my typical eating habits.

After some research I found that acne/bumps can be a sign of inflammation and/or food intolerance. Diet habits never came up in conversations with dermatologists. How could they not? If you think about it, food is a foreign object that we put in our system daily. Our bodies may not always like what we deposit.

During my last visit to the dermatologist I asked about it. Could this be from a food sensitivity? "I can't speculate." "How about from synthetic materials or the underwire in my bra?" "Can't speculate." He prescribed me a low dose antibiotic and a topical cream (yup! the ones that bleach clothes). I was very wary of taking an antibiotic, intuitively feeling that I was contributing to the bumps with my food choices. Not to mention that antibiotics, when used for an extended period of time, can really mess up your system. I stopped the antibiotic after a month - 2 months earlier than recommended. I decided to pursue a mode of inquiry. I got a blood test.

It was an expensive blood test but well worth the definitive answers it provided. My primary doctor, who is trained in holistic healthcare, ordered the test that would introduce 45 different foods including the most common foods linked with intolerance/sensitivity and measure the level of antibodies produced in response.

The results included varying degrees of sensitivity. My doctor looked at me like, "are you really going to not eat these foods?"

* Chocolate
* Cheese
* Eggs
* Yogurt
* Cow's Milk
* Yeast
* Lobster
* Banana

After two weeks of eliminating these foods (with of course a little bit of cheating) my chest is almost back to "normal" and my face is getting there.

* Note: The test I ordered has three variations - testing 45 of the common foods, with the option of testing two other sets of 45 foods each. My doctor has found that most people are sensitive to chocolate and many have intolerances to animal products like milk and cheese - so this wasn't a shocker. But apparently most people are not willing to part with them.

Some friends have asked, "well what the hell do you eat when you're sensitive to all those things?" Still working on that answer (yeast is in everything!). It's not that I can't ever eat these "foods." I just need to be mindful of my body's responses to them.