Category Archives: Plant Based Diet

Balance: Autoimmune Disorders

 

It was August 2016, I had just returned from an awesome adventure in Gunnison National Park, CO when my world was turned upside down. I began to experience aches and pains quickly dismissed as battle wounds from my recent mountain adventure.

After a couple weeks had passed the pain and swelling spread throughout the left side of my body, traveling from lower back to wrist and foot.  I couldn’t grasp a tea cup, was having trouble opening doors, operating zippers and buttons.  I hadn’t connected the pains I was having at that time nor did I understand what I was up against.

I no longer felt like the same person that I was just a month prior nor was I capabable of putting a brave face to what was happening.  I began to feel scared. Really scared.  And, for the first time in my life I went from playing the role of helping others to the one always seeming to need help. My husband, children and mother turned into caregivers. I felt tremendous guilt over all of the help required by others just to get through a day.  I feared the worst wondering if I would ever be able to function again.

I was misdiagnosed twice before landing in a hospital bed unable to walk.   I underwent every imaginable test and scan.   I was treated by several specialists via a series of the strongest antibiotic cocktails administered intravenously.  I lost hair due to reaction of all of the hard core drugs.  I was laid up missing my kiddos field hockey and baseball games, weddings, girls nights, day hikes…well you get the picture. I missed my mobility, independence and life as I knew it.

While hospitalized with condition now traveling from left to right side of my body, I was introduced to a Rheumatologist who ran additional bloods and quickly connected the physical pain, swelling & presentation to chronic inflammation resulting in diagnosis of Psoriatic Arthritis.

It took  three months for the prescribed biological to kick in. After six months, and some orthopedic shoes, I started feeling semi normal again.  Eight months later, I became obsessed with reading about Autoimmune Diseases convinced that what was happening to me was a condition that I could conquer.  I hung on to hope that the trigger was bacterial and after a year passed, I could discontinue my dependency on the biological that kept my immune system from attacking my body.

Fast forward to today and no such luck…I still rely upon the biological, but have not given up the fight. I have come a long way.  I can function and my inflammation levels are down. And, while  I accept that I am genetically predisposed (HLA B27),  I continue to research and experiment with my diet being mindful of triggers.

Two years ago, if you asked me what an autominnue disease was…I couldn’t tell you. Instead, I may have simply replied “you are what you eat” not fully realizing the depth of this truth.  At that time in my life I felt fantastic. Never looked better and was loving life having fully committed to a plant based whole food diet. The daily menu read fresh fruit, veggies, nuts, seeds, legumes & quinoa ( and plenty of them). I had replaced flour bread with Ezekiel sprouted grain products. I even replaced traditional flour pastas with lentil and chick pea versions. It was all about how much I had gained instead of lost. I was far down a path of wellness, or so I thought.

I was operating under some very basic rules:  if it was plant based, unprocessed and did not contain additives such as oil, sugar, meat, or salt – the more the merrier! I had established some go to favorites not realizing that the combination was a perfect storm for leaky gut and chronic inflammation.

Since then I have limited some foods consumed prior, and in abundance, such as; evening shades, legumes & quinoa that were later proven to aggravate my condition. I have also introduced healthy omegas from sources such a fish, coconut, olive and hemp oils.

And, while I still believe today that “you are what you eat”, I have learned that a diet is not a one size fits all solution. It is instead a personalized and delicate balance.

Listen to your body and find your own balance.

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Chia Seed Pudding

I recently have rekindled my love for Chia Seed pudding. It is a quick and easy meal that packs a powerful nutritional punch and is sure to satisfy. I would post a picture if my bowl were not empty!  My tip for today is to try with coconut milk adding cocoa nibs topped with raspberries.

Combine:

-2 cups coconut milk (almond works too)

-1/2 cup chia seeds

-handful of cocoa nibs

optional: dash of almond or vanilla extract, and/or cinnamon.

Refridgerate over night for breakfast or snack the following day. Top with fresh berries to serve.

Enjoy & have a good day!

 

 

On The Fly:  Week 22

Tonight I am listening to the sounds of some much needed rain & reflecting upon the busy week now behind.

Rewinding to Memorial Day weekend:

My daughter became sick with a stomach bug from Friday night – Saturday, however managed to make a quick recovery and enjoy some of the holiday weekend.

We had a great time at a family BBQ last Sunday.  We brought along some portobello mushrooms to grill along with some spinach, cheese, flank pinwheels.  Yummy!  I had a taste of the pinwheels but happily stuck to veggies and the Bombay Saphire, tonic & limes that I sipped on around the fire pit.  I also had a great time playing yard soccer with the kids.  Thank you Snyders of Belvidere for another good time👍

The following day I joined my daughter Ava, and her softball team, in the Memorial Day Parade.  The girls came prepared with candy, and were so excited to throw it out to the spectators.  Together we marched from the Hackettstown train station down to the Cemetery located on Mountain Ave.  It was a great time.

On the way home from the parade, I thought about how in years past I would drop the children with their teams and join the crowd sitting curb side.  It felt good to be moving and at the same time supporting my daughter & all of the brave men  and woman who have served our country.  It was a win – mind, body & soul.

The below picture was taken of the girls enjoying the shade as we waited for the parade to commence.  My daughter Ava thought it would be an excellent idea to wear a pink, fuzzy mustache while marching.  And so did I!  Go Ava:
  
 Following the parade, we came back to the house and enjoyed a nice snack:

 
And, after a busy weekend, I dove  into the short work week feeling full of energy and once again finding great options at the Met-Life salad bar for lunch:

  
I am now down 30 lbs and way up in the energy department. I continue to feel motivated, inspired & ready to take on more physical challenges.  I missed my friends this past week at Pro-Activity & am looking forward to seeing them next week.

I am grateful for family & friends. Especially those who continue to support with positive influence.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.💚

 Clover taking a rest from carrying around what she considers to be a fetching stick!!  Go big or go home? 

On The Fly:  Week 21

Started my new job this week!  So far, so good.  I made it out of the house every morning with a delicious greens and fruit smoothie plus fruit & veggies to snack on.  I was also delighted to see that the MetLife Bridgewater cafeteria has a fantastic salad bar 👍

My new friend Snoopy and I had a lunch date on my first day: 
It was a busy week but I still managed to make good choices, remained positive and tried my best to get move minutes in (despite the occupational hazard of a desk job).  I took the stairs over elevator and managed to get outside on Friday with a friend for 2 laps around campus (1 mile).  The new office offers a nicely equipped gym that offers a schedule of classes.  Just need to figure out what on earth “Yopi” is:

  
Feeling on track, motivated & inspired.  Did the usual running around with the kids and sports after work throughout the week.  Attended the children’s school Art Show & Spring Concert:

   
      

Home sick today with my daughter Ava.  My poor baby has the stomach flu.  Hoping that she gets better quickly and can enjoy some of her long weekend.  

 
Gumby says “Happy Memorial Day”!!!  

Am feeling especially grateful for all of those who have made sacrifices to serve our country and defend our freedom. 

Remembering my grandfather today who was one of the brave whom served in World War II. Love you and miss you every day Pop-Pop ❤️  

 

 

On The Fly:  Week 20

Looking back on the past week, I feel dizzy!  Busy, busy…both my mind and body as I prepare to return to work next week.  

Let me start with where we left off…

Last weekend was action packed complete with ball games, birthday party, trip to the RVCC planetarium, shopping at the green houses, planting the veggie/herb garden and celebrating Mother’s Day with my family ❤️:   

   
            

 
 Spent the past week Spring cleaning.  My closet was a disaster…filled with clothes that I hadn’t worn in years.   As I started to weed out a bit,  I remembered that I had an old box of clothing up in the attic from B.C. (Before Children).  My curiosity led me quickly up the attic stairs wondering if I could once again fit back into them.

Going through this box of clothes was like sorting through a time capsule.  There were items in there that I forgot I owned and some that I didn’t remember at all.  I tried on 3 pairs of jeans and to my surprise, they all fit (some a bit more snug than others).  In my excitement, I found an old receipt in the back pocket of one pair of jeans that was dated June of 2003.  Item listed was baby clothing.  An imediate smile took over, followed by fond memories of that summer. This was the summer that I was pregnant with my first born child and son Lee. This time in my life was magical.  I can recall shopping for baby Vans, sleepers, pretty much anything unique that caught my eye and could be purchased in a neutral color.  

After my trip down memory lane was over, it was time to sort through the after math of my 1990’s fashion show and decide what I was gong to keep.   The timing could not have been better to get my health and shape back as I was able to salvage a few good work worthy clothing items.

On Tuesday evening, I met with the greater PBWF group for our final session.  We reflected on accomplishments, challenges, options and plans as we march on in our personal journeys.  After much thought, I have decided to continue with weigh-ins and group sessions to help keep on track as I return to work.  I firmly believe that I will further benefit from continued accountability at this time in my life.

I have come so far.  Feel great.  Mind is clear with energy up.  I wonder how I walked around feeling the way I did for so long & prior to walking through the doors of Pro-Activity for the first time:

  

My daughter Ava and I made a batch of Talia Fuhrman’s black bean brownies last night (substituted butter beans for black beans).

  
 Had a nice time in the kitchen and brownies came out delicious. 

 Then, it was back to the ball fields today:

   

It was a beautiful afternoon spent around the Homefront.  My husband was busy dropping a tree while the kids enjoyed a round of chess:   

And as for me…I kicked back in my anti gravity chair after, food shopping & cleaning windows, when I noticed the clouds making an “x” formation directly over the sun:

  

  

 Pretty cool, huh!!

Am grateful for the love and life that my family brings to me each and every day & the much needed rain that is falling from the sky this evening.  

New Beginnings:  Day 81-84        

Had a great weekend that started with my daughters softball game on Sat. AM:  

  
We invited those who came to watch back to the house with us to barbecue and celebrate Ava’s 8th birthday.  It was a nice, but busy, afternoon.  Lee had a practice in the middle of the barbecue and of course when we fired up the grill we realized we were out of gas!  We always seem to run out when we have company…

After the craziness died down we were able to feed our guests and have some fun.  We even played a game of whiffle ball (adults against kids) after pin the tail on the donkey:

   
  

On Sunday, we took a hike on the Dunnfield Creek Trail and picniced along the way.  It was a beautiful day:

   
     

Beautiful afternoon.  Stopped over at my bud Sonia’s house for a visit.  It was our first play date with our dogs Ella and Clover who wore each other out while little cutie Kiersten (Sonia’s gorgeous daughter) enjoyed a little water play in her styling sundress.  So wish I had pics of all of this!! 

Needed a little inspiration in the WFPB department so decided to grill some veggies tonight to help bring back that loving feeling again:

  
Just feeling very lazy this past week and need to make a come back to keep on track.  Still blaming it on allergies. Need some rain! 

Right now, I am listening to a very vocal frog who has been chilling in the pond since Friday night.  This dude has a set of pipes on him.  Hope he finds a mate soon! Oh the sounds of nature 🐸

So, been doing some thinking about this New beginnings blog.  I have met my goal of a healthier new version of me and now need to switch tracks to maintenance and continued inspiration as I return to work again.  All things considered, I decided to name this new chapter of localyokelgal “On The Fly”.

New Beginnings:  Day 77

Had a great day.  Went to my son’s school this AM to watch him play the historical role of John Abbott in the Son’s of Liberty play.  The kids did such a great job remembering their lines and portraying the events leading up to the Boston Massacre and Valley Forge:

  
 I also met with my PBWF group tonight for a delicious and wholesome buffet!  Wish I had taken a picture of the colorful spread.  So delicious.  Left with a very full stomach but feeling good about what was inside.  I made a cold salad (feature picture) loaded with green power:  quinoa, lentils, black beans, soy beans, corn, peas, tomatoes (grape and sun dried), peppers (red, chili and green), mango, lemon grass, onion (white & green), avocado, cucumber, almonds, dates, raisins, lime juice, hemp seeds, chia seeds, cilantro, parsley, ginger and dill.  

That is a total of 22 wholesome and healthy ingredients. Of the 22 ingredients, 6 were puréed into a silky smooth & creamy dressing that I mixed into the salad (avacoda, dill, sun dried tomatoes, cucumber, dates, almonds). I purchased some mangos that did not seem ripe enough plus a back up batch of fresh mango salsa just in case.  I ended up using the back up batch of fresh made mango salsa:

  
I let the lentils soak and then put them in with the quinoa in my rice steamer.  While the quinoa/lentils were steaming, I diced up my veggies and herbs + made a creamy cucumber, avocado, sun dried tomatoe, dill, date and almond dressing in my fancy new blender.

   
   I mixed all of this together along with my mango salsa, canned beans, peas, corn, raisins, seeds and lime juice.  Can be served at room temp or chilled.

Tonight, after enjoying our great feast, we received our program report card.  I am happy to report that I did well.  My blood work was elevated when I started this journey over 10 weeks ago. And today, my blood work reflects low risk in all categories!  After tonight’s weigh in I am down 18 pounds.   I have tons of energy, feel great and  have received compliments about my skin being “more clear” and “creamy” & “glowing”.  Wow!!!  Never received such compliments👍  My family have been making better choices too and all on their own.  I could not be happier.

Am grateful for this eye opening experience, good health and the power of choice.