Friday, October 31, 2014

Trial week: Autoimmune Diet

I used this week to test out some new foods for the Autoimmune Protocol diet and not worry about being strictly compliant.  Overall, it was a lot easier than I thought it would be, likely because I am already gluten and dairy-free.

Breakfast is the hardest piece to figure out, with no eggs and no grains.  Ugh, what to eat??   This week I tried a smoothie:  coconut milk, berries or a banana, collagen protein powder, and glutamine.   Most days I was hungry within the hour.  :(  I tried to supplement with some roasted veggies and that was ok but I do think I need something different for breakfast that's more substantial.   Next week, I will be trying this recipe:  Sweet potato, apple and pancetta hash.

The easiest thing was to have fruits and veggies on hand to eat.  Carrots, apples, bananas, roasted veggies, and so on.  A few times I was craving something salty/crunchy and so I had plantain chips on hand and some seaweed snacks.   Sweet was a little harder and I tried to keep my mind off of the chocolate bar I wanted to devour by having some peppermint or ginger tea.

I had a salad with grilled chicken for lunch with balsamic vinegar/olive oil dressing and cucumbers, avocado, beets, bacon.  (because, bacon!)

On Sunday I made pot roast and we had leftovers for a few nights.   We grilled salmon another night with roasted broccoli and acorn quash.  Last night was pork tenderloins with cherry sauce.

My husband might have bought me a cupcake for no reason and I might have eaten it.  I'm not proud.  But it was tasty.

This week really wasn't too bad.  The biggest successful strategy was to plan.  If I didn't know what I was going to eat at a certain time, I was stuck pretty much trying to convince myself to not run to the vending machine... which was way hard to ignore.  When I'm hungry, I want food, like four minutes ago.   As long as I had something reasonable ready to go, I was fine.    Weekends will be the biggest hurdle as we always go out for brunch at least one of the days.  It's our weekend "thing" and I'll need to avoid the temptation to fall into our usual habits. :)

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Autoimmune Diet

A few weeks ago, I started doing some reading on inflammation and diet, to see if I could better control my joint pain via some food modifications.  One of the biggest changes I noticed after removing gluten from my diet was that my knees were a lot less painful.  Going down stairs became easier and I could run without any knee pain.   It was pretty amazing.

During my research, I came across the autoimmune diet.  There are a few versions out there, but Sarah Ballentyne's is the most strict.  She's a scientist and her book describes all the research and studies she used to formulate what should and shouldn't be included in a diet for folks with autoimmune issues.  Even for me, it was a dense read (and my PhD thesis likely had fewer scientific references!).

In the end, it made a lot of sense.  I have two suspected autoimmune issues - gluten intolerance (though I've never been tested for Celiac's) and thyroiditis.    My hypothyroidism is on this recent downward slope - every 6-8 weeks, my meds need to be upped.  I'm tired and cranky, and sometimes I just don't feel great for no real reason.   So, starting November 1, I'm going whole hog into it.  This week is my "trial" week, to test a few things out as replacements to my usual favorites.

The diet is not intended to be permanent (thankfully!). Sarah recommends eliminating everything for some period of time, and then slowly reintroduce foods one a time to find out what may be the underlying culprit.  If my thyroid stabilizes, then great.  If my thyroid stabilizes and my joint pain decreases, then hallelujah!  And if nothing happens, well, it was something to try.

The diet is strictly no:
Grains (rice, wheat, corn, bulgur, etc)
Nuts/seeds (and no spices or oils from nuts/seeds)
Nightshades (tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants, sweet and hot peppers)
Dairy, including whey protein supplements
Added sugars

Piece of cake, right?

I am pretty sure that I am ok with much on the list, but I'll follow the experiment as recommended.

Breakfast is going to be a challenge, as I eat a lot of eggs.  Today I tried a smoothie - coconut milk, berries and collagen protein powder.  While super yummy, I was hungry again by 9:30.  Drat.

I spent yesterday cooking up a bunch of vegetables to have on hand as snacks.  Garlic baby portobella mushrooms, roasted brussels sprouts, and some baked sweet potatoes.  For dinner tonight, I came up with a pot roast idea that does not include my standard white potatoes:  garlic and Italian seasonings on a beef roast, onions, and butternut squash.   It'll be in the Crockpot for most of the day:

I'll keep this blog updated on progress and if it helps at all with the hip stuff.  Even though I love all food,  I feel it's worth trying something different and seeing if it helps.

Anyone else ever try the autoimmune diet?

Sunday, October 26, 2014

My last few runs

Two weeks ago, I ran for a few minutes on the treadmill.  Not sure why since I was pretty sure it was going to suck... but I guess runners can be stubborn.

And it was OK.  Not great, not bad.  Tolerable.  

Over the next ten days, that was followed up with:
20 minutes run/walk (2 min/1 min)
20 minutes run/walk (2 min/30 seconds)
20 minutes run/walk (3 min/1 min)
and then
26 minutes run/walk (3 min/1 min for 20 min, 1 min/30 sec for 6).   This totaled about 2.4 miles at about an 11min/mile pace average for the run/walk.


Now, none of the runs I would classify as "pain free".  Achy, some sharper pains, but nothing that made me think I needed to stop.  And my surgery hip feels fine, it's really all in the other hip.

After today's 2.4 miles, I went out for 6 miles on the ElliptiGO.  That felt great.  Wheeeee.

After the running fail three weeks ago, I upped the hip flexor stretching.  I figured that it couldn't hurt and maybe it would help some.  I stretch 2-3 times a day most days.  I had noticed that my hip had started to snap, loudly.  And often.  Now that's almost totally gone.

This one I do at work:

These two are also in the rotation:

You can also have someone push down on your hanging leg for an extra stretch.

I still get enough of an achy pain in my other hip that I'm sure the hip flexor tightness is not the only issue.  There's something functionally wrong, but maybe I am keeping things at bay with some added flexibility.  Or maybe pilates has been the key to keeping things OK.  Or this is some sort of fluke and my next run will suck again.   Who knows!  The running gods are fickle and cruel.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The ElliptiGO Review - pros and cons

I love my ElliptiGO and I'm so glad I made the investment. Even my husband has been making good use of it during marathon training.  I figured after three months, I'd breakdown the good and bad.

The workout
Pros:  It is a much tougher workout than I had imagined.  Especially on the hills around here!  I huff and puff all the way up....and my husband (who is in much better shape than I am) confirms this is the case for him too.   It makes what I do on the elliptical at the gym feel like a leisurely stroll.  My core and legs burn!  It's tougher than cycling but not as tough as running only because you do get to coast quite a bit (what goes up must come down!)... I'd say it feels a lot like track intervals.

Cons:  The only con here is that I don't feel as comfortable as I do on a bike.  It takes a lot of balance and while I can drink and signal on the bike, I almost crashed trying to wipe my nose on the 'GO other day.  So this means that I tend to do loops around the neighborhood and avoid any of the major roads.  This may get better with more experience.

Pros:  It shifts soooo smoothly.  Because it's an internal gearing, you can shift on the fly and with tension, unlike a regular bike where you don't really want to shift when under a load like climbing a hill.

Cons:  It shifts opposite how I would expect (opposite my bike, basically).  So I have - on more than one occasion - ended up in a lower gear when I needed to be in a higher and so forth.

Pros:  I haven't had any issues.  I just inflate the tires and go.

Cons:  If I do ever have an issue, I haven't a CLUE how to work on it.  I have at least a working knowledge of my bike.  I'll have to hope the bike shop can bail me out. :)

Pros: Cars give me SO MUCH CLEARANCE.  I don't get this but I'm sure it's partly a "what the heck is that?" phenomenon.  On the same roads, when I am on my bike, I might get a few feet of clearance.   Today, I saw someone go fully on the other side of a double yellow line to avoid me.  Hey, whatever works.

Cons: Unlike bikes, where there are shops and group rides and clubs, the ElliptiGO has very little of the social aspect.  Which is ok, I don't go to the gym to hang out with people either, but it would be nice to have a group ride as an option.

Anyone else own an ElliptiGO?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A life without running

Yeah, yeah, I can't run without pain in my not-yet-fixed hip.  And hiking this weekend was tough with the hip pain.  But I can do a lot of other things, and I am trying to not lose focus on the positive.

Here has been my schedule over the last week:
Thursday - Squats, lunges and my hip PT work
Friday - 5 miles on the ElliptiGo
Saturday - 1 hour power reformer pilates
Sunday - 4 mile hike (cut short from the 6 miles I originally wanted to do), 30 minutes on the spin bike
Monday - Elliptical, squats and pull ups/dips
Tuesday - rest and massage
Wednesday - Elliptical, squats, core and hip PT exercises

Overall, this is a pretty good week.  Nothing causes me more pain or aggravates symptoms.  My operated hip feels fantastic - little aching, decent ROM.   The other hip stays about the same.  So I call that a win.

Surgery was six months ago and while this wasn't where I thought I would be at this point, it's also not all bad.

My appointment with the surgeon to have my other hip examined is November 12th. I'm trying to not focus on it too much because I can't change anything between then and now.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Stages of a Runner's Grief: Bargaining

If I have this surgery now, I'll be able to start running in four months and I could run a half marathon by next year.

If I can run 5/10ks, I'll be happy.  I don't need to do half marathons.

If I can run 2-3 times a week, that will be fine.  At least it's something.

If I can run by next spring, then I won't miss out much trying to run through the winter.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Deja Vu

My run/walk yesterday was a complete fail.  The goal was to move from 30 seconds run/30 seconds walk to 60 seconds run for 15 intervals.   I made it to about the fifth interval before my non-operated hip started in with intense groin pain.  I felt like I was right back to July 2013 with the first hip.


I am trying to not think too much about it without the definitive diagnosis, but in the back of my mind, I know my odds are not good.  Hip, hip, hooray.

About 20% of people who need surgery on one hip go on to need it in the other hip.   So a large enough percentage to make it something that's a real possibility, while being small enough that it feels like horribly bad luck.

Today I was released from physical therapy until we can determine what the course of action is for the other hip.  Because I am only allotted a certain number of sessions a year, we wanted to conserve the remaining covered by insurance for now.

In other news, I completed a three-session intro to pilates.  I really like it!  It's more strength work than stretching like yoga, and is a serious core workout.

We did some crazy ab stuff in today's session like side crunches from this position:

And whatever the heck this was called:

Have you ever tried pilates?  Did you like it?

Friday, October 3, 2014

Dartfish Running Gait Analysis

I decided to have a running gait analysis done before I got too far into the run/walk program because I knew I know I still had a lot of strength deficiencies and compensations.  But, I wanted an idea of what and where I needed to focus my efforts and how bad (or good!) my running form looked to a professional.

It was pretty simple - I warmed up on the treadmill and then ran for about 3-4 minutes while they video taped me from the front, sides and back.   From there, the trainer was able to analyze my various angles and strides and determine where things might be going wrong.

All in all, my running form is pretty solid.  I am a  forefoot striker, good knee tracking, soft landing and no pronation issues. 

Where it falls apart is with my hips. (OK, is anyone surprised? Not really, right?)  Both hips show strength issues, and on top of that, my operated hip shows a lack of flexibility/ROM.

This shows what's going on with my hips as I land.  In the top left, you can see that my right leg (operated hip) tracks almost to the center of my body, as opposed to underneath my hip (red star).   My left leg does as well a little, but not nearly as much as the right.  The screen capture is too small to see the actual measurements, so just take my word on it.   This is all hip strength related, specifically strength in the lateral (side-to-side) direction.

In the bottom right, you can also see that when I strike with my left leg, my right hip drops.  This is hip and core strength and stability.    Planks, side planks, bridges.

The other interesting thing the trainer noticed was that my stride on my operated side is more shallow - I don't get as much hip flexion nor hamstring activity (less of a knee bend) as I do on my "good" side.   He believes this is a ROM, hip flexor issue.

The non-operated hip from the side:

The operated hip:

All in all, I really got a lot out of the gait analysis.  I want to repeat the analysis in 4-5 months and see if I have made improvements.  I received a set of exercises to work on and a few tweaks to the PT exercises I have already been doing to work on the specific deficiencies.

The Dartfish program is easy to use.  I have a copy of all my images and videos on a CD that I can review at any time.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Don't call it a comeback

When you first make the plans to have surgery, your goal is to get back to where you were before you were injured.  But this is sort of a false premise to go by because you really never can "go back".  It doesn't even have to be surgery we're talking about here, lots of people have nostalgia about a prior point in life and really... you just have to let it go.   Time marches on.

So you've gone through surgery for what then?  It's to have a better future.  Or, rather,  it's to get on the path that you think will lead you to a better future.   It's a risk.  It's a gamble.  But you believe it's your best shot, so go for it.

I am at five months post-op today.  Things are good.  But different.

My repaired hip doesn't make a peep 95% of the time.   I really only notice it when I need to do something that requires a full range of motion or am in PT being reminded of the weakness of that leg.   I can hike, elliptical, lift and do pilates without issue.   I have started a run/walk program, and it feels fine during and after.

But.  Every time I've run, my other hip (you know, the good one?) has been achy.  Then it locked up in PT for a second or two.  And for the last day or so, it's been achy almost constantly.    

If I needed proof that things aren't the same after surgery, there it is.  And that's not to say that surgery somehow caused my other hip to start to have issues, at all.  But two years ago is just that - two years ago. 

And who knows, maybe the other hip will calm down and be a non-issue.  That doesn't change the fact that  I need to embrace the now and accept that is where I am.  And that everything is okay even if it's not.