Payday Weighday: 204.6

Still moving in the right direction, even if it’s going sloooooooow. In reality half a pound a week is not that slow, it’s healthy. The thing that makes it feel so slow is that I was losing more like a pound a week last time I was real serious about weight loss. Two differences here though:

– I’m building muscle like crazy doing yoga three times a week. I was only doing cardio, mostly in the form of walking, last time.

– The biologic medication I take for psoriatic arthritis definitely makes it harder for me to lose weight. I noticed this as soon as I started taking it a year and a half ago. But if it takes me two years (or more) to lose another 50 pounds rather than one year like last time, so be it.

I just finished my first 22 minute indoor bike ride; that means I’m on week seven of this journey. The biking hasn’t pissed my joints off yet. Grateful. I’m on day 34 of my elimination diet, working on reintroducing foods now. I’ll see my doctor this week and my rheumatologist next week.

I had a bit of a crushing blow last week – my favorite yoga studio suddenly closed permanently. As in I walked in to take a 4:15 class to find a bunch of the instructors standing together, crying. It was such a shock. I had been so comfortable there, especially with my favorite teacher who has rheumatoid arthritis. There’s kind of a misery loves company / safety in numbers vibe there. But no more. In the past, this would’ve totally broken my fitness streak. But I’ve since visited two other studios and will keep checking places out till I find the right fit for me. Cuz I gotta keep this shit going.

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Payday Weighday: 205.6

It’s going down, y’all! The best part is that it’s going down even though I’ve been gaining muscle – yoga three times a week will do that! I wish I had taken pictures of my arms three weeks ago because they are noticeably more developed already. I’m on day 18 of my terrible elimination diet, three more days till I start the reintroduction phase. I’m grateful that I haven’t felt deprived at all, it’s just very time consuming. I planned on getting dinner from the Whole Foods salad bar last night after yoga, but didn’t get there till they were already packing it up. So I had to go home and cook after all and this bitch was hangry by the time my dinner was done. But it was healthy and pretty tasty. I’ve been grateful to even find foods to eat at restaurants with my friends twice. Well one food really: fruit. We met for brunch both times and I just had my regular breakfast smoothie beforehand and only ordered a fruit salad when I met up with them. If not for the elimination diet, I could get a green salad, but I’m avoiding tomatoes and peppers and a bunch of other things right now and that’s just too tricky. But I love fruit and I’m grateful for the opportunity to be social with my friends still. To be clear, though, I’m not gonna miss this elimination diet when it’s over!

So far, so grateful

Well I made it through my first week back on track pretty damn well.

– I rode my bike on my trainer three times at 10 minutes each. Tomorrow I’ll increase to 12 minutes and see what my arthritis thinks of that.

– I went to yoga on Thursday. It was a teacher and class I had never checked out before and it was terrible. As in way too advanced for my current fitness level. I made it through the entire class, but my hamstrings and hips were terribly painful for more than 48 hours following. I’ll have to work up to that class. I was scheduled to go to yoga today, but just couldn’t bring myself to leave the house again after running around a bunch earlier in the day. So I did a YouTube routine in my living room. Still counts!

– My food has been super clean. The only trouble is that I sometimes go to bed realizing that I probably didn’t eat enough calories and/or fat that day. We’re not going for starvation here.

– I’m doing a lot of research and meal planning regarding eliminating soy, nighshades and peanuts from my diet for three weeks. My nutritionist recommended a trial elimination of these foods when my arthritis calmed so much after eliminating dairy. I went to every co-op in the area looking for soy-free tofu and tempeh. I found a black bean tempeh, but otherwise struck out. I bought nigari, hemp hearts and cheesecloth and will attempt making my own hemp tofu this week. I’m still researching homemade tempeh.

– I remembered my supplements six out of seven days this week. Not bad!

– I’ve decided that I will weigh myself only on paydays, every two weeks. I need boundaries or I’ll be on that damn scale constantly! My next weigh will be this Friday.

Haven’t quit yet!

Ok, so it’s only my first day of being back on track. But so far, so grateful! I did 10 minutes on my bike before work, easing in:

Biking is maybe the only cardio exercise that doesn’t make my joints too angry. When I was so successful with my weight loss in 2015, walking was my exercise. But walking upsets my feet way too much now. Since the winters are horrible here, I bought a fluid trainer for my bike so I can use it indoors in the winters. Bonus: I don’t have to break my butt in again in the spring!

After my 10 mins of biking, I prepped a few days’ worth of smoothies and supplements.

My breakfast smoothie typically consists of cannellini beans, banana, peanut butter, cocoa powder, hemp hearts, pea protein, baby kale and almond milk – all unsweetened and organic. My current supplements are Ovega-3 (algae oil), probiotics, vitamin D3, methylfolate and zinc. The first three supplements are self-explanatory, the other two I take to manage methotrexate side effects.

I had a homemade veggie patty, green beans and grapes for lunch. Unfortunately, dinner consisted of an Amy’s frozen black bean enchilada meal. I had a lot of back pain today, then developed a headache and didn’t feel up to cooking. But this frozen meal is vegan and has no added sugar, so I coulda done worse. Now I’m on the couch with my TENS unit. Like all the cool kids.

Glenwood Springs, Colorado

Nothing feels better on my aching joints than moist heat. Therefore, hot springs are seriously my jam. I discovered this about a year ago when my best friend and I met up for a hot springs vacation as part of my frenzied search for the one thing that would surely cure my arthritis. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t exist. But escape, relaxation, mindfulness, gratitude – those are the things that make arthritis tolerable for me. And I’ve found all those things in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. Twice. I loved it so much when I went with my bestie that I went back with my husband recently. We stayed at Glenwood Hot Springs Resort which really isn’t that resort-y, but is clean and pleasant and, oh, owns the world’s largest hot spring pool!

Bam! There’s something kind of special about being outside when it’s 17°F but being almost too hot in the water. Delicious.

Both times I visited Glenwood Springs I was lucky enough to be half of a couples massage at Providence Apothecary.

This place could not be any cuter. Have you seen Practical Magic? Think Sally’s shop with a massage practice and yoga studio. Navigating airports and sitting scrunched up on an airplane for several hours always does a number on my arthritic body, so I always plan on getting a massage when I travel. This place is wonderful. Fun fact: if you buy a candle from this shop (or any shop) and bring it through airport security in your carry on, it’ll get you a bag search. I guess candles are real bad news in the x-ray eyes of TSA agents.

So the world’s largest hot spring pool is definitely something to check out, but the thing can house a ton of people all at once. For something cozier, I love Iron Mountain Hot Springs about a mile down the road.

They have multiple smaller pools made up of different mineral compositions which vary in temperature. All of which have a killer view of the mountains.

I thought it’d be a great idea to get a better view of the mountains. I have a long track record with my husband of coming up with ideas that seem great at the time, but later induce panic in me. (Skydiving, ziplining, etc.) That’s what happened when we took a tram ride up and down the mountain.

Not pictured: me losing my shit. All in all it was a great experience that I’m glad I had. Cuz I didn’t die.

So now for the real reason we go to Colorado…same reason as anyone else. Legal marijuana! I never used weed in any form till I got psoriatic arthritis; I was almost 36 years old. It just never appealed to me in my teens or twenties. But my arthritis pain was out of control the first time I went to Colorado and I needed help. I tried a bunch of CBD-dominant products to try to calm inflammation and had a few edibles. A whole lotta not much happened. Until this: This lotion dropped the pain in my right middle finger (my worst pain area at the time) from 7/10 to 1/10 in 10 minutes. It was a game changer. It completely made me a believer in marijuana for pain management. I’m lucky enough to live in a state that has medical cannabis and I got my card right after that first Colorado trip. (See what I did there?) Since then, I’ve tried different formulations of weed vape, oil and topicals and have found a few options that help immensely when I flare. Grateful. The nice thing about weed in a rec state is endless options. I tried a different edible on our second trip that kept my pain (also in my left foot, both hips and both knees) hovering at 1-2/10 for hours at a time. Now I couldn’t live my everyday life under the constant influence of pot, but I’m so grateful for a weekend where I can all but forget about pain and just relax. Sign in the women’s locker room at Iron Mountain Hot Springs. And the gospel truth.

The Fear Post.

So I should get this out of the way. As I mentioned in my anger post, fear is a feeling that I know far better than anger. I am angry about my PsA diagnosis, but far more fearful. Here are a few of those fears:

PsA is a degenerative disease – meaning my body’s plan is to keep breaking down. To what degree and at what pace is unknown. And don’t we all fear the unknown? I fear that I won’t be able to live a healthy, able-bodied life much longer. And I’m only 36. I fear that my condition will force me to leave my job and go on disability. And I love my job. I fear pain – and lots of it. I fear that my family/friends/coworkers will get tired of hearing about/dealing with my condition. I fear being judged when I park in handicap parking spots (even though I have a handicap parking pass) because you can’t tell by looking at me how much it hurts to walk through the parking lot. I fear missing out on work opportunities because of my pain and fatigue. I fear missing out on life opportunities because of my pain and fatigue. I fear that future tattoos I get might not heal properly. I feel getting a cold. I fear that I won’t be able to go geocaching with my nieces and nephews anymore. I fear walking down stairs cuz it fracking hurts. I fear deformity. I fear missing out. I fear dying young from a rare complication of PsA (they exist). I fear there will never be a cure.

I’m afraid that travel – something that many of my life goals/plans had been centered around – is going to be severely limited by my condition. My husband and I went to Vegas to celebrate my 36th birthday. I was on a Prednisone taper and feeling just about zero pain at the time. We did a lot of walking, as one is apt to do in Vegas, and suddenly – my left peroneal tendon (in my ankle) slipped out of place. What the damn hell?! Just walking down the Strip and my damn tendon shifted! I couldn’t put any weight on it and this is what the rest of the trip looked like:10383952_10153823575939813_4793874695335561226_n
Mobility scooter in Vegas, wheelchair escort through the airport, all the handicap parking.

I fear my medication. I inject 10mg of Methotrexate subcutaneously every Friday night. Cuz I know how to party. My dosage is scheduled to go up to 15 mg in a few weeks. Methotrexate (MTX) is a chemotherapy drug. For realz. A chemotherapy drug that is also used as an immunosuppresant to try to get my immune system to stop attacking itself. Or at least to quiet the attack down. I have to take 2mg of folic acid daily to prevent side effects such as mouth sores, nausea, hot flashes, dry mouth, fatigue and hair loss. These are just a few possible side effects of Methotrexate – they include almost anything right up to and including cancer as a possible side effect. That’s right, a chemotherapy drug with a possible side effect of cancer. Dafuq?

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I’ve been taking MTX for a little over a month. It’s supposed to take up to 8 weeks to fully kick in, but I think it’s already helping a little. So that’s good! But I’m afraid of the side effects I might experience when my dosage gets bumped in a few weeks. And I’m even more afraid to start Humira at that same time, which is my rheumatologist’s current plan for me. I don’t even think I can handle an entirely new set of terrible side effects. I might ask her if I can wait a bit before adding it to the mix.

So those are my fears. My best friend always tells me how strong I am for facing my fears every day and doing what I want to do instead of letting them stop me. She always tells me that I am so strong, and that is nice. But I’m so tired of having to be strong all the time. It makes me very whiny. And sometimes weepy. And several other emojis. But when you’re tired of being tired, and your situation isn’t about to change, then you need a new perspective. So the Gratitude post is forthcoming.

Unicorn Tuesdays.

I’m reading a book about time management: 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management. I like it a lot more than I ever thought I could like a book on the subject. One of its recommendations is to theme your days: Management Monday, Product Development Friday, etc.. I read this chapter on a Tuesday morning on my way into work (on the train, not driving!), so I decided that it would be Unicorn Tuesday. Probably not what the author meant, but I liked it. And it was a damn fine day! Everything went smoothly and I was super productive! Not like Wednesday. Wednesday bit me in the ass. Nothing happened on schedule and a miscommunication with my rheumatologist led to my emotional turmoil (now resolved). I decided that the trouble with Wednesday was that there just wasn’t enough unicorns. Or possibly that there wasn’t a theme. This calls for some experimentation but I can tell you one thing – Unicorn Tuesdays are here to stay.

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(This may be a catricorn.)

So I should journal about my psoriatic arthritis, I suppose. I started hand therapy this week! 🙂 I learned that my right hand is far more dysfunctional than I realized! 😦 The therapist had me bend my fingers in certain ways, then measured the angles of my joints. I had no idea how severely limited the range of motion of my fingers was until she had me do this. It was somewhat devastating. :/ She gave me several suggestions on how I should hold things and open things, and exercises I can do. So that’s moving forward.

I also had an appointment with a functional medicine doctor. She’s an MD, but very holistic. I requested food sensitivity testing to see what foods might be triggering an inflammatory response in my body. I gotta keep that shit to a minimum, yo. Have you ever had food sensitivity testing? It is hella expensive! But I can’t really think of anything more important than my health for me to invest in. I should have the results in about four weeks. I’m excited and terrified. There are three foods that I absolutely cannot live without: tomatoes, peanut butter and bananas. Tomatoes are a problem for a lot of people with arthritis of all types, so that is concerning for me. I eat peanut butter every day of my life and bananas most days. This is what I have for breakfast at least four days each week:
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  • 1/4 block organic tofu (don’t judge)
  • 1 banana
  • chia and/or flax seed
  • unsweetened cocoa powder (Rapunzel brand)
  • unsweetened peanut butter (chunky)
  • baby kale
  • unsweetened plain almond milk

That mess is delicious!! I am praying to whoever may be listening that those foods are kosher. As it were. I had three more medical appointments this week: physical therapy for my left food and bilateral Achilles tendons, wellness coaching to continue working on my weight loss, and primary care. Because there’s no rest for the wicked, or the arthritic.

Here is some good news: I think the methotrexate is starting to help! Is that possible after only four weeks? I don’t care, I’ll take a placebo effect if that’s all it is. My pain level has been more like a 6/10, down from an 8/10. I’ll take that shit. Grateful!