Saturday, June 18, 2016

Day 6: Suspicions confirmed

Yesterday was the fifth day of my VLC  (very low calorie) fast.  I started this last Monday as an experiment to battle my fibromyalgia.

Losing weight has not been my primary goal, even though it's naturally happening on a diet of less than 400 calories a day.  My intentions were to quit eating just about everything, clean out my system, let my body rest, and then start adding back some foods to see if they caused FM flare-ups.

Pain-inducing poison!
My suspicions were confirmed  first thing this morning.  I'd done well all day yesterday, but fell off the wagon--slightly--when I attended a potluck dinner last night.  There were NO salads or raw veggies on the table, save for a bowl of home-made cilantro salsa.  So I ate a cup of it. NEVER have corn, beans, onions, tomatoes and cilantro tasted to heavenly to me!  Then I had two small kebobs my husband had prepared for the event.  The smoky grilled peppers, onions, cherry tomatoes and mushrooms were divine, as were the small chunks of marinated venison.  The downfall, however, was the dessert table, with bread pudding soaked in a sugary hard sauce.  Once I sneaked a tiny bite, I had to eat more...which ended up to be way too much! Full of bourbon-soaked sugar and white bread, I went to bed feeling bloated, tense, and resentful of my lack of willpower.

I didn't sleep well and got up this morning feeling like the vindictive Mac truck had hit me again.
Not surprisingly, it was EASY for me to flow through today with nothing but two 110-calorie Cambridge drinks, and  the remainder of my husband's leftover kebabs for dinner.  I enjoyed them guilt-free.

This will probably be the end of my posts about this experiment because I've accomplished my mission.  I am now 95% sure that sugar and alcohol do indeed exacerbate my painful FM symptoms.   Likewise with processed flour, and probably any processed foods.  Maybe even red meat.

It's interesting how much easier it's been to stick with this "diet" when my motivation has been pain control.  If I'd only been in it to lose weight, I would have looked in the mirror three days ago and said, "What the hell, you look fine just the way you are" and headed to the kitchen for a cold glass of chardonnay. (Funny how we rationalize our way out of things we don't want to face.)  But pain slaps you in the face and is undeniable.  When there's a way to possibly eliminate it and reclaim your life, it's easy to do what is necessary.

Today I've been walking up and down our stairs without limping, wincing or even hanging onto the railing.  It's been a long time since I've been able to do that.  Is it just coincidence?  Is it just the cycle of natural healing and FM flares?  An improvement in the barometric pressure.  Could be.  But as long as my "elimination diet" is working, I'll stay on this path.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Day 5 of the Fast

What started out as a "water fast" five days ago has morphed into VLC (very low calorie) liquid fast of not more than 400 calories a day.  This is Day 5, I'm still on track, and I'm feeling surprisingly better than I have in a long time.

I'm doing this not to lose weight, but to lessen symptoms of fibromyalgia.  The theory is that certain foods wreak havoc on the body of someone who has fibromyalgia.  The most common symptom of FM is widespread pain, achiness and stiffness in the body's joints, tendons, ligaments and soft tissue. Other symptoms frequently include fatigue, lack of strength and stamina, headaches, digestive issues, foggy brain, chills and flu-like sensations.  No one really knows what causes it, and there is no cure.  There is, however, management.  Since every FM victim's symptoms are different, each of has to learn what sets off a "flare" and how to minimize the voracity of it.  A "flare" can happen without provocation or prediction, and can last for several days, rendering the victim to bed rest for the duration.  It definitely has changed my lifestyle and caused me to slow down and even cut out some of my favorite activities.  That's why I'm desperate to reclaim my former life as an active person, and that's why I'm fasting.

First I'm eliminating the toxins in my body.  Next I'll gradually and carefully begin adding foods to see how my body responds to them.  I suspect that sugar, alcohol, flour, excessive salt, chemicals, and possibly even red meat are contributors to my FM.  So I'm "off" those for a while.  My nutrition is coming from three Cambridge drinks
per day, supplemented with water and an occasional amino energy drink.

So far, here's what's happened after five days of my experiment:

Overall body pain--greatly diminished, almost gone.  Still have the "legitimate" arthritis-based stiffness of knees and shoulders, but far more mobility and range of motion.  I can walk up and down stairs without groaning with every step. Energy--greatly enhanced!  I don't feel sluggish or fatigued.
Mental clarity--more stable.  Not moody.
Sleep--incredible. No restless legs.  I sleep soundly for hours, and my dreams are pleasant.
Hunger--I'm truly not "hungry."  My gut is empty but it's also QUIET.
Meds--Still can't believe I've gone nearly 5 days without ANY Excedrin.

I've ingested no alcohol, sugar, processed foods, etc., in five days and I feel markedly better.  Hmmm.
I've discovered all those Excedrin and pain pills I've been taking weren't helping--and thus, weren't necessary! I see a future again.  I'm making reservations for a Hawaii vacation next year, and for a cross-country ski trip in January.  My clothes fit better.

So I guess I'll ride this trail for a while longer.  Day 6, here we come.  Cheers!

Thursday, June 16, 2016


The frustration of fibromyalgia pain continues, as I adjust to the reality that this is my future.  It's not always horrible--in fact, it's usually just mildly debilitating and annoying.  I'm still trying new things--supplements, oils, various exercises and routines--in search of a magic pill, even though all research tells me there is none.

Then I heard from an old idol, who has inspired me to take the next big step in healing. Cindy Joseph is a supermodel--believe me, you have seen her--who first caught my eye about 15 years ago in a J. Jill catalog.  Cindy's a "mature" model who broke the mold. She didn't start modeling until she was 49. She had long gray hair and wore minimal makeup.  She emanated confidence and class.  She made a HUGE impression on me.

I didn't know Cindy's name until a month ago when I discovered her new minimalist makeup line on the internet.  It's called "Boom," and it's specifically for older women who are tired of painting on a mask every day to try to make themselves look younger.    If you long for a 20-second makeup routine that complements your age and personality, rather than trying to disguise it, I suggest you look at her "Boomsticks."  They're fabulous.

Anyway, I was so happy to have found Cindy again, learned her name, and read her philosophy for aging beautifully, that I emailed her to express my gratitude.  I included a link to this blog.  She responded with sincere warmth and said she'd just read my last post ("What's happened to me.")  She suggested I research a health clinic called "True North" in Santa Rosa, California.  She knew a 78-year-old woman who'd been 100 pounds overweight and had FM.  The woman was now 85, had lost the excess weight, and was "cured" of FM. 

I looked up the clinic and learned one of their primary healing techniques was water fasting.  Drastic, yes, but apparently effective and safe if done under medical supervision.  The theory behind water fasting is that your body, in a resting mode, can contribute all its energy to healing itself, rather than digesting food or trying to build muscle.

Since I'd long suspected certain foods and alcohol were exacerbating my FM symptoms, I committed to trying a water fast.  That meant NOTHING would pass my lips except Excedrin, no vitamins, no caffeine, no chewing gum or breath mints.  What did I have to lose except pain?  If I dropped a few pounds in the process, so much the better.  But that was definitely not my motivation.

So here's what's happening:
Day 1.  Surprisingly easy.  By 3pm I was so stiff I could scarcely move, and this I attributed to the lack of anti-inflammatories in my system.  (I have routinely taken from two to six Excedrin daily for the past MANY years.)  Aside from the stiffness, I felt okay--not particularly hungry.  Before bed, I did "modify" the fast with a 110-calorie Cambridge drink, which I always keep on hand for emergencies.  (Read Bucket List Weight Loss to understand my addiction to Cambridge.)  I got up to pee four times that night.

Day 2.  Woke with a screaming headache that spanned the width of my forehead, but getting out of bed was surprisingly easy.  Usually I feel like I've been hit by a Mac truck the day before, but on this day I felt like I'd maybe been bumped by a Volkswagen.  The headache persisted, however.  For me, a headache is incapacitating. So I gave in and took a migraine pill (Zomig is a wonder drug for me), had another 110-calorie Cambridge shake, and went back to bed.  When I got up at noon, the headache was 80% gone, and I tiptoed quietly through the afternoon at home.

Then came the flu-like symptoms: chills, nausea, general malaise. And the headache was threatening to return with vengeance.  If I could just get rid of the damn headache, I thought, I can get through this.  I need caffeine! Lots of it.  More than coffee can provide.  Time to modify the water fast again.  I mixed up a concoction of amino energy drink I'd bought at Costco a year ago.  Mixed with coconut milk, the drink had about 60 calories and no "bad stuff"  (except caffeine). A few sips, and instantly I felt recharged.  And the headache vanished!

In addition to another liter of water, I had one more Cambridge shake that night. When I went to bed  I was utterly amazed at how good I felt.   I HADN'T TAKEN ANY EXCEDRIN IN TWO DAYS!  Nor had I ingested any alcohol. sugar, salt, wheat, dairy or meat.  I felt a calmness and serenity that gave me the best night's sleep I'd had in weeks.

Day 3.  A breeze.  In addition to water, I had three Cambridge shakes throughout the day (330 calories).  Plus, I treated myself to the coconut milk/amino protein concoction (another 60 calories).  My only big booboo was gulping down a Diet Pepsi after I'd mowed a very large lawn.  I immediately regretted it, as I could feel that cold garbage sloshing around in my otherwise clean gut. So I chased it with a liter of water and got through the rest of the day.  Once again, I retired to bed feeling utterly relaxed (no growly gut, no restless legs, no intense aches) and slept soundly with pleasant, entertaining dreams.

Day 4.  TODAY.  I feel so calm, physically and mentally.  Not interested in running six miles, but I can't anyway.  I will do some light exercises today and continue my water/Cambridge/amino energy  regimen.  I haven't felt this good in a long time.

Check in with me tomorrow.  As long as I feel this good, I plan to continue.  Maybe I'll even weigh myself tomorrow, but probably not.  I don't even care about the weight.  Getting rid of chronic pain is far more important!