Crazy Train

All Aboard the Crazy Train.  Guess who’s conducting.

I’ve had some stressful things come up.  I’ve been crying and worrying.  I thought all the crying and worrying was because of the stressful things.

Nope.

Let me back up a bit.

I was eating simple sugars as my primary source of carbohydrates for 2 or 3 months there, from January or February through April of this year.  Occasionally I’d have starches and I’d invariably regret it, because it would almost always make me unbearably depressed.  A few days later, after being off of them again my mood would improve.I realize this isn’t normal, and have accepted that there’s some bad stuff going on in my gut, including lots of serotonin being produced and released into the bloodstream when I eat starches. In March my serotonin level was 155 (range 11-204) – fairly high.  And that was on a GOOD day.  Hence, the depression that is always just under the surface.

Well I felt GREAT eating sugar, but it seemed that doing so was making some of my labs worse, so I decided to stop and to instead eat starches.  It was rough going – depression, irritability – these things became commonplace to me again, after feeling so much better for a long time.  There were some days that felt a little better, but in general I struggled during those few starchy weeks.

About a week ago I noticed my 4-year old becoming more anxious and telling me she’s scared of me when I yell.  She became unwilling to let go of me when it was time to say goodbye in the morning. She was crying more and was startling more easily.  I realized I had to stop with the starches again.  It was more important that my daughter have a sane mom than for me to have triglycerides in the normal range.  Today, at least.  So after 3 weeks of eating them, I again stopped.

I’ve been back to sugars again the last few days.  But I haven’t been able to regain that sense of calm.  I’ve been crying and sad – less aggressive maybe, but still depressed.  My dad is having health problems, which scares me, and things are changing in my work life.  I thought these stressors might be putting me over the edge.  It was in this frame of mind that I wrote my last two posts, and called to make a doctor’s appointment, thus giving up my quest for unmedicated health.

I figured maybe 3 weeks of eating starches had raised my serotonin so high that now I couldn’t cope with life. Today, while unable to concentrate on my work, I started researching Cyproheptadine, an antihistamine that Ray Peat says can be effective at reducing serotonin.  It’s not without side effects though – most commonly sedation and sometimes weight gain.  Neither of those sounded good to me, which is why I’ve hesitated to try it thus far.  Then I came across a thread from a month or two ago on my Facebook Ray Peat group.  Someone asked the group if there was a NON-SEDATING way to reduce serotonin.  One person suggested black tea, saying it was helpful for her in that respect, and a couple others agreed.  Worth a try, right?  I went to the store and bought some Luzianne iced tea bags – iced tea is double the strength because you’re likely to water it down with ice cubes after it’s made.

About 20 minutes into this cup of tea I started feeling like myself again – able to concentrate, to sit up straight, clear headed and emotionally stable.  Happy even!  What a relief.  Now I know the depression wasn’t due to life circumstances (though of course they’re on my mind)…because they haven’t changed.  They’re still there.  My dad’s still not well, and my work is still stressful.  But now I feel like I can cope again.

Black tea.  Serotonin reducer.

I know it’s not the caffeine that made the difference because I’ve been drinking coffee and swallowing caffeine tablets on top of it, trying to muster enough energy to get through the day.

Depressed?  Drink black tea.

I’m so going to cancel that doctor’s appointment.

Meds

I’ve got a doctor’s appointment on Monday.  I’m going to bring the labs and data I’ve collected and see if they’ll prescribe meds for me without having to do additional (expensive) testing.  Life has become stressful again.  I’m giving up.  Bring on the Metformin and the beta blockers.

Maybe at some point I’ll be able to lose weight and get off of these medications.

I’m unable to do this right now.

Pausing the Obsession

I need to take a break from my obsession with “health” (or whatever it is I’m doing). I’m going to stop measuring things for a while.  I have a couple of life things that need my attention right now, and I can’t afford to spend my time gazing at my navel.  Plus, my health has gone downhill since I started all of this 2 years ago.

For now, I’m going to focus for a while on my family and my work.

Not gone, just on pause.

Starch Madness…Over and Out

I’m done with eating starches for a while.  In the last couple of weeks my daughter has started to express more anxiety and needs constant reassurance.  I think she’s hearing my negative, anxious talk and internalizing it – I’m inadvertently teaching her that the world is a scary and dark place, because that’s how it often feels to me lately. Or maybe I’m scaring her, being so emotionally up and down.

I’m going back to eating sugars for carbohydrate.

Screw my labs. I miss being happy.

Bicycling: Effects on Fasting Blood Glucose

Ok, I’ve been bicycling for 7 days now, attempting to lower my fasting blood glucose (FBG).  Before I get into whether or not this is having the desired effect, let’s look at my history of using this particular exercise to reduce FBG.

In the Spring of 2011, a good 9 months before entering the online world of nutrition gurus, I bicycled every day for a couple weeks.  At this time my blood sugar was in the pre-diabetic range.  I was eating a standard American diet (SAD), probably not much sugar, some starches, some processed food, diet coke every day, still eating gluten.  Here were the effects at that time of bicycling and tracking calories:2011 Blood Sugar

Now, I don’t recall exactly what “tracking calories” meant – I didn’t have a blog back then so I can’t revisit those dates and see what I was doing.  Knowing me though, I was trying to stick to around a 1500 calorie diet.  As you can see from the graph above, bicycling + tracking calories was a good thing – my FBG was in the 90s within a few days and in the 80s within about a week and a half.  I was biking for about 30 minutes at a time on flat terrain, moderate intensity – just enough to sweat and breathe a little harder but not enough to be exhausted. I stopped because I got sick (I don’t remember what with) and the temperatures outside soared to over 110 degrees.  Got out of the habit and didn’t restart.  Maybe because my diet was consistently making me depressed.

Fast forward to September 2013 – my next experiment with biking.  Here’s a graph of my FBG then:

2013 blood sugar

This was a month before I began my Peat-inspired lifestyle.  Fasting blood sugar at the time was mostly in the pre-diabetic range (under 126) with occasional higher spikes.  I began a “lower-cal diet” and bicycling, and continued with that for almost 2 weeks. “Lower-cal” at that time meant shooting for 1500 net calories (after exercise).  I remember being kinda hungry – but I didn’t really spend a lot of time researching low-calorie high-nutrient high-satiety foods at that time.  About 50% of my calories were in the form of fat, 25% protein, 25% carbohydrate.  Other than that, nutrients weren’t really on the radar yet.

During that time my blood sugar stabilized around 100 (a good 15 points lower), with dips into the 90s as early as 6 days into the program.  If I had continued the trend may have continued.  I stopped because my focus at that time was weight loss, and I wasn’t losing.  My temperature and pulse were dropping, and new-found information from Ray Peat world made me think my metabolism might be suffering.  So I stopped.

Ok, so now let’s look at today.  I’ve been bicycling with NO dietary change, for 7 days now.  As in the previous exercise programs I’ve been biking for 30 minutes or so, medium intensity, flat terrain.  Let’s look at the data:

FBG May 2014

Blood sugar is….remarkably stable.  And unchanged in the last week. NO CHANGE.  It may have been unrealistic for me to aim for the 90s within two weeks, considering my baseline level is higher now, but I would hope to see at least SOME movement in the right direction.

So what’s missing?

Well, the previous two times I biked regularly I was also counting calories, shooting for around 1500 calories per day.  Over the past week I haven’t been monitoring what I eat at all.  My weight is down a pound or so and I haven’t been overeating, but I haven’t been counting anything.  I tend to eat around 2200 calories a day when not attempting to reduce, so it’s safe to say I’ve been consuming at least that much.

So it appears that for me, blood sugar management is going to involve not just regular exercise but also a reduced-calorie diet.  I don’t know if it has anything at all to do with eating low-fat….just low-energy (calorie).  I’ll have to research ways to stay full.  Hunger has always been the obstacle to me sticking to a reduced calorie diet.

I’ve started counting calories today.  Will continue on with bicycling.

Score one for conventional wisdom.

Serotonin

It’s 1:44AM.  Having a hard time sleeping because of all the GI distress currently going on in me.  Sounds like thunderclouds in there.  Let’s list the possible culprits:

1.  On the advice of a commenter, I had 2T of unfiltered apple cider vinegar before and also after breakfast.  It made me feel all heart-burny and not very good.

2.  Had probiotic AFTER eating breakfast today, instead of before.  But seriously, that was like 19 hours ago.  Wouldn’t any effect from that be done by now?

3.  I ate a couple of red potatoes out of the fridge with salt but no butter.  Less digestible, according to Peat, than eating them with fat.

4. Ate a bunch of gluten free pretzels.  Gluten free junk food, really.  But I’ve done this before and didn’t feel this way.

It was 7:00PM this evening and my blood sugar was 200.  Went for a bike ride, despite massive bloating, to bring it down.  Half hour later it was down to 123.  Success.

I’ve been thinking about a comment made on yesterday’s post.  Something along the lines of, “Maybe stop obsessing and things will right themselves.”  (<– only said better than this.)  I mused on that during my bike ride and while lying in bed tonight unable to sleep because of all the commotion in my gut.  Maybe I should just stop worrying about it, get on metformin, get on blood pressure meds, buy some fat girl clothes and get on with my life, right?  Think of all the time I’d have.  I wouldn’t be on Facebook learning about what Ray Peat has to say about X.  I wouldn’t be writing this now instead of trying to sleep.  I wouldn’t have spent $12 on Paul Jaminet’s book.  So why do I keep doing this?  Is it just the quest for the truth about health?  Is there even any chance I can be healthy again?

One thing I get out of this is folks to talk to.  Since moving 3 times in one year in 2012-13, to three different states, I don’t have real friends anymore.  I’ve left all of them.  I have people I swing by and see when I’m in town, or whom I text on their birthday, but I don’t have friends anymore.  Trying to figure out my health gives me a community of sorts – not a real community or anything, but people to talk to about stuff.

Crap…I think the gastro distress is raising serotonin and making me morbid.

Or maybe I’m sad for real.

Things just seem really hard right now.  My enjoyment of life seems to be chronically low.

I feel like I need help.

Starch Almost Killed Me Today

True story.  Today I was on the road for 5 hours, round trip.  Before making the return trip my family and I ate lunch at a Chinese buffet.  Not ideal health-wise, I know, but I made the best of it. I ate some seafood (shrimp, scallops in butter), a teeny tiny hot dog with bacon wrapped around it, some beef dish (avoiding the PUFA-laden sauce as much as possible), and 3 sections of a California roll.  They looked like this:

sushi

Only, 3 instead of 4.

I love sushi with the white-hot intensity of a thousand suns.  Not eating starches for several months there was tough for me in part because I love sushi so much, and sashimi just doesn’t do it for me.  But I digress.

I had 3 pieces of California roll.  Now, how much rice do you suppose is in 3 pieces?  Maybe a quarter cup?

After lunch I got in the car to drive the 2.5 hours back home, my little girl in the back seat. About 30 minutes in I was fighting to stay awake.  FIGHTING.  At one point I almost dozed off behind the wheel.  I haven’t done that for years, despite frequently driving long distances like this.  Gee….I wonder why I was so tired…I mean, I slept well last night, as I usually do…I had a couple hundred milligrams of caffeine in me this morning…so weird…Hm.  Oh yeah…THE RICE.  THE DAMN RICE MADE ME SO TIRED I ALMOST FELL ASLEEP BEHIND THE WHEEL.

I haven’t felt the need to take mid-day naps for months until I started eating starches.  Now, like clockwork, I eat something starchy and within 45 minutes or so, I’m exhausted.  My muscles feel weak, my eyelids heavy.  All I can say is, thank goodness for this song, which helped to wake me up again.  I had to turn it up really loud and car-dance to avoid further life-threatening sleepiness.  I hope my daughter didn’t listen to the lyrics.

So…starches aren’t working out for me.

Know what else isn’t working out?  Free-wheeling it with my diet and hoping it all falls into place.  My [lack of] health is past that point, I’m afraid.  The last few days my mood has been all over the place, my temper has been short, I’m tired, and my motivation to do things like play with my kid is very very low.

So new diet plan (4.0?):  Every. Single. Thing. I eat needs to be high in nutrient density.  No more doing the minimum necessary to get in all my nutrients so I don’t feel guilty eating the stuff I really want to eat (I’m looking at you, grilled cheese on gluten-free bread).  Now the ONLY things I’ll be eating will be high in nutrient density.  I’m going to assault my body with micronutrients so it doesn’t need as much food. If my inability to tolerate foods is killing me and/or making me want to kill others (stupid serotonin), I’ll just have to reduce the quantity of food.

I might even eat berries.

No more starches for a while, except maybe at night when I don’t need to be productive afterward…and when there are fewer hours left in the day for me to pick fights with jerks on Facebook.

Biking is going well though… Went for a ride at 6:30AM after a breakfast of 3 scrambled eggs and no carbohydrates.  Felt awesome.  Unfortunately, it was downhill from there.

There’s always tomorrow.