Step out of the Norm


Today I am stepping out of my norm…and I won’t really be talking about IBD.  Today, the thing on my mind is my weight loss and a revelation that I had.

I have mentioned it in some other posts and I don’t hide the fact that I am one of those overweight people with IBD.  When you hear statistics about obesity in America…I am in those statistics.  I never saw myself as obese..but my weight told a different tale.  I am 5 Foot 8 inches and before my weight loss journey I weighed around 240 lbs.  Now I knew I was overweight and had some issues because of it.  My blood sugar was high and my cholesterol was high.  My Crohn’s Disease was out of control and I was in a flare I just couldn’t control.  I knew I had to do something.

One day everything seemed to snap into place.  I was starting to get a new outlook on life with my Crohn’s so I decided to take it another step and control my weight.  I knew this wasn’t going to be easy.  I have been overweight all my life except when I first got sick with IBD.  I knew I had to get my weight down to the 160’s so I had a long road ahead of me.  The trick to this was finding what would work for me.  I have tried eating healthy before (high fiber, whole grains) but that would just anger my CD.  The things my tummy liked were white bleached products like white rice and white bread…the unhealthy stuff.  So this time around I did some research.

At the end of January of 2012, I went Gluten Free.  This was one of the best things I have done in my life for both my health and my Crohn’s.  Besides this, I also joined Weight Watchers..for the 3rd time in my life.  I swore to myself this would be the last time.

Here it is August 2012  and I have done pretty good.  So far I have lost 25 lbs and that is now where the trouble is starting.  The gluten-free diet has been trying some days but I have managed to stay on it.  The Weight Watchers is another story.  One thing they teach you and say you should do every day is track your food.  This helps in keeping tack of your daily points for the day.  Overall I have enough points right now to keep my satisfied.  But lately, I find myself on the weekend skipping the tracking.  Needless to say for the past 2 weeks I have gained some weight back.

Now one of the things they asked us is in a meeting was what keeps you motivated.  WW has this idea of anchors.  You should find something that when you look at it or touch it..it keeps you grounded and remind you why you are doing this.  I felt I never needed an anchor.  My biggest reason for losing weight was not only my bloodwork..but it was to keep my Crohn’s in check.  That is my biggest reason and my main reason to never be overweight again.  However, these past two weeks I have pushed that out of my head and ignored my body.

Last night as I travelled home, I reflected on the past couple of weeks.  I was trying to figure out why I am self sabotaging myself.  I have been doing so well with my journey.   And then it hit me.  All my life I have been overweight.  When I look in the mirror I see a slimmed down version (although still overweight) of myself and I am starting not to recognize him.  All I know is being overweight.  Since I refuse to be that anymore…what is my life going to be like?  How will I survive?  Will I be able to maintain that life?

Some of my thoughts were a little irrational but I know they are in my head so I have acknowledged them.  Whether the thoughts are rational or not, they are there and affecting me.  So I looked into my fear in the eyes.  I stared him down.  I have been sick for too long and I swore I would get better.  So here is this monster with chains in his hands telling me to come with him.  Well…not today.  You can take those chains and find someone else, because you won’t get me anymore.

I want to be healthy.  I want to be in remission.  I want to look in a mirror and say “Damn…who is that sexy guy?”  For years I have wanted to feel like a skinny person.  Well, I am going to get that chance..one day.  I know my fears will come back and haunt me probably for the rest of my life.  But I am done being overweight.  I want to live.  I want to enjoy life.  I want to be around for a long time. 

So, my journey continues.  I have hit a fork in the road and a chose a path.  So far, it is a clear path.  I remember where I am heading and I am back on the yellow bricks again.  My companions are by my side to guide me along.

My courage helped me face those dark fears.  My brains helped me see those fears for what they were.  My heart helped in clearing a path so I can step around the fears.  And my little dog was there to lick my face and show me that everything is alright and I can continue on my way home.  So I take those first steps again on the long road home.  I will get there.  It won’t be a short trip and there will be other obstacle.  And if any of those obstacles are flying monkies..I am running.

Traveling with IBD


I just came back from vacation and for the first time in my life,  I was really scared about traveling with Crohn’s Disease.  In the past I never worried about it.  On the days where I would actually be traveling, I would take Imodium and that would be that.  I never worried about food choices either because in the past food wasn’t an issue with my Crohn’s.

This year was different.  For the first time in my life, I was staying in a Caribbean country.  I went to the Dominican Republic for 7 days.  Now the trip there didn’t worry me.  I have flown many times and was just excited not nervous so my stomach behaved.   My biggest worries would be the food this time around as my breakfast choice was going to be hard.   As a reminder to everyone, I have gone Gluten Free and eggs upset my CD.  Originally I bought some Chex cereal and almond milk to bring with me, but there was no room in the suitcase for them so I had to leave them behind.

When I got to the resort it was so beautiful and relaxing I thought, this would be great.  By dinner time, my worries kicked in.  Now at the resort I stayed in, there was a buffet for breakfast and lunch and for dinner you could do the buffet or you had a choice of 2 restaurants.  There were a total of 4 restaurants but only 2 were open each day.  As I looked at the menu’s of the restaurant I saw it was going to be very difficult to eat a GF diet.   Just about everything had gluten in it.  From every menu, there was maybe one item that was just naturally GF but of course I would have to worry about cross contamination.  I could deal with that though.  So for the first night, I survived, but the food didn’t taste good.

Come morning, it was buffet time.  I knew this would be a challenge so I brought my digestive enzymes just in case I had to eat eggs.  Turns out food would be the least of my worries.  The dinning area was opened all around so birds were flying in constantly.  They would walk all over the tables and fly to the food.  They would even peck and eat at the food on the buffet.  The workers there didn’t seem to care and this started to turn my stomach.   I quickly learned that food sanitation and safety meant nothing here.  The food workers wore no gloves, used utensils to touch raw and cooked meat together, and the food never seemed hot enough and sometimes not cooked enough.

So needless to say, keeping myself healthy was going to be a real challenge.  Just looking at the dinning building would turn my stomach.  I lost my appetite pretty quickly that first morning and for a week I hardly ate anything.  The restaurants didn’t have bird issues but they still had the other issues.  I couldn’t wait to leave and get home to eat a real meal.

Over all,  my CD never acted up (surprisingly) and I survived DR.  It was a very relaxing trip aside from the food and I didn’t want to leave.  But this trip opened my eyes to what many other people with IBD must go through.  Someone with active CD or UC might have gotten really sick from those conditions.    It also made me realize that for any future vacations, I am really going to have to plan and research places well.  I will never go clueless on vacation again.

So here are some advice to others with IBD for traveling:

1)  Make sure you have anti-D meds with you and enough of your regular meds.

2) If you are going to a resort, see if they can send you menus of their restaurants.  Also ask them if they can accommodate any special diet you might have.

3) Bring some IBD friendly foods with you.

4) If your staying at a hotel, look online for some IBD diet friendly restaurants.  Most restaurants these days post their menus online.

5) Check to see if they have a doctor where you are staying.  If you’re in a tropical country, the nearest hospital can be hours away.

6) Make sure you have up to date medical records with you and if your on meds, keep a list of them in your wallet just in case of an emergency.

7) Never be afraid to ask.  If you don’t see something, ask if they carry it.  If your GF and you don’t see any GF foods, they might have some and just don’t put it out.

8) Tip the staff well.  They will remember you and help you out more than someone who isn’t as appreciative.

Well, that is all I can think of for now.    I hope these tips can help you out the next time you travel.  I know I will be planning my next trip out very meticulously and won’t make the mistakes I made this year.