Progress

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It’s been a while since I’ve posted here on Betsy’s blog. She’s had a few weightier things to write about recently, and we thought it would be a good time to lighten the mood with a Lucas diet update! Back in June I wrote about our attempts to wean Lucas off of baby food. It’s really hard to believe that less than six months ago his diet consisted mostly of pureéd fruits and vegetables and liquefied chicken mixed with various baby cereals. A lot has changed since then and we’ve learned a lot about our boy in the process!

Lucas eats a lot of different foods.  He eats grilled cheese sandwiches, chicken quesadillas, cheeseburgers, beef empanadas, homemade chicken nuggets, pizza, kale chips, apples, bananas, grapes, oranges, peas, corn, green beans, carrots, sweet potatoes, cucumbers, avocado, broccoli, tomatoes, graham crackers…oh, and pancakes. That’s a pretty substantial list! We were worried that Lucas’s diet might not be as healthy after he transitioned to solid foods but so far that has not been the case. Grilled cheese is still his favorite!

It's a bird, it's a plane...no, it's Lucas eating a cheeseburger with a side of banana and cucumbers!

It’s a bird, it’s a plane…no, it’s Lucas eating a cheeseburger with a side of banana and cucumbers!

Gardening helps. Over the summer Betsy planted a garden and Lucas got really into it and helped water the plants and harvest the produce. His willingness to try something new seemed to increase if he had just picked it. His favorite? Kale! Betsy used to mix it into his “green” pureé but now Lucas prefers it in crunchy, chip-form.

So do Bubble Guppies. Bubble Guppies is one of Lucas’s favorite kid shows. There was an episode recently where the Guppies go to “Fruit Camp”and participate in a race with obstacles (i.e. trying new foods) along the way. Gil earns a point for the team by eating a carrot. Then Deema is faced with the last and most difficult obstacle: broccoli. She hesitates at first but tries it and finds that it’s “delicious!” Well, that was enough for Lucas to ask for some broccoli too. I’m not sure if he really likes it or if he only likes it because the Bubble Guppies like it. Either way, he’s added another healthy vegetable to his diet and, unfortunately, so have I.

Thanks a lot, Deema.

Thanks a lot, Deema.

Texture still matters. There have been some real head scratchers along the way. We experimented with some pretty tried and true kid favorites like macaroni and cheese and ravioli but Lucas really didn’t go for them. Strange because what kid doesn’t like macaroni and cheese? It turns out that he didn’t like the texture. Too rubbery? I’m not sure exactly. But the good thing is at age four we were able to have a conversation about it and we agreed that if he tried some other foods, we could replace ravioli with something that he liked better!

Appearance matters too. We’ve still had the occasional meltdown over food. A month or so ago Betsy and Lucas had come with me to a soccer game and we decided to go out for pizza afterwards. I was thrilled. For the longest time I had just wanted to have the freedom to leave the house and not worry about packing an entire meal of baby food to take with us. Lucas was excited too…until the pizza arrived. It had a much thicker crust than he was used to. It wasn’t quite deep dish but still it was different enough for him to deem it “not pizza”. After a lot of patience (from Betsy) and persuading (also Betsy) he did eat some of it. Since then we have limited our patronage to pizza joints that have a hand tossed crust option on the menu. 🙂

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree (again!). Lucas has absolutely no sweet tooth, just like his mother. Despite my best efforts, Lucas has zero interest in cookies, donuts, cake, or candy. For his birthday, I went all out and made a cake decorated with his favorite farm animals. I even made a frosting barn! Lucas admired the artwork but wanted nothing to do with eating it. Betsy was no help either. So I ate the whole thing myself (I’m not sure whether to feel proud or ashamed). One of Lucas’s little friends from church got him to try a cookie after the service one Sunday. He gave it the old college try but after a couple of bites he gave it to me to finish. He really doesn’t like sweets.

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My masterpiece: The Barnyard.

Traditions. The town I grew up in is about 15 minutes away from where we live now. There is a bakery in that town that is famous for its fresh baked German soft pretzels. They only make them on Saturdays. Lucas really likes his carbs and so one Saturday not too long ago I was determined to see if he would try a pretzel. He also likes salty things (just like his mother) so I thought it might work. Well, he was hooked after one bite. And it’s now become a weekly ritual. It’s great because it gives Betsy a chance to sleep in, Lucas and I have a fun morning out just the two of us, and then we all have soft pretzels as a late breakfast when we get home. We have the leftovers for breakfast on Sunday.

Saturday's new tradition!

Saturday’s new tradition!

All in all, Lucas has made a ton of progress and we are super proud of him! It’s been fun to see him try new things and like most of them. He even tried seaweed at preschool the other day! That’s right, my son prefers seaweed to cookies. Who would have ever guessed?

A Spring-y Update

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Spring has finally sprung here in Michigan!  [Insert a loud and dramatic sigh of relief].  What a winter this was!  I had a nasty, debilitating virus and CF exacerbation in December followed by three additional viruses over the course of what were some of the coldest months (weather-wise) of my life. Talk about feeling cooped up! My lungs have been aching for a breath of warm, fresh air.

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Lucas’s first ever snowman (who he named “Dusty”) is now…

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…a memory. See you next winter, Dusty!

My latest virus hit right after I wrote my last update.  I had a sinus infection and a sore throat and this time, pink eye.  Lovely. I went to a primary care physician who prescribed drops for the pink eye and told me my other symptoms were viral.  She did encourage me to follow-up with my pulmonary specialist, however, and I just happened to have a routine appointment on the books for the very next day.

After I got to the appointment and took my breathing test, I knew I was in trouble. My FEV1 was down 13 points.  What a shock!  I knew I was struggling and hadn’t felt great in weeks, but I never would have guessed my lung function had dropped so drastically. My CF doctor put me on oral antibiotics immediately and scheduled another appointment for just four days later.  The antibiotics took care of my acute sinus and throat symptoms within 36 hours (so maybe they weren’t viral after all?) but I continued to struggle with noticeable wheezing and inflammation in my lungs. When my FEV1 showed no improvement four days later, I started on steroids.

I’m now a week into the steroids and a week and a half into the antibiotics and am feeling pretty good.  I’m a little cloudy–the steroids make it very difficult to get a good night’s sleep.  But it feels great to be free from troublesome levels of congestion and inflammation, and although I’m not exactly breathing easy, I’m breathing easier. I’ve felt well enough to be out and about with Lucas, enjoying this warmer spring weather.

Sticks, snow, puddles, mud, rainboots...it's a little boy's heaven out there.

Sticks, melting snow, puddles, mud, rainboots…it’s a little boy’s heaven out there.

Here comes the sun!  (And yes, Jaime and Lucas picked out those boots for me :))

Here comes the sun! (And yes, Jaime and Lucas picked out those *bright* boots for me :))

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Swinging at the park!

Now for an update on Operation Up Scale and Lace Up. I have stayed true to my committment to gain weight and have put on three pounds so far.  I haven’t gained an ounce since I started the antibiotics as they always upset my stomach, but my weight is holding steady.  I know I’ll get those last two pounds on once I finish out the medication. The MyFitnessPal application has been an awesome help in this endeavor again.  It keeps me on track with my calorie goals.

I got back on the treadmill too!  Thankfully I never got terribly ill with this virus or bacterial infection or whatever it was, so once I started on the steroids and antibiotics I recovered enough within a few days to have energy to exercise.  Last week I walked two miles at a 15 minute mile pace three times.  This week I started back on the couch to 5K program and alternated jogging one minute and walking a minute and a half for the two miles.  It’s going well! (Initially I typed cough to 5K. Is that a Freudian slip or what?!)

I have another pulmonary appointment in two weeks and I am hoping to see a big jump in the right direction on my FEV1. Even a little hop in the right direction would be encouraging. I have to remind myself over and over that healing takes time, and to choose patience over panic.

Happy Spring everyone!

An Update and a Non-Update

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Hi All, I’m stopping by for a quick update.  I have some good news to share about Operation Up Scale…a week into calorie counting I’ve gained a pound.  Yay!  I haven’t loved eating all those extra calories.  There were plenty of times this past week where I had to take a deep breath and force myself to finish those last few bites, but I did it.  I’m relieved the weight is returning and I’m hoping within the next month I might be back to my target weight.

I wish I could give you an update on Operation Lace Up, but alas, I cannot.  The very same day I posted that I was working on these goals again, I got sick. It was Saturday and my throat hurt so bad I headed into the clinic at my doctor’s office to have a strep test.  Other CFers may understand what I mean when I say I was really, really hoping it was strep.  I know, that sounds crazy, right? The thing is, strep is easy to cure with a few days of antibiotics.  The alternative, a virus, is much harder for my body because there are no medications available to give me a hand.

But…it wasn’t strep.  My doctor sent me home with strict instructions to rest and sleep and drink a lot of fluids.  She warned me that the viruses she had been seeing were starting out with sore throats and sinus issues and landing in the chest three or four days in. She said that they were hitting [otherwise healthy] people hard. You can imagine the trepidation I felt at hearing those words!  Please, not a repeat of December!

About 24 hours into the virus I noticed a few key differences. First of all, I never got a fever.  Second, my appetite wasn’t nearly as affected as it usually is when I get sick.  My throat hurt like crazy, my sinuses weren’t great and I was very tired, but that’s it.

I’m six days in now and feeling decent, almost normal. I’m still more tired than usual and am trying to be careful about my energy.  Because of that, I haven’t been on the treadmill since last Friday, hence no update on Operation Lace Up.  I’m hoping to feel strong enough to get back to it this weekend.

Although that goal was temporarily sidelined I’m feeling extremely encouraged and so very grateful that I didn’t get too sick with this virus or require medical intervention.  As Lucas would say, Hoooorayyyy!!

Hooray!!

Hooray!!

Things are looking up around here! (Get it?)

Operation Up Scale and Lace Up…Take Two

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As you know if you’ve been following along, I’ve been struggling with my health these past few months.  I’ve lost weight and I haven’t been consistent with exercise since I got sick in December.  This week I decided it was time to get back on the scale and back on the treadmill.  It was time to see exactly what I was dealing with and start working my way back to “normal” again.

Well, sadly, it looks like in both areas I’m back to square one.

[Gasp], Not square one!!

[Gasp], Not square one!!

Yes, square one.  *Sigh.  I have lost all of the 5-6 pounds I gained during “Operation Up Scale” last spring and summer. This is not terribly surprising. I need to consume more calories than the average person simply because I burn more calories breathing and talking and walking around because of the strain cystic fibrosis puts on my body.  I also am unable to absorb all the nutrients in my food. Because of both of these factors, when I get sick (and I’ve had both a respiratory illness and the stomach flu these past two months), I am unable to come close to meeting my body’s calorie demands, and the weight falls off rather quickly.

When I stepped back on the treadmill, I found that I could only walk at 3.5 miles per hour for 25 minutes which totaled 1.5 miles. Right before I got sick in December, I was jogging 2 miles in 25 minutes (at about 4.7 miles per hour) thanks to “Operation Lace Up“.  This big drop confirmed what I have been feeling, that my lungs are struggling.  Even when I started my modified couch to 5K program last July, I was able to start running and walking at 4 miles per hour.  Upon reflection, I realized that at that time, I had a much higher base level of fitness.  With the nice spring and summer weather, I had spent several months outside playing with Lucas and had logged many miles of walking by pushing him in his stroller to the parks, to the bus stop, to Jaime’s office and the local museums. This time I’m getting off the couch for real.  (Hmmm, the couch. So much more comfy than the treadmill.)

Now I’d like to tell you that these setbacks didn’t faze me but the truth is, I was pretty discouraged and upset at first, especially about the exercise. It took me several conversations with my husband, and several conversations with God to find peace with it. It’s hard when you work hard to achieve something and then have to start over due to circumstances outside of your control. On one hand, cystic fibrosis makes these falls harder and faster than they would otherwise be, and the journey back to health is longer and more difficult. But on the other hand, this is just life and these types of setbacks happen to everyone. So after about 18 hours of feeling disheartened and dealing with those negative voices telling me I’d probably never get back to my previous level of fitness and health, I screwed up my courage and got to work.

First I got back on MyFitnessPal and started tracking my calories.  I set my goal at 3200 calories again but cut myself a little bit of slack this week.  I’m still not feeling 100% so my appetite is reduced.  I did notice that I was able to get closer to my goal each day and yesterday I finally hit the target.

I got back on the treadmill the very next day, and the day after that, and the day after that.  I was even able to push up my speed to 3.7 (baby steps).  When I did Operation Lace Up last summer, I only worked out three times per week, but I think this time I’m going to try to walk almost every day.  Because my activity level is so much lower due to this freezing cold and snowy winter, walking more is the only way I can get the base level of fitness I’m going to need if I want to try the running again.  I’ve decided just to focus on walking for a few weeks and once that gets easier, I’ll try that modified couch to 5K again and hopefully work back up to running the two miles.

So!  Here we are, Operation Up Scale and Operation Lace Up, take two.  Hopefully the shock and dismay I felt at being back at square one will turn to joy…

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and laughter…

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when I meet these two goals again.  (I think I can, I think I can, I think I can…)

[Not] The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

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FInding the perfect Christmas tree to take home!

Don’t get me wrong, I love the holidays (Lucas’s contagious delight, crackling fires, Christmas carols, glowing candles, fond memories of popcorn balls and felt stockings), but this time of year is rife with germs, colds, flu, and all things scary for those of us with cystic fibrosis.  During cold and flu season last year I required antibiotics only once (in February) after a seven month antibiotic-free streak. It has now been ten months since I’ve been on antibiotics and I’m hoping to continue adding to that number, even through these winter months. I made some changes to my health routine last winter that seemed to have a big impact.  Here are some tips to help you get through cold and flu season unscathed!

1. Get plenty of rest and sleep.  Sleep is by far the most important factor in my health maintenance routine. I do best if I have nine hours a night. I can get by on eight, but any less than that for an extended period of time means trouble. It’s easy around the holidays to lose out on sleep, whether you’re shopping, going to parties, or getting ready to host family.  Even though it’s a busy time, try to make sleep a priority. Your body will thank you.

2. Eat a healthy diet. God has given us many wonderful foods in nature that can help protect our bodies against infection and can fight off illnesses if we’ve fallen victim to a virus or bacteria.  In general, eating a healthy diet with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and cutting down on processed and sugary foods which cause inflammation will help you stay healthy this winter.  Here are my favorite infection fighting super foods that I eat during the winter:

  • Homemade Chicken Soup: Chicken soup really is healthy.  It clears up congestion and reduces inflammation. Chicken contains an amino acid called cysteine which is released when you make soup. Cysteine thins the mucus in the lungs which helps the body to heal from a virus or infection and helps us CFers fight our daily fight against congestion.  Thanks to some advice from a friend, I have recently started making my own chicken broth with the bones and leftover parts of a whole chicken.  I fill a large soup pot and simmer the bones, skin, and whatever meat is leftover for about 12 hours.  At that point, I add some onion, carrots, celery, a few bay leaves, a tablespoon of peppercorns, and a little salt and let it simmer for another 12 hours.  I then strain out all the solids and freeze what we won’t be using immediately.  We have been adding this broth to many soups, stews, and other dishes that call for chicken stock.  It tastes great and is very nutritious!
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Homemade Chicken Broth

  • Cranberries: Cranberries are in season right now and are a super healthy fruit.   They are extremely high in antioxidants, second only to the blueberry.  They are very low in sugar.  I eat them raw for maximum nutritional value (yes, raw).  Because they are very sour, I drizzle them with honey.  They are still tart but once you get used to them, I think you will like them! Cranberries can be frozen right in their bags.  I buy and freeze enough to get me through the winter months.
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Beautiful berries!

  • Cruciferous Vegetables:  Cruciferous vegetables include vegetables such as cauliflower, cabbage, brussel sprouts, broccoli, and kale.  This family of vegetables is very high in calcium, various vitamins, disease fighting antioxidants, and other phytochemicals.  (Phytochemicals are plant chemicals that have protective or disease preventative properties.  Antioxidants are phytochemicals).  My two favorite veggies from this family are kale, which has also been shown to ease lung congestion, and red cabbage which is anti-microbial and anti-bacterial.  Red cabbage is effective against both staph and psuedomonas (common CF bacterias).
  • Ginger: Ginger is soothing to the stomach.  It is also rich in antioxidants and has potent anti-inflammatory properties.  Using fresh ginger will give you the most benefit. I grate it to make tea and use it in stir fry.  I also eat candied ginger. This does have added sugar so I just eat a few pieces each day.  I warn you, it can be very hot, but I like it!
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Spicy and delicious

  • Garlic: Garlic stimulates the immune system.  Garlic has a phytochemical called allicin which is powerfully anti-bacterial and anti-viral.  It is effective against psuedomonas.  In spite of my anti-garlic upbringing, I now cook with fresh garlic on a regular basis (sorry Dad!).  I also take a garlic supplement during cold and flu season.
  • Turmeric Root: Turmeric root is another immune-boosting root that is rich in antioxidants and has potent anti-inflammatory properties.  I often grate turmeric into my scrambled eggs, put it in soups, or make tea from it.  You might want to try my friend Erin’s recipe for turmeric, black pepper, and honey or maple syrup tea (click here for the recipe.)  It’s very soothing!  (Side note, black pepper is also anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and reduces congestion).

3.  Drink plenty of fluids.  Stay well hydrated!  If we got sick when we were little, my mom would set the timer and we would have a drink every half hour.  That may seem like overkill but fluids are so important.  Water flushes waste and bacteria out of our systems and staying hydrated will give your body the energy to fight off infections.  I have found that my mucus seems thinner if I’m drinking enough water too.  I try to drink eight glasses of water per day in addition to my other fluids (coffee♥, orange juice, and coconut milk).

4. Wash your hands often.  This is kind of a no-brainer but it’s important to get those germs off your hands, especially if you’ve been out and about. I also keep my fingernails cut short because bacteria loves to hide under the nails.  I try to avoid touching my face, too, so that the bacteria that is inevitably on my hands doesn’t get into my eyes, nose, or mouth.

5.  Get some fresh air and exercise.  Exercise helps your immune system to fight against infections and strengthens your whole body.  Getting outside gives you needed exposure to natural sunlight and boosts the spirits.  Even if the cold air is hard to breathe, staying out for a few minutes will be beneficial.

Lucas sees to it that I get plenty of fresh air and exercise.

Lucas sees to it that I get plenty of fresh air and exercise.

6.  Laugh!  Staying joyful and upbeat lowers stress and helps to keep infection at bay.  It’s easy to get nervous during cold and flu season.  After all, a simple cold is rarely simple for those of us with chronic lung disease.  But try to push those fears away.  Do the very best you can to take care of yourself.  Then relax, smile, and enjoy this wonderful time of year!

Laughter really is good medicine.

Laughter really is good medicine!

The Most Important Meal of the Day

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Eating nutritious foods is one of the ways I try to maintain my health.  I’ve made a lot of changes to my diet over the past several months and it has helped tremendously.  I haven’t seen any improvement in my lung function tests, but I have noticed positive changes in my energy level, the amount of congestion I wrestle with every day, and my ability to fight off infections.  I only got sick once this past winter and was able to completely avoid several colds my boys brought home.  That’s notable!

This study of diet came out of a frustrating situation.  You see, as cystic fibrosis progresses, bacteria colonizes in the lungs.  That means that even if I’m not sick, there is always bacteria present in my lungs.  Sometimes it just sits there relatively quietly, contributing to inflammation but not making me acutely ill.  Other times it flares up and causes acute symptoms, perhaps because I got a virus or sometimes for an unknown reason.

There are inhaled antibiotics that are used routinely to keep this colonized bacteria under control.  They are helpful because they go straight to the source of the problem.  Unfortunately, I have tried them all and cannot tolerate any of them due to my asthma (they cause wheezing, chest tightness, and lung irritation).  Out of frustration Jaime started researching natural remedies and we found there are a lot of foods out there that can help with my specific issues: inflammation, bacteria, and the need for a strong immune system.  Eating healthy was not new to me; I was raised eating all kinds of fresh and healthy foods, but the idea that I could eat certain foods to address my specific issues was new and exciting!

As I mentioned before, I cut dairy out of my diet due its links to asthma and congestion.  Then we started looking for foods that would help with immunity, inflammation and bacteria and were surprised to find many great options! I won’t write about all the foods I eat in this post, but let me tell you about my breakfast.

imageI try to eat this dish several times a week, and here’s what’s in it: coconut oil, eggs, kale, red cabbage, mushrooms, freshly grated turmeric root, chia seeds, freshly ground black pepper, and quinoa.  Here is how these foods help my body:

Eggs are high in vitamins, protein, and healthy fats.  They help me keep my weight up.

Coconut oil is anti-inflammatory, helps with nutrient absorption, is anti-microbial (kills a variety of disease-causing bacteria, fungi, viruses and parasites), and helps stabilize blood sugar.  (According to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, 43% of adults with CF over the age of 30 develop cystic fibrosis related diabetes.  I don’t currently have diabetes but I did have gestational diabetes during my pregnancy and am careful to eat foods that keep my blood sugar stable).

Kale is very high in vitamins A, C, and K.  Getting a lot of vitamins A and K is especially important for me because they are fat soluble, meaning they need fat in order to be soaked up by the body.  CF patients tend to be deficient in them because we have trouble absorbing fats.  Kale is also high in antioxidants which boost immunity.  I’ve even read that it reduces the amount of mucus in the lungs!

Red cabbage boosts immunity, is anti-microbial, and antibacterial.  In fact, it has been shown to kill the bacteria Staphylococcus (both regular Staph and Methicillian resistant Staph), and Pseudomonas.  Both Staph and Pseudomonas common CF colonizers.  Red cabbage is also effective against the fungus Aspergillus which can live in the airways of CFers. Red cabbage improves digestion and is high in vitamin C.  (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3171003/)

Mushrooms boost the immune system, increase white blood cell count to aid in fighting infection, have antibiotic properties,  and stimulate the appetite.

Chia seeds are have high amounts of omega 3 fatty acids (to keep me smart 😉 ), are high in protein, have high levels of antioxidants to boost immunity, are easily digestible, and stabilize blood sugar.

Black pepper aids with digestion, reduces congestion, is anti-inflammatory, and has antibacterial properties.

Turmeric root is a powerful antioxidant, is antibacterial, and is anti-inflammatory.

Quinoa is high in calories and in nutrients.  It has a lot of protein and a good amount of vitamins.  It aids with digestion and stabilizes blood sugar.

I’ll be writing more about diet and foods in upcoming posts.  I’m still reading and learning about it and adjusting my diet to meet my needs.  I got a lot of personalized help from my friend Erin who is studying to be a dietician and is a wealth of information.  Check out her blog here:

http://20somethingholisticliving.blogspot.com/

Jaime found a blog called “CF and Healthy,” and reading that blog was what prompted this whole study.  There is a lot of CF specific diet information and links to news articles which are very interesting:

http://cfandhealthy.blogspot.com

I admit, preparing these kinds of foods takes time.  It’s a lot more work than pouring milk on a bowl of cereal.  But I’m feeling stronger and healthier, and that makes it well worth the effort.  Health, it’s what’s for breakfast!

Operation Up Scale

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I’ve been thinking lately about setting some goals for myself.  But sometimes when I decide I need to make some changes, my eyes get too big.  I start thinking of all the areas in my life where I could be doing better and I decide to tackle them all at once.  That’s a good recipe for failure.

I also set unattainable goals sometimes. For instance, after my big CF health crisis in 2006/2007, I set a goal to get my FEV1 back into the 60s.  I had previously spent lots of years in the 60s and low 70s, and I really wanted to get back there.  I worked very hard to achieve that goal.  I rested and slept, I reduced my stress level, I ate healthy foods and I gained back the weight I lost during the extended illness.  I worked up to jogging, I lifted weights, I did all my treatments and therapies, and I took all my medications.  But I never made it back into the 60s.  It couldn’t be done.  Rather than feeling like a failure for not getting there, I should have felt like a success for doing everything in my power.

And so this time I want to set achievable goals.  Instead of tackling them all right now, I’ve decided to address one at a time.  Once I meet one goal or at least get a good start on it, I’m going to try to add in another.  Manageable is the key, right?

I’m going to start with gaining a few pounds.  Many CF patients have low body weight because thick mucus obstructs the pancreas and blocks the body’s natural enzymes needed for breaking down food and absorbing nutrients.  Taking digestive enzymes helps, but they don’t completely solve the problem.  Also, living with reduced lung function and constantly fighting off infections uses lots of energy and burns lots of calories.  Because of this, people with cystic fibrosis need 20-50% more calories than the average person.

I recently changed my diet which has helped me to feel better overall.  (I’m working on a post about it right now).  One of the changes I made was cutting out dairy.  Dairy has links to asthma, congestion, and is somewhat difficult to digest.  Within a few weeks of eliminating it from my diet I had a less congestion and more energy.  But eliminating dairy has contributed to some weight loss.  I relied on dairy products for easy calories.  It’s time to find a way to gain the weight back and keep it on sans whole milk, cheese, yogurt, and shakes.

Before you start wishing to be me, know that it’s neither fun nor easy for me to gain weight.  Because my caloric needs are already higher than average it takes a lot of effort to actually gain weight.  I have to think about food all day, remember to eat many snacks, eat beyond when I feel full, and count calories.  It’s a pain.  Some people dream of being able to eat whatever they want.  That usually translates to junk food of some sort.  But eating unhealthy foods only complicates other health issues and so I certainly don’t want to gain weight that way.  I need to give my body foods that fuel it and enhance its performance, not foods that cause digestive issues, inflammation, and sluggishness.

So why all the focus on weight?  Healthy body weight is linked to higher lung function and the ability to fight off infections for CFers.  Having a healthy weight also strengthens the immune system.  Plus, when I’m at my optimal weight, I feel more energetic.

So on Monday I’m starting Operation Up Scale.  I’d like to see the scale go up about five pounds.  I’m starting to stock my cupboards.

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I’ll keep you posted on how I’m doing.  I’m hoping that blogging about it will keep me accountable.  So here’s to a weightier me!