Saturday, December 09, 2006

It's all in your head

I went to the gym every day this past week except Friday! Admittedly, I didn't do much, but I was there! In the weight room! It's a good thing I didn't do anything crazy my first day back in the weight room like WEIGHTED WALKING LUNGES, cause then I'd really be sore.... of course that's what I did. Cause I'm all over it, I'm hard core! I...? Am invincible! Not to be confused with invisible... I only did two sets of 10 with the 20# db's. I was thinking, I'll just do something easy and see how I feel. The next day I could hardly sit down! You know the feeling. It was like the first time I ever lifted weights. I have lost some strength, but it's not too disappointing. It seemed like I could handle the same load, but not the same volume. Whereas before I would do several different compound exercises plus a bit of isolation work on bi's & tri's, etc., this week I was just doing one exercise, and that made me sore.

My plan is to try running today! I prefer to run outside, but I'm not sure about that. First, it's 21 degrees outside! And second, it seems safer to try it on the Dreadmill for the first time, just in case ... I don't want to get out there and not be able to complete the run and be stuck, sweating and cold a couple miles from home.

My recovery is going well, but I'm starting to feel the effects of not having a thyroid. My body is definitely out of whack. I think it knows that it was violated and is now lacking a CRITICAL gland. It's pissed, I think. The first few days I was taking the Cytomel, I felt fine. Great, in fact. But I think my own levels of thyroid hormone have dropped off now and I'm relying on the cytomel. It's temporary and short acting, and I can really feel it when it's time for another dose. The things that seem to make my symptoms worse are calcium supplements, too much dairy at one time (probably the calcium content), sugar, soy, and stress. I get tired, cranky, headache, can't think, focus, concentrate, and it's really hard to do tasks I've done a thousand times before. At work, I have to really think, ok, what do I need to do with this, what is this, or what is this person asking? It's scary. And depressing. I have mood swings where I just get completely overwhelmed and sad. I have to deal with this for the REST OF MY LIFE. And right now, it seems like I might never feel normal again. I am really trying to maintain a positive attitude. I believe that is so important, both in terms of health, and in life in general.

While I was recovering last week, I read Spontaneous Healing by Dr. Andrew Weil. He has some interesting ideas about how the body is able to heal itself, even from terminal illnesses in some cases. He talks about cases of spontaneous remission of all kinds of diseases and afflictions, including cancer. He also goes over different things you can do to increase your body's ability to heal itself. I already do many of the things he recommends. Although, he recommends people eat almost no protein (yeah, ahem... not this girl!) because it is harder for your body to digest and process and your goal is to free your body's systems for healing rather than filtering out all the toxins we put into ourselves. So obviously, organic foods, nothing processed or artificial, no sugars or dairy. He recommends various herbal supplements, meditation, visualization, and relaxation. And he also goes into how critical a role the mind plays in health and wellness.

Dr. Weil discusses his disillusionment with the traditional medical model and its pervasive pessimism and complete disregard for mind-body or wellness approaches. He thinks this indifference toward mind-body interactions is peculiar to American society. In many other countries, especially in the East, doctors are more inclined to view illnesses of all kinds as having a psychosomatic component. Belief in healing power can be a key to success. There is ample evidence of the placebo effect in medical research, and plenty of anecdotal evidence of belief in healing having powerful effects. I admit, that's one of the biggest reasons I chose the surgeon I did. She was the only one of the three I met who looked me in the eye and said, "We're gonna cure you." And believed it herself. Neither of the other two would even say, "You're going to be ok, we're going to take care of you and make you better."

Another correllation between mind and healing is total acceptance of self and one's illness. Dr. Weil says, "Most people do not go through life in an accepting mode. Instead they are in a state of perpetual confrontation, trying by the imposition of will to shape events and control situations... such an attitude is directly opposed to the way of life, and those who cling to it are doomed. Acceptance, submission, surrender are a mental shift that may be the master key that unlocks healing."

I've encountered the idea of the importance of the mind in shaping one's experience of life in other areas, notably in achieving goals. I started to get interested in the idea from reading fitness authors like Tom Venuto, and motivational writers like Tony Robbins and Steven Covey.

"The ancestor of every action is a thought." Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Man is what he believes." Anton Chekhov

"They can because they think they can." Virgil

In the world of fitness, the mind is recognized as a critical element in achieving goals - visualization, will, and belief are all necessary to running farther or faster, lifting more, losing fat, etc. I think the same is true of health, wellness and healing. Not that I'm saying you can just think yourself well, but as Tom Venuto says:

"If you are getting more of the same negative results in your life - such as the same health problems, or the same body fat continues to return even after you lose it, then you have probably been un-consciously running old negative programs and re-inforcing them with negative thought patterns.

Guess what? You're already using this force every day because you cannot turn it off. Whatever you are thinking and picturing in your mind repeatedly on a daily basis is already on it's way to you, so it's simply a matter of HOW you are using it, not IF you are using it.

What do you say to yourself every day? Do you say, "I am becoming leaner, healthier and more muscular every day?"... or do you say "I am a fat person - Ive tried everything, nothing ever works?"

The fact is - you can think yourself thin and healthy or you can think yourself obese and ill. Maybe not in the literal sense...but most certainly as the critical part in the chain of causation..."

Maintaining a positive attitude when dealing with something like cancer is a real challenge. I still haven't forgiven my cancer yet. It is still a thief. I am working on the acceptance thing, and taking each day as it comes - trying not to get overwhelmed. I think once I get past the radioactive iodine treatment and I get on my regular thyroid medication, it will get easier.

"In order to discover new lands, one must be willing to lose sight of the shore for a very long time."

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