An update on my recent health issues

It’s been two months since I discovered I was iron deficient, and about a month since I finished taking iron tablets three times a day. At the beginning of May, I reached my highest weight ever and decided it was time to do something about it. I made changes to my diet and increased my activity levels, and it’s all paying off. Here’s the update on my health issues!

Iron deficiency

During and since the iron tablet treatment, I’ve paid much more attention to eating iron-rich foods like meat, beans and lentils. Between the two, I’m happy to report that my iron levels are much better and I don’t require any further treatment. I do intend to continue paying attention to my dietary intake of iron so that I don’t find myself in this kind of trouble again. Plus, taking iron tablets does a real number on your digestive system. When you’re already sensitive due to food intolerances, adding any additional stress on the system is not a good time. I’m really glad that’s all over now!

Celiac disease and nutrition: my charts show food sources of vital nutrients

After discovering an iron deficiency and weight gain, I made changes to my diet and increased my activity levels. Here's my six-week progress update!

My strange heart palpitations have stopped! Photo: Heart via photopin (license)

Heart palpitations

My iron deficiency was discovered as a result of my seeking help after experiencing heart palpitations, extreme fatigue and numb fingertips. These issues have all resolved (I get the cold fingertips once in a while, but it’s rare.) Still, they ordered a heart test, where I wore a heart monitor for three days. I just got the results back – all normal.

Overweight

Earlier this year, my GP told me I needed to lose a little weight due to potential complications from a combination of my age and a particular medication I take. In May, I reached my heaviest weight ever and realized I couldn’t go on like this. I decided to make some changes to my diet and exercise plans and to track them using a combination of a spreadsheet and my Fitbit app.

Diet

After discovering an iron deficiency and weight gain, I made changes to my diet and increased my activity levels. Here's my six-week progress update!

This is a pretty typical lunch for me now: meat + salad. Photo: GRILLED SALMON & CAESAR SALAD via photopin (license)

I was eating way too many carbohydrate-based foods like potatoes, rice and corn. I decided to cut way back on these, only allowing myself one portion of a carby food per day, and it had to be in the morning or at lunchtime.

Additionally, I focused much more on getting enough protein, which was lacking due to the high carb diet plus living with a vegetarian. I am also sensitive to soy, so eating tofu and most other vegetarian “meats” is not possible for me. Instead, I had to add meat back in, which I usually do at lunchtime when Legend is at work. For dinners, I’ve been making a lot of bean and lentil-based dishes, along with more eggs and cheese. I’ve also started drinking protein shakes – at first, I had one a day, but now I’ve slowed down to just having one on the days when I lift weights – about four per week.

Finally, I made it a point to allow myself pretty free reign when it came to fruits and vegetables, ensuring that I never went hungry or without a snack if I wanted one. I found that by the time I met my iron, protein and vegetable goals, I wasn’t hungry for much else.

I tracked my daily calories for the first month using the Fitbit app. It helped me reset my thinking when it came to portion sizes and how much I was really eating. Now I’m able to do it without the tracking, and I’m continuing to lose weight slowly but surely.

Exercise

After discovering an iron deficiency and weight gain, I made changes to my diet and increased my activity levels. Here's my six-week progress update!

I love a good walk in the park! Photo: Into the Woods via photopin (license)

My bigger issue was that my lifestyle is pretty sedentary. I sit in front of a computer for several hours most days. I was rarely meeting my 10,000 step goal and was only going to the gym once or twice a week. In May, I aimed to go to the gym five times per week and to make my step goal every day. I’d say I’m still averaging four days a week at the gym, but considering that I’ve traveled and prepared to move countries in June, I feel pretty good about this.

I use my time at the gym to focus on strength training. If the weather’s bad, I’ll also walk on the treadmill for 30 minutes or so. If it’s sunny, I prefer to walk around the city or through a nearby park. I’ve found that adding an extra 30 minutes of walking seems to be about the magic number to hit my step goal, alongside my daily cleaning and errand-running.

Weight

I’ve lost 5.5 pounds since really committing to improving my diet and exercise habits. Over six weeks (as of this writing), that works out to just shy of 1 pound per week. I’m happy with that; experts often say that slow and steady weight loss is the best way to keep the pounds off! I need to lose another 2 pounds to get my body mass index (BMI) out of the obese category. The NHS BMI tool recommends I lose another 47 pounds – that seems pretty unlikely, as I haven’t weighed that since high school. I’d need to lose another 29 to be in the high end of the healthy BMI range, which is my goal.

Going forward

I’m worried about keeping up my diet and exercise now that I’m moving countries. I’ll be staying with my mom, so I think the diet side will be pretty easy to maintain. The exercise is another story. I know I can take long walks, though it’ll have to be in the morning to avoid the heat. My dad can take guests to the gym with him, but he works long hours and travels often. I don’t know that I can rely on regular, consistent gym access that way, but at least I’ll be able to access some weights here and there. I am trying to locate my Wii, which my brother has held on to for me while I’ve been away, because I have the Wii Fit and some dance games for it. I think my mom’s got some workout videos too. Hopefully the combination of the different activities will be enough to continue progressing.

Are you working on improving your health in some way? How’s it going? How do you stay motivated? Tell me in the comments!

2 thoughts on “An update on my recent health issues

  1. Mona

    Good for you, Tracy! I’m proud of your goal of initiating, and starting with tracking on a spreadsheet/FItBit app is an excellent way to go. Trust me, it really helps to see and reflect back on all your meals, snacks, and portions. Keep it up, and you will continue seeing results! 🙂

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