This blog has always been pretty non-personal. Once upon a time I wrote a very personal blog based around moving from NJ to The UK. Because that one was so very personal (and I sometimes regretted that), I chose to make this one just about the food. I just reached my two year anniversary of starting this blog and maybe it’s about time I change all that and share some of my personal story with all of you.
Confession number one: In 2008, I was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis. AS is chronic inflammatory autoimmune, and arthritic disease of the axial skeleton, with involvement of joints, muscular system and may effect any organ that can be inflamed (quite a mouthful huh?).
I may have mentioned it in passing before, but I try to keep it quiet. I’m not sure why, but I never wanted to share that fact. Maybe it’s because on here, I could be normal – just like everyone else, but I think maybe I should have shared it so that when I go long periods without a new post, you’d understand why. I have suffered with symptoms for all of my adult life, but doctors never found anything wrong with me. Then in In 2004, shortly after meeting my husband, I was diagnosed with degenerative arthritis and Fibromyalgia. When I was diagnosed, the doctors knew it was arthritis, but because most forms of arthritis don’t show up in blood tests, they told me I would have to wait until it got worse and I developed more symptoms before they would really know what we were dealing with. Soon after, I had a bad flare up and was taken out of work and put on disability. That’s when we moved to the UK. I couldn’t work and my English husband (then boyfriend) didn’t have a work visa so we packed up and came to England before we ran out of our savings. We were married a few months later.
In 2008, four months after the birth of my son, I was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis. My symptoms had finally gotten bad enough to put a name and illness to my arthritis. I am now riddled with degenerative arthritis. I have it in both shoulders, knees, hips, the sacroiliac joint (the joint between the hips and back), and it’s started in my feet and hands as well. I suffer from chronic fatigue (due to the chronic pain) that’s sometimes so severe, it’s difficult to perform even the smallest of tasks. I have bouts of Iritis (swelling of the eyes), my immune system is compromised which causes me to catch and knocked off my feet by every cold I come across, and severe flare-ups can take me out of commission for months (which is usually when this blog goes without new content for a few weeks or months).
Confession number 2: After spending the last two years battling my illness, I have gained over 60 lbs. I am five foot two and when I met my husband I was a US size 4. Now, I weigh nearly 200 lbs.
You know the expression, the first step is admitting you have a problem? Ok, so I don’t have a drinking problem; nor do I use drugs of any kind, and maybe the expression isn’t exactly fitting in this situation, but to me it is. Saying it here to the thousands of visitors that come to this blog every day, makes it real enough for me to have to do something about it. The extra weight is hard on my joints and probably contributes a great deal to my pain and fatigue.
Until having my Son almost 8 years ago, I was always very thin. I never lost more than 10 pounds at any given time – ever. I never had to. I ate what I wanted and never worked out a day in my life. I never went above a US size 6 dress size. When I met my husband, I was tiny and took it totally for granted. Then after that first bad flare up in 2004, the doctors put me on steroids. That was the start of my weight problems. The steroids caused rapid weight gain and I went from a size 4 to a size 8 in a matter of weeks. It was so rapid, I literally had trouble maneuvering myself in small places. All of a sudden, I had breasts I never really had before. I’d inadvertently brush against people with them in the grocery store when trying to get by in a crowded isle. I’d make light of it and apologize, saying, ‘Sorry, they’re new.’ My lack of activity didn’t help either. Before that, I was in IT and worked 12 hour days, but I couldn’t do it anymore and was stuck home on disability.
When I gained those first 25 pounds, I was miserable. Once we made the move, I hired a personal trainer to help me lose the weight and get me physically strong enough to combat my arthritis. Even though I never made it back to a size 4, I was in the best shape of my life and loved it.
In 2007, I suffered a miscarriage at 12 weeks pregnant. I got depressed and stopped working out, so when I got pregnant with my son I didn’t dare workout (in fear of another miscarriage). At 9 weeks pregnant, I had to have my appendix out and suffered complications. I spent the next 3 months on bed rest recovering. By the end of my pregnancy, I gained 60 lbs. I’ll never forget my sister’s reaction to seeing me for the first time when she came for the birth. She took one look at my and said, ‘Oh my God, you’re huge!’ In her defense, she didn’t mean to say it out loud, shock took over and she said it before she could stop herself. She was right. I was huge. It took me two years to take off 50 lbs.
Then shortly after starting this blog, my condition got worse and I deteriorated. I had flare up after flare up which kept me inactive and when I was active, I worked hard at creating new content for this site (knowing I may not have long before the next flare up). I’m sure people that saw me put on the weight assumed I just ate everything I posted and piled on the pounds, but that wasn’t the case. I hardly eat a thing I bake (only enough to make sure I got the recipe right and that’s about it).
Spring has arrived and the warmer weather has too. Even though I am still in constant pain, I know my good time of year is around the corner so I’ve started exercising this week (in the hope that as the weather gets warmer and I start feeling better, I can do even more to take off the weight). Sharing my story with all of you is my way of making a commitment to a better, healthier life and getting back to my old self. My goal is to lose at least 50 lbs. I haven’t chose a diet plan yet, but I’ll keep you posted when I do. My weight loss journey begins now and I plan to share it with you from start to finish.