Call me Khaleesi; I ate a heart! I mean, it wasn’t a raw horse heart, but let’s not get into the minutiae here. I made a beef heart roast during my first week on the Adrenal Recovery Protocol, & we had it for dinner two separate nights. Bonus: my husband didn’t know it was a heart until I told him. If you’re like me & have trouble with organ meats [read: you can’t control you gag reflex any time you try to eat something containing just a little bit of liver], try a heart roast first. The only trouble with it is that it can take a while to obtain one [after all, one cow makes lots & lots of muscle meat but only has one heart]. I’ve gotten one from a farmer after trying for many weeks, & I got this particular one in the organ freezer at Whole Foods.
I’d like to say that I made the heart for the extra nutrients, but honestly I just wanted to make a roast & didn’t want to buy one. The extra nutrients were a bonus. I followed the basic instructions for this recipe, but I seared the heart first. I also added cassava. I’ve been having bad luck with roasts ever since switching to grass-fed beef; they always turn out tough & can’t be pulled apart with forks to make nice shredded beef. I was nervous that was going to happen with the heart, too, especially since it isn’t an especially fatty cut of meat. It turns out that I didn’t have to worry about that. I started the roast before bed on a Sunday night but I ended up waking up a bajillion times in the middle of the night. This was convenient in terms of turning the Crock Pot off but in terms of exactly NOTHING ELSE. I ended up staying home from work that Monday because I couldn’t sleep.
That said, I knew the Adrenal Recovery Protocol was going to be the hardest of the three Fundamental protocols for me. This is because it has a focus on stress & sleep. I’ve mentioned previously that my sleep is shit & that I don’t know why. I have my theories [as I’m wont to do], but I just don’t know the answer. On the bright side, I have no trouble falling asleep. It’s the restlessness that’s the issue. I think my sleep should get better once my gut issues are more under control & I’ve detoxed enough, but who knows at this point. All I know is that I want to sleep, damn it. & stress? Well, let’s just say stress management isn’t my strong suit.
Speaking of gut issues, I decided to start taking HCl during the adrenal protocol instead of waiting a few more weeks [Dr. Wentz saves this supplement for the Gut Balance Protocol]. Here I was thinking I didn’t have low stomach acid because I don’t have acid reflux or indigestion, but I was wrong. Finding the correct dosage of HCl takes some experimentation & I am unfortunately still experimenting. There have been meals where I’ve taken 12 capsules & there have been meals where even two have been too much. In any case, my stomach feels less distended & heavy, & I think I might have even experienced some SIBO or Candida die-off once I got into the double digits with the pills [I felt a tad fluish one day].
So carbs. I’ve mentioned before that I’m a lover of carbs. Overall, I think I’ve been eating less carbs the last few weeks. I stopped putting honey in my tea [which was probably about a tablespoon or so] & I stopped having my daily morning banana. Just FYI, these things aren’t inherently bad, but they’re not great for someone who’s trying to balance blood sugar & who’s also trying to kick Candida & SIBO to the curb. I was actually barely having any fruit at all, but then this happened.
Yeah, Sprouts got ALL the summer fruits at once. I didn’t get to my apricots fast enough so some of them got icky, & I’m still working my way through the grapes. Oh, & I have a major plantain problem. Basically I’m obsessed with them. I’d have tostones for every meal if it was practical. I accidentally ate two bags of plantain chips [one sweet, one starchy] in less than three days. Once again, this isn’t an inherently bad thing, but it’s not exactly conducive to eradicating the bad gut bugs.
I recently read Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin, & it basically confirmed for me what I already knew: I’m an Abstainer. Basically this means that if I don’t eat a certain food for a while, I’m fine without it, but if I decide to eat it, I want it all. If I make tostones, I’m eating a whole plantain’s worth of them. If I make two pounds worth of roasted purple sweet potatoes, I could possibly eat the whole tray. The only thing really holding me back is that I know it isn’t a great idea. Speaking of not-great ideas, I may have accidentally made AIP brownies twice during this protocol [no, this isn’t why I gained weight on Paleo]. It’s not typical of me to make treats like this, but every once in a while I’ll get the baking bug [Christmas was the last time; I made about a bajillion of these AIP cookies]. I couldn’t eat just one brownie, either. Usually two would cut it, but not just one. Now that they’re gone, I’m fine without them.
So admittedly the carb stuff needs some work. I’m still not entirely sure what I’m going to do diet-wise when it comes time for the antifungal/antibacterial part of this protocol. I mentioned previously that I was considering ketosis, but I recently learned that Candida can also feed on ketones. Quite unfortunate. Back to the drawing board, I guess.
I did another thing that probably wasn’t a good idea. I started drinking kombucha again.
Why wouldn’t this be a good idea? In general, kombucha is a fantastic idea. It has probiotics & it’s delicious. But. Here’s my issue with the booch: I stopped drinking it because of my IgG antibodies to yeast. The antibodies are most likely due to Candida overgrowth. There’s conflicting information out there about how kombucha can affect Candida. This is because it’s a wild ferment, & wild yeasts can potentially make Candida worse. The last time I had kombucha was on New Year’s Eve since it’s the only alcohol I’m allowed to drink.
I discovered kombucha during my Whole 30 in July 2016 & became slightly addicted to it. If I had to pick one reason why I think this happened, my guess would be the carbonation. It’s basically soda for health-conscious people.
I was poking around on the Internet & found some article that basically said kombucha could be good for Candida, so I took that as my loophole & went for it [looking at the label, GT’s does contain Saccharomyces boulardii, a beneficial yeast that’s supposed to be good for combating Candida overgrowth]. I don’t have any regrets, per se, but I forgot that kombucha has the propensity to make me irritable & depressed. It has a small amount of alcohol in it, but there’s enough, because when I get about a quarter of the way through a bottle my muscles start to feel extremely relaxed. This is nice in the moment, but it seems to backfire later in terms of my mood. Alcohol has had this negative effect on me since I started psychiatric medication six years ago. One would think that the negligible amount in a kombucha wouldn’t cause any problems, but apparently it does. Woe is me.
On another note, I’m not supposed to be having caffeine during these protocols. I realized after a few days of having kombucha that, since it’s made of tea, it has caffeine. There’s information out there claiming that fermentation decaffeinates it, but there are articles like this one that claim that as a myth. I emailed GT’s, the maker of my favorite kombucha, to see what they had to say. They say that it’s “naturally decaffeinated and a full bottle (16oz) contains between 16mg and 28mg of caffeine.”
For the time being I’m restraining myself from purchasing any more booch. Side note: for anyone wanting to try kombucha, I highly suggest GT’s Third Eye Chai flavor. Oh em gee. It’s my favorite. It isn’t totally AIP, but it’s hands down the best flavor [in my opinion]. I asked them about the ingredients on this one because the label only says “chai spices.” Their answer: “Third Eye Chai is made with a proprietary blend of organic cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and pepper.” My other two favorites are Divine Grape, which basically tastes like grape juice, & Mystic Mango. These two are a little higher in sugar so I don’t have those as much. GT’s also just came out with a new flavor called Rose. It tastes like wine. This may be a problem for me in the future once I un-restrain myself.
Since I cut out my banana in the mornings, I knew I’d need something to occupy my mouth on my 45-minute drive to work. A while back I was drinking Collagen Veggie Blend during my commute, but it’s out of my price range at the moment. I decided to oil pull in the car instead of waiting until before bed. Word to the wise: if you decide to oil pull in the car, do bring along a spitting vessel with you. Don’t end up like my dumb ass did the first day I tried this. I underestimated the amount of oil & spit in my mouth & tried to spit into a tissue which then proceeded to explode all over me.
I read online that dish soap can remove grease stains, so I tried using the dish soap in the breakroom to get the huge stain off my skirt. I knew immediately that this was a bad idea; as soon as I smelled the soap, my sinuses started to flood, & they continued to do so for about 30 minutes. Apparently I am now sensitive to the chemicals in regular dish soap [I’ve been using a more natural dish soap at home for some time now]. I had a reaction for nothing, too, because it didn’t even get my stain out. I tried to be creative by tucking the stained part of my skirt up into my waistband, but I just kind of felt like a moron. My husband had to bring me some pants on his way to work [you know, some of those pants of mine that are too tight]. So thanks to husband who didn’t leave me looking like a damn fool all day. I’m still oil pulling in the car in the mornings, but now I have a mason jar to spit in.
Speaking of mason jars, I’ve found a way to completely avoid tap water at work. I’ve been bringing a few gallons of water to work for a few years now. Right now I have a two gallon jug that I fill with alkaline water at my local water store. In Hashimoto’s Protocol, Dr. Wentz talks about avoiding fluoride. I was all like, “I don’t have to do that; I don’t drink any tap water!” & then I realized that I was accidentally drinking tap water. Probably.
I was filling my cup with ice at work, which I assume is made from tap water. It might be filtered, but sometimes it tastes a little off & one never does know. I thought I had a predicament on my hands. Then I had a brilliant idea. Now, I fill up a 32 ounce mason jar with my alkaline water & stick it in the breakroom freezer for an hour or two. Once it’s cold, I pour it into my insulated cup & that keeps it cold. [Yes, I’m aware of the whole cold water thing not being the best for digestion. I was on a room-temperature water kick for a while & I don’t think it made a difference. Now I’m back to liking my water cold. I live in Arizona, people. Let me have my cold water.] My water refill schedule is very predictable, so this works out well for me.
In addition to dish soap, I confirmed another chemical sensitivity. My sunglasses broke so I had to whip out an old pair. The nose pads left a red mark that didn’t fully go away until the next day. A Google search confirmed that nose pads on sunglasses can be made from silicone [surprise surprise]. This could just be a fluke, of course, but I don’t think so. Luckily I had yet another pair of back-up sunglasses [I may have gone through a sunglasses-collecting phase some years ago].
Like the Liver Support Protocol, the Adrenal Recovery Protocol involves a good amount of supplementation. I had to leave one of Dr. Wentz’ suggested supplements out because it contains the nightshade ashwagandha. It has rhodiola in it, too, so I decided to purchase a rhodiola supplement & use that instead. The supplement Dr. Wentz suggests also has B1 & B5, which Dr. Wentz stresses are very important for proper adrenal function, so I got B1 & B5 as separate supplements as well.
Speaking of supplements, I’m wondering if any of them are contributing to my terrible sleep. I’m so restless in my sleep & it shaves precious time from my actual sleep [usually at least an hour]. My husband says that I’ve been talking gibberish in my sleep as well. At the moment I’m experimenting with my magnesium dosage. It’s supposed to help you sleep, & I take about 350mg before bed, but there are plenty accounts online of people who’ve experienced worse sleep when taking magnesium. There are so many things that could be affecting my sleep, & I wish I knew for sure what it was, but for now I can only guess. When I first started this protocol, I had grandiose plans of having lights out by nine on week days. That didn’t happen [it might have happened once or twice, on the nights where I was really exhausted]. 9:30ish seems to be the best I can do right now.
I’m honestly not sure if this four-week protocol has helped my adrenal function at all. I mean, if I were to be graded on how I did, I definitely wouldn’t ace it with flying colors. I probably ate too many carbs, I accidentally had caffeine [kombucha] & then continued to have caffeine after I found out kombucha had it. I didn’t go to bed at the time I wanted to. Oh, & some stupid shit happened.
For example, I started off week three by running out of gas on a busy freeway. That was real stupid. I walked to the nearest gas station to fill up a gas can [I called beforehand to make sure they had some, then when I got there I walked inside & announced that I was the dumbass who needed a gas can]. I tried to take a video of myself walking back to my car, but apparently I don’t know how to use my phone, so that didn’t work.
Strangely, that whole situation seemingly didn’t stress me out overmuch. Pros: I got over 4000 steps in before eight in the morning, & I got to start work almost an hour late. Cons: My car now smells like gasoline on the inside because, in keeping with my dumbass theme that day I left the cap to the gas can in my cup holder while I was at work. The temperature has been over 100 degrees for a few weeks now, so smells tend to seep in. Also I have a big red sticker on the back of my car from the police who checked it while I was away at the gas station. It doesn’t want to come off. [Updated: I got it off this morning!] Let me just be perfectly clear & say that this was not my proudest moment in life. I don’t plan on doing it again.
On my way to the gas station I saw a penny on the side of the freeway. I like to pick pennies up when I find them on the ground. You know, that whole “find a penny, pick it up, & all day long you’ll have good luck” thing [I usually say “all day long you’ll have a penny,” but I can be cynical]. I decided not to pick it up because, you know, I WAS ON THE SIDE OF A FREEWAY. Alas, I proceeded to have sub-par luck the rest of the week.
First, one of our dogs got sick. Like, she puked one day & then I found more puke the next morning, but the second puke turned out not to be puke & was actually diarrhea. My husband took her to the vet, & $450 later we found out that she’s basically just full of gas [if anyone knows a good pet insurance, do let me know]. On the bright side, she didn’t have an obstruction & hadn’t eaten rocks, which we had been afraid of because she does like to put rocks in her mouth.
I do suspect the she has an overgrowth of Candida [like mother, like daughter] because she has recurring irritation issues with the bottoms of her feet that improve when she’s on probiotics. She also smells like yeast. I have to wonder if this weird diarrhea episode has anything to do with that. In any case, she seemingly feels better now.
Another unfortunate thing happened later that week, but it must not have been so bad because I honestly can’t remember what it was. Even so, perhaps the bad luck has followed me since I decided not to pick up the penny.
One of our cats straight up ate some floss today. I tried to stop him but he just gulped it right down before I could get to him. We were originally going to try to make him vomit, but my husband called the vet & she said not to do that. So now we’re waiting for the cat to hopefully poop out some floss, because if he doesn’t & it gets stuck in his digestive tract, we’ll have a big problem.
So I had some unforeseeable stressors [& one avoidable one] during the protocol. I’d like to think that I’ve done something right, though.
I wasn’t able to do yoga or any other exercise [I’m waiting until I’m three months out from surgery]. Instead, my husband & I have been taking a walk every day. I usually get a lot of steps in anyway, but he’s been wanting to walk & it’s been nice to have some time every day to talk to him without distraction.
On an episode of Gretchen Rubin’s podcast, one of her listeners described a new thing she & her husband were doing. Each month, one of them plans a date that will be a surprise for the other person. I thought this could be an interesting thing to try, & my husband agreed. He decided to plan the first date.
He took me all the way up to Sedona to eat at a Paleo-friendly restaurant I like, Café Paleo Brio. On the way there, we stopped off at Arcosanti, a self-sustaining community. The architecture was quite interesting & the concept of the place was cool, but we decided that we’d rather have some land, chickens, & goats instead. [I asked my husband if he wants the goats to make milk & yogurt, but he just wants them because he likes goats]. We decided to head to Jerome after lunch since we’d been meaning to visit for a while [it’s supposed to be a ghost town]. It wasn’t what we were expecting, & parts of it were a tad disappointing, but we were happy we went since we’d been wanting to go. The highlights of Jerome were some farm animals & a mine shaft deeper than the Empire State Building is tall. Also this coffin.
The next secret date is my responsibility to plan & I have a few ideas. I think this new habit will be good for us; it’s nice to spend some quality time together. Also I’m an introvert & sometimes need to live on the edge.
Overall, I’m not sure if this protocol has positively affected me [it definitely hasn’t affected me negatively]. I did notice that my period came & went without much fuss [no insatiable cravings, no sore boobies, only minimal cramping], so that was either a fluke or a sign that my hormone balance is improving. In any case, all I can do is trust that my constitution has been strengthened for the battle to come. I am so ready to try & take on the SIBO & Candida, but I need to focus on general gut health for the next month. Gut Balance Protocol, here I come.