Day 29: Meh. Bleh.

Those damn mushrooms! Today I don’t know how many times I went to the loo. It’s crazy how your BMs can do a 180 in such a short space of time when you have a digestive issue.

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I didn’t have full-on diarrhoea, thankfully, but multiple loose-ish stools in a single day is enough to make me start worrying. I didn’t have any more mushrooms today, and I also held back on introducing the garlic. I want my system to be completely cleared after this little setback.

I also need to try to stay calm and not stress about potential flares. If it happens, it happens. Stressing about it is totally counter-productive will only make things WORSE. I do, however, understand what people mean about retreating back to your SCD ‘safe zone’, and being scared to try new things. Right now, I feel like maybe I should just eat chicken and butternut for the rest of my life!

This is not how I envision spending the rest of my life...

This is not how I envision spending the rest of my life…

I’ve discovered venison mince (can’t remember if I mentioned) and I’m really enjoying the smoky flavour. I don’t think it’s anywhere as near as healthy as ostrich mince, but damn it tastes so much better!

Being on day 29 means I’m just one day shy of my wine. I can’t wait – though K reminded me tonight that it might not agree with me. And she’s right – it probably won’t. And that will be okay too; at least I’ll know. Then it’ll be up to me to decide whether or not to continue drinking. Basically, whether or not the pain is worth it.

That’s all I have for tonight, folks. My bubbly belly wants a shower and to get into bed. It was about a million degrees celcius in Cape Town today and we spent the afternoon drinking (water) in the sun at a popular beachfront bar/hotel for a friend’s birthday. It was gorgeous, but just waaaay too hot with zero shade. I’ll post pics of my pretty city tomorrow. Before these 90 days are out, I’ll convince you to visit!

Day 28: Cooking ahead (you’ll thank yourself tomorrow)

Today was a ‘home’ day – one of my favourite kinds of Saturdays. I’m not one to be filled with the joys of spring summer when it’s 31 degrees out in Cape Town (88F). The beaches are jammed, the traffic is chaos, and every cool place in the city is taken over by hipsters and shmodel types. Welcome to Cape Town 😉 Nah, it’s not that bad. We just happen to live in a trendy part of the city, so I guess it’s our own fault.

We live on this street...

We live on this main road…

Above this Italian deli...

above this Italian deli…

that sells all these amazing fresh foods...

that sells all these amazing fresh foods…

and all of these two. I don't go in here any more!

and all of these too. I don’t go in here any more!

Anyway, I also had a ton of freelance work to do today (I work full time and I freelance), so I was pleasantly surprised to be done by 3pm, and have a few extra hours on my hands to play with. If you’re doing SCD and you have a few extra hours lying around, I know that the last thing you probably feel like doing is cooking. But trust me, it’s worth it. And you’ll thank yourself on Monday when you reeeeeally don’t feel like the schlep.

What I made today

First up, I cooked up a big batch of gem squash – at least enough for 3 days – and about the same amount of butternut. I discovered that the slimy feeling I get on my hands, combined with immediate and intense peeling after handling raw butternut, happens to other people too! Check this out. It briefly made me wonder what butternut must do to one’s insides if that’s what it does to one’s hands, but I banished the thought rather sharpish. Butternut and I have no beef, so I’m not about to go looking for problems where there aren’t any.

Even though the skin it tough, I find it easier to peel butternut before I cook it - especially because it has to be cooked until it's so soft. Peeling the skin off when the whole thing is falling apart is SUPER frustrating!

Even though the skin is tough, I find it easier to peel butternut before I cook it. Peeling the skin off when the whole thing is falling apart is SUPER frustrating!

Next up was a batch of pear puree, which I made with some Asian pears I found at the supermarket yesterday. I’ve never seen Asian pears and the price was quite gob-smacking, but at this point, I spoil myself when I’m able to since my diet is so limited.

Asian pears

Asian pears

Have you ever used them? They’re harder than normal pears and the flesh is more apple-like than pear-like. I was very excited about the result, but it was disappointing. I find that plain ‘ol boring pears have a stronger and more satisfying taste. These were quite subtle and bland – plus I added a little too much water when pureeing, turning it all into a bit of a soup. Luckily I have a draw full of straws left over from my sister’s bachelorette party. Perhaps I can pretend it’s a smoothie.

I cooked up the last of my mushrooms, to continue testing tonight (third and last day). I felt fine after eating them for supper, but that was 4 hours ago and I’ve had two loose BMs since then, which is unprecedented on this diet so far, and can only be the mushrooms. This just drives home the importance of adding only one thing at a time.

Lastly, I made some roast garlic, which is the next thing I’ll be testing, from tomorrow. I learnt a really cool trick for making roast garlic paste a few years ago: Take the whole bulb and slice the top off (see below). Drizzle with olive oil and roast in a muffin tray. I didn’t do any drizzling – I simply put some olive oil on my fingertips and rubbed it over the cut ends, as I suspect oil is too much for my body to handle right now. I roasted the garlic for about 1 hour at 180C (350F). It turned out perfectly and I can’t wait to try it from tomorrow.

Roast garlic

Roast garlic

… And then I nearly cheated

These days, I barely notice when someone waves a chocolate bar under my nose because it’s just so far beyond anything I want to put in my body right now (doesn’t stop me fantasising about chocolate binges from time to time though 🙂 ).

However, I threw together this delicious fruit salad for K for breakfast, finished off with vanilla yogurt and guava juice, and all I wanted was to guzzle all that lovely looking, non-pureed, perfectly fresh fruit. It’s completely second nature to me to pop a piece of raw fruit or veg into my mouth while prepping, totally without thinking about it (I almost did it with the mushrooms too), so I really need to be careful of that. But ohhhh, look how GOOD this looks!

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Watermelon, sweet melon and grapes. SOON.

Yogurt cultures??

Speaking of yogurt, does anyone know where I can get yogurt cultures in Cape Town (or anywhere in SA for that matter)? If not, where do you get them in your country? I’ve tried countless health shops but no one can help me. I’m dying to make some SCD yogurt so this is really frustrating.

Can’t believe I’m nearly a third of the way through this. Apart from a few isolated incidents, I really feel great 🙂

Day 27: Frustration

How was your Valentine’s Day? Did you get your gut through it unscathed?

We went to a lovely restaurant at the V&A Waterfront, and pretty much had the best table in the house, overlooking the harbour and all the activity below. Absolutely stunning!

It was sad to drink only water, but given the prices of wine, cocktails, and even soft drinks, it wasn’t so bad for my wallet! For starters, we decided on oysters. I wasn’t sure if I could have them, but I figured that most meat and seafood (unless you’re allergic, or it’s fatty or bad quality) is allowed on this diet, so I went for it. I had to skip the lemon and Tobasco of course, but even with salt and pepper they were delicious! Excellent quality, and remember, oysters are loaded with zinc.

For mains, I got exactly what I’d hoped for: Rump steak cooked only in olive oil, plus black mushrooms and avo slices. It was good, although I can cook a better steak myself 🙂 The plate was swimming in oil, and I think that (apart from my restaurant disaster during week 1), it’s the first time I’ve had any of it on this diet. I don’t use any oil.

The meal was tasty but I was immediately bloated afterwards, with that uncomfortable ‘pinchy’ type discomfort in my gut (left side). Do you know what I mean? Gassy I guess. It could’ve been the overload of olive oil, but I’m pretty sure it was the mushrooms.

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The problem with mushrooms

According to the guys at SCDLifestyle.com, mushrooms can be hard on the digestive system, as they are a nightshade vegetable. I find this curious because I’ve done my research, and can’t find evidence to support that mushrooms are nightshades. But either way, they don’t seem to be agreeing with me.

On Friday morning, the morning after my first night of mushrooms, I had an incredibly loose BM that was completely unexpected. I put it down to the mushrooms, but decided to keep testing. I ate more of them at lunch time, and immediately felt bloated and like I ‘needed to go’. Seeing a pattern? Then of course last night after supper, I really felt soooo uncomfortable. I was wearing a fitted top which had looked great when I left the house (I HATE wearing fitted tops usually, because I’m very self conscious of my belly. I usually buy them and wear them on that one day a year where I have a flat stomach!).

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Anyway, by the time dinner was over, I had a lovely protruding belly that I couldn’t even suck in because it was too uncomfortable. That feeling is my old life; my life before SCD, and I never want to go back to it. So I think mushrooms are out. Yes, it could also have been the olive oil, so I’m going to test mushrooms one more time today (I need to give it 3 days to be sure).

As much as it sucks that I might not be able to eat mushrooms, it’s extremely gratifying to know that these tests are working. To be able to pinpoint, with such certainty, exactly which foods do and don’t agree with you, is absolutely amazing – and it will help me to avoid that detestable bloating that I hate so much.

After dinner, we watched Vampire Academy. I don’t know what possessed me; I’m not into these tween sagas. I do not recommend it – even if you are! My belly ‘spoke’ throughout the movie, which entertained K no end. It makes these weird high-pitched sounds, like a descending whistle, and then the gurgling. I used to say that it was possessed! Does this happen to you? It’s so embarrassing, because others can hear it. It’s even happened to me in meetings, and I’ve wanted to crawl under the table…

BMs

So today I’ve woken up completely constipated again. This is really wearing. As much as I HATE the diarrhoea (obviously!), constipation is almost as bad. I can’t stand that feeling of a ‘full’ tummy that needs to be emptied.

I know I need to be patient, but it really isn’t one of my virtues. Perhaps once I’ve cut the mushrooms out again, things will get better.

What kinds of frustrations have you experienced on your diet?

5 ways to give your belly the best Valentine’s Day ever

Valentine’s Day is all about love, obviously. Love of chocolate. Love of champagne. Love of expensive romantic meals. Love of… er… oh, your partner. I kid, I kid. Kinda – after all, we all know about my tendency to put food before all others.

For those of us with digestive disorders that have colonised (ha! see what I did there?) our bodies, it’s important that we show our bellies some love too on Valentine’s Day. And just because we can’t guzzle down heart-shaped chocolates and edible roses doesn’t mean we can’t still have an amazing V-day that doesn’t leave us sick, or feeling bloated, sore and dismal.

Here’s what I plan to do to give my belly its BEST Valentine’s Day (post-UC diagnosis) ever.*

*Prior, it had many best V-days, though admittedly the requirements for ‘best’ were pretty low, starting and ending with food.

1. Don’t veer from your diet: BORING, I know. And I’m sorry. But you’ll thank me tomorrow when you don’t have the IBD-equivalent of a 3-day bender hangover. Sticking to your diet doesn’t mean you have to have a piece of dry chicken with carrot juice for dinner. Tonight, we’re going to a fancy-shmancy place where I plan to order a rump steak, with no seasoning, grilled in olive oil. I’ll ask for avo slices and plain grilled mushrooms on the side. It’s totally SCD safe and, actually, it’ll be pretty delicious too.

I really don't know what's going on here but I'm pretty sure she's breaking the SCD rules

I really don’t know what’s going on here but I’m pretty sure she’s breaking several SCD rules

2. Have wine: See, I’m not so mean. If you’re not flaring, go ahead and have some wine. Just make sure it’s the dry kind – red or white. You could even have vodka if you wanted to, or whisky. But please, please try to avoid the bubbly. For many of us with IBD or IBS (myself included), it causes terrible bloating. And who wants to be bloated on the most romantic night of the year?

Bonus: it might help you impress your date too

Bonus: wine might help you impress your date too

3. Have dessert: I’m like a saint, aren’t I, permitting you these heavenly treats? Except that by ‘dessert’, I don’t mean that shared chocolate mousse with double whipped cream topping. Just because your partner can scoff it down without a moment of gastric distress (it’s like a super-power I swear), doesn’t mean that you’ve suddenly developed the power to, too, just because it’s Valentine’s Day. Prepare something using SCD-legal ingredients, like these gorgeous Valentine Linzer hearts or this divine-looking raw vegan cashew cake (thanks Miss Piggy!).

4. DIY: I don’t mean that kind of DIY – who wants to fix cupboards on Valentine’s Day? (besides every man that ever lived, of course). I mean that you should throw together your own romantic meal at home – and it doesn’t have to cost a lot. Last year, I cooked dinner for K and I at her place. Our starter was tomato soup served in shot glasses to look fancy; mains was a thai curry with rice that I’d coloured red with food colouring (a little weird to wrap your head around, but totes fun for V-day) and dessert – for her only, of course – was white choc mousse that I’d also subjected to the food colouring treatment. It was inexpensive, it was super romantic with tons of candles, our own favourite music and the perfect lighting, and it ensured that I could eat anything I wanted. My belly was happy.

Last year's V-day dinner, made by yours truly

Last year’s V-day dinner, made by yours truly

5. Drink tea or soup: Everyone knows that tea is like a hug in a cup, so there’s really nothing more appropriate to be drinking of the day of love. Choose an SCD-legal kind, and enjoy the soothing, warming benefits. It’s the best way to show your belly some adoration. And if you’re flaring, switch the tea for soup (the bone-broth variety) and your body will truly thank you for it.

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Have an awesome Valentine’s Day peeps. I wish you lots of belly love ❤

Day 26: Midnight binges and mushrooms

This diet is becoming almost second nature to me now. Almost 😉 I never thought I’d feel this way, but today, right this minute, I don’t feel like gorging myself on chocolate and other crap. Chocolate has always been my kryptonite – so much so that if it’s in the house, I will wake up in the middle of the night to eat it.

Which brings me to middle-of-the-night binges. I don’t know whether I got it from my mom, queen of the 3am, pitch-dark chocolate feast, or whether we simply developed the same habits. But I cannot tell you how many times I’ve woken up in early hours, stumbled to the kitchen, and gorged myself on whatever chocolate I could find. It probably started about 7 years ago, and it began with chocolate only.

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However, these binges gradually worsened. After a while, I’d wake up to graze on pretty much anything – cookies, cereal, crackers, even peanuts and peanut butter – really whatever I could easily get my hands on. It got to a point where I virtually couldn’t buy things I wasn’t planning on cooking and eating within a day or two.

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These midnight binges are usually controllable when I’m eating healthily, and lately they’ve been fine. But last night I woke up at about 12am, and all I could think of was food. Luckily on this diet, there’s nothing unhealthy to binge on. Plus I’m proud to say that I still have cookies and other treats in the house, and I just won’t go near them.

Last night, I stumbled on autopilot to the kitchen and gobbled down two bananas in the dark. I justify it by saying that I did actually feel hungry. And it was bananas, not a slab of Dairy Milk 😉

But let’s get back to the diet. Tonight I introduced mushrooms. The outdoor movie screening was cancelled due to unpredictable weather (totally unseasonal for Feb, which is usually a hot, dry month). I’d packed my mushrooms, plus a few other things, so I just ate at home. The mushrooms were delicious, cooked simply in their own water, and seasoned with salt and pepper.

Benefit of introducing mushrooms

From what I’ve read, mushrooms can be fairly tough to digest, and they don’t agree with everyone. I cooked them for 20 minutes, until they were really soft. They were a mix of white, portabello and brown.

February 2012 200

I find mushrooms really satisfying because they have a meatiness to them that other veggies don’t have. I’ll never forget when, at a gorgeous little trattoria in Rome, my sister ordered a delicious margherita pizza covered in thick, juicy slices of black mushroom. As a vegetarian, she found it nearly impossible to get past the ‘meatiness’ of the mushrooms, and couldn’t actually eat much of the pizza.

This was the pizza. I ended up nomming both my own (plain) margherita and most of my sister's mushroom-smothered one! (no surprises there)

This was the pizza – you can see the mushroom on the slice I’m nomming. I ended up devouring both my own (plain) margherita and most of my sister’s mushroom-smothered one (are we surprised?)

Anyway, my sister’s strange phobia aside, if you’re looking for something substantial that is a complete change from squashy veg (whether or not you’re a herbivore), mushrooms are the way to go. They’re also basically made for being paired with black pepper, which is a lovely legal spice at this stage.

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Best of all, mushrooms are easy to prepare (simply wash and slice), and far quicker than most other SCD veg to cook. They add a very different and new dimension to your meals and they’re nice and filling. If you’re at this stage and you enjoy mushrooms, definitely try to add them if you can.

My current symptoms

I feel 99% well and healthy. On-off constipation is still getting me down, but otherwise, I feel great. A few days ago, for two days, I experienced a few minutes of stabbing pain in my lower left quadrant. I think it was my UC giving me a cheeky reminder that it’s still lurking, just waiting for any chance to pounce – which of course I’m not going to give it.

I’m still taking vitamins (B, C, D), calcium, magnesium and probiotics. My krill oil ran out and I haven’t replaced it, but I haven’t felt any different either. I’m still drinking at least 2l of water a day, which probably doesn’t help with the midnight binges, considering that I have to get up to pee about a thousand times a night!

Guys, this diet is getting easier and easier every day. It’s NOT easy and never will be, but it’s not such a battle anymore. And I’m only 5 days away from wine! Yes, the cooking takes planning, preparation and time, but in a cinch you can always boil an egg, grab a banana, or have a bowl of pureed carrot, apple or pear (try to keep a frozen batch of each at all times).

I’m so glad I’m doing this, and whatever happens after 90 days, I know that I’m learning a much healthier, much more satisfying way of living. And hopefully I’ll eventually break through the midnight binges too 🙂

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Day 25: Variety and Valentine’s Day

Ah, variety. Thank goodness it’s the spice of life, considering that I have so little actual spice in it right now!

I’m gradually reaching a point where I have options for my meals. The avo has gone brilliantly, the squashy veg are old hat, and I’ve already cooked up my mushrooms that I’ll be testing from tomorrow. Tonight’s meal of venison patties, avo, squash and boiled egg really was delicious, and it enabled me to eat a semi-normal meal with my family that didn’t look like baby food.

I’m actually starting to enjoy this diet now – something I never thought I’d say. But, as I’ve said before, I’m incredibly lucky to have taste buds that don’t mind the same boring food day in and day out. They, of course, love any food that comes their way, but they’ve been pleasantly compliant throughout most of this diet so far.

I’m finally getting over my cravings too – veeeerrry slowwwly. Tomorrow night my friends and I are heading to the open-air cinema at the V&A Waterfront (THE most popular tourist attraction in Cape Town, pic below), where you have a picnic while watching a movie.

It might not look like it from this pic, but the Waterfront has hundreds of high-end shops, some of the best restaurants in Cape Town, an aquarium, amazing hotels, pubs, bars and ice cream vendors, and those cliched troupes of African dancers for the benefit of tourists

It might not look like it from this pic, but the Waterfront has hundreds of high-end boutiques, some of the best restaurants in Cape Town, an aquarium, amazing hotels, pubs, bars and ice cream vendors, and those irritating troupes of African dancers, especially for the tourists

I know it’s going to be hard to see my friends drinking wine and scoffing the treats on sale (which I’m telling myself are going to be drenched in yucky re-used oil and bits of plasticky spice), but I’ll cope. Whoever thought SCD legal apple juice would look so appealing! I’ve already packed it in, along with my little tuppaware container of eggs, mushrooms, avo and bananas. We’re watching Romeo + Juliet and I’m pretty excited. I haven’t been before.

Speaking of Romeo and Juliet…

It’s nearly Valentine’s Day guys! Are you doing anything special? I’ve never been hugely into it but K is a romantic soul, and she loves (while fully recognising) the cheesiness of it. The first year we were together, I had her desk covered in the largest assortment of cheese I could find: Heart-shaped sweets and balloons and chocolates and a massive ‘I love you’ elephant, which pretty much has become the elephant in the room in our tiny apartment! Anyway, she in turn drew me this beautiful picture of us, which now lives happily on our wall:

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Last year, I baked her this cake, and had it delivered to her desk, once again:

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It was a red velvet cake completely smothered in cream-cheese frosting – actually the same recipe as my sister’s wedding cake from the year before (where I started my first horrific flare. Yes, at the wedding. I mean have you ever?! But that’s a story for another day).

The message on the cake, written in pink glittery food gel, said (and I’m embarrassed even typing this): Just like icing, you’re the best part, and just like cake, you’ve stolen my heart. Except ‘heart’ was actually that heart-shaped biscuit. And it’s a fact – cake was my first true love. I loved it even before the hipsters did.

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That cake in fact won us two tickets to the Madame Zingara Theatre of Dreams – a fabulous ‘dinner cirque spectacular’ based in a travelling tent, where you enjoy an amazing 3-course dinner (their signature dish is the chocolate chilli steak, which I have every time) while watching this mind-blowing array of circus acts, cabaret artists, acrobats and my most favourite drag queen ever, Cathy Specific. I love her so, so much. There’s also a fancy dress shop where you can try on (and buy) the craziest props and dress-up gear.

Drag queens are, in fact, my not-so-secret love. All my friends know I’m totally obsessed with Cathy (*real name Brendon van Rhyn), and even K worries sometimes when I watch her shows over and over again. Most recently he played Dr Frank ‘n Furter on stage in Cape Town and I watched it twice, sitting in the front row and just gawking, completely star-struck, at my gorgeous Cathy/Brendan/Frank.

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Cathy and I at Madame Zingara. Me totally star-struck, of course

With Cathy/Frank at the premier of the Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Fugard Theatre. After this photo was taken, he gave me a kiss on the cheek and I was FINISHED!

With Cathy/Frank at the premier of the Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Fugard Theatre. After this photo was taken, he gave me a kiss on the cheek and I was FINISHED!

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K and I at Madame Zingara

AAAANYway, back to my original point (now I know why colleagues never stop by my desk for a quick chat…), it’s V-Day on Friday and this year, after two years of crazy, all-out gestures, we’re reining it in. We’ve kinda graduated from the tween cheesiness, and we’re also trying to save for a trip to the US next year, Rand-dependent. And of course, I’m in no position to even think about cake!

So we’re going to a very fancy restaurant at the Waterfront, and I’m hoping for the best. I’ve emailed them twice, and K has phoned them, and I think they’re going to be able to make something for me that won’t completely derail me. I still won’t be drinking, but it’s going to be nice to splurge and be really pampered at such a fancy place.

I even plan to put on a dress – which, trust me, is something that happens roughly twice a year!

Day 24: Things get fishy

Tonight I baked some fish for dinner – the first time I’ve eaten fish on this diet. I quite enjoy fish when I eat it at a restaurant, but I really need to smother it in spices when I make it at home.

Tonight, it was hake with just salt and pepper, and I actually really enjoyed it. Plus the mashed avo really just finished it off perfectly. I realise that as much as meat is legal on SCD, it’s not good to overdo the red meat. I won’t have a juicy steak more than once a week, and the rest of the time it’s chicken, mini steaks or ostrich.

Eat-Fish-at-Least-Once-a-WeekI had avo at lunch and dinner today, and I don’t seem to be feeling any ill-effects which is awesome. BMs are still really erratic, and mostly I’m just looking forward to some predictability and a little less of a struggle.

I’m also making a concerted effort to eat fewer bananas, so today I’ve only had 6 small ones (which is progress for me!). I even chopped some up and froze them to remove the immediate temptation.

I’ve also decided that I’ll phase in mushrooms next (though I hear they can be hard on the gut), followed by garlic and tomato. Then maybe cilantro. This is such an exciting phase!

How my exercise is going

I’m still doing Jillian Michael’s Body Revolution and I love it. More to the point, I love Jillian! Completely coincidentally (or maybe not, since Jillian barks out of my TV every evening), K decided she wanted to start watching The Biggest Loser. It comes on TV here but we’ve never watched it, so we downloaded a few seasons.

Well, I’m now more in love with Jillian than ever, and it really buoys me up for my workouts every day. While I’m in good health, I’m really going to make the most of these high-intensity workouts. If I hit another flare (though I’m thinking positively and not anticipating one), I’ll tone it down.

The incredible hotness that is Jillian Michaels. How can you *not* want to work out with this woman?!

The incredible hotness that is Jillian Michaels. How can you *not* want to work out with this woman?!

Besides my BMs, I’m feeling good, experiencing very little bloating, and I’m feeling clear-headed. My energy levels also seem to be improving and I’m finding the workouts slightly easier, so I’m really feeling positive. I found this quote today and I love it. I think it’s really worth remembering, every day.

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