My Gluten-Free Experiment

Over the last weekend of February I read Wheat Belly by William Davis. The basic premise of this book is that we consume way too much grain, and grain contributes to our health problems in ways we don’t even realize.

I decided I had nothing to lose by going gluten-free during my IVF cycle, and it may even help, so I dove in.

It was both easy and hard.

The hard part was eating out and social occasions. The first challenge came when we went to an Italian restaurant for my mom’s birthday. The menu was full of pastas and pizzas, and literally the only gluten-free item was eggplant. Luckily, it was drowned in cheese and pasta sauce so it was delicious! But it seriously limited my options.

I also had difficulties when we ate other people’s houses. For example, we went to Tom’s mother’s house for a family birthday celebration and everyone else was having pizza. Tom and I brought our own steaks and spinach to cook. Our meal was perfectly fine, but that pizza smelled so good!

It was easy in the sense that I found I really didn’t miss bread or other grains all that much. I was replacing them mostly with dairy (which some people don’t recommend, but full fat dairy is recommend for women trying to conceive), so I didn’t feel hungry.

Did it help with the IVF? I don’t know, but I do know felt a lot better physically! Despite the insane amount of drugs I was injecting myself with every day, I didn’t feel the same fatigue I usually did. Yes, I would get tired, but I no longer had that almost-overwhelming urge to take a nap after lunch. I didn’t feel like I was about to fall over from sleepiness like I normally would. That disappeared within 2 days of going gluten-free.

I lost about 5 pounds, which I wasn’t trying to do, but it showed me just how many calories I was getting from things like crackers, pasta, and bread.

Finally, I broke my gluten fast last weekend when I ordered grilled cheese for lunch at Chili’s. I was already feeling horrible due to the fact I had just gone off all my medications, cold turkey. I figured a little gluten couldn’t make it much worse.

I don’t know if it was the gluten, or the meds withdrawal, or a combination of both, but I basically spent the next 8 hours on the couch. I felt terrible the worst I had in a long time, both mentally and physically. While I don’t think I’ll be gluten-free, 100% of the time, forever (because it’s just not always practical or polite), I haven’t had anymore gluten since, and I’m planning on going gluten-free again during out next IVF cycle.

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February 2014 Highlights & Reads

Highlights from Last Month

  • Tom went to a football conference in Concord while I visited with San Jose friends
  • We celebrated the 3rd anniversary of our first kiss and the 2nd anniversary of closing on our house
  • We had an amazing dinner with some new friends from church who have also journeyed through infertility (and survived!)
  • Tom went to Fresno to attend the premiere of a friend’s movie

Books I Read in February

Favorite Podcast Episodes

Favorite Reads: Jan 2014

Here are my favorite reads from last month.  

I only read one book in its entirety during January, but it was a good one.

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MWF Seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search for a New Best Friend by Rachel Bertsche

After having the experience uprooting my life twice in the last 5 years and having to make a new circle of friends, I was intrigued by Bertsche’s goal to find new friends.

She spends a year going on at least one “friend date” a week, and her experience is hilarious and thought-provoking. As an introvert who can lean toward the quiet/shy side with new people, I found it comforting to know that I’m not the only grown woman who struggles to make friends in adulthood.

I also liked how she explored the idea of friendship. What makes a “good” friend? And when does an acquaintance turn into a friendship?

I’d definitely recommend this if you’re looking for a fun memoir that is also thought-provoking without being too heavy.

Blogs

These are the blog posts that kept me thinking long after I read them:

Best Reads of 2013, Part 2

Last Saturday, I posted Part 1 of my Best Reads of 2013. Today I’m sharing Part 2.

Sacred Pathways: Discover Your Soul’s Path to God by Gary Thomas

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This is another book that takes personality types in account.  Thomas helps readers discover how they best connect with God and take steps to nurture time spent in worship.

Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

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This was the only piece of fiction I read this year (terrible, I know), and I’m so glad I did.  Stedman writes a haunting story about an infertile couple who find a baby and raise it as their own, only to be discovered years later.  It left me with many thoughts about the definition of parenthood and motherhood, and the story was on my mind days after I finished it.

How I Changed My Mind About Women in Leadership: Compelling Stories From Prominent Evangelicals, edited by Alan F. Johnson

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During the summer I read several books about women in leadership and ministry, and this was one of my favorite.  It contains several essays from well-known church leaders of the last few decades who uses to oppose giving women pastoral and leadership roles in the church, but have now changed their mind.  Fascinating read.

Inconceivable: A Woman’s Triumph Over Despair and Statistics by Julia Indichova

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Indichova is a prominent infertility advocate and I enjoyed reading the story about how she beat the biological odds and conceived a child.  There is a mystical element to the book that I could’ve done without, but it was inspiring to read about her self-case methods and positive outlook.

7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker

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Having moved 3 times in 3 years and currently living in a 890-square foot house with no linen closets, no garage, and no storage I’ve recently been forced to downsize almost everything.  I’ve read several books and blogs over this time period that have helped me see that simplicity is good, but this book took it to the next level.  I appreciate how she was honest about her struggles to downsize and simplify and was inspired by the results she saw in her soul and family.

 I’d love to hear your take on any of these books or any others you read last year!

Best Reads of 2013, Part 1

At the start of each new year, I love looking back at what I read the previous year.  I picked my top ten reads to share with you.  Due to the length, I’ll publish it in two posts.  Here’s part one.

Going Public With Your Faith: Becoming a Spiritual Influence at Work by Bill Peel & Walt Larimore and Bringing the Gospel Home: Witnessing to Family Members, Close Friends, and Others Who Know You Well by Randy Newman

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Two great books that go beyond the cheesy suggestions you find in some evangelism books.  Peel and Newman really focus on developing honest relationships and creating opportunities for engaging conversations.

The In-Between: Embracing the Tension Between Now and the Next Big Thing by Jeff Goins

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Goins is a terrific writer and I really admire how he’s combined his writing and business skills to create a loyal following of fans.  This book is full of anecdotes from his life that illustrate the importance of finding meaning in the now.

Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way by Shauna Niequist

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I read this book slowly and savored each chapter.  Niequest eloquently reflects on some hard chapters in her recent life (job loss, recurrent miscarriage, marriage difficulties) without sounding whiny or self-indulgent and she beautifully brings each story back around to grace.

Die Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Everday by Todd Henry

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I’m a big fan of Henry’s Accidental Creative podcast and this book is just as good.  He has some insightful things to say about work, creativity, productivity, and personal fulfillment.

Evangelism for the Rest of Us: Sharing Christ Within Your Personality Style by Mike Bechtle

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I’ve always been fascinated by the study of personality, so I was eager to read this book.  Bechtle doesn’t have any new evangelism techniques, per se, but I feel like the book gave the reader “permission” to share Christ in a way that best suits them (without copping out of challenges situations).

I’d love to hear any book recommendations you have!

10 Books in 10 sentences

My students often ask me to tell them what a book in my library is about.  I know from experience that I have about one sentence to really grab someone’s attention.  I was thinking about this the other day in terms of non fiction books I’ve personally read, and I wondered if I could sum up what I took away from each book in one sentence.  So here’s what I’ve learned from ten books I’ve read in the last few years.

The Allure of Hope: God’s Pursuit of a Woman’s Heart by Jan Meyers.  Hope is risky and messy, but we must allow ourselves to hope if we want to fully live.

7: An Experimental Mutiny in Excess by Jen Hatmaker.  We really have much more money, time, food, clothes, and media than we really need.

The Anxious Christian:  Can God Use Your Anxiety for Good? by Rhett Smith.  Anxiety is not necessarily inherently bad and may be God’s way of getting our attention.

Introverts in the Church: Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture by Adam S. McHugh.  The modern-day American church overwhelmingly caters to the extrovert, so introverts must make a conscious effort to find ways in which they can enter into community and fellowship while still honoring their God-given personality.

Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives by Richard Swenson.  We need to resist the temptation to constantly be on the verge of our breaking points, and allow ourselves more breathing room emotionally, physically, and financially.

Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World by Michael Hyatt.  A strategic and thorough web and social media presence is crucial for anyone who has a message they want people to hear.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain.  Despite the fact that our society generally sees extroverts as normal and introverts as anti-social, introverts have unique strengths that should recognized and nurtured.

Sacred Marriage: What If God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy? by Gary Thomas.  Marriage was not designed to make us happy, but to make us more like Christ.   [Okay, the title gives this one away, obviously!]

The Sacred Romance: Drawing Closer to the Heart of God by John Eldredge and Brent Curtis.  God draws us to Himself through our desires, our hurts, and our loves.

A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband “Master” by Rachel Held Evans.  Despite the claims of many groups, denominations, and movements, there is no single definition of “Biblical” womanhood.

 

Top Books, Blogs, and Podcasts of 2012

Happy new year!  I thought I’d start off the new year by listing my favorite books, podcasts, and blogs of 2012.  Some of them have been around several years, but all of them were new to me in 2012.  Also, I can’t take credit for the idea to list my favorite media of 2012.  Several of my friends have done the same thing on their blog. I loved reading their lists, so I thought I’d steal the idea.

Books

  1. Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler.  This book actually came out in 2006, but I first came across it this year.  This is a book I wish I had read in my early 20s, even though I was no where near the point of thinking about getting pregnant.  Whether you want children or not (and even if you’ve already had them), this book helps women go beyond the basics and really gets into the nitty gritty of fertility and conception.  It also gave me a renewed sense of awe at how women’s bodies were created and how they function.
  2. Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World by Michael Hyatt.  I like practical, nuts-and-bolts books, and Platform is just that.  It’s basically a manual for using social media to get your message (whatever that may be) out there.  I found it relevant for me as a budding blogger and as a school librarian.  Plus, I listen to Michael Hyatt’s podcast (see below), and I’m just a fan of whatever he does.
  3. Prayer of Heart & Body: Meditation & Yoga as Christian Spiritual Practice by Thomas Ryan and Holy Yoga by Brooke Boon.  I listed these two books as a tie because they went hand-in-hand for me.  I was doing a lot of yoga at the beginning of the year.  I firmly believe that movement can be a form of worship, but I was often uncomfortable with the philosophies and meditations in the classes I was attending.  I wanted to explore Christian thinkers in the yoga world and these two books were immensely helpful.

Blogs

2012 was The Year of the Blog for me.  I was trying to cut back on how many books I bought, so blogs are the perfect quick-fix for a reading addict like me. I have over 100 different blog subscriptions, but these are the three I’ll be sure to read if I only have a few minutes to spare.

  1. I Heart Organizing by Jen Jones.  I love reading anything about organizing.  It’s so fun to me, even if my execution isn’t always perfect!  This blog is the ultimate in eye-candy for organizing aficionados.  Beautiful pictures, easy ideas.  Love it!
  2. Her.meneutics by Christianity Today.  There were several essays on this blog this year that kept me thinking for days.  They’re always thoughtful and the comments are usually pretty interesting, too.
  3. Kitchen Stewardship by Katie Kimball.  I love the idea behind this blog:  that working in the kitchen is an opportunity to serve God and our families.  I will admit that some of the projects and tutorials on this blog are a little too “granola” for me, and some require time that I just don’t have.   But, it has made me a more conscious cook and eater.

Podcasts

I spent the first six months of 2012 commuting 75 miles each way, two days a week. The other three days, I worked alone at home.  Music made me sleepy, so I ended up getting hooked on podcasts.  I probably listened to at least 20 different podcast shows this year, but these three were my consistent go-to’s.

  1. This Is Your Life by Michael Hyatt.  Hyatt is the former CEO of Thomas Nelson, one of the largest Christian publishers in the world.  He writes (and podcasts) practical articles on leadership, productivity, social media, and writing.  I love the variety of his topics and  how he puts his decades of leadership to good use.
  2. Smart Passive Income by Pat Flynn.  I’ve become really interested in the idea of entrepreneurship/home-businesses, and I stumble across Smart Passive Income from another blog.  Pat Flynn is known as one of the most transparent and honest internet business owners out there.  He seems like a really genuine guy and it’s been fascinating to hear about internet business.
  3. This American Life by Chicago Public Media.  Okay, I’ve been listening to This American Life for several years now, so it wasn’t new in 2012.  But it’s so consistently good that I have to list it here.  Each week brings another story and they’re all amazing.

I’d love to hear your recommendations for books, blogs, or podcasts I should check out in 2013!