Today I went to see my osteopath. I had not seen her in 2 weeks. Her nose scrunched up in disappointment when I told her my current pain level (3-4) and list of ailments. (Nothing you haven't already heard, so I'll spare you the details.)
I told her I had been stepping up my exercise routine and thought that may have been the cause of the increased issues. She asked me exactly what that meant (ie: what I had been doing and how often) and by the time I had finished listing everything I do, she was pretty gobsmacked. It was only then I realized myself how much all these things I've been incrementally adding actually added up to:
- Power yoga 1-2 times per week
- Cardio @ the gym 3 mornings a week
- 30 minutes of strength training on the Total Gym 3 times a week
- 30 minute walks 3-4 times a week
Of course, I had the passing thought: Why the hell am I not losing weight? I didn't have time to linger because my treatment started.
At some point during an assault on my IT band, the doctor asked me if I was pooping fine. Strange question to ask, right, given that I was there for hip, groin, and thigh pain? It was, however, a thought-provoking question because that... um... particular element has been somewhat back-and-forth from different extremes lately. (Sorry if this is TMI - you know where the "x" is on your web browser!)
When I reported my... problem (let's call it) she said that osteopathic medicine believes that there is a connection between IT band tightness and my GI tract. Blockages or areas of tightness in my lateral thigh, therefore, could be caused by my erratic pooping or, of course, visa versa. I asked her which was which in my case and she said it was a bit like the chicken and the egg; you don't know which way around it is.
Logically, my brain went to the conclusion that nutrition and diet could be affecting all of this. (Of course --- and before you get to the comments section Elena --- this is not the first time I've heard this but it was the first time that I've opened my mind to the possibility.)
Further research when I got home basically led to articles on the autonomic nervous system (ANS) and the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), which is a part of it. In lamens terms, the PNS regulates the body's visceral organs via the innervation of three kinds of tissues, one of which is muscle tissue. Through this process the PNS is connected to your GI tract, your bowels, your pelvis, and, particularly your pelvic diaphram. (It's all a lot more complicated and involved that that but that's the reader's digest version.)
Since all of these things are connected, it is possible that either:
(a) Many of my pain issues are causing pooping issues or
(b) My pooping issues are causing many of my pain issues, particularly in my pelvis and pubic bone area.
Of course, if it's (b), a different diet could help.
And then, of course, there's the issue of my not losing weight despite all the exercising and dieting I have been doing.
And then I connected the dots.
And then came the acceptance.
Maybe - just maybe - if I changed my diet, I could affect my pain outcomes and lose weight.
Bottom line, I've been avoiding this conversation with myself for quite some time. I've seen friends change the way they eat and report benefits above-and-beyond weight-loss but I thought I knew better. (Or, realistically, hoped I did.) I've lost weight in the past on my own knowledge and under my own steam and thought I could just go down that the same path again.
Yet, it's not working. I've been at it for more than 4 months now and haven't really lost a pound. Ok, I haven't always been as "good" as I could have been and have only recently stepped-up the exercise but there should have been some incremental improvement; I haven't seen it.
Although I have been too stubborn to admit it, my body is not responding as it once did. This could be attributable to my age, my hip surgery, the fact I carried a baby, and/or my c-section. Who the hell knows? When I list it like that, it's quite frankly unsurprising that my body may be a different beast these days.
I'm not saying I'm definitely convinced there's some hollistic answer to all of my problems and I'm absolutely not saying I'm going to become some crazy person who will only eat certain foods and who delivers a 20 minute list of dos and don'ts to the waitress at a restaurant. I'm just saying that I'm open to modifying my diet right now. The whole nerve thing made sense on a practical level (rather than the hocusy-pocusy level that this stuff is often presented on) and so I'm willing to try.
So, I started googling nutrition and pain. I've already found some interesting information I think I can put to work right away and I'll report on that in a future post. For now I'll end here and await the "I told you so!" (and helpful advice) from my friend, Elena. :o)