All about April’s first blog convention, ShiftCon!

It has been a busy past couple of a weeks here at Double Chin land. Alyssa and I have both been prancing around the United States and last Wednesday ended up trading cities. I left Oakland for Burbank and a few hours after my arrival, she left Burbank for Oakland.

Saturday was the wedding of our special friend and honorary sister, Katelyn. Alyssa had to be back to do all the wedding party excitement and since she already had bought a ticket to her friend’s blog convention called Shiftcon, I got to reap all the rewards and go in her place!

The website does a better job than I can when it comes to all the awesome aspects of this event so here is a blurb of explanation from their page:

 “ShiftCon is the very first international social media conference focusing on wellness, health, and the environment. This conference blends workshops, networking, parties, and intense collaboration of changemakers all over the United States and Canada in one place. Bloggers and other social media professionals participate and collaborate with each other to inspire and empower each other to create effective communication and take their profession to the next level. Attendees participate in workshops, learn from professionals, discuss their niche and value systems, and decide on themes to collaborate on in the following year. This is a powerful event meant to organize the eco-wellness niche as a powerful community online.”

ShiftCon was held in Los Angeles from Thursday October 2nd to Saturday the 5th. I had wanted to be back in time for Katelyn and her (now) husband’s wedding, so I ended up only attending for Friday afternoon. Within a few hours I had pulled in so much information about brands I already loved and brands I have a feeling I will love.4

There was probably well over a hundred different eco-approved products to try with representatives from tons of companies ready to share information and samples. Besides the THREE hefty swag bags I immediately I received upon check-in, sponsors showered me in samples and challenged me to share pictures to receive additional perks. I got a sweet Patagonia bag from Organic Valley for instagramming a picture. I’m extra stoked on it because  it is PERFECT for my ultra long walks I have been doing!

 

Here are some brands I was excited to experience and/or learn more about!

  • Organic Valley – I’m a fan of chocolate milk so it was easy to lure me to the table with buckets of chilled chocolaty drink calling out to me. Organic Valley does a lot more than make delicious tasting drinks, they also do a variety of dairy products like cheese, butter and sour cream. I noticed at the grocery store tonight that they also have a bunch of organic produce available too, like the bag of potatoes offered at the same price per pound as conventional potatoes. I got a few bottles of their protein packed milk shakes called “organic balance.” These yummy drinks carried 16 grams of protein with them and I’m likely to be utilizing my coupons to buy more. With  the awesome bag they gave me and these drinks, I’ll be well set on my ambitious outdoor adventures. 1
  • Nordic Naturals – This is a product I noticed had hooked up our swag bags pretty heavily with goods. They gave me a whole gift pack full of samples, coupons, mints, a pen, chapstick, a lanyard, and a full size bottle of “Ultimate Omega” fish oil supplements. With my food allergies kicking my ass lately, I am excited for the opportunity to try out some new ways to improve my health.  According to their website, “Extensive research has documented the health benefits of EPA and DHA, which include not only a healthy heart, but brain and cognitive function, joint mobility, eye health, pregnancy and lactation, healthy skin and hair, and a normally functioning immune response.” I’ve got enough capsules for a month so I’ll report back and let you all know how I feel!

    I've got lots of love for all things Norwegian.

    I’ve got lots of love for all things Norwegian.

  • Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap – I’m not sure when I first discovered what I fondly refer to as “hippie soap” but I have been a faithful fan of this product for definitely more than five years. They were certified organic before being organic was the cool thing to do and their big variety of body products is always giving me more things to try. I started my appreciation of this product when I fell in love with their original castile soap. It is incredibly concentrated and a little bit can create a ton of bubbles so it is the perfect product to take while traveling. Plus, they can be used for way more than your skin. “Completely biodegradable and vegetable-based, our Castile Liquid Soaps have been called the “Swiss-army knife” of cleaning – usable for just about any cleaning task. These simple, ecologically formulated soaps are gentle enough for washing body, face or hair, but also powerful enough for tasks like dishwashing, mopping, laundry and even pest control. ”  Dr. Bronner’s seems to be found in all sorts of stores now, I know our local drug store CVS carries a ton of their stuff at a pretty cheap price so give it a shot! I’ve had the same little bottle for years throughout my travels!

    I was excited because this photo was tweeted by the awesome Trish at Dr. Bronners!

    I was excited because this photo was tweeted by the awesome Trish at Dr. Bronners!

  • Naturepedic Beds – This organic mattress company started out making beds for infants and toddlers and grew in size from there! Now offering all sorts of beds for the entire family, these beds feature no harmful chemicals and are made with organic materials that help ensure the healthiest night’s sleep you can get. The ladies at the display offered me a moment of rest in exchange for a selfie and I was excited when I saw they used it on their own instagram feed! I’M FAMOUS! Thanks, naturepedic! Plus, the bed itself was super comfortable and when I’m ready to buy a new bed next year, I’ll be checking them out first!

    Comfortably organic.

    Comfortably organic.

  • Soap Box – I’m obviously a fan of products not made with a bunch of weird chemicals so when I saw I had a full size bar of a BLACK soap, I got really excited. The company is Soapbox Soaps and they make simple soaps that are 100% palm oil free, vegan, and every box gets another box sent to a child needing their own cleanliness product. They’ve got more types besides my charcoal-activated black soap like lavender, orange, cinnamon, and eucalyptus. Plus,  these soaps run just $4.99 which is pretty reasonable considering the high-quality product it is. I used it tonight during my “shower break” away from writing this long post and my skin feels super silky and clean without an ultra strong scent or weird film that some soaps leave.

    They have a $20 gift set with a bunch of products for the holidays! Click here for their website!

    They have a $20 gift set with a bunch of products for the holidays! Click the pic for their website!

 

So, as you can see, I had a blast at Shiftcon getting to know these products better and learning more about the organic and eco-product movement. I was especially grateful to meet many incredible and like-minded individuals and excited for all the networking I was able to do! Thank you SO much to the people who worked their ass off to put it on, you all were running around the whole time so I only got to meet a few of you! Event planning is tough but you guys did a great job! For a list of the MANY sponsors that hooked us bloggers up, click this link for a wonderfully made list! 

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Check out the enormous amount of goodies I came home with!

I hope you all have a great rest of your week!

 

Lots of love,

AprilSignatur

 

 

September is PCOS Awareness Month, and I am 1 in 10

September is PCOS awareness month! You all have seen me write about PCOS before: Long story short, a dear bloggy friend of mine told me I needed to be checked for it after she heard about some of my ailments, I finally got checked, and I was a classic case. PCOS stands for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, it affects 1 in 10 women worldwide, and is the most common endocrine disorder in women. Although PCOS has ovaries in its namesake, PCOS is largely a hormonal issue, and as all you all know, hormones are microscopic things that make a huge deal in how your body runs and functions.

I had heard about PCOS in passing, but never heard enough about it to consider it would be a large reason for the many health challenges I was encountering. Since high school, I’ve lost handfuls of hair every time I shower, and sure enough, visited a doctor about it twice. It was chalked up to stress and I was on my way. (I still lose a lot of hair, but have now just accepted it as I still have plenty, thankfully.) I also visited the doctor at least twice a year with complaints of impossible weight loss, and several times, I was told to just work harder, no doubt the doctor assuming that my tales of healthy eating and exercise were just lies (and twice, I was prescribed prescription weight loss pills, which I did not choose to take). I also had telltale signs of insulin resistance; feeling panicky and shaky if I didn’t regularly eat, having severe headaches when I didn’t eat enough carby stuff, and sometimes got panic attacks that felt like surges of electricity running through my body. The menstrual side effects were mostly masked for me as I had been on birth control for many years to control difficult cycles (also a large indicator of PCOS). What makes me angry about all of these signs is that they had all been presented to doctors over the years who never thought to piece them together, because as my endocrinologist finally pointed out, I’m a classic case and likely have been for years.  Click here to go read more of the symptoms. I’m lucky that I haven’t experienced all of these, but there are also some weird PCOS symptoms that are not included on this list that I’ve experienced like mental fogginess, “carb coma”, chin acne only (a hormonal spot), and super sensitive skin. (What makes this syndrome even trickier to diagnose? Many people have completely different symptoms — for example, while 50% of women with PCOS are obese, some are not overweight at all. Some women with PCOS also don’t even have cystic ovaries, yet their hormones match the profile of being PCOS-consistent. Confusing, right?!)

How did my PCOS get discovered, then? In 2012, I had had enough with the BS of trying to lose weight. I’d been blogging on the DCD for three years, and had started a 3x weekly morning boot camp. I was busting my ass in hopes of dropping some weight for one of my bucket list trips to Thailand. Instead, I gained weight. About six months prior, I had stopped taking my birth control and allergy medication in hopes that maybe some of my earlier weight gain was from medication. Without the assistance of hormones (birth control is a common treatment for PCOS), my symptoms intensified, and I demanded my general care doctor do an ultrasound of my ovaries. Sure enough, the scan and blood work revealed several small cysts, in addition to high androgen levels, both tell tale signs of PCOS. Since my diagnosis about a year and a half ago, I’ve lost 22 pounds, largely thanks to the great care I’m receiving from my endocrinologist, who placed me on 1,000 mg of Metformin, a Diabetes drug that can help control insulin and imbalanced hormones. He also does regular blood work, and we did some adjusting to my thyroid, which likes to go back and forth between normal and too low. In the past two months, all of my liver and thyroid levels have become balanced, which means my skin has cleared up, I have more energy, and I’m slowly but surely losing weight when I make very dedicated efforts. This was impossible before my diagnosis and treatment, and while I will have to have my blood work monitored every 3-5 months to adjust medications, for the first time in awhile, I have hope when it comes to losing weight. There is no cure for PCOS, but with weight loss and medication, many of the symptoms can be reduced.

So why am I writing about all of these very personal things on a very public blog? Because we all have a right to know what’s going on with our body. If this is the most common endocrine disorder in women, and I had all the symptoms for over TEN YEARS and was never told about it until a fellow ‘cyster’ suggested I get checked, I want more people to know about it. Sure, PCOS is a “tame” problem to have, in comparison to other medical concerns. But PCOS can be the launching pad for many other debilitating illnesses: ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, cervical cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and severe anxiety and depression. If just one woman goes to the doctor because she has any of the following symptoms, this blog has done its job. When you have an invisible illness, which means one that can’t usually be physically seen, like PCOS, Crohn’s disease (which my best friend suffers from, or Lupus (another dear friend of mine suffers from this), uneducated people sometimes minimize its effects. I’ve even had people remark that I should stop using PCOS as an excuse for not losing weight. This is not only inaccurate, it’s insensitive and hurtful when you’re experiencing the very real complications of said “fake illness”. I can lose weight with PCOS, just as I can live a healthy and happy life. However, the key to this is treatment, and that treatment couldn’t have been discovered had it not been for one friend courageously telling me to go get checked. Like any other medical symptom, if you genuinely feel that something isn’t right, you need to look into it, and if nobody listens, keep going until you find someone willing to fully investigate what’s going on. You are worth the hassle. You are worth the time. You are worth the knowledge — because you might be 1 in 10.

I wear teal for me.

I wear teal for me.

I can not eat-eat-eat apples or bananas

It’s been a little over two months now since I found out my food allergies. I’ve been plagued with constant headaches and tummy problems my whole life but never considered it to be from the food I was eating nearly every day. I had cut out processed crap years ago so it just didn’t make sense to me how I could eat “clean” for a week yet still have a headache nearly every day.

Finally, after a blood test, the results came back saying I was allergic to wheat, rice, oats, apples, oranges, and bananas. I also am apparently right on the border line with eggs, cow dairy, corn, and CHOCOLATE.

Since finding out about the wonderful things I should no longer enjoy, I have drastically reduced everything and have noticed a dramatic change. I can not choose which food has really been the hardest thing to give up as I loved all of it. Since I’m on the border of the eggs, dairy, chocolate and corn – I have yet to even attempt giving those things up. I just don’t want to. Giving up the rest of the foods has been a challenge enough and with how great I’ve been feeling since making the change – I just don’t see a need to give up my border-line foods just yet.

I’ve lost twelve pounds in the past two months and I credit 80% of that weight loss from getting rid of my allergens. Of course, all the training walks I have been doing and having a routine food schedule from my summer job certainly helped however I am positive the food has made the biggest change. Besides the weight loss, not having to take ibuprofen nearly every day or carry tums in my pocket has been amazing.

What has freaked me out the most is what happens when I cave and eat one of the things I am allergic too. I had an enchilada at work two weeks ago, hoping it was made with corn. Within twenty minutes, I had a raging headache and within three hours, my head was worse than it had been in a long time. Six hours after the initial enchilada, I was completely congested as if I had a horrible cold.

Last Thursday night I have three small cocktail glasses of blood orange soda, a BIG favorite treat of mine. I didn’t experience any symptoms that night but the next morning I awoke with a headache that cradled the whole front part of my skull. The headache wasn’t gone until I woke up the next morning.

It’s things like that which make me realize that my sensitivity to certain foods is a real thing. I’ve mostly accepted it but I’m still somewhat in denial. I think most of my denial comes from the weirdness being that apples, bananas, and oranges are such “normal” fruits so I just don’t understand how I could be allergic to them. I can get the wheat – and even the rice and oats – because those are all grasses. Outside grass has ALWAYS been horrible on me in the sense of hay fever so obviously consuming it would be devastating for me too.

For those of you who have food allergies too – what was it like for you when you found out? What kinds of allergies do you have?

Have a fabulous Wednesday everyone, I’ll be back with another blog Friday as Alyssa is off working on the FIRST 3-day walk in Detroit happening this weekend. Did you guys know she is less than $900 from reaching her $2,300 goal? I know I still need a ton of money towards my goal – but in case you’d like to help Alyssa get to her goal since she’s already so close – click here for her page!

Bye bye!

 

AprilSignatur

 

 

Obese, morbidly.

 

Greetings, readers! I’m back with my attempt to blog at least once a week and this week I want to talk about something that I’ve known but never really thought too much about. I visited the doctor this week and we did a check-up on my blood work  with my discovery of food allergies and such. My blood ended up being just fine but there was something that came up on my lab reports that disturbed me.

 

My doctor had officially noted me as obese, morbidly. I was well aware of what the medical world calls people with high weights but I like to live in my happy bubble where I can just consider myself as an obese person working towards better health. Unfortunately the medical way to describe my weight, specifically with the use of the word “morbid”, makes it seem like I’ve got one foot on the gas and one foot in the grave. I just don’t agree with the word morbid. Obese, fine. Fat, whatever. But morbid? It makes me feel like I should start dressing like Morticia Addams and never smile again. Why not just call it, “super obese?” Like, you’re fat, but you’re also SUPER! It’s bad enough to just BE obese, but why does it still have to sound so harsh? It’s like the only expression that hasn’t been sugar-coated over the past few decades.

I know the amount of fat on my body isn’t healthy but I don’t feel like I’m one more soda away from immediate death. The doctor also tested all sorts of things like cholesterol, calcium, sodium, thyroid, potassium, and glucose levels. Everything was perfectly in the normal range. I also was weighed and had lost seven pounds since I found out about the food allergies. I’ve been feeling pretty good about myself. I’ve been walking more at night and forcing myself to attempt to jog. I set up little goals of amount of blocks and it’s been pretty cool to see how quickly I’ve improved over the past couple of weeks.

According to my training walk schedule, I’m a few miles short of the suggested amount I should be doing every week to prepare for the 60-mile walk. I have been thinking about ways I could fund raise as I still have $1,800 to go and am stoked that I’ll be getting the pink in my hair done today! I still want to do a “Brews for BOObs” event so I hope I can do that to help raise money. I also have been thinking of a way to craft together a promised “training walk sponsorship” where maybe I could ask people to “sponsor” my training walks – They give me a goal for a month during my pre-training, say 50 miles – and they’ll promise to donate $50 when I achieve it. I log all my walks on a fabulous app called Runtastic so it would be legitimate to track my progress… and hopefully everyone who promises to donate will follow through.  What do you all think of that idea? Would any of YOU sponsor my training walks?  😉

I hope you all have a super spiffy Thursday and if you’re looking for some good laughs, check out my hidden link coated in sugar.

Bye bye!

AprilSignatur

 

 

 

 

Click my picture to get to my 3-day page!

Please click my picture to get to my 3-day page!

Going at full speed

Hello wonderful blog followers!

The month of June is nearing the end.  Can you believe 2014 is already going to be half over?   Time goes by way too quickly and lately I have been finding it hard to do anything that includes sitting down. Unless it is when I am sitting in traffic during my new rush hour commute.

Summer camp is in full swing at the humane society I am now working at and so far,  this job is incredible.  My first two weeks of training brought me all types of new experiences with animals and filled my head with dancing bunnies, barking dogs, and climbing kittens. It has been AWESOME. This week we have our campers, all fifth and sixth graders full of questions, enthusiasm and opinions.  Today I was introduced to the wonderful large group game called “Kelp Help” (a revised version of “Elbow Tag”). Since I’m an awesome camp teacher, I played with the kids and ended up getting a quick workout that even got me sweating!  I had to sprint around a circle playing the role of a shark-dodging seal, as one of  the campers would try to tag me before I latched on to the “kelp” to be released from my role. It was nuts. But the kids were impressed with my short bursts of swiftness.

komenwalk

Last week marked the first week of the Susan G. Komen 24-week training guide.  I managed to walk eight miles last week and this week I have done five so far, thanks to the first official training walk I hosted on Monday. Another 3-day participant, her daughter, my mother, and my two friends joined me to walk through a five mile chunk of my town. I was grateful that the weather was gorgeous and not too hot as we spent our evening chatting about what fitness meant us, weight loss, the effects of cancer on the world, and other random conversation pieces. My feet were about ready to fall off by the end of it as I was still sore from three miles I had done the day before hiking around the Santa Cruz mountains.

All my mileage I have racked up so far has certainly been making me feel all sorts of soreness. However, I also have been quickly feeling much more in shape than even just a month ago. I was down another 3.6 pounds last Saturday at Weight Watchers and am (ideally) another weigh-in away from being down 10 pounds officially since I began the program. It has been a challenge to take off those ten pounds but some progress is better than none. I have a feeling with the walk training and my new lifestyle of change of working to eliminate all the foods I am allergic to, I have faith I’ll be able to continue to drop the pounds.

This week I have been surviving off of yogurt, quinoa mixed with salsa, lettuce, cheese sticks, and grapes.  Mmm, grapes.  ::moment of Napa Valley appreciation::  I am looking forward to finally getting my first pay check so I can grocery shop for more variety! I went to Whole Foods and was saddened by the lack of products that are gluten-free but not made with rice or oats instead.  I did see some corn bread mix that inspired me to research recipes so I have faith maybe I will be able to find some other variety of carbs. Coming up with quick breakfast foods has been my biggest challenge but after some facebook friends made some suggestions, I have some ideas I could do.

Do you have any breakfast ideas for me that don’t include wheat, oats, rice, apples, bananas or oranges?  Thank you 🙂

I hope everyone had a glorious  rest of their week and an even better weekend.  I’m aiming to walk another eight miles before next Monday, I’ll use this blog as a commitment to do it. 😉

Bye bye!

AprilSignatur

 

 

 

 

PS – I’m brewing up some great ideas for fundraising for my 3-day walk but once I hit 20% of my needed $2,300 – I’ll be working with my friend and stylist, Ashley Blanchard of Lauthr, to create a “pink hair color” fundraising meter – the more money I earn – the more pink my hair will become. So far I have 12% thanks to donations from lovely people (Tommy, my Mom, my sister, Shannon, Audra, and Linda!) and I am VERY EAGER to get that pink in my hair.  If you have it to spare, please consider even donating $5 to my fundraising!  Thank you so much!

 

Visit my personal page here:   http://www.the3day.org/goto/aprillofgren

 

 

 

Ticks.

Warning:  This isn’t relating to weight loss or fitness but it has a lot to do with health awareness.

Continuing on…

Ticks.   I hate ticks.  The very thought of them as I write this makes me feel like I have at least four on me right now.   Ideally, it would be great if you are reading this and you have no idea what this nasty little bugger I’m talking about is.  However chances are, since there are roughly 900 different species of ticks in the WORLD, you probably have at least heard of ticks.

Ticks have been a part of my life ever since I first discovered how magnificent nature is.  My family and I would do “tick checks” after our adventures outside and if one was found, my Dad would carefully pry it out of our bodies as we screamed in horror as if he was removing a toe.  What was just as bad though was when we failed to find the ticks on the dogs and they would go around for days before we discovered the sweltering beast on their bodies.

My motivation for this post came for two reasons: One is that I went for a hike on Sunday with Maggie, our golden retriever, and twice I found two different types of ticks on her.  I was so worried about finding another tick on her that I constantly was rubbing down her majestically fuzzy fur, picking out every tiny thing that wasn’t part of her coat.  I did the same to myself, scratching at my head on the drive home, thinking of the many times I had pulled ticks off me doing the very same thing before.

The other reason I wanted to talk about ticks is because there is so much more to them than just finding them and picking them off.  The scariest thing about ticks isn’t that they fall down from the trees above you as they detect your body heat moving below and then latching on and burrowing into your body, filling itself with your delicious blood.   No no, as scary as that is, the most horrifying thing about ticks is that they CARRY DISEASE.

I know two women who have contracted diseases from a tick.  One case, not as serious, was my own mother.  While I can’t recall the name of what she got, I remember how she came down with it.  She found a tick in her arm and within a few days of removing it, she noticed the spot start to get really irritated.  After it got worse and worse, she finally went to the doctor and was put on medication to “cure” her.  She’s fine now, but it was a wake up call that no matter how careful you think you can be, there is still always a chance that ticks are out to bite you.

 

Stacy and her friend who organized the fundraiser, Sasha

Stacy and her friend who organized the fundraiser, Sasha
Click here to view Stacy’s Gofundme Page!

The next case, much more serious, is that of my high school friend Stacy.  Stacy got diagnosed with lyme disease a few years ago after being bit by a tick in the very county I live in today (Sonoma County).  Stacy started losing her hair and was constantly incredibly tired.  She would get migraines, blurred vision, heart palpitations, insomnia, sensitivity to light and sound, issues with speaking, memory loss… SO many symptoms that continue on.  Now that she is in the last and final stage of the disease, she described it was living with the flu, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Of course our American healthcare system doesn’t do much to help her situation unfortunately, people with lyme disease were often denied coverage. (I hope Obamacare will truly change that!)  Stacy has had the best luck using homeopathic remedies to relieve her awful symptoms.  There are some organizations out there that help people like Stacy, but people with serious diseases like Stacy could always use all the help they could get.

I was aware of Stacy having lyme disease for a while now but I didn’t know how severe it had gotten until her friend Sasha made Stacy a fundraising page and tagged her on it.  If you are able to help Sasha make Stacy’s life a little easier, please check out her Gofundme.com page!What steps do you take to avoid ticks?  Are they on your mind when you go out in nature?

Thanks for your attention, blogging world!

Love,

AprilSignatur