Month 6, My Focus: The Endocrine System. I Think My Skin Is Healing!

Ok, so it has been over five 5 months since I started my journey to heal my Idiopathic Guttate Hypomelanosis, and I have finally begun to seen some results!!

The melanocytes in my legs have slowly failed to produce melanin more and more over the past 9+ years. I began to see what I thought were big results on my thighs some weeks back in that I noticed I was seeing more of my brown spots, caused from an overproduction of melanin, than my white spots, no melanin production. I felt I was looking for the white spots but I was able to still see them. I was ready to share my news. But, the other night as I looked at my legs, it looked like there were more white spots. It occurred to me that maybe it was because I got some sun on my legs the day before. After I came back from running, and I got ready for my shower, I noticed I had a “runners” tan from my early morning run. This is Florida, afterall:)

So, when looking at my legs and seeming to see more white spots, I figured it was maybe because of the sun. I thought it was because I was eating sugar too. One of the things I was told was that, among this condition not being “curable,” it is also made worse by the sun and to steer clear. However, this article indicates research does NOT support photodamage as a prerequisite for the development of IGH making me think maybe it is still a fungus, but you think the “experts” would know. My thoughts about eating sugar again and seeing more spots is because I have thought it may be a fungus – it presents like one in so many ways – the shape, the slow spread and the persistence. Another place in the article does seem to contradict itself indicating the absence of the macules is due to solar radiation.

So, either I actually do have more spots in January, as it does seem to be the case as evidenced by the photos – I look tanner in January, too, which could just be elucidating the spots more – or I don’t. I am not sure! I have thought I could visibly tell they are reducing, so I am going to go with that, and they do look to be fewer in this recent photo, too. Summer is on the way, so I will be getting tanner just by way of being outside, so time will surely tell. However, to also address the potential fungus issue, I am going to keep my white flour & sugar to a low (fungus, like all organisms, love and thrive on sugar), keep eating well, taking my probiotics (which can also by way of increasing their populations, keep off the “fungal” populations), and just keep progressing in the direction of well-being. I am not sure I will continue to research further body systems beyond this month because I do not see a correlation between them, but I’ll see. I never knew the the endocrine system produced a hormone to stimulate melanin production! So…

I have persisted in the other areas, off and on, in which I’ve engaged in since working on different body systems since January. I am inadvertently taking a systemic approach at this point. I’m still supplementing with a lot of different supplements, drinking lots of smoothies, exercising, rarely overeating, eating less white flour/sugar, using Selson blue to scrub my legs with in the shower with a scubber likely used by masochists, I am taking probiotics, and I continue to research ways I can address how my body may make more melanin.

Onto the hormonal relationship.

Having recently found out there is actually a hormone responsible for making melanin, it’s called, aptly, Melanin Stimulating Hormone and is “stimulated” by the anterior pituitary gland in my brain, or so it should be, I was encouraged that maybe this is somehow the root of my problem. I am still not sure why it is failing to produce in my legs! So I am pursing the endocrine study this month to see what’s up with that and if there is something I can do to help my legs, here!

I read this study, Hypopigmented Macules of Photodamaged Skin and Their Treatment with Topical Tretinoin, which I found really interesting for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I found out that this Retin- A cream, Tretinoin, that I bought in Mexico in February for my face has actually been studied and used successfully for this problem. I have begun to use this on my legs, but the tube is now flattened, and ready for repurchase.

The issue with this cream is 2-fold – yes, it works, see the picts in the study, but not only are the “macules” lighter, the whole of the skin is lighter – issue 1. The 2nd issue is that after discontinuation of use, they returned over time. I am not looking for a temporary fix, but a long-term, permanent solution to my skin issue. Oh yea, you also should stay out of the sun when using this. Ugh. That’s a no for sure! I am outside pretty much every day, but I do and will use sunscreen more regularly and thoroughly.

I found something in this article fascinating. Researchers suggested “the
presence of a systemic factor in the development of IGH, because IGH epidermis transplanted into mice re-pigmented after 3 weeks. Restoration of pigmentation indicates that melanocytes, though inactive, are present in
hypopigmented macules.

So, my melanocytes (melanin-producing cells) are in tact, according to this, likely, and fun fact: we have 1000 – 2000 melanocytes per square mm – Wow, my task now is to figure out why, still my task, they are not producing melanin! As this studying, indicates, however, this is systemic. For me to have been on the path of, pin-pointing, oh, I need copper or I need more vitamin A or I need to boost my immunity – this is larger, maybe than I am making it. But, maybe not. Idiopathic indicates the origin of the pathogenesis is not known. So, it’s rough, especially since I am not being systematic about it in the sense of controlled studies.

Well, this makes me think that yes, maybe this will be my last focus this month because of the systemic nature of this. In a way, I am, and have been, overtime, as I mentioned, inadvertently developing a systemic approach to healing this, as I have learned new bits each month, I am continuing to employ each of them, but less so. Still, maybe over time, it will alleviate myself of this condition as I persist!

In the meantime, I will be looking at, for the rest of this month and more, my hormones, hormonal homeostasis (balance), melanocyte receptors and the effect cholesterol may be having on my skin.

I gave blood last month and found out my cholesterol has gone up 30 points in the past 8 years. It’s over 180 and in the red one! I have purchased a cholesterol meter so I will monitor this too over this month to get it down. I have already bought and been eating wheat germ which is supposed to be great to reduce cholesterol, but we make cholesterol naturally. Cholesterol makes our sex hormones, and is part of all our cell membranes. So, maybe this high level of cholesterol has something to do with my problem, or maybe i just had umpteen cups of coffee with excess cream that morning, and my cholesterol levels were only high because of that. Going to get to the bottom of it!

Here’s to My Health & Yours:)

Holly

Overview of My Progress on My Face and Legs

Part 2, Month 4 – Digestion – Persisting Beyond My Goal: My best lesson, yet!

One of my valuable lessons I’ve learned and am now employing: when you have given yourself a difference, a difference in lifestyle, a difference in behaviors, whatever it is, and the time to make that difference, keep it going. Keep making the difference.

Commitment to Running

This past month brought blessings to me in the form of commitment. I found myself successful in two areas – my gut health and my behavioral/emotional health. At the onset of the month, I found myself finishing a run and the number 28 popped in my mind – I will run for 28 days, I thought.

Later on, it occurred to me that 28 days, ending May 1, is ample time to create a new habit. Now that was not my intention at all, but I knew good things would maybe happen in those 28 days if I ran consistently.

I forgot about the aspect of the agreement I made with myself to actually run for 28 consecutive days, but I did exercise the whole time minus 2 or 3 needed breaks for my knees. I’ve found myself doing a day on, a day off, if that is what my knees dictate. I’m glad to be running at all! Gotta take it easy on my sweet knees, though, and I must listen to them.

Positively delighted, I am in such good shape now. My knees and legs feel stronger than they have been in ages. I’m feeling younger with these stronger knees and it feels so good sometimes to run almost like I’m getting a deep tissue massage in them. I am still careful though because my knees feel fragile still at times.

Why am I focusing on running when month 4’s focus was digestion? I have found that…running is excellent for digestive health.

Walking is also good for it. Movement in general, really, and I have found in the process, there is a greater impact on your digestion when you take deep belly breathes while you exercise which assists in getting things moving in the nether regions.  Constipation is an issue for many people simply because they lack the movement they need to help their bowels move.

Take Away #1 -Persisting Beyond the Goal – Take it to the Next Level

My main take-away this month: persist after the goal is accomplished. I’ve stuck to this diet and exercise so well and it’s really paying off. I’m not looking to ban it now because I “no longer have to” run or eat well – eating for my digestion I have found to be the healthiest I’ve eaten, maybe forever, given the length of time I’ve stuck to this. So, I intend to persist beyond the goal. Why?

Decades ago, I had an opportunity to quit a behavior for 30 days, which I did, and, at the end of that 30 days I had another opportunity to go back to it. I did, despite my true desire not to because of a familiar prompting. I wish I hadn’t. I fell from a lifestyle I was just starting to pursue and would have done well at it had I stuck with it and not let that behavior distract me. My choices since then, when I have given myself a goal and reached it, mostly (not always) I have gone back to how I behaved previously, delighted I could do it again, like with sugar, couldn’t wait to binge on it, but this time, I have no interest in going back. I’m almost a little bit skittish, like I want to keep pursuing the healthy life. So, that is my take away – persist in the after-glow of your achievement. Let it take root and become you.

Yesterday my 28 days of exercise ended, and I am pleased to say that, coupled with the diet, mostly consisting of fruit/veg smoothies and brown rice and veggies, I have done it honestly, and found I enjoy this new, healthy lifestyle. So, I will persist!!

                My total exercise units this past month:

                Bike: 50 minutes     Walk: 3.5 hours Run: 35 miles                    

This morning I hit the bridge and ran just over 2 miles. I’m still reluctant to eat sugar, but I do know I will likely get more bread and crackers to eat with my eggs and salads. However, if I maintain my refined sugar abstinence, I will be fine. That is my downfall.

In the absence of crackers or bread…guac, chickpeas and tuna…together! Mmm.

I have learned that there there is no short-cutting health. It’s a simple recipe, but discipline is required, and as I engage, I really enjoy my process. That is what I like most, and what I was hoping for I guess too from my 28 days, was it would impact positively other areas of my life. Not much more has changed, although I have been finding I am “digesting” my behaviors and emotions much for effectively, too, keeping what’s healthy and letting the other pass. Just like digestion!!

I have also learned from this past month that real change takes time. Overnight cures for life-long habits will not be long-lasting.

One of my valuable lessons I’ve learned and am now employing: when you have given yourself a difference, a difference in lifestyle, a difference in behaviors, whatever it is, and the time to make that difference, keep it going. Keep making the difference – keep making the positive changes that are leading you to what your desire, to the woman you desire to be – being her is only a matter of time:)

Persist with the change. It will become you at some point. You will become that vision of yourself you desire most when you persist and allow the change to take root.

We become what we give ourselves to.

Take-away #2: Breaking the Food Spell

Last night, I will say, I had an urge to go to the store and get some “goodie-baddies” but I don’t really care to open that door. So I didn’t. I find another result of this month beneficial – it is the first time I have gone without dinner on several occasions in maybe the past ten years or more. I am a feeder! :O)

It is a rare day in the meat-packing plant when I ever don’t feed myself dinner.  I feel this month, I have broken the food-spell over myself. Jesus said of certain spirits that they only come out by prayer and fasting. I have fasted and believe the spirits that have come out: the spirits of gluttony and lust (over food). I have employed the spirit of self-control over and over, and am really letting my body decide when/if I will eat because I need to, more so than because I want to. So that is another beneficial take-away from this month.

Phase 2 – Probiotics

Mid-month, after I found the food and exercise regime were paying off and found that “this house is clean,” I began taking pro-biotics. I felt my digestive situation had become barren enough to where I could start taking supplements that would have a chance to populate my gut because they would be able to find their way to it and not be lost in the mire of intestinal gunk. I am not sure how they are working. Funny thing about that, I was reading the back of the box when I got home and found these benefits on there for the vagina and found out the whole pill box said “vaginal probiotics.” I got a kick out of that because I wasn’t paying attention when I bought them; I was on the phone and noticed how many billion they had and figured those were the one’s for me! Vaginal health, I’m all for it! I had no idea they made pro-biotics for that!

At any rate, there are so many different strains in this. I have only looked up a few studies on them which are included on the links at the bottom, but I put the highlights of two different species of the same genus, below, in case you know nothing of different probiotic benefits. Here, you can get a glimpse – at least what these two studies found.

Month’s past I focused a lot on supplementation, but only this month have I found myself really using food heavily and taking only probiotics (1/2 the month) and some liver detox tea to help my digestive health.

I am going to end there. I hope you got something out of this. I know I did. I’m glad to be persisting beyond the goal and encourage you, A. To get a goal, and B. Make it a lifestyle change – meaning, you’ve used the goal to set you up for a change in lifestyle and you will keep taking it to the next level!

To My Health & Yours!

Thanks for reading!

Holly

Best Sunday Studying. April 26. Happy and Healthy Persisting in My Interests.

Probiotic Studies and Information, as mentioned above.

L. reuteri is able to inhibit the colonization of pathogenic microbes and remodel the commensal microbiota composition in the host.

Second, L. reuteri can benefit the host immune system. For instance, some L. reuteri strains can reduce the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines while promoting regulatory T cell development and function. Third, bearing the ability to strengthen the intestinal barrier, the colonization of L. reuteri may decrease the microbial translocation from the gut lumen to the tissues. 

L. rhamnosus is one of the most widely used probiotic strains. Various health effects are well documented including the prevention and treatment of gastro-intestinal infections and diarrhea, and stimulation of immune responses that promote vaccination or even prevent certain allergic symptoms. However, not all intervention studies could show a clinical benefit and even for the same conditions, the results are not univocal. Clearly, the host phenotype governed by age, genetics and environmental factors such as the endogenous microbiota, plays a role in whether individuals are responders or non-responders. However, we believe that a detailed knowledge of the bacterial physiology and the LGG molecules that play a key role in its host-interaction capacity is crucial for a better understanding of its potential health benefits.

Pressing On, and Praying On

Praying this a.m. left me with two take-aways – a desire and heart to help others somehow – of which I asked the Lord to show me what that looks like and for me to recognize it, and, for direction and greater confidence in my training as I swim today.

Where I Was to Start

This morning I awoke at 2ish, 4ish, 5 and I was finally up, and out of bed, by about 6:30 or so. I was not interested in getting up – nothing new, but I eventually did. I got in the shower shortly thereafter and got with it.

No interest in working out or in carrying out my normal prayer routine is where I was at this morning.

I took off yesterday, Sunday, from work and working out. After church, I went shopping. I am not a shopper normally, but having attendants cater to you is AWESOME. Guess that’s why I’ve hated shopping previously – the on and off with the clothes constantly and running back and forth for different sizes – insufferable – not that bad, but still, it’s never been for me.

I got some really nice, great new cloths which I like, a lot. Cute skirts and pants – lots of them. Need more shirts maybe, but also got belts and shoes and jewelry, too. Good stuff. Pretty set for back to school, next week, but I’ll have to keep this less 1 size training body to keep my skirts and pants looking good!

My mind, from the day off, left me out of sorts from being off schedule. I was completely out of it, like I traveled to Europe for the week or something. I was not at all in my normal mind-set, and wasn’t really eager to get back to it.

I felt a little bothered, like I have to take time to pray, and I felt like I wanted to be free from all the protocols of ritual even know I majorly benefit from it, as do others, I’m sure. I was feeling like I wanted to be able to have my independence and just go about my day without checking in. I feel I always have to check in to make sure I’m doing it right. I know not practicing my faith is always an option, too.

What I Decided

The word tells us renew our mind daily. So, I checked in, did some short prayers, and, also found at the end, my heart was yearning to help others as I prayed, so I prayed for that, welling-up somehow. I don’t know what that looks like, but it might involve helping feed others or something of the like.

I had a yearning to be of service.

My time to be helped has always been present from the Lord, but I feel it’s time to help others more now because I’m good with where I am in this life. Thank, God!

Background

For much of my life, I was needy. My place in life now is positive. All is well. God has been so gracious and faithful to help me so much, always, over the years, and even despite my indiscretions.

What Now?

I swam, biked and ran outside the other day to provide greater conditioning for myself as I prepare for the meet this following weekend.

Feeling I had accomplished my greatest challenge already, my thoughts went to, “Now What?” To where do you go after you have achieved what you set out to?

Of course, I have not finished the race, but I felt the highest hurdle had been conquered, so what now? No answer came to mind. Just keep running. I felt a bit deflated, however. What’s next?

Where I Am Now

So, today, after prayerfully beginning my day – which I know is much better and always goes smoother when I spend my time with God – I put my my jewelry and belts away, cleaned up a bit, and did some work and printed it out. I then headed out with my packed gym bag and computer, too, to do some more working and working out.  To date I have run: 27 miles, biked 123 and swam for almost 5 hours. Yah Me!

I felt so good leaving this morning.  By the way, when I was praying this morning, I got this vision of me swimming so stealthily which gave me the desire to do it – grace! Yah! Thank you, Lord!

As I prayed this morning, I confessed my lack of desire to do so to the Lord, and the pride I felt accompanied it. I thanked him, too, for the privilege of being able to pray, even, and knowing he hears me and is with me!! What a gift and privilege, for sure. 😊

Praying this a.m. left me with two take-aways – a desire and heart to help others somehow – of which I asked the Lord to show me what that looks like and for me to recognize it, and, for direction and greater confidence in my training as I swim today.

I was so grateful I took the time, as always, to pray before I proceeded.

“Pray Before Proceeding!” I like it😊

On the Road – Attributes to Happiness

Feeling so happy as I was on my way to do some work at Panera, this a.m., I wondered why I was so happy. I thought it was because I am progressing. I love accomplishment! Physically , professionally and personally, I have made many accomplishments this summer. Awesome, accomplishment – I highly recommend seeking it!!

Accomplishment and progress are two nouns, for the lack of a better word😊 that I have achieved this summer. Even this morning, I felt accomplished for what I completed because of the progress it’s imparting.

I have found that happiness is the by-product of progress and accomplishment – for me, anyway! What a great gift! Who knew? There is nothing like those two to provide for a happy soul.

Pressing On, Praying On

Pride and boredom may, at times, try and thwart prayers and spending time with God, like this a.m., but I gotta let it go, and switch up, if that occurs. God will always lead me to answer, “What’s next?” when I ask, and, if I am open and aware, to know what that is.

For now, “What’s next?” Pressing On and Praying On – Pressing On toward working out, working, and waiting on who and when I can help and serve others, And, Praying On for the grace to accomplish what I need to do along each step of the way.

Final Note, From Panera

When asked this morning by a Panera cashier, “How are you today?” “Marvelous!” I responded. “As it should be,” she responded! I loved it. Ditto that! Marvelous.

Have a marvelous day, and happiness to you in all that you do…

Holly