In January, I came off GAPS by going straight into Matt Stone's RRARF program which focuses on eating lots and resting lots. The idea here is to flood your body with what it needs to repair itself. I started eating a lot more (specifically focusing on starches, such as potatoes, corn, and rice, in addition to my normal nutrient-dense GAPS diet), made myself start taking a nap every day, and stopped exercising.
- My biggest complaint during GAPS was that I had energy problems. My energy levels were much better once I started RRARF.
- My menstrual cycle became more normal; previously the number of days for my whole cycle was fairly short (once it was only 20 days!), and I had tended to have many days of spotting rather than any real flow. After one month on RRARF, my cycle was 29 days and I had a more normal period (although still a bit scanty).
- During my first pregnancy back in 2006, I developed the linea negra, which is a dark brown line going down my tummy (this is caused by hormones released by the placenta, and you can see the line in this old tummy picture). This line faded a little bit after pregnancy, but never really went away (and of course it came back again in my second pregnancy). I was surprised to notice that the line had totally faded away during my first month on RRARF.
- Sadly, I started getting some joint pain back towards the end of the month (joint pain was the main reason I started GAPS in the first place). And yes, this could absolutely be a result of the fact that I didn't follow Dr. NCM's recommendations for the proper way to come off GAPS (with a VERY slow reintroduction of non-GAPS foods). But I had a hard time holding back when my energy levels seemed so much better with the addition of starches.
- I gained about 5 pounds during the first month. I did not need to gain any, as my weight was already up a few pounds over my norm (since my weight had creeped up a few pounds during the last year on GAPS).
- My waking temperatures didn't budge during the first month. Waking temperature is a good indicator of metabolic health, and my temperatures have been low for many years (I've charted my waking temps as a natural birth control method since 2005, and my temps have been abnormally low the whole time). Matt Stone recommends tracking waking temperatures as a way to see when the metabolism is restored to it's optimal level.
In February, I stopped eating starches (except once/week at my mom's house), to get my joint pain to abate once again. So I've pretty much gone back to GAPS for now. But now it is GAPS with lots of homemade ice cream...
I wrote to Matt about my results after one month on RRARF. He said that since I am nursing, it could take a bit longer than the 30 days he described in the book for my temps to get normalized. Matt recommended ice cream for breakfast as a way to keep the weight gain down while really boosting the metabolism. Ice cream is a super food for boosting the metabolism.
I also started trying to incorporate a little bit of exercise back into my routine in February. Since exercise can have a detrimental effect on the metabolism (especially with my symptoms of adrenal fatigue), I am trying to take this very slowly. So I've been doing one session of high-intensity intervals each week.
- Eating ice cream for breakfast has given me wonderful energy levels. I almost feel normal now, on days when I make sure to eat ice cream at breakfast and once more in the afternoon. On days when I don't eat it, I'm right back to feeling very tired and low energy.
- My waking temperatures started to make some serious improvements (I even had a few in the normal range, which is a huge deal for me)! But then I overdid the exercise one week, and my temps plummeted (apparently high-intensity intervals of burpees are a little too hard-core for me right now).
- My menstrual cycle was pretty much normal once again. 28 days and without the extensive days of spotting I was having pre-RRARF.
- I still gained a few pounds in February, but that was better than the 5 pounds I gained in January. It seems that eating ice cream early in the day instead of after dinner works much better for me and slows down the weight gain somewhat. Matt Stone pointed out that the weight gain during this month could very well be "increased water and glycogen typical of adding in a high intensity exercise regime".
- I am still having a small amount of joint pain, so 95% GAPS may not be good enough for me at this point.
- I have occasionally had small amounts of back pain. I think this is due to the weight gain, and the only other time I've ever had back pain was when I was pregnant.
It is so strange to be eating so much ice cream after years of trying to reduce sugar consumption, but my energy levels are SO much better with the ice cream! My temperatures really started coming up once I started eating more ice cream, but I still have more to do to get my temps up all the way to where they should be.
My only complaint with the program so far is weight gain. From what I understand, some people gain weight on the program and some do not. I have maxxed out my jeans (and now have a little muffin top), and am really hoping to not gain any more. It is hard to decide it is okay to gain weight, even if it does mean that my body gets healthier over-time. From what I can tell, many people get their temps up after just a couple weeks on RRARF; mine are taking longer because I am nursing (which is a huge drain on the metabolic system). It is a bit frustrating, but I am very glad to have such an easy measure of my progress through checking my temps.
For now, I'm going to keep trying to focus on rest and making sure I eat plenty (especially early in the day). Hopefully the weight gain will continue to slow down, and I'll have to keep in mind that I may have to gain a bit to heal my adrenals before I focus in being at my ideal weight. I may have to completely cut out any non-GAPS foods to get the joint pain to completely abate, but we'll see.
You can read the follow-on post where I talk about the next couple of months here.
Have you tried any of Matt Stone's recommendations? Do you plan to make any changes in your diet and exercise routine?