This is yet another post in my recent series of posts how my cholinergic urticaria went from being very severe to tremendously better (basically gone now). If you have not yet read my previous posts, then I strongly urge you to read them first so you can know exactly how this has progressed:
- My brief history of hives
- What is visceral fat?
- and My Hypothesis of visceral fat making cholinergic urticaria worse
- How to lose visceral fat
- Use Diet to eliminate visceral fat
- High Calorie Foods to Watch
- My Joyce Chen Steamer Review (My secret cookware weapon to reduce calories)
- Low Calorie Snack Ideas–some snacks to help you curb your cravings without adding too many calories.
- High Sodium Diet–How I was eating way too much sodium, and you may be too.
- Low Sodium Diet Tips
- Summary on Diet
- Best Ways to Do Cardio Exercise
- How I was able to exercise with severe Cholinergic urticaria
Update: I have now cured my hives. You can watch the video below for details:
Quick Recap on the Exercise, Diet, and Visceral fat
So to quickly recap, my cholinergic urticaria had taken a severe turn for the worst in the summer of 2010. I tried everything to no avail to cure them or at least lessen them. Then, after realizing I had gained some weight, I began a hypothesis that hidden visceral fat was increasing my inflammation, and could have been the reason my hives were so severe.
So I began my quest of diet and exercise, with the specific goal to burn this fat off of my stomach in hopes of restoring health. So far this has been a tremendous learning experience for me when it comes to calories, nutrition, and even exercise (even though I have exercised a lot in my life).
So let me share a few timelines and keep this story going with how my hives responded to this hypothesis.
My Diet & Exercise Timeline
Okay, it was around the middle to end of April when I began realizing and researching about visceral fat. I had never really noticed that I had an issue with visceral fat, and I was oblivious to much of what I had read and learned. So it was around this time (let’s say around April 22) that I made the firm decision that I was going to exercise and fix my diet so that I can begin losing visceral fat.
Week 1: Diet and Exercise Begins
For my first week in diet, I began removing all of the obvious things I should remove–soft drinks, pancakes, etc. I started to gradually count my calories at this time, and I also made a set number of calories for my fat loss goals. The first week, I actually dropped too many calories (I ate near 1,000). That was way too few, and by the end of the week I felt terrible. Then I did more research and learned that this was not safe nor healthy way to lose fat. So I upped my calories to about 1500 for the first week. I cut out soft drinks, pancakes, and started replacing them with lower calorie snacks and meals.
For my first week of exercise, I did cardio on my exercise bike. Again, this was pathetic, and I had to do it in 2-10 minute increments each day until I got to about 20 minutes each day (6 days per week).
At this point, my hives were still there like always. By the end of the week I had dropped about a pound or so. I still felt terrible.
My starting weight was almost 170. I am about 6 ft. tall as well. My waist (when I pushed out my belly) was almost 36 inches in the biggest spot. When I kept my stomach in (not sucking in, but not pushing out either), then it was much less than this (around 32 inches).
Week 2: Diet and Exercise Continues
Each week my diet improved (as I learned new foods and more about nutrition), and my exercise improved as well. At this point, I had began learning about how much sodium I was overeating, and I gradually began removing this one from my diet. I still ate around 1500 calories this week.
I also made a diet mistake: I began eating oatmeal. I love oatmeal, and it is a very low sodium/low calorie (yet high protein/high fiber) meal. However, I had learned a couple of years ago that oatmeal made me get a rash on my fingers/hands (among other foods). So I started eating oatmeal in hopes that my body was no longer sensitive to it. I learned the next week I was indeed still sensitive, so I had to remove the oatmeal and replace it with other foods (I may post a sample meal plan in a day or two). It caused some red itchy bumps on my fingers, but they are slowly going away now.
My exercise progressed more and I began incorporating some strength training. I had been doing this now for 2 weeks, and to be honest, I was getting discouraged. My hives were still there, and I still hadn’t sweat at all. I was beginning to wonder if my hypothesis was wrong, and if my hives were going to stay the same.
However, I decided that since I have discovered a way to exercise without causing pain, I will continue to do it regardless for health’s sake. So whether it helped my hives or not, I was going to continue my exercise program. But there were days I felt like quitting for sure.
I also stopped watching the scale so often at this point, because I had realized it would be better to weigh myself ever 2 weeks or so for more accurate results. Your weight can fluctuate a lot daily (depending on your clothing, bowel movements, amount of food you just ate, etc.). So I highly recommend you only weigh yourself every week, two weeks, or even monthly.
I had lost a little weight, but nothing too significant.
Week 3: Diet and Exercise Continues
By the end of week 3, I had definitely noticed that some of my gut had gone down. My diet was getting better every day. I was removing more and more foods that were of very little nutritional content (and high calorie), and I was beginning to replace all foods with lower calorie meals, higher nutritional content, etc. I also began to increase my calories to about 1800 by this point, as I realized 1,500 wasn’t enough for me. Plus, a couple of calorie calculators had recommended not to go below 1,800 for safe fat loss. I was feeling fatigued, and exercising daily, so I was happy to oblige.
My exercise was doing well at this point too. I was still taking breaks at the slightest hint of an attack, but I kept pushing through. My hives weren’t improving, and I wasn’t sweating either. However, by this time I was starting to feel more positive about myself.
My body was starting to shed weight. I suddenly started feeling much more confident, optimistic, and so forth. It was a great feeling. By this point, I had definitely dropped a few pounds. At this time I was around 161 or so. So I had dropped nearly 8-10 pounds in about 3 weeks. Not too shabby.
Week 4: The Big BreakThrough…
So about midway through the 4th week (nearly one month of eating very healthy and exercising daily), I finally had my breakthrough. I was exercising on the bike in my room, with the air conditioner blasting on me. My wife was watching a movie on our Netflix account. I always love to do something while I am doing cardio (like watching a movie, listening to a bible sermon, or listening to music), as I feel it really helps make the experience more enjoyable and helps with time management).
So as I sat on my bike peddling away, I began feeling itchy after a few minutes. So like always, I stopped immediately. For the previous 3 1/2 weeks, I didn’t dare try to push my hives. They could whip my butt, and I knew it. So I didn’t even try to test them, and this night wasn’t about to change that.
So I cooled down very quickly (it was the last cold snap we had in our area before warm weather hit). It was getting late, and I wanted to get all of my cardio in for the day. So after I cooled down a few minutes, I started peddling again.
I was able to go quite a while again, and then the hives started. Only I began noticing something that I really hadn’t paid attention to thus far—my hives were still coming out, but they weren’t itching as severely.
Intrigued by this, I kept cycling, but I still didn’t want to push it. Then the miracle happened!
After riding on the bike and dieting for almost a month, suddenly, the prickly feeling faded. When I started to peddle the bike again, it didn’t really come back. Only a prickle here and there, but nothing compared to the last year of torture. So no severe reaction, but my hives were stopping…Could it be??
So I got a rush of adrenaline and happiness by the thought that perhaps, since my hives were backing off, I could actually sweat for the first time in a year. So I continued exercising. I rode that bike for almost an hour and fifteen minutes total that night.
When I got off, my legs were like rubber. I felt my chest. Slight dampness. Wow. No sweat in any other location, but slight dampness.
I told my wife and she was elated. “Oh my gosh, your hives are going away,” she said. “Don’t get too excited. They weren’t as bad today, and I did sweat a little, but I may still have this,” I replied.
What Happened Next
After being able to continue exercising when my hives stopped, and then being able to subsequently sweat (albeit a very tiny amount), I was THRILLED. But I didn’t want to get too excited. I didn’t know if this was really working, or if it was just some fluke.
So for the remainder of the week, I kept exercising. Each time I would exercise, I noticed my hives were NOTHING like they used to be. I mean, there was no pushing through them before.
But now, I would begin getting very light prickles for a few seconds, and then they would stop. I wasn’t even getting hives on my body! I would take a brief break when they started, but I was able to continue exercising. They never got severe. Never a serious attack. I was getting happier by the minute. It was like I had been a prisoner in my own body for the past year, and suddenly I was set free.
My hives had gotten better. My body had changed. Something happened to make them less severe. I was ecstatic, but cautiously so…
Week 5: It Kept Getting Better
By week 5, things kept getting better. I was crushing my diet and making improvements daily. I was going for longer periods of time on the exercise bike, and sweating more each day. My soul was re-invigorated by the idea that maybe this was actually working. I was doing more strength training, and since my hives weren’t an issue, I began putting a little more emphasis on building muscle (as opposed to only trying to burn calories).
By the beginning of week 5, my hives were barely noticeable. I was sweating, I was doing work outside, and more. By the end of week 5, my hives were basically gone.
Week 6: Hives Are Gone for Sure, Sweating Buckets, Living Life
It has been roughly 6 weeks (a month and a half) since starting this. At this point I can’t even begin to explain how happy I am with my progress. My hives are gone. I can go directly into sweating with NO attacks. I can go outside in the blazing sun and…nothing happens (except sweat if I am out long enough). I am the happiest I have been in a long time (for obvious reasons).
I was talking to my wife in the car, and she commented about how happy I have been lately and what a great mood I have been in. I told her,
Imagine a person once having legs and arms, but one day something happened and they were cut off. So the person often reflected in their sorrow back on their life with arms and legs, and missed those days when they could run, jump, and do anything they wanted. And they used to sit and often wish their life could be the way it once was. They wish they could do something, but they are just stuck. And then, one day, they find a way to grow their arms and legs back. Can you imagine how happy that person would be? Well, that is how I feel now that my hives are gone. I have my life back right now.
Conclusion: My Hives Are Gone, and Hivesguy Is Getting in Shape
For the first time in a year, I have gone from severe cholinergic urticaria, to NO cholinergic urticaria. I have gone from zero sweat, to sweating buckets. I have gone to frustrated, to ecstatic. I have gone from self conscious, to self confident. I am losing weight, slowly gaining muscle, and I feel fantastic. I am taking ZERO drugs/antihistamines.
I feel that this has happened because I have ate a very healthy diet, focused on calories, reducing sodium, and reducing foods that cause me problems, and I have exercised. All this has been because I wanted to specifically target visceral fat.
I think that reducing my visceral fat has played a HUGE role. I still have a small amount, but it is fading with each week. It may take another 1-4 months before I have 100% of the excess fat gone from my visceral region, but I feel fantastic.
Some Interesting Observations:
I feel that the reason that this has worked for me is because the visceral fat was causing possible hormonal/inflammatory conditions in my body, which aggravated my hives. Once the inflammation source(s) was removed/reduced, the hives have slowly subsided. That is what I think, but of course I cannot know for sure.
Also, I am not claiming that this will necessarily work for everyone (although it may be worth a shot if you can do it safely and talk with a doctor). I would love nothing more than for everyone in the world to get cured from CU forever. But I also realize that there is the possibility that it could have different causes for different people.
But here is what I think DIDN’T help my hives:
- Sweating didn’t help my hives–I hadn’t been able to sweat in a year. The whole 3 1/2 weeks of exercising brought forth ZERO sweat. In fact, I think the sweat only came because the CU went away first, not vice versa. Also, when I went a day without sweating, I was able to do it again without issues.
- Getting used to the heat didn’t help my hives–for the past year I tried desperately in the summer to get used to the heat, to force out sweat, etc. Nothing worked. This year we had plenty of hot days before I began sweating. My body simply didn’t know how to do anything other than form hives. Also, on the day when I had my first sweat breakthrough, it was a cold snap (in the high 50’s), and I had my A/C blasting at night time. So it definitely wasn’t hot and humid.
- Exercise Itself Didn’t Help My Hives— For almost 4 weeks I was exercising, and I had to dance around my hives with every workout. I strongly believe that if I had been eating above my calorie maintenance level, I would still have hives today. So I don’t think exercise by itself would have helped, if I was still building/maintaining inflammatory visceral fat. Also, I took a 2 day break when I recently increased the intensity of my strength training, and I went straight into sweating the next workout.
- Refractory Period Didn’t Help–I don’t think it helped having a strong attack (and invoking a body-wide him histamine release), because I never had a strong attack while exercising! I would stop at the first sign of them. My hives got so low to the point they didn’t even form on my skin, and only a slight prickle would happen. Eventually this went away, and I could go straight into sweating–no forcing through needed.
- Diet By Itself Would Not Have Helped–I also think diet by itself wouldn’t have helped, at least not quickly. The amount of visceral fat I had in my stomach area would have taken months (if not a year) to go away by diet alone. After all, it is taking months even with exercise! So while diet may have been helpful, it wouldn’t have been enough to see results this quickly in my opinion. Plus I had taken a short diet in the summer my hives were so severe, and it did nothing (because I think I had too much visceral fat and the diet didn’t work).
- I Don’t Think It Was Coincidence–It’s possible my hives just gradually faded right around the time I started being a nut over my diet and exercising vigorously. But I highly doubt my hives went away just by pure coincidence. My body feels so much better. Getting that visceral fat off has boosted my energy, made me feel more positive, and so much more.
So again, I feel pretty strongly that what helped my hives was:
- Adjusting my diet to create a calorie deficit (which will lead to gradual and safe levels of fat loss). Again, use a calorie calculator I mentioned in my previous post to get some ideas (and always talk to a doctor first).
- Removing any inflammatory foods from my diet I have long since removed dairy, wheat, and oats from my diets since my body produces an inflammatory response to them. I am basically trying to remove all things that could potentially cause inflammation (including visceral fat, foods, etc.)
- Adjusting my exercise level to burn calories and lose excess visceral fat. Exercise also helps reduce inflammation, release endorphins, and all sorts of positive benefits.
Conclusion: So My Hives Are Gone
So that is a pretty remarkable transformation. I went from severe hives to no hives in about a month. I went from no sweating to sweating buckets in about a month. I went from about 170 to 155 pounds in about a month and a half.
I still have some visceral fat, but I have lost inches when I try to push it out. My long term plans are to get my visceral fat 100% gone, and then focus on a life-long muscle building routine with lots of cardio in to keep the fat off. So in a few months I will re-adjust my calorie intake and exercise level in an attempt to slowly gain lean muscle over the next few years, while preventing excessive visceral fat from forming again.
I am going to post lots more over the next week or two, including: some of my sample meals, my diet program, some other miscellaneous tips I have learned, some recipes, and even some before/after pictures of my visceral fat (so you can see what I mean). Stay tuned…
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