Inflammation and autoimmune

A friend of mine shared with me this article (click on link below) about inflammation and auto-immune disease and it was so fascinating I had to share: http://drhyman.com/blog/2010/07/30/how-to-stop-attacking-yourself-9-steps-to-heal-autoimmune-disease/

This article so resonated with me because Dr. Hyman may as well have been writing about me.  I was told I had Inflammatory Breast Cancer and I have never been so afraid in my life.  Turns out, instead, it was my body being angry and attacking itself. It was also discovered I had Sjogren’s and Rheumatoid Arthritis, along with Fibromyalgia.  My body hurt, I was swollen and puffy, I had extreme exhaustion, fungal sinus infections, asthma, etc. (in fact, all of my blog posts can attest to how awful things were for me).  It wasn’t until I started seeing a Functional Medicine Doctor that things began to change.  I’m now completely off all my meds, all my labs have come back in the normal range, I know which trigger foods to avoid and I am living a happy, active life.  I feel fantastic!  I’m running a 10k in a few days, a 12k in a month and a half, and a half marathon in September.  I have my life back.  And you can do the same.

If you or a loved one are currently suffering from any type of asthma, allergy, autoimmune diseases, etc., read the article;  look into seeing a Functional Medicine Doctor. I once thought this was all pure nonsense.  It wasn’t until I got really sick and was desperate to try anything, that I took this step. And it was life changing.  It takes a lot of work, you have to be diligent and follow the plan but to be off all meds is a miracle. I feel fantastic and am pretty much symptom free. Really, if I can do it, so can you!

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What a difference

What a difference hard work and determination can make, and what a long way I’ve come. The photo on the right is 4 years ago, full of prednisone and a few months after surgery number two. The photo on the left is today-completely weaned off all meds and in remission. Life is good. And looking at these two photos, how can you not believe that clean eating is the best thing for you. Is my journey over? No. I have a long way to go. But looking at this photo, I see how very far I’ve come.

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It’s St Patrick’s Day and I hate corned beef. So, this is what was for dinner. Salmon with Dijon mustard, honey, lemon and dill in the instant pot and green beans with a little Cajun powder from Penzies Spices. Much tastier, I say.

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I also was wanting something special for dessert and came across this recipe from Barefoot Provisions:

For this epic shake- you’ll need:

1 cup almond milk
2 handfuls ice
1-2 tbsp coconut sugar
3/4 tsp mint oil or extract (fresh mint would be great)
1 tbsp cacao nibs
inch of vanilla bean
1 tbsp of your favorite nut butter

These are ingredients I always have on hand. And, because I’m still fighting off a sinus infection, I also threw in a little VSL3 probiotic for good measure…

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So, you see, anything is possible if you work hard enough for it.  I’m not missing out on anything and, most importantly, for the first time in a really long time I feel great and I think it shows. Honestly, if I can do this, so can you!

 

 

 

 

 

A Prednisone Rant!

Don’t worry, this isn’t a rant because I’m taking it again – because I’m not.  I belong to and follow a couple of Rheumatoid Arthritis groups and one of the groups was touting the miracle drug that is prednisone.  It made me angry. Now don’t get me wrong, there is a time and place for this drug but taking it long term should never be an option for anyone.  Ever.  The problem is that so many doctors disagree and prescribe it like crazy.  Never mind the awful side effects that come with long term use.  And, hey, let’s just take another pill to offset those side effects.  I was on that merry go round for a long time and then one day had enough.  There had to be another way.  And there was.  Thanks to my functional medicine doctor, I am now completely prednisone free and I feel GREAT!  Through diet, supplements and exercise, I’ve been able to lower my inflammation levels in my body.  My asthma is under control and, as long as I stay active, so is my RA.  (Yes, I have asthma and RA and I still run and work out with a trainer. Contrary to what some doctors say, it IS possible.)  And I feel better than I have in years WITHOUT prednisone. It kills me now when I see all those commercials for the various drugs they are advertising.  You know the ones I’m talking about where they go on and on about the horrendous side effects.  I watch and think to myself how so many of the ailments for which these medications are prescribed can be controlled by diet. And by diet, I don’t mean “dieting.”  I mean eating a clean diet.  Paying attention to what you put in your body.  Eating deliberately according to what your functional medicine doctor recommends for YOU and your needs.  Everything I eat, all the supplements I take – all of these things have a reason behind why I eat what I do. And these things are occasionally changed dependent upon the results from the regular testing I have done.    By following a clean diet and exercising, I have completely changed the course of my disease and am not dependent upon medications as I have been in the past.  It’s a wonderful thing!

Because of my diligence, I survived the flu. That my body did what it was supposed to and fought it off was amazing.  And while people have had the cough that seems to linger, I did not. I do however, have this sinus thing and I fear I may have to give in and take antibiotics but that’s the way it goes. I did find that, although I love my Navage sinus rinse machine, my Neilmed sinus rinse bottle seems to be doing a better job of flushing all the crud out so I’ve switched to that for now.  Again, more tweaks according to what is going in that moment.  If there’s one thing I have learned through all of this, it’s to be flexible.  To be patient (ok, who am I kidding?  More patient than usual…)

Because I believe so deeply in all of this, I continue to find ways to share my message and, I hope, to help people.  People have been asking and I’ve decided it’s time to write a cookbook. Now, I have absolutely no idea how to go about this but I feel I have much to share, I love to cook and want to teach others how to eat a paleo diet and not feel like they are missing out.  I decided this cookbook will be filled with comfort foods – chocolate pudding, mac and cheese, lasagna, chili… So, now I’ll be turning my kitchen into a laboratory and my family and coworkers will be having to taste test lots and lots of food. I’m hoping to make this book not only a cookbook, but a how to, so to speak.  How to eat paleo, how to convert your kitchen, how to meal prep…  The recipes will be a bonus. I hope. 

So, stay tuned.  I will be sharing all my mishaps and, I hope, successes with you and also hope to start sharing in my blog new products that I come across and think you may like. We are also all beginning to plan vacations (spring break, Memorial Day, Summer).  With a little planning, you can travel on a paleo diet and not feel deprived and I will show you how.  Stick with me.  We can do this together.

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Making it through illness without prednisone or antibiotics

Before when I would get sick, I would go downhill so quickly the doctors would pump me up full of prednisone and antibiotics. In fact because I came to know the drill so well, they gave me refills on my antibiotics and prednisone so I could self treat. Because, they said it was the only way. Can’t make this stuff up…

Fast forward to now. Here I was with the flu and what I believe to have been a sinus infection. What to do… well I know what NOT to do and prednisone and antibiotics was not the answer. So here is how I’m handling things:

Sinus rinsing – I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – sinus rinsing is your friend. You can safely rinse your sinuses as many times a day as you need. See my blog post on sinus rinsing for more info/tips. I swear by it!

Fluids – Drink lots of fluids. Non alcoholic fluids that is… Water is really the best thing for you but add a little honey and some lemon and perfection! The honey is soothing for a cough and the lemon has antibacterial qualities. Plus the hot water will help to open your sinuses and thin the mucus which is more than likely causing your cough in the first place. I also like to add some green tea to the equation and drink lots of Magic Mineral Broth created by Rebecca Katz.

Probiotics – I take a daily probiotic. A doctor friend of mine recommended inner-eco and I love it. You can find it in the refrigerated section at your local grocery store or at Whole Foods. When I feel I’m getting sick and need an extra boost of probiotic, I switch to VSL-3. It’s a bit pricey and you need a prescription from your doctor but I have found it to give my body the extra boost it needs. I buy the cachets and mix in my smoothies. I also drink kombucha. I prefer the kombucha with chia seeds when I’m sick. It just feels soothing on my throat.

Supplements – I’m on a daily regimen and you can read more about what I take by going to an earlier blog post. However when sick, I bump things up a notch and add in more vitamin C, drink turmeric milk and GI Revive. I also make sure my smoothies have a boost by adding chia and gelatin, as well as lemon juice. This is when I drink my healing smoothies.

Rest – I’m one to tell you about rest but it really is important and something I’ve had to learn. Make sure to listen to your body and give it the rest it needs. For the first time ever I actually spent the weekend in bed and willingly. I’ve been working out with a trainer and working out hard up to my getting sick. And while exercise is important, so is rest.

Amazingly and for the first time, my body is doing its job and fighting back. And without prednisone and antibiotics as the first option like before. Now there is a time and a place for both and there will be times I will need one or the other or both because of my condition. But, if I can boost my immune system enough to lessen an infection, I also lessen my need for either medication. That’s a win/win in my book!

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A Doubting Lisa and the Flu

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Sometimes, I feel I just can’t do this anymore.  And by “this” I mean all the work that goes into being healthy and well.  I know that I must continue if I want to stay in remission but it’s a daily struggle.  People praise me for my bravery and for making this seem so simple.  And the truth is I’ve learned to make it simple but it is still a daily battle.  Some days I long to be able to relax on Sunday instead of spending all day in the kitchen.  To be honest, there are days I despise all of this!  ALL of it.  And yet, what choice do I have?  So I chop and measure and plan because I have to.  And through all of this I still find my body reacting.  Causing problems.  Sometimes setting me back.  It’s not fair. And it’s hard and I question and I get angry.  And this is all normal.  I share all this because I want to be honest.  I want you or your loved one to succeed.  I want you to understand this is work.  It’s hard and some days it sucks but it is still 100 percent worth it in the end.  And if you don’t fully grasp this and accept it, you will not succeed at this.  You have to find that inner fight inside of you and learn to make this a habit and find ways to make this easier for you.  To not listen to that voice inside of you screaming “I can’t.” Because you can and you must if you want to heal yourself.

These past couple of weeks have been rough. I’ve been through a biopsy and a very anxious time waiting for results.  I’ve been told the doctors think this is autoimmune in nature and not cancer, but will watch me for a while to be sure.  What they can’t tell me is what type of autoimmune and why.  Because they don’t know.  And that’s maddening.  I initially thought: I do everything I’m asked, I eat healthy, I exercise, I take the supplements I’m told to take.  And it seems my body still hates me.  But the truth of the matter is even with this set back, I’m still in a MUCH better place than I was. My bloodwork looks great and my adrenals are actually working.  We weren’t sure they would kick in. And this week I’m battling the flu but, rather than my usual of declining rapidly, I’m getting better. My body is doing its job. So, what I’m doing – it DOES make a difference! I hope by keeping things honest and real, I can continue to be a mentor to people.  It’s important you know there is no magic fix.  That this is work.  It’s hard work and one has to be totally dedicated to it. And there will be blips along the way but it DOES work.

So, now that I’ve bared my soul, let me get back to sharing food and recipes.  My new favorite recipe is something I call Eggs Over Stuff, Drizzled with Stuff and is paleo fast food at its finest. Basically I’m cleaning out my fridge.   Leftover brussels sprouts, bacon, pulled pork and cauli rice warmed up and served with a fried egg and avocado on top and drizzled with compliant hot sauce and cilantro.  Best. Meal. Ever!

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And… if you have not yet done so.  Go buy that Instant Pot already!  This has revolutionized my meal prep abilities and cut that prep time IN HALF!!  IN HALF people!!!  I love that I can just take something frozen and have dinner ready in 17 minutes or less.  Follow my lead.  Some days will be harder than others.  Some days you will want to give up or feel that you can’t.  Trust in the process and that eating clean DOES work.  And know you CAN heal yourself through diet.  I will always keep it real for you because I don’t want you to feel alone or think this can’t be done.  Focus on the big picture and know it’s ok to have a pity party once in a while as I have done the last week or so.  The difference for me this time around is that I never got off track.  I may have questioned but I still stayed with the plan because even though it’s not always easy, I know it’s what’s best and it works. It really works.

Body, mind and spirit

It appears I have a raging fungal infection in my sinuses and am developing another round of oral thrush. Because, of course I do. All stress-related, I’m sure. Fortunately, I know what to do when this happens so I’ve bumped up my supplements and probiotic intake and am drinking lots of water and herbal tea to flush this out.  And then there’s the sinus rinsing.  Lots and lots of sinus rinsing.  I also bumped up my workout routine.  That may seem counter intuitive to you since I’m fighting off infection but it has been really great for me. I have a trainer pushing me and I feel so accomplished and strong after each workout.  Right now, it’s vital that I continue to push myself and fight mind, body, and spirit.

Body – During this time, I’ve been playing around with food. Now that I’m working out harder, I find I need more protein. My latest favorite is lettuce wraps.  How can something so easy be so fantastically wonderful?  Really, I’m addicted to them. And they are so portable.  I fill mine up with turkey, ham, peppers, a pickle, a little mustard and avocado…    And they are super easy to make: just lay out some parchment paper and then place your lettuce and start stacking your fillings.  And then roll, while tucking in your ends.  Once it is rolled, slice in two like a deli sandwich.  I can’t eat the whole thing, so this gives me two sandwiches.  And, they are filling.  If I feel like I need something else or something crunchy, I’ll have an apple. Snacks for me now consist of a hardboiled egg or maybe some tuna or walnuts.  I never realized how tasty plain walnuts are and the healthy fat is good for you. I’m also very deliberate with my breakfast as well, ensuring I have enough protein to tide me over until lunch.  And, water.  I drink lots and lots of water.  I’m lucky in that the women’s restroom is in very close proximity to my office, that’s how much water I consume each day.

Mind and Spirit – A weekend getaway to the ocean allowed me to clear my head and breathe and reflect. I was reminded I am strong in spirit. Maybe a little too strong in spirit because, on the way home from that trip, I registered for a 10k and my second half marathon. I’m also running a 12k in three months. I continue to push myself to run and swim because it makes me feel good – normal. And it’s my way to say to my illness “you aren’t going to win this battle. You are NOT getting the best of me.”

I swam Alcatraz a couple of years ago (850 of my closest friends and I jumped off the boat at Alcatraz and swam back). And I share this because that was THE hardest thing I’ve ever done. And now, when things get tough or I doubt myself, I remember what an amazing thing I accomplished and that no matter what I end up facing, I will do so with the same grace and determination.  Find that one thing which makes you feel strong and embrace it.  Hang on to it tightly and when the going gets tough, remind yourself you are strong, you can do this, whatever “this” happens to be. We all have that inner fight inside us.  We just have to believe enough in ourselves to listen and act upon it. If I can do it, so can you!

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Feeding your soul

I share with you much about feeding your body but not of feeding your soul. And as I type this I’m doing just that. It’s four o’clock in the morning and I sit on the balcony overlooking the ocean. Not another soul is stirring. It’s just me and my thoughts and the sound of the ocean in a place which means so much to me. A place which evokes so many memories of my children and my own childhood. Today, this is my church and I sit in the silence  just listening. God is all around me. I feel it and I am comforted. A friend of mine said many are with me this weekend as I walk the beach and also as I pray. And I feel it. I feel their prayers and love. In this moment I know I’m not alone.

I share this with you because we all need to experience a moment like this. To be still and just feel. To listen. And it’s a rare moment we do just that. And it doesn’t have to be at the ocean. We just need to find a moment in our day to still ourselves. To center ourselves body, mind and spirit. We are so careful of what we put in and on our bodies but what of our soul? To truly heal, we must care for that as well.

I challenge you to do just that. Find a quiet place and just be. Listen to the things around you. The wind or the rain, the birds… Just listen and breathe. If you need to, go back in your mind to a moment or place in time. Hear the sounds, breathe in the scents. Breathe… I guarantee you will find the same innner peace I did this morning.

Peace.

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