Tag Archive | stress reduction

This crazy ride called life

What a crazy ride this thing called life is. Right? One minute I’m ready to throw in the towel, and the next I am being interviewed by a national magazine about my health journey and how a Paleo diet made all the difference. Yes, it has been a crazy few days for me. More on the magazine later.

So, I started the Whole30 this week and things are going well. Today is day three and I’m noticing a bit of thrush coming to the surface but I attribute that to my body detoxing itself. I am also tired. TIRED!!! I fell asleep hard and fast early last night and this morning was rough. Otherwise, I’m feeling good. No, great actually. If you recall, I also began my half marathon training on Monday as well. Because, why not. It was raining on Monday and I couldn’t get home fast enough to change and go for a run in the rain – one of my absolute favorite things to do! I think it was kind of symbolic, the rain. A fresh start.
I cooked up a storm this weekend in preparation for this week. On Sunday, I made a beautiful salmon served over a mixture of shredded brussels and cauli rice and it was delicious. I had some leftover cranberry sauce (paleo from Danielle Walker’s Celebrations cookbook) that I heated up and served over the salmon. It paired so well. On Monday, we had this amazing meal from Pretend it’s a Donut – a one pan meal that consisted of cashew chicken and roasted veggies – I served ours over more cauli rice. Yes, cauli rice is a staple in my house. This recipe was company-worthy for sure and has been requested to be added to my regular repertoire. Yes, it was THAT good! Follow her. Good stuff! Tonight I have a date at the gym to get some cross training in and another run. I’ll be cooking for one so I’m sure it’ll be something along the lines of roasted veggies with an egg on top and some avocado. Breakfasts have been super easy because of the frittatas I always make ahead – filled with veggies and protein, you can’t go wrong.

As I said, my running is going well. I’m still a little slow going, but my pace will improve as I continue on in my routine again. I know that about myself and so I’m not stressing over it. Instead, I’m focusing on how free I feel on my runs. It’s just me and my music. I love how it feels as my feet hit the pavement, how I feel as if I’m flying (in actuality a toddler could probably beat me) and totally invincible. I feel strong. And the competitive side of me loves it as I surpass a goal. You even can see me fist pump every so often as the voice in my ear from my running app lets me know I have done so.

Now back to that bit about the magazine. As I have repeatedly said, life is just crazy sometimes. Last week was one of reflection. And God beating me upside the head repeatedly until I received the message. BTW, loud and clear. Thanks! Last Friday, I couldn’t sleep and wandered downstairs to pour myself a glass of almond milk. (Does it do the same as regular milk, I wonder?) Anyway… I sat at my kitchen table looking through Instagram and noticed Danielle Walker had posted a video about an upcoming article on her in a national magazine. She said the magazine was looking to hear from and feature her followers on THEIR story and how a Paleo diet changed their life as well. What the Hell, I thought, so I typed up my story, attached a photo as was requested and hit send. And I didn’t give it another thought. I mean, she has a HUGE following and I’m sure there were stories far better than mine. Cut to this morning. I received an e-mail from the magazine asking if I was still interested in being featured and that she was on a tight deadline. Um, what?!!! Seriously?! Absofreakinglutely! Next thing I know, I’m on the phone answering questions and filling her in on my health journey. Like I said, life is a crazy ride.

I don’t know what will end up happening with the magazine. Either I will be featured, or I won’t. The thing is, that’s not the point in all of this. The point is to believe in yourself. Always. To take chances. To listen when God speaks and be open to new possibilities. To never give up on yourself. Ever. I’m usually very determined and when I set my mind to something, God help the person who tries to talk me out of it. I firmly believe my health journey happened so that I could share the importance of a paleo diet and how it CAN change the course of your health. Of how you CAN make a change in your life and stick with it. Even if you have to start over each and every day. If you have a story to tell, tell it. If you have advice to share, share it. We all have something wonderful to offer. It’s just taking to the time find that voice and the platform from which to share. I’m so glad this is mine, that you continue to be on this journey with me and, most of all, that I didn’t give up. Thanks for believing in me, even when I didn’t believe in myself.  Together we CAN do this.

Stay tuned for more on the magazine.

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Whole 30 or Bust… my pants

In my journey to get back on track, a Whole30 is in order so I can do a complete re-set. And because I’m not like everyone else and did not start on January 1st, I will begin on Monday. I’m actually looking forward to these 30 days of getting back to basics. Whole30 is strict – no sugar, no grains, no dairy, NO ALCOHOL, etc., but doable folks. Completely doable. I mean it’s only 30 days. And there are so many resources out there and so many amazing recipes that we never feel we are being deprived. To read about Whole30, go to this link: https://whole30.com

I just made my grocery list for the upcoming week. It is filled with protein and healthy fruits and veggies. My menu for the week will consist of a cashew chicken pan meal loaded with broccoli and bell peppers, salmon over a bed of shredded Brussels and cauliflower rice, baked chicken wings served with sweet potatoes and lemon-garlic kale. I will also make a giant frittata for breakfasts for the week and cut up veggies and fruit for snacks. Another tip is to hard boil eggs to keep on hand – I use my instant pot for super fast- super peelable eggs. I also make sure I always have snacks which travel well: tuna, freeze dried fruit(make sure the ONLY ingredient is fruit) and RX and Lara Bars so I’m not tempted to eat something I shouldn’t. On Monday my local supermarket has a special on La Croix water and you can bet I’ll be stocking up! You are probably thinking – she’s mentioned breakfast, snacks and dinner; what about lunch. That’s simple. LEFTOVERS! Usually I’ll just pack up some leftovers for lunch and call it a day. Or I will make a salad of some sort and load up on veggies and protein. A smoothie is ok, too. Just make sure there isn’t any sugar added. The Natural Nurturer has some amazing smoothies and I must admit the cauliflower blueberry smoothie is the bomb!  Who knew?! https://www.thenaturalnurturer.com/blog?category=Smoothies

Now for exercise… I have been really good about working out this week. So good, especially the last two days, that I’m currently having difficulty walking up and down stairs, sitting, getting in and out of the car… ok basically just existing. And as much as it hurts, I feel this giant sense of accomplishment every time I move and wince. Or whine. My husband says I’m whining… either way, this pain I’m feeling? I feel like it’s the pain of letting go and moving forward. Of starting over. And to me, it’s fantastic! In a really weird and twisted way. And I can’t wait to go at it again tomorrow. That is if I’m able to get out of bed. And half marathon training also begins on Monday because why not do everything at once!

By now some of you will have looked up the Whole30 plan and are saying it’s too hard.  Well let me share something from the creator of the Whole30:

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How can you argue with that? So stay tuned for the next 30 days. I’ll take you on my Whole30 journey. I start on Monday. How about you start with me? We CAN do this. I promise!

 

I hear you loud and clear

Life has a funny way of beating you upside the head when you need it the most. The last six months have been incredibly difficult and I’m still working through an immense amount of grief. My boss and friend of six years was transferred and I mourn his guidance and friendship and struggle with the change, knowing in a few months things will change yet again and there will be yet another goodbye. I mourn the loss of a dear aunt whom I adored so very much. I mourn a friend and colleague whose death was a complete shock. I mourn Tom Petty as if he were a family member -yes I realize how weird that sounds. There’s this deep sadness I just can’t seem to get a handle on and started to turn inward as that seemed to be easier. Safer… And because of this shut down I’ve not been good to myself – stress eating and not exercising, not getting enough rest, not doing the things which make my soul happy.  And so I thought it was time to hang up my blogging for a while and get my shit together, rather than let you in on this journey with me. And here’s where the smack upside the head comes in. It took a good friend to look at me and say “get over yourself. Share your journey with us.” She told me to share what I’m going through and how I’m working through it or not working through it. Warts and all.

And then I had some people tell me they were sorry I was taking a break as I’ve helped them so much. That I made a difference. And I look at the stats and people are still reading my posts. THEY ARE STILL READING!!  And received two requests today for my blog to be shared.

So, I had some time alone in the car today and did some soul searching. I can continue to feel sorry for myself and push everything and everyone away or I can take that brave step and let people in. I can show you how I’m picking up the pieces. I made a vow a long time ago I was going to pay forward the kindness shown me by sharing what I learned and helping others. Today at a retreat we talked about care of souls. Perhaps this is how I’m to care for souls: mine and others.

So I’m back and will continue to share my journey – the good the bad and the ugly.  We will walk through this together.

PS – started back in the gym this week and it felt great. Give it a try. Start slow and find something you enjoy and you will stick with it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

50 Races by my 50th Birthday

I am back in training mode because, let’s face it, I’m crazy. I also committed to finishing 50 races by my 50th birthday which means I have 20 months to finish 12 races. I can do this. Right? And because I’m back in training mode, I thought It would be fun to share what it was like for me to run my latest race. And what I learned from it.

I trained incredibly hard for the Disney Half Marathon this past September. For twelve weeks, my entire life revolved around my running schedule and my every free thought was wrapped up in routes, nutrition and pain. Lots of pain. And after two years of health issues and a pretty serious fall about three months before my race (separated shoulder, mild concussion and cracked rib), I was ready.

The night before the race, we had a pasta dinner (gluten free for me) and then reflected at the start and finish lines to get ourselves in “the zone.” Then it was back to the hotel to set our things out and settle in for an early night of slumber. Now, I have to ask who really sleeps the night before a big race? Because my mind was all over the place. And did I mention how HOT it was? Good God we were in for a tortuous run.

The alarm went off at 2 a.m. and it was time to load up on the body glide, tape up my shoulder and don my race attire, only to find I had pinned my bib all the way through my shirt. With bib re-pinned, I double and triple checked my pockets, made sure I had my nutrition, ear buds, ID, etc., I forced myself to eat my pre-race breakfast and out the door we went. 3:00 a.m., 80 degrees outside and 70% humidity. WHAT? What the Hell were we thinking? We arrived at Disneyland only to discover there was a yellow flag warning and folks with health issues were encouraged to back out of the race. I am now of course, a bundle of nerves and have to pee every few minutes “I don’t have to pee. I don’t have to pee. I DON’T have to pee…” Perhaps if I say it enough times, I will convince myself that I don’t have to pee. Of course at this point I’m now questioning my training over the last few months and whether or not I will make it to the finish or be swept. Why the Hell is it so hot? Can I do this? Why did I think I could do this? And then the National Anthem plays and we all sing it together. What a beautiful moment. And then the realization hits that this is it. The moment we all trained so hard for. And, we are off.

As we run out of the safe confines of Disney and head out onto the open road, I notice the first of a many ambulances. It has barely been three miles and people are already dropping like flies. Did I mention how hot it was?! At this point there isn’t much to look at because Anaheim isn’t really that much to look at and it’s all mind games at this point. Although I am thankful for the kind souls who lined the race with their creative signs such as “Smile, remember you PAID to do this.” Yup, it takes a special kind of crazy to run 13.1 miles for FUN after paying $200 to do so! (And just so you know, I was having this EXACT conversation in my head as I was running.) As I approach mile 8, I’m fairly certain I cannot go any further. My fingers are so swollen, they are like sausages and I cannot bend them. I’m tired and feel overwhelmed by the heat and my feet hurt and I start pouring water over myself at each water station because I’m so miserable and it’s so hot.  I’m also bargaining with myself at this point and making myself promises in the event I actually survive this stupid race that I actually paid to run. And in that moment the race flag is changed from a yellow flag to a red flag warning. UGH. The game has changed. Now it’s all about survival.

We enter Angel Stadium and the sheer cool factor of running out onto the field makes up for the misery I’m feeling at this point. I run around the stadium high-fiving every spectator I pass in the hopes their positive energy will somehow enter my body and give me the boost I need. And, you know what? It worked! For a while. We run out of the stadium and through the parking lot down the street and see this giant overpass looming up ahead, in direct sunlight no less. And another person collapses. For a brief second I wondered (hoped?) perhaps it was me who collapsed and I was having an out of body experience. No such luck. And so I push on.

Mile 11. This is about the time I started crying. Yes, I actually started crying. It was hot, I was miserable, I couldn’t bend my fingers, I didn’t want to run ever again and I still had 2.1 miles to go. So close and yet so far. Some random woman in the crowd beckoned to me and held up one of those cooling neck rags to give me. At first I wondered why I was being singled out, but if I looked as bad as I felt, there was my reason. God bless her. That and the ice she poured into my bra was what got me and all my delirious glory to mile 12.

Mile 12.  I can see Disneyland. I mean, I can see actually see it. I’m close. Only 1.1 miles to go. OMG. I still have 1.1 miles to go… This race is never going to end. There is a saying that the longest mile in a race is the last .1 miles. Do you want to know why? Because at that point you are wondering where the HELL is the finish line. Because you want to finish strong (ok, who am I kidding at this point. I just want to finish upright) and so you need to be able to conserve your energy for that last sprint to the finish line. I was in such a fog, I didn’t even realize I had crossed the finish line until I did. So much for my happy finish photo. Let’s just say my photo looks pretty much like I’m sure you are imagining at this point. But no matter. I finished. I pushed through the heat and the tears and the pain and I FINISHED!

This race was not the best run of my life. It wasn’t even in the top ten. But that doesn’t matter. What matters is I believed in myself and accomplished something not everyone can do healthy, much less with the health issues I have. I learned that we all have so much more inside of us than we think. That even when my body is begging to stop, to be strong and reach deep down and fight. But, most importantly this race taught me not what I am capable of. It taught me to believe that I AM capable.

And as I walked to the medical tent to ice my shoulder, I smiled and began to plan my next races. Because there will be more. Twelve more to be exact.

 

To the Finish Line and Beyond

My doctor suggested I read a book called “The Wahls Protocol” and I’m already fascinated and I’m just on chapter one! As most who know me know, I have Rheumatoid Arthritis and something called ABPA. I am lucky in that I’ve been able to manage both through what I eat – a strict paleo diet and after a very difficult year am now off all meds. A miracle? Sure. But also a lot of hard work. A passage that spoke to me from her book: “You are made of cells…Cells come in different sizes and shapes and they all do different things, but they are, essentially, the building blocks that make up our bodies… They need certain nutrients in order to do the work of keeping you alive and healthy. Without those nutrients, the cells begin to malfunction, even die. Where do those nutrients come from? They come from the food you eat, nowhere else… Your genetics may determine WHAT goes wrong but when the cells aren’t getting what they need, the body doesn’t work right and something (usually many something’s) will go wrong somewhere.”

“People often wonder whether health is mostly a matter of genetics. Do your cells work well or poorly depending on your DNA? If it were up to your genes, then what you eat and how you live wouldn’t matter very much. However, we know this isn’t the case.”

Wow! Just wow! I’m living proof of this. I went from being very ill two years ago to sitting in the car traveling to run a half marathon in three days. I was once so ill that, at the rate I was declining and had someone very dear to me not stepped in, I would not be here today. I’m certain of it. I was then referred to a Functional Medicine doctor who saved my life through diet and supplements. Of this I am sure. I went from being bedridden and weak with such bad thrush I couldn’t eat. The oral thrush then moved into my esophagus; a testament to how very sick I was. The very medications I was being given to cure me were slowly poisoning me.

I’ve written about the struggle to be weaned off prednisone. It was hell. There were days I didn’t want to continue but I knew deep down I had no choice so each taper I fought through the extreme pain -my body hurt to the touch, every joint hurt terribly. The mood swings were awful, I couldn’t sleep or eat. By the time things settled down, it was time for the next taper. And so it went for a year until I was finally free of all meds and, to this day almost eight months later, still am.

I’ve been training for this run for months. I’ve trained through minor health setbacks, including a cracked rib and a separated shoulder. I’ve trained through sinus infections and asthma attacks. And through it all I’ve managed to push through and move forward, one mile at a time.

This is not my first half marathon. My first was four years ago – right before all of this began. But this one is most important to me. Because, you see, I’m me again. I’m strong and healthy. I’m a little battle worn but isn’t anyone who has fought such a battle and won? I’m proud of how very far I’ve come in such a relatively short amount of time. I am a fighter. And I believe with all my heart and soul where I am is because of how and what I eat. And this is why I write this blog. Why I passionately share with anyone who will listen.

To come to terms with what I’ve been through I had to believe there was a purpose to all of this. And my purpose is to pay it forward. To be that person to someone in need. To share what I’ve learned and perhaps make it easier for others. So that even if just one person knows they are not alone and can do this, then all of this will not have been in vain.

And as I cross that finish line on Sunday, I know there will be tears but they will be tears of joy. Of triumph. I’m not just running this race for me but for the many who have been there with and for me the last two years. Those of you reading this know who you are. The ones who prayed with me, cried with me, made me laugh, helped me with my workload, just simply loved me… you will all be with me on Sunday.

I am ever grateful to you all.

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Embrace the lessons

Still sick. It’s a sinus infection gone sideways and now my jaw is locked. Seriously. Can’t make this stuff up! And now I don’t care if I never see another bowl of applesauce again. COMPLIANT applesauce because even though I can eat precious little right now, I’m still keeping to the plan.

A dear friend said she’s praying “It’s enough Lord” for me. No kidding, right?! But that got me to thinking… perhaps the prayers should be that I embrace the lessons and be grateful for the journey. Because it’s through this journey that I see goodness and hope. People are now reaching to me for help with their illnesses. Friends are sharing what I’ve been through with others and encouraging them to reach out to me. And that they actually want to hear what it is I have to say is still hard for me to wrap my head around…

I’ve been praying for the Lord to show me His purpose in all of this and every day it becomes more clear. Perhaps not only is each experience meant to make us stronger but we are to then to go forth and share those lessons with others. And that is now where I am in my journey. Talking to people. Sharing what I’ve learned and where to turn for help.  Holding their hand through this as someone held mine. Modeling that having a chronic illness does not have to mean the end of the world but that it is instead the start of a new one full of promise and hope.

I’m not perfect. Dealing with my illness is hard and I have to be ever vigilant. And there are times, such as now where I could easily give up and stop hoping. Times where I don’t want to do any of this anymore if I’m going to be brutally honest. But what keeps me going is hope. Hope that I have more good days than bad. Hope that I can make a difference in this world. In somebody’s life. Hope that all of this isn’t for nothing.

So whatever it is you are going through. Be grateful for it for there is a lesson just waiting to be embraced. One which could change your life for the better.

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Asthma and emotions/stress

The declining health of a parent, the anniversary of the death of a loved one, work stress…  All things out of our control and yet things which affect us emotionally.  All things which may make it hard to eat, to sleep, to concentrate.  Well when you have asthma, stress can affect your breathing. Stress is the enemy to asthma and anyone who has asthma needs to learn how to manage stress.  And it’s hard.

Believe me. I sit here typing after having my third breathing treatment of the day.  I was up all night unable to breathe.  I started coughing until I gagged and vomited.  Awesome, right?  And why?  Because rather than keeping my stress in check, I let it fester and grow until it made me physically sick.

I talk about food and health and how important it is to eat healthy to stay healthy.  But emotional health is important too.  I shared this with a student the other day who was very stressed.  I told him to find a time in his day to regroup and breathe.  And normally, I follow my own advice. There’s always time in your day.  ALWAYS!  Find something that calms you and make time for that. Go for a run, listen to music, go outside for fresh air.  Remove yourself from the situation.  Don’t let the small things become big things. Talk to a friend or loved one.  Whatever it is that works for you, do that.  Because nothing is more important than your health. Nothing. As for me, worrying won’t make my mom better or bring my loved one back or make that colleague any easier to work with.

If you have asthma, I challenge you to find small ways in which to work on handling the stress in your life.  When I actually practice what I preach, my asthma stays in check. I saw the warning signs but I refused to stop and listen.  I’ve been using my emergency inhaler so much the prescription I filled on April 4 is already empty and I can’t get another inhaler until May 4 without my doctor’s intervention.  I also know that because I let things get this far and I’m bordering on bronchitis I’m probably going to be forced to take a prednisone burst.  And darn it, I know better.  Because now here I am beating myself up… more stress.  I would laugh but that makes me cough!

So, learn from me.  Not taking your health seriously can have serious consequences. Pay attention to your emotions, get rest, eat properly and follow your asthma action plan. Reminders for both you and me. Together we CAN do this! We CAN keep our asthma under control.

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