Tag Archive | stress

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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“It’s the climb”

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This morning, “It’s the Climb” by Miley Cyrus came to mind because I’m in the middle of a blip. Oral thrush and fungul sinusitis. More prednisone and an antifungal. My diagnosis yesterday. Ugh. I had a bit of pity party because how much more? I had to step a bit out of myself to find the answer to this one. The bottom line is I suffer from chronic, autoimmune disease. It’s always going to be  there and my normal will never be just normal. And the truth here is that although I’m currently sick, I’m much better than I was this time last year and that I’m going to have blips along the way. What counts is how I handle those blips that determines the success of what I’m doing.   Some days I handle it with grace and other not so much.  But I’m human, right? No matter the day, the most important advice I can give you is to be kind to yourself.  I can’t control this illness anymore than I can control the weather.  However, I CAN control the severity by how I treat my body. By what I put in and on my body.  By staying positive even when I want to curl up into a ball and cry. By taking an active role in my health, I am beating this and I will continue to beat this because what other choice do I have, really.

So, today I thought I would share some simple tips with you which make my life a bit easier and all of this less daunting.

  • Get out of bed.  No really.  That’s it.  I have RA. Things creak and hurt.  And right now I don’t feel so hot.  However, get out of that bed.  Move.  The more you move, the better you are going to feel.  And, I’m going to say it, the better your “system” will work, if you get my drift. And gut health is key here (more on that another day).  Those endorphins will also make you feel better.  REALLY! Also, getting dressed and made up can make you feel better about yourself.  Sometimes it really is all about those little things.
  • PLAN AHEAD!  Eating paleo is not something you can’t just do on the fly.  It isn’t.  But, it can be with a little prep work.  When you get home from the store, dice those veggies, spiralize the squash, prep the sauces. Trust me, you will be glad you did during the week.  Because now that you’ve prepped, you have paleo fast food at your fingertips!
  • Meal prep – This doesn’t have to be fancy OR difficult.  In fact, some times dinner is something as simple as a fried egg over leftovers.  I’ve found that we no longer waste food.  Tonight’s dinner could become tomorrow’s breakfast or lunch or repurposed for dinner.  But, here’s a few hacks for you:
    • Riced cauliflower – You can buy it ALREADY done.  Yup.  Just open the bag and you are set.  However, to save money, I rice up a few batches and store in my freezer. That way I always have cauli-rice on stand-by.  You can also mix this up by ricing some sweet potato or carrots as well, just for variety.
    • Spiralized noodles – You can also buy these already done.  I like to keep in the fridge for whenever the mood strikes but generally I spiralize ahead of time and store in the fridge.
    • Cook up you sweet potatoes and spaghetti squash ahead of time in the microwave or Instant Pot. Still just as good and way quicker.
    • Spiralize veggies and then roast them in the oven.  Once cooked, throw into a bowl and add a beaten egg or two and then cook up in your waffle iron.  YUM!
    • Do you have veggies in your fridge that are looking sad.  You know what I’m talking about…  That little bit of cauliflower, baby carrots, broccoli and asparagus left over in the back of the bin.  Take it all, toss with a little olive oil and roast for 15 mins at 425 degrees.
  • Travel – Never EVER leave the house without food in your purse, bag, whatever. Let me repeat that. Never EVER leave the house without food in your purse, bag, whatever.  I always have a compliant snack in my purse and I always carry protein.  And I never leave home without water.  If I’m traveling long distances, I pack more snacks. Never get caught with nothing to eat.  Do you know what happens when you do that?  You eat crap and then you FEEL like crap.  You can go to Danielle Walker’s Against All Grain Blog for lots of tips on how to eat while traveling.  For me, I like to pack nuts, apples, lettuce wraps, hard boiled eggs and I always have one of those little tuna packets with me.  I also like to make my own cereal bars (and these are super easy to make and taste better than that awful store-bought crap.  http://againstallgrain.com/2012/08/11/glutenfree-cereal-breakfast-bars/  
  • Tools – Have the right tools in your kitchen.  If I was going to be stranded on a deserted island and could only bring one kitchen tool besides a knife and a fork (with electricity of course and an abundance of food – hey this is my fantasy…) I would bring my Instant Pot (although my KitchenAid was a close second.  Those attachments and the machine count as one, right?).  How I went so long without an instant pot can only be summed up that I am a big, fat chicken who was afraid she’d blow her house up.  Hasn’t happened yet.  What has happened is I make fantastic meals in a fraction of the time. Now I have more time for fantasizing about that deserted island and grocery shopping on line.
  • Research – You can’t do this alone.  Believe me, I tried and failed.  Visit the different blogs and web pages out there.  My favorites are Against All Grain, Whole30, Nom Nom Paleo and Physicalkitchness.  You can find their web pages or look them up via social media.  I have found a plethora of support and it makes me not feel so alone in this.
  • Shopping – Eating paleo can get expensive but there are ways to save (both time and money).  Our local grocery store will do the shopping for you and bring it to your car. I love this.  While I’m prepping my meal plan for the week, I shop online and pick the groceries up two hours later. A shame they don’t unload them for me, but that’s what the Hubs is for.  Also take advantage of sites like Thrive Market.  The discounts I get by shopping at their site more than make up the annual fee.  And they ship fast.  Whole Foods –  did  you know some stores deliver?  OMG!  And right to my office door. Then there is Costco for things I buy in bulk like coconut oil, ghee, nuts, nut flours, etc.  I also shop Amazon for deals as well.  Sometimes you even get same day delivery.  Wow. How lazy am I? Although I prefer to say I’m efficient and making the best use of my time. I round my shopping out with local farmers markets when I can get to them.  I really need to be better about that.
  • Keep your pantry/fridge stocked!  Things I ALWAYS have on hand: coconut milk, coconut oil, ghee, bacon, nuts, nut flours, almond butter, sunbutter, cashew butter, bone broth (more on that in a minute), avocado oil mayo, honey, arrowroot powder, spices, chomp sticks, compliant apple sausage, chicken, coconut aminos, apple cider vinegar, Nutpods creamer, fresh fruit and veggies, tuna, eggs and almond milk.  There’s more and maybe my next post will be a lists of all things needed.
  • Broth -Make your own.  It’s super easy.  Especially with an instant pot.  I’ve been making Rebecca Katz’s Magic Mineral Broth.  I make giant batches of it and then store some in the freezer.  It is the base of all my soups, etc.  And when I’m not feeling well I like to sip on it.  If you are going to buy broth, make sure it’s bone broth.  Much better for you.
  • Go see an Integrative Specialist.  Get tested for food allergies/intolerances.  Or follow the Whole30 plan. It’s not easy but 30 days is doable and isn’t your health worth it? You will thank Melissa later.
  • If changing your whole routine is too large a task at the moment and it seems overwhelming to you.  Then make one small change at a time.  However, if you really want to get good results, the Whole30 is a great tool to follow.

I could go on and on and I’m sure you feel like I have.  This is just something I’m passionate about and believe in. By taking an active role in your health, you can change the outcome.  Sure there will be days that are more difficult than others.  There will be some blips along the way but it’s all part of the climb. YOUR climb.

It’s the Climb – Miley Cyrus

I can almost see it
That dream I am dreaming
But there’s a voice inside my head saying
“You’ll never reach it”

Every step I’m taking
Every move I make feels
Lost with no direction
My faith is shaking

But I gotta keep trying
Gotta keep my head held high

There’s always gonna be another mountain
I’m always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be a uphill battle
Sometimes I’m gonna have to lose

Ain’t about how fast I get there
Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side
It’s the climb

The struggles I’m facing
The chances I’m taking
Sometimes might knock me down
But no, I’m not breaking

I may not know it
But these are the moments that
I’m gonna remember most, yeah
Just gotta keep going

And I, I got to be strong
Just keep pushing on

‘Cause there’s always gonna be another mountain
I’m always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be a uphill battle
Sometimes I’m gonna have to lose

Ain’t about how fast I get there
Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side
It’s the climb, yeah!

There’s always gonna be another mountain
I’m always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be an uphill battle
Somebody’s gonna have to lose

Ain’t about how fast I get there
Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side
It’s the climb, yeah!

Keep on moving, keep climbing
Keep the faith, baby
It’s all about, it’s all about the climb
Keep the faith, keep your faith, whoa

Of all the things I’m bad at, breathing is at the top of the list!

Asthma. I have had it pretty well under control… until this week. I’ve been suffering the granddaddy of all asthma attacks all week and now also have oral thrush. Really?!! Because of course I do. I finally gave in and went to urgent care today because my peak flow was hovering around 150.  My personal best for all you knowing asthma sufferers is between 480 and 500. For those of you not in the know, we people who suck at breathing have to stay on top of this and have an action plan in place for what to do as the numbers drop that goes something like this and In this order:  emergency inhalers, breathing treatments, urgent care, emergency room then ambulance. To put this in perspective for you, I was floating between needing the urgent care and emergency room and not quite yet an ambulance. And because I’m stubborn, had I not let my husband talk me into urgent care there was going to be an ambulance in my near future. Because I’m dumb and stubborn.

Actually that’s not completely true. Those of us who suck at breathing always second guess ourselves. Is this attack really that severe? Am I going to look stupid going to the ER or calling an ambulance? Am I making a big deal out of nothing and if I just relax it’ll go away? We’ve all been there. We also know how exhausting it is not being able to breathe. I explained it to my husband like this: I feel like I have an elephant standing on my chest and I can only manage short breaths and those short breaths hurt and are laborious which exhaust me. It’s like I’m slowly suffocating and can’t get enough air. And then I panic which makes it worse. And asthma is serious folks. You can DIE from it.  And yet we tell ourselves not us. Mine isn’t THAT bad. This attack isn’t THAT bad. But let’s face it. At this point we are oxygen deprived and shouldn’t be allowed to make any decisions on our own. Right? That’s why it’s important to share with a trusted friend or loved one the warning signs and your action plan so they make sure you get the help you need and quickly.

I am now back home after spending the morning at Urgent Care. The doctor asked if I’m a nurse because I’m so knowledgeable about my illness and health and what I need to feel better. I told him I’m well-versed and have found it makes Dr. Visits more efficient by me staying organized and up-to-date on my health. He agreed and said it was making treating me easier and faster. He was able to get me a breathing treatment quickly with the right medicine and dosage that would work for me as well as the barrage of inhalers and drugs I’ll need for the next week or so. Including prednisone. Ugh! On top of asthma I also have chronic ABPA (allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis) so my lungs are damaged. While I was weaned of prednisone and have been in remission I know there will be times when I will need a prednisone burst to get over the hump. And as much as I hate prednisone, I’m quite knowledgeable  in how to survive it. I picked up a very strong probiotic (VSL3), stocked up on kombucha and licorice tea and am steeping astragalus root in my tea. I will also make sure I give my body plenty of rest the next few days. And, most important, to take my prednisone in the morning so it does NOT affect my sleep. All things I’ve learned after being on prednisone for 9 years (been weaned off since January). I will also behave and do breathing treatments every 3-4 hours for the next few days.

And I rushed home to tell you all of this because what I really wanted to share with you is, one, the importance of listening to your body and, two, the importance of understanding your health and the care you need and to be prepared for Dr visits- Keep a list of your current meds, and any allergies and what has and has not worked in the past. It is important you take an active role in your care. Ask questions. Make sure you understand all instructions and that you have everything you need before you leave. If your Dr forgot to prescribe something. Say something! Honest, it’s ok! It’s totally ok! Because in the end, your health is your responsibility.

And now that the shakes have stopped from my treatment I’m going to take a nap.

May the breathing gods ever be in your favor!

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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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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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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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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.