fitness · food · health

A Complimentary Program to Improve Your Gut Health

Hi friends! As we approach the end of the year, we may be spending some focused time on future plans, especially plans involving our health. In the upcoming year, we may choose excellent health as a resolution, and getting an early start on this goal is key. Also . . . Many of us are going to indulge in all sorts of treats in the name of holiday celebration, and we’ll be looking for repentance post-indulgence.

In light of this, this offer that I saw a few days ago is especially timely and extremely valuable. Dr. Tumi Johnson (I wrote about her here and here), author of Delicious Healing, has launched a complimentary gut health program that promises to help you heal the gut issues that may have long plagued you. Here is the video where she announces the program:

After the holiday weekend, I will be diving into the program. I’m looking forward to getting onto a good track right before the new year, and I plan to keep up any practices for at least three months, to give my body adequate time to reflect some progress. It’s important to note that Dr. Tumi is a holistic doctor and her programs reflect the need to integrate multiple healing modalities to get the best results. I trust this kind of perspective and wisdom because it is, in my experience, the most effective way to completely heal what is ailing within us. I’m looking forward to posting updates in the next few months, so that you can see any improvement that I have.

Would you all consider participating in a program like this one designed by Dr. Tumi? Or, do you have any other health plans that you plan to implement in the new year? I’d love to hear all about it!

*This post contains affiliate links.

health

Fibro Fridays – Things I Wish I Knew (After Diagnosis)

I’m taking a little break from protocols (again) to talk about some other things I discovered on my fibromyalgia journey.

Did you all know that getting a diagnosis is just the beginning of the journey? Fibromyalgia is unique in the fact that diagnosis doesn’t automatically result in a clear-cut recovery path. Most of us that have been diagnosed find that there are many things that we still don’t understand about the condition, and most medical professionals are woefully under-exposed/unknowledgeable about fibro. So even after getting a diagnosis, there are a ton of things that we don’t know, and we have to search just to get close to having some answers.

I made a video of the top five things I wish I knew after my fibromyalgia diagnosis. To sum it up briefly, I wish I knew that:

  • Most medicines are largely ineffective.
  • Lifestyle is the key to managing symptoms.
  • This is a problem within the nervous system, not the musculoskeletal system.
  • It may be more beneficial to work with a neurologist than a rheumatologist.
  • Working with a psychologist as soon as you’re diagnosed can be tremendously helpful.

Here’s the video, where I explain these points more in depth:

Is there anything you all wish you knew when you were first diagnosed with fibro? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

Have a great weekend, and I’ll talk to you all next week!

health

Fibro Friday – The Lyon Protocol

Happy Friday, friends! We’re back to protocols, after taking a break for the past few Fibro Fridays. As with the other protocol reviews, I’ll be pointing out the philosophy of the healthcare professional/coach/holistic health practitioner, highlights of the protocol, and my thoughts about the protocol.

This week I’m diving into the work of Irene Lyon. Lyon is a nervous system expert that uses somatic neuroplasticity principles to help her clients “rewire” their brains to eliminate the effects of various types of trauma. She has a website with free resources to help people attempting to get to the root of their pain disorders. Also, she has a YouTube channel where she goes into depth with discussing healing principles and techniques. Lyon has degrees in exercise science and biomedical science, as well as 20+ years of practice related to healing the body through somatic experiencing, or how to correct nervous system dysregulation in order to resolve physical and psychological illnesses.

Because Lyon’s work is designed to treat a multitude of illnesses, she doesn’t have a specific protocol for fibromyalgia. However, she has a video where she shares how one of her viewers was able to utilize resources available through Lyon’s website, as well as her video library, to start and progress on her healing journey.

Some of the healing principles promoted by Lyon are as follows:

  • Healthy emotional expression is central to healing physical pain.
  • Understanding the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems and responses are crucial to managing pain.
  • Physical pain is almost invariably rooted in trauma.
  • It’s possible to rewire the brain in order to train it to have a more regulated response to stressors.

I think there are a lot of solid points to Lyon’s protocol, though I feel it would work best when combined with another treatment plan. For anyone that has tried the more traditional healing protocols (with minimal success), this may be a great option to explore.

Are any of you familiar with Irene Lyon’s work? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below! Have a great weekend, and I’ll talk to you all soon.

health

Fibro Friday – Parenting When Chronically Ill

Happy Fibro Friday! I hope that you all had a healthy, restful and restorative week. As I briefly mentioned in a previous post, this time of year can be difficult for fibro warriors because of the temperature changes. For that reason, as well as others, I hope you all are continuing to take good care of yourselves.

Recently, I was asked a question that I’d been asked before, but this time, I thought more carefully about my response. The question referred to how I manage being a parent as a chronically ill person. When I’d been asked this question in the past, I simply mentioned that I do the best I can, and I rely heavily on my support team. This is still true, but it’s not a full explanation of what it’s like to be a parent (and, in my case, a divorced mother that is not supported in any way by my former spouse) when your health is less than stellar on a daily basis.

To put it bluntly, my parenting experience has been tremendously frustrating and, on many days, heartbreaking. I feel frustrated with myself because I want to have more energy to do all of the things that my child enjoys. I also get angry with myself because I can’t always remember everything that needs to be done, so I end up having to scramble to take care of the things that I need to do for her. I’ve cried countless times over how overwhelming this entire experience has been, and how I could be a much better mother if I simply wasn’t so sleepy, or achy, or forgetful, or overwhelmed. There are a lot of moments that leave me feeling like a failure.

I have to constantly remind myself that I’m doing the best that I can, and I don’t believe myself 75% of the time, because my “best” isn’t as good as it could be if my health was better. Many days, I check in with my support system (family and friends) who assure me that I’m doing a good job. But, I still don’t believe it. It’s hard to believe these things when comparing yourself to others who have demanding schedules yet still seem to always have the time and energy that their children require.

It’s key to remember that comparison is the thief of joy. So when the comparisons come to mind, I try to remember what I’m doing right. On many days, the list is disappointingly brief. Sometimes, the only thing I may have done right during a day is give a hug in the morning. But even that is worth noting. I communicate with my child and ask plainly what I should improve to become a better mom, but “nothing” is always the answer I receive.

I’m already a better mom, even when I don’t feel like I am.

I took some time to recall how my own mother suffered from chronic migraines while I was growing up, and even when I couldn’t talk to her (during those moments when she needed to lay down in a quiet, dark, cool room until she felt better), I never thought that she was failing at being a parent. I always knew that she loved me, regardless of how unavailable she was when she was unwell. So during those times when I can’t believe myself, I choose to believe my child, and I also choose to believe my younger self, who never felt that her mom was a failure simply because she was sick.

So to answer the question, parenting as a chronically ill person is the worst thing I could ever have experienced. It’s also one of the most humbling experiences I’ve ever had, and it forced me to appreciate those moments when I get it right. It’s a difficult path but it’s been amazing for me to learn that the role of parent isn’t about metrics or checking off all of the tasks on a to-do list. Sometimes, it’s just a hug, or texting a funny GIF, or putting on a song and dancing together (before the exhaustion takes over). It’s showing your child how to do a chore for themselves, or allowing your child to help you with the things that you have to do around the home so that you have help and good company. It’s not about doing all of the things, but how you do the things.

It’s complicated, but it’s my life. And my only choice is to work with it as best as I can, just as I’ve done with everything else I’ve experienced this life.

That’s it for today. If this post wasn’t as informative or cheery as my Fibro Friday posts usually are, just be assured that I’ll be back to the normal scheduled topics next week. But this was on my mind, and I felt like I needed to share it. Also, I hope that this post can offer a little encouragement to the other fibro parents out there, that are trying to convince themselves that they are doing a good job. You are, even when you don’t feel like it.

Take care, and have a great weekend.

health · life curation · reading list

Book Review – Delicious Healing

Hey friends! Today’s book review comes courtesy of my research into the health benefits of grape leaves. You see, I have some wild muscadine grape vines choking out my lovely rosebushes. A little research revealed to me that grape leaves confirmed what I already knew, which is that they can be used in savory dishes (dolmades, anyone?). However, I was looking for a recipe that would allow me to easily incorporate the leaves into something else that I would consume regularly. After perusing some videos on YouTube, I found recipes for smoothies that included grape leaves (yay!)

Under one of the videos I viewed, I saw a recommendation for a video posted by the YouTube channel Performing Healing. I was drawn in by the picture used for the recommendation: a sepia-hued woman with sunkissed freeform locs and wide doe eyes looked back at my earnestly. Curious, I checked out her channel, and quickly found myself bingeing on her content. The woman behind this channel, Dr. Tumi Johnson, is a medical doctor that has transitioned out of a conventional medical career into a holistic healing practice that incorporates nutrition, lifestyle management, and creative arts to support overall wellness.

Enter Dr. Tumi’s book, Delicious Healing. I bought the Kindle version of this book so that I could do a deeper dive into Dr. Tumi’s philosophy and approach to wellness. I was not disappointed. The book is brief but packed with pertinent information to help readers craft their own paths to optimum health. As the title suggests, the basis of the program is using food (specifically, a raw vegan diet) to properly nourish the body, while integrating other holistic health practices (such as joyful movement, adequate and restorative rest, creative expression, and meditation, among other things) into a wellness plan that truly heals the reader on multiple levels.

Dr. Tumi’s relays her own experience of poor dieting, a unimaginably stressful career, and a brush with death itself, to assure readers that she has walked her own path to true healing. Her current lifestyle – living in her off-the-grid dream home with her adoring husband and precious little boy – is a testimony to the kind of goodness that can unfold when we do the work of healing ourselves and prioritizing our values. Her journey to happiness started with working through her own poor health and aligning her life with her values and knowledge as a medical professional.

I think what really impressed me most about this book is that the information is “common sense” that most of us fail to implement consistently, written in a way that invites readers onto a healing journey, rather than lecturing them on what they need to change about their lives. Dr. Tumi’s tone is exactly the kind of energy I look for when talking to my own healthcare team. She doesn’t scold: she gently invites and offers unwavering encouragement. I loved how she discusses how poetry supported her healing, and it inspired me to reconnect with the creative arts that feel nourishing to me.

In short, I highly recommend this book! It’s a great reference for anyone that wants to know exactly how to determine the most crucial pillars to improved health, as well as a guideline for how to integrate these pillars more fully into their lives. You can check out Delicious Healing here. Also, you can learn more about Dr. Tumi on her YouTube channel or on her website (DrTumiJohnson.com). Here is one of my favorite videos that she’s shared.

I hope you all have enjoyed this post! If you decide to check out Dr. Tumi’s channel or book, please let me know!

***This post has affiliate links.

goals · health

Fibro Friday – The PainFreeKitchen Protocol

Hey friends! My apologies for the premature posting of this blog post: last week was far busier than I anticipated. However, this topic was far too important to skip, so here it is, a week later!

As part of my review of different fibromyalgia treatment approaches, I want to make sure that I am exposed to a variety of perspectives. I want to ensure that I go beyond the points of view of medical doctors and naturopaths, and also put a spotlight on the regimens that are promoted by laypeople that actually have fibromyalgia. Besides Dr. Liptan (whose protocol was among one of the first that I reviewed), all of the other doctors and health professionals that I’ve reviewed have not been diagnosed with fibro. I value their opinions and research, but I find myself more motivated to try a recommendation from someone that has experimented on themselves to find a solution, as opposed to someone whose work is limited to theory or results as reported by their clients.

That being said, today’s protocol is not from a medical doctor or naturopath. Rachel of PainFreeKitchen successfully minimized her fibromyalgia symptoms to the point of complete elimination. In fact, her doctor confirmed to her that she was in “remission”, since she no longer showed any of the symptoms of fibro.

So, what is Rachel’s secret? Here’s a video, describing exactly how Rachel cured her fibromyalgia.

I highly recommend that you watch the video in full, especially since Rachel is very direct with her answer, and the video is less than 10 minutes long. But, for your convenience, here is a summary of the PainFreeKitchen Protocol:

  • Try a gluten-free and dairy-free diet (Rachel recommends The Whole 30 diet)
  • Prioritize rest (she offers a few recommendations for improving rest, like purchasing blackout curtains or taking sedatives to assist with obtaining deep sleep)
  • Reduce stress levels dramatically
  • Begin a yoga routine and weightlifting (or, for that matter, any other exercise that feels manageable)

The PainFreeKitchen Protocol does have points that are seen in some of the other protocols. However, she is the only person that I’ve reviewed so far that specifically recommended The Whole 30 diet and weightlifting.I think that her recommendations are reasonable and certainly worth a try. Prior to my diagnosis, I loved doing fitness classes, especially ones that involved the use of kettlebells. Now, I find myself really “pushed” by even gentle yoga routines. It would be nice to eventually return to working out with weights, but I will be patient and gradually strengthen myself until I’m back to full health.

As far as my personal opinion goes, I think that the PainFreeKitchen Protocol could be an excellent starting point for wellness, especially in the cases of people that are newly diagnosed and unsure about where to start with rebuilding the body. However, I can also see where this would be great advice for someone that has been treating fibromyalgia for many years or decades.

That’s all for today! I hope you all have a great and safe weekend, and I’ll talk to you all soon. Take care!

life curation · words of wisdom · writing

Reblog: A Guide to Severing Ties and Moving On

Today, I’m doing a reblog of a post that I released 9 (!) years ago, almost to the day (originally posted August 11, 2012). I remember writing it, but I honestly couldn’t remember what I wrote! So it was fun to read through my old musings. I didn’t bother to edit it, since the typos and grammar errors I noted were minimal. So here you go: my guide to severing ties and moving on. Enjoy!

“Last July, I wrote a post about inconsiderate people, and different tactics for dealing with them. After giving people some time to correct course, you may find it necessary to cut the person loose. I don’t particularly enjoy severing ties with people, but SELF-PRESERVATION comes above all else. In my case, “self” extends to those that I love and want to protect from inconsiderate individuals. There is NO ONE that I will allow to mistreat me. Please do not misunderstand me: there are people that are supposed to love you, that can, and will, mistreat you, ignore your concerns, and regard you with little respect.

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What does it take to cut someone loose? You must first decide to do it. You can’t simply talk about it: in fact, I recommend you stop talking about it. At the point where severing ties becomes necessary, you’re probably tired of talking. I don’t recommend that you talk until you are weary, but if the relationship means enough to you, you’ve probably tried to talk and mend/correct things until you are blue in the face. Save your energy, and decide to just let the person go.

Eliminate contact with the individual. No more texting, phone calls, emails, letters, or homing pigeons LOL! Don’t announce to the person that you are ceasing contact with them: simply do it. If you feel compelled to tell someone “I’m cutting you off” then you probably haven’t made a firm decision to get rid of the individual. Giving an inconsiderate person a goodbye speech only opens the door for more dialogue, delay in correcting action, and more time to HURT YOU. So close the door, do it quietly, and deadbolt it.

I know that *someone* will want to do the “cutting you off” speech. If it gives you a feeling of closure, then go for it. I personally feel that true closure comes from making a decision and sticking to it, and having the satisfaction of knowing that the other person didn’t see it coming, nor do they know all the details behind your decision. But if finale speeches are your thing, then go ahead and do you. The best way to do it is to lower the boom, while ensuring that the other person CANNOT RESPOND TO YOU. If that means blocking a few phone numbers, sending emails to the junk folder automatically, and blocking them on all forms of social media, so be it. The last thing that you want is an open door; open doors only lead to more suffering.

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Now that the door is closed and a particular person is cut off, what do you do? MOVE AHEAD. Don’t dwell on your decision: when you find yourself regretting your actions, take time to remember all of the things that preceded your decision. Hopefully, you did not cut someone off hastily. More than likely, however, you have given the person adequate time and warning to correct course, yet they insist on staying the same. When you start regretting the decision to move on, you must not doubt yourself! If your life and routine feel weird after removing certain people, it’s probably because you’ve become accustomed to the dysfunctional relationship. You probably aren’t missing that person, you are just feeling awkward because you are readjusting to normal living.

Removing inconsiderate people from your life is a lot like having sea legs. After spending some time on a boat, you may feel weird when you start walking on dry land again. But the problem isn’t the ground that you stand on: it’s the abnormal condition (walking on a sea vessel) to which your body got adjusted. You’ve had to learn to keep your balance in a naturally unbalanced environment; likewise, dealing with inconsiderate people can cause you to adapt to their off-kilter ways. But, just like sea legs, you will adjust to normal living again- in time. The key is to keep moving on dry land, or, in the case of someone post-cutoff, immerse yourself in normal living.

Immersion into a normal lifestyle is the key to moving on after severing ties. But how is this done? For a time, avoid the places, people, and activities that remind you of that individual. Did you two enjoy a particular restaurant, entertainment venue or activity? Now is the time to stop going, at least until you can go without reminiscing over the relationship. Did you two have mutual friends? You may even want to avoid them for a spell. Of course, you may want to stay in touch with any of your mutual friends that are mature enough to neither take sides nor do anything that will distract you from your goal of eliminating the toxic person.

Get involved in any activity that will keep you from thinking too much about the person that you cut off. This *could* mean throwing yourself into your work, if you find that you are just as or more productive than before. But don’t get absorbed in work if you find it draining or depressing. Now is the time to meet new people, do new things, and get caught up in a whirlwind of enjoyable activity. Make plans to do all the things that you couldn’t enjoy with the inconsiderate person, or that you didn’t have time to do, because Mr. or Ms. Inconsiderate tied up your time, zapped your energy, criticized your dream, etc.,. Have you always wanted to travel out of the country? Start setting aside money for your trip (preferably in a bank account that you find it difficult to access.) Want to finish school? Sign up for a class and move heaven and earth to attend it regularly. Always been interested in painting? Buy some watercolors and a canvas and have at it.

One of my favorite recommendations for satisfying distraction is retail therapy (also known as shop ’til you drop LOL!) Retail therapy can be great and very satisfying (as well as distracting!) But if you indulge, keep all of your receipts and make sure that you know the store’s return policies. Last thing that you want to do is buy something far too expensive, something that you’ll NEVER enjoy, or a ‘spite” gift (i.e., buying red lipstick because the inconsiderate person hated it and thought that red lipstick looks cheap) just because you needed a pretty distraction. Buyer’s remorse is bad enough, but being able to undo the madness is golden. Done responsibly, retail therapy can be effective at helping you move ahead.

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That’s just a few of my tips for severing ties and moving on.  I hope you all enjoyed it. Please look out for more posts soon: my maternity leave will be over in a few weeks, so I got to get as much writing done as possible, before I’m thrown back into the working world LOL! Until next time …”

goals · life curation · words of wisdom

The Three Hardest Lessons I Had to Learn

There’s nothing quite like reflecting and seeing how much you’ve grown over time. The older I get, the more I recognize the changes that have occurred in me, and how those changes have impacted my overall quality of life. I feel inspired to share some of those lessons that have come to me when I sit in silence and allow the highs – and lows – to show me what I need to master. Here are three of the hardest lessons that I’ve had to learn, and how I’ve approached and incorporated each of these lessons in my life.

The hardest lesson I’ve had to learn is the art of being gentle with myself. I often behave as if I have inexhaustible energy (despite having fibromyalgia for the past several years), so when I fall short of the goals that I’ve set for myself, I tend to beat myself up over it. My fibromyalgia diagnosis was a turning point for me, since I found myself physically unable to complete activities that I once enjoyed. I felt a tremendous amount of guilt over the fact that I had to rest more and stop feeling bad for it. For me, resting and being gentle with myself felt like laziness.

,This is something that I still struggle with, though mindfully practicing gentleness every day (slowing down and grounding myself daily, yoga, and gratitude practices help) has made it a little easier to accept that this is the path I have to walk, and there is no shame in it. I continue to indulge these practices, as well as listen to YouTube videos of people advocating for gentleness with ourselves, like Alina Alive, Sarah Armide and Ella Ringrose.

Another difficult lesson I am still working on is setting boundaries based on love, not anger. I think it’s normal to react to a hurtful or angering incident with the immediate establishment of a boundary. But I’ve been playing around with proactively setting boundaries based on loving myself and having love for others. This sounds a little contradictory, because in American culture, we’re taught that love is supposed to be without boundaries, all-absorbing and unconditional. However, I’ve found that the most loving that that we can do is have boundaries that maintain our dignity and sense of self.

Again, I struggle with this because I was previously more reactionary as a default. But, with time, I realized I feel more relieved by setting boundaries before offenses happen, as well as standing resolutely with my boundaries when others – even well-intended loved ones – attempt to encroach them. I have to practice this daily as part of my self care, since I have a few of my family members living with me. Some powerful tools that I’ve utilized on my journey have been the book Boundaries by Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend, as well as YouTube videos published by Dr. Ramani Durvasula, Dr. Tracey Marks, and Irene Lyon.

The third hardest lesson for me to learn was learning to play, particularly, how to do so without guilt. Going back to the art of being gentle with myself, I had to learn ways to care for myself that would help me to heal my body and mind. For me, that involved recreating periods of joy in my life, and that meant I had to reflect back on the times when I was unabashedly, overwhelmingly happy. I found most of those times occurred during my childhood, so I had to start indulging myself and doing the things that made me happy again, which, for me, was playing games and creative expression.

The same guilt behind being gentle with myself crops up when I’m indulging in play. I have to continually remind myself that playing *is* productive, and more play = more creativity, which I can channel into other, more “adult” tasks. It has become easier for me to participate in play, because I have several younger children in my circle of family and friends, but I also have to indulge in play by myself, usually in the form of painting, making jewelry, working on a puzzle, or playing in makeup. I also find it helpful to connect with personalities that are light and playful, which is why I often go to YouTube for inspiration. I really enjoy play and fun from various perspectives, so I love videos by Mintfaery, Darling Desi and The Unexpected Gypsy.

Are there any difficult lessons that you’ve had to learn? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below. Also, if there’s any way that I can support you all, please feel free to leave a comment or send me a message. This journey through life isn’t an easy one: the most important thing we can do is share resources with each other, so that we can make our journeys a little smoother.

Take care, and I’ll talk to you all tomorrow.

health · life curation

Amping Up The Self Love

I’m feeling so much more rested today: I’m thankful for good sleep, good friends, and good food LOL! Having a little bit of each of these seems to have really done the trick for me. I’m still a little tired, but such is life when you’re living with fibromyalgia. Some days are much better than others, and when you have good days, you learn to relish them!

I’ve been resting more because I’m feeling affected by a lot of things. Yes, fibromyalgia plays a starring role in my exhaustion, but there was another thing that was bothering me. I noticed that I was starting to feel less than stellar, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on what was causing it. After spending a little time exploring my feelings, I figured out that my tiredness was due to uneasiness.

Upon further reflection, I learned that my uneasiness was rooted in my lacking self love. It’s funny, because I didn’t think about it before, as I usually don’t feel uneasy or unsettled within myself. But I’ve been experiencing these feelings because I’ve occasionally felt frustrated with my progress on my goals, my health, and my changing family dynamics. I didn’t make the connection before, but it’s clear that my frustration with outside circumstances is starting to feel very personal and it started to affect me physically.

My goal recently has been to amp up my self love. This goes beyond manicures and massages: aside from self care, I thought long and hard about how I can affirm my worth and self love. I’ve been doing positive affirmations daily, sleeping with rhodochrosite under my pillow, and asking myself regularly, “How can I make this experience more suitable for me?”, and “What would make my happiest right now?” After asking myself those questions, I take an action that feels better in the moment. Those simple decisions went a long way in affirming that I am an embodiment of love, I radiate peace and love, and I’m deserving of love and all the good things that life has to offer.

I’m still working regularly on my self love, but I’m already seeing a change in my energy levels. Yes, I’m still tired a lot, but the uneasiness has shifted, and I’m feeling more grounded. Things are starting to look up, and I’m thankful for it.