I have all the best intentions to make each day count and work my hardest at striving towards accomplishing my best decade ever. But, that requires making minuscule changes and tweaks in order for it all to fall into place when, no matter what extent of effort is put forth, the wheels are just spinning. I’m going nowhere today in terms making huge strides. I have to succumb to that reality.
There are just those days, that we sometimes call “a wash”. The to do list might be long. The end goal might be ticking in the back of our brain, nagging us to bring it to the forefront. It tugs, it pulls, it screams as if your life depends on it being noticed. But, no matter any attempt to move in the direction that we think needs to be taken, the inability to function properly to do the tasks in nonexistent.
Whether that be a physical barrier such as pain, or a sluggish mental state that has you want to throw in the towel, sometimes we have to just sit back and realize this is where things are today. So instead, of fighting against this tidal wave that is wearing me down further as I fight against it, I am finding it best to ride it to the shore. That shallow water along the shore is befitting for what might really be needed; a mere few minutes here and there of having ideas and future plans lap up against me.
The ideal day would have me up and dressed after preparing myself a healthy breakfast, a fresh load of clean laundry put away, hubby’s business accounting up to date for the month, and have me headed off to grab the groceries from the list I just completed, with the plans to workout as soon as I arrived home. My reality is ~ I’ve eaten a healthy breakfast and I’ve gotten the grocery list started. End. of. story.
I am now having to cast all those things that will have to wait back into the water, knowing they will wash back up as needed. I’ll get the groceries, but not without changing out of my pajamas, or course. And I’ll save up the rest of my energy for making dinner and working out. Those are in keeping with realizing my ultimate goal of making this my healthiest decade. Putting off those other things also promote my goal. Peace and serenity in my life, is key in keeping my mental health in check. This is as pertinent as any other muscle workout. And although it is hard and frustrating for me to put tasks off that I would previously undertake without issue, I have to know my limits.
“What self-acceptance does is open up more possibilities of succeeding because you aren’t fighting yourself along the way.”
― Shannon Ables
So, I am not defeated. I am finding alternatives and accepting where I am today on this journey. In fact, by eliminating other outside forces, I am actually more acutely honing in on my main goal. It’s like mental minimalism. Hmmm, I think I’m on to something here.
It’s so easy to want the results without putting in the work. I’ve fallen victim to this over and over. Every morning I get up with the intention of making strides to moving toward getting fit, but by mid morning it wanes. This is partly due to the pain that plagues me all morning and hoping it will subside before doing any sort of workout. By the time it does, my mind is tired and my ambition is nil.
Yesterday, I was able to do a half hour walk in the house (it had been another day of rain here) and get some yoga in. But, the entire time, I kept mulling over what I needed to do to get myself to get past these hurdles and the self doubt that I could work through the pain. I decided last night to make myself a inspiration/vision board and use it as a background for my phone.
I must admit it was a motivational way to get me to my mat for a Pilates workout session this morning. But, I was dealing with some immense myofascial pain in my ribs, so I needed a bit more of a push. About 5 minutes into my routine, as I struggled, a thought came into my mind. Where is that bracelet I bought? I should wear that as a reminder to keep going. So, I clicked the pause button on the DVD and started rummaging through my jewelry. It took me over 10 minutes to find it, but was well worth it. It was a splurge buy that popped up on the internet one day, and I was drawn to how much it resonated with me. It’s not some fancy bling, but a mere reminder to “Be stronger than the storm”.
DVD restarted and away I went; thirty minutes of stretching, breathing, and muscling my way to feeling better. It worked! All of it! The motivation, the dedication, the movement, and the breathing, all helped decrease the pain and put me in a better state of mind. I ended the workout with another 30 minute walk around the house. (yep, it was still raining)
I wish I could imprint this feeling on my brain everytime I doubt my ability to work out. Or try to use it as an excuse. I honestly feel a bit better. Pain free? Absolutely no. But the positive vibes and self confidence has spilled into my being. That is something I can utilize during the small storms I’m dealt with for the rest of the day.
So, here’s what to take from this. Move. Just move in the direction that will provide you with what you ultimately desire. No matter how hard it is, how big the storm feels, you can move beyond it. If it is a desire, a dream, a goal, a wish, or need, push beyond those negative “I can’t because” reasons. You may have to alter it or tweak it, but don’t avoid it. That will not get you closer to what you are reaching for. And it may leave you more frustrated than dealing with the pain does.
Fellow fibro /chronic friends…Do it! Find that form of exercise that is right for your body in the moment, and do it. Not in despite of the pain, but because of it.
Oh my, you guys. Ya’ll. Whew, I woke up to the stark reality of how slow this process is going to take. My muscles are screaming at me.
I did a bit of yoga yesterday, but it was nothing out of the ordinary. In fact, I took it easy. However, since I do love kettle bell routines, I decided to just grab a light weight hand weight, a mere 3 lbs, and do some “round the worlds”. I also did a bit of upper body work with them and figured I could try to get back into doing push-ups. I only did 5! My body was just not liking it.
It hates me even more today. The pain under my clavicle is horrible and my whole upper-body is in searing pain. I’m sure some of you can relate to that burn after a workout from lactic acid buildup. Well, us fibro peeps are unable to break lactic acid down. It has to do with mitochondrial dysfunction. It can take hours or days to recoup after physical exercise, repetitive movement, and many various tasks.
So, it’s just another reminder that I need to listen to my body. Today, I will focus on stretching and some light yoga, avoiding anything with too much upper body work. I’m thinking I might need get a foam roller to release my fascia between workouts. Listening to my body is certainly going to be essential. I just don’t want to do too much, too fast and set myself back for days at a time. With chronic pain it isn’t a one workout at a time thing. It’s a one movement at a time. Gauging when we have pushed it a bit too far and backing off is imperative. Most people work out to a point of muscle exhaustion and to where each rep becomes a bit more laborious. This is not beneficial to those with fibro, as it may place them into a flare up or keep their pain levels high for days. That does not put anyone in a mental capacity to want to continue with any further workouts.
Yep, I’m backing off, but not backing down. My journal says I can’t. Every day that I can, I write 3 dreams in it. (said journal is not something I’m not committing enough to and should be) Everyday those dreams may be different or similar to the previous. One recurring journal dream is obvious: become the healthiest version of me. I’m not sure what that looks like, but I think I can imagine what it won’t feel like. It won’t feel like defeat and giving in to pain and a host of other symptoms every day. It will feel like success! It won’t feel like being out of control. It will feel like freedom! Handwriting that dream onto paper helps seal it into my reality. It will happen. It must.
This blog is another way to place this dream into real life. It has been a slow pulling and pushing out of the darkest, barricaded corner I’ve ever placed myself in. I still have further work to do to move from it and toward better, brighter days. Although I have mostly come to terms with the physical part of my journey, I have avoided the mental.
One thing I did for that mental need today was change up the style of this blog. Did you notice? I wanted to be sure it was a place I was happy to come back to. I didn’t want it to become a painful workout that I resent and avoid. Like that flower, I want to put my face to the sun, feel the warmth of life, bend with the wind, and enhance the path forward.
On my wellness way. At my pace.
(That lil guy at the top of the page is one of my grandsons. My dream and desired destiny includes many new adventures with my grandkids. Here he is digging his toes into some of St. Thomas’s Magens Bay sand.)
Howdy, friends! I thank you for following me this far on my wellness journey. I thought I’d take some time to explain what brought me to here. Not blogging, because a have a couple of those that I write as a hobby. But to blogging about striving to get well and to live in most fit body fit ever.
As for the getting fit part, that’s easy. Who doesn’t want to feel good in their own skin and not have clothes tug and pull across unwanted weight. Or to constantly be changing out your wardrobe because you keep changing pant size. I once had the goal to bit a fit mom of four at 30. Then it was the goal to take time for me since my boys were becoming independent and to be fit by 40. That then led into wishing to being a fit and fab grandma at 50. I kept falling short. I stayed trim for the most part. But I wasn’t my healthiest. Now I’m three rambunctious grandboys in, and I want to be able to keep up with them. And instead of being 55, fit and fabulous, I have tipped into the overweight realm and my fibromyalgia symptoms are piling on. And I am also noticing more of this bloated, swollen feel throughout my body. It isn’t at all pleasant.
I have never been a yo-yo dieter. Food has never had a lot of control over me. I have always tried to be conscious of the amount of food that goes into my body. This is where most of my willpower lies. If I get an extra portion of that yummy supper, I can’t have that chocolate candy I love. If I have a sweetened tea or wine with my meal, I have to adjust my food intake to offset the calories. Now, that is not to say I was always eating the healthiest versions of food, because I fell victim to the ease of fast meal prep by using boxed and frozen meals. I often made homemade meals, but there was always plenty of mac and cheese types of boxed foods within reach. Those preservative filled foods were not removed from my life until about 2003. I think that is what has helped me keep my weight in check over the last decades.
Now when it comes to exercise, this is where the yo-yo was apparant. I could keep on track for months at a time with an exercise routine, but then suddenly something would crop into my life and I’d be off track. My weight changes weren’t crazy, but would fluctuate 5 to 10 pounds. In 2018 I was taking care of my grandsons 5 days a week, and was sometimes too tired to work out. But I always kept on the move and got plenty of steps in to at least maintain my weight. By late that year, we sold our house in Virginia and moved into a hotel. I was still watching the grandsons, but since there house was smaller than ours, the steps I completed each day dropped considerably. My pain levels were on the rise, as was my weight. This despite the fact our hotel room was on the fourth floor and I rarely used the elevator.
This is just a couple of months ago. ( I am on the far right. The other two beauties are my daughter in laws) This was me was before I hit my overweight mark and when, in seeing this photo for the first time, I understood why I wasn’t happy, and how much bloating was going on in my body. I was feeling trapped and chained to a dissatisfied lifestyle and self image. I needed to make a change. Sidenote: I actually sent this photo to myself in an email labeled “fat photo”. In actuality, I should have called it “unhealthy photo”. It’s time to make that healthy change. No better time than now.
Since the end of 2019 we have been staying with my son and DIL in North Carolina as we seek a new residence. My pain levels have become as such that I rarely have the energy or ability to workout as I’d like. But since, I am no longer helping out with my grandsons, there is absolutely no excuse to not get myself back on the right track.
And this is the perfect time to do so. Why? Because I am currently in limbo. I am no longer taking care of the grandsons. I don’t have a house to keep up with. And my time can be me own if I only let it. I am a person who loves to help others, but often with the mistake of neglecting and depleting myself. I’m sure a lot of you can relate. But this is the perfect time to prepare myself for what lies ahead: the grandsons hopefully moving closer, so I can be chasing them around more often, a new home to keep up with, and hopefully more travel abroad.
At 50 I was on track to be the fittest I had been in my life. I was losing fat and gaining muscle. I had never been able to gain muscle. But a change in diet changed that. However, just as I had time after time, I wasn’t consistent. Life and pain got in the way. I know I can get back to this. And plan to push further than what I accomplished back then. This blog, being accountable for keeping you along for the journey, and hopefully inspiring you to become a healthier you, my drive to be able to decrease my pain, being able play more with my grandchildren, and traveling without constant “what ifs”, will help keep me from deviating from my goals.
I am taking this slow, because I have to be realistic. Fibromyalgia is not that forgiving, nor is muscle pain something I want to aggravate. I am no longer placing a marker for when this goal has to be accomplished. I’m just planning to, as Mel Robbins says in her newest free program, make this my “Best Decade Ever”. And the changes will be multifaceted, from continuing to find new healthy recipes, focusing on eating the best for my body, moving and exercising according to how my body tolerates it on a given day and in a given moment, finding balance in peace, elimminate things in my life that don’t serve me, and making sure time for me is a priority instead of a last minute ditch effort to make up for all the suffering I have put it through.
Breaking old habits is key. Case in point, I am writing this without having yet done any form of exercise. I have done 4 loads of laundry, nearly finished this blog post, and finished making supper. So, I guess this is my moment. I’m off to commit to me and my goal.
I actually wrote a blog post in the midst of one of the worst weekends I have had in a long time. It was a mental post that I’m not sure will ever be placed into blog world. But then perhaps it would be cathartic. Maybe when I am in a better mental state and can more clearly present it. Until then, here’s my watered down version.
Saturday started out pretty well. I had a bit of shoulder pain and some lower back pain. Hubby and I had been working on a puzzle, so although it was painful, I pushed through since we were so close to completing it. I was hoping if I just kept moving it would work itself out. So, I swept and mopped the hallway and our bedroom. And then set out to clean the bathroom (it was long overdue). By the time I was halfway through, I was starting to feel the pain spreading throughout my entire body. Despite that, I completed the task and decided I’d utilize the heating pad and just take it easy. However, hour by hour, the pain became deeper and deeper. I ended up in bed the rest of the day and had absolutely no appetite. Smelling of muscle rub, wrapped in a heating pad, weak and frustrated beyond words, I tried not to mentally lose it.
I struggled to sleep throughout the night and by morning, I was feeling things becoming worse. I knew I was on the cusp of a migraine, so I attempted to do my best to relax. Nothing worked. By mid day, I was writhing in pain and the migraine took hold. I tried to at least to get something to eat, but that wasn’t to happen. I laid there in a puddle of tears and pain drool, and wished myself to just pass out. My DIL brought me meds; my hubby tried to massage my muscles and soothe me. I couldn’t even stand to lie in bed as the pressure of it on my muscles was excruciating. My pillow felt like a rock. By late that evening, the pain started to lighten up. I was in a mental stupor, but glad to have the pain no longer trying to push me over the edge.
Today, is a day of recuperating. I’ll have lost almost 2 and half days and that bums me out. But, lesson learned again: mental energy does not equate to physical capability. . Oddly, this is not the first time that I have had this issue after the cleaning the bathroom. Seriously! I think between the bending and twisting, and the cleaners, my body can’t tolerate it. It is one of reasons I was glad to be living in a hotel for just over a year, bathroom duty didn’t belong to me. And as for future bathroom cleaning sessions? That task has been relinquished to the hubby.
This has already meant a slow start to my week. And exercise won’t be happening until I regain my footing. But I remain determined in my goal. My willpower remains strong. The power of wellness will not elude me. I think some light yoga will be my go to as a restart.
Tomorrow will mark my two months of adding Plexus products to my bags of tools to help me along on my journey of turning my willpower into well power. I thought it would be a great time to take a real look at what changes I’ve seen and feel. I am going into this with an open mind and without expectations of “a cure”. There is no cure for fibromyalgia, IBS, and Myofascial Pain. After nearly 16 years of dealing with chronic pain, I know it is not realistic, nor beneficial to my mental state, to believe there is a magic potion out there to make all the symptoms go away. But I am confident there are ways to decrease the intensity of the symptoms and increase my quality of life.
One of the very first positives I noticed was a decrease in inflammation. This is especially true in my hands, as this where I can visually see it. Most morning my hands are swollen to the point of being unable to bend them. This may or may not last all day. However, I have only had about 3 mornings of swelling, since about 3 weeks into starting Plexus. Physically I can feel less swelling throughout my entire body.
The second thing I have physically noticed, is a bit more energy throughout the day. I usually hit a wall both physically and mentally about 2 p.m. each day. Most days, I would be ready to crawl into bed for the remainder of the day. Every task beyond that bewitching hour was grueling and draining. I now have found I can sometimes have the energy to make dinner. Although pain still makes it difficult to do it at a “normal person” speed, I am grateful that there is a bit of stamina left to keep me moving through it. Having that bit of energy alleviates some of the daily frustration and in turn, gives me small snippets of actual happiness, rather than the “don’t let them know you are struggling face”. It’s a genuine feeling that I thought had forever eluded me.
I actually enjoyed cooking last night! It is chore that is usually spattered with expletives because pain persists and brain processes perish. But I actually enjoyed making these two new recipes and felt quite pleased by my sustained energy levels, as well as how delicious they turned out. The hubby said they are “must keep” recipes. I totally agree. I have shared the recipes at the bottom of this post
Left photo: Warm Potato Salad with Hummus and Arugula Right photo: Maple-Dijon-Cider Pork Tenderloin (Sauce not shown- But I did make it and it was delish!)
I started changing my diet about 15 years ago when my IBS was starting to get out control and I was noticing sugar and gluten increased my pain. I also had to focus on keeping my weight in check, since several doctors have warned me that a higher number on the scales equates to higher pain levels. I started eating clean and have rarely eaten processed foods since that time. Sweet tea is one of my weaknesses, so I limited that to once or twice a month. These choices, along with trying to get some type of exercise when my pain levels allowed, kept my weight in check. However, since hitting that 50 year old mark, my weight has been creeping up each year.
By the middle of last year, I had tipped into the overweight group. So, although my original intent was in alleviating other health issues with Plexus, weight loss would be an extra perk. To date, I have lost 5 1/2 pounds. I have not altered my diet. But I have had less cravings for chocolate. I used to literally wake up in the middle of the night and crave it. The only additional thing I have added, is walking each day. And I am able to do this because of my increased energy. It is no where in a normal range, but it has improved.
In terms of pain, there is a slight, but noticeable decrease. I still wake up nightly with pain, but I am moving more throughout the day, so that is something I expected. I hope over time this will diminish. Pain in my tender points has been less severe, and searing pain and tingling in my arms and chest at night are occurring about a 1/3 of the time now. I have also noticed I recover a bit more quickly after taking a shower. Yes, I said, a shower. It is one of those strange things that occur with fibromyalgia. I usually take showers or baths at night for this reason. Everyday task like that can be exhausting, and it is a good way to gauge levels of improvement.
A huge improvement for me both in terms of digestion and mental strength is that I am not facing severe repercussions for consuming gluten or even enjoying a few morsels of a non gluten free food. I have also been able to eat regular portions of foods like broccoli, mushrooms, pineapple and such, that used to once have me making quick trips to the bathroom if I ate more than my system could tolerate. I’ve also noticed decreased bloating. I now no longer look like I am 4 months pregnant after eating certain foods. There is still slight bloating after eating the occasional gluten free bread, but it isn’t something I like to indulge in much anyway due to preservatives.
The one fibro symptom that many night be aware of, but that is a huge issue when it comes to self confidence and self worth, is what is called brain fog. It brings much frustration and despair to daily life. The inability to remember words, finding it difficult to process thoughts quickly, and merely following common directions like a recipe, can become overwhelming. The many ways it decreases self esteem and worth feels never ending. In the past month, I have seen more windows of mental clarity throughout my day. Of course, when pain levels are up, this can feed into that difficulty of processing things mentally. But, even without pain, brain fog can be debilitating. I would love to see this disappear!
So, overall things are ticking in a positive direction. Since I have been plagued with pain for years, I know this is going to be a slow process. But, I am not moving backwards and that is a good thing. I could never go back there! It was a horrible time in my life. And I refuse to stay in the state I in as it is still not the happy and fulfilling life I want. This why I am seeking change. But I am still garnering all the willpower I can and am grateful for these small grains of healthy change. It is mental morsels that keeps me optimistically pushing forward.
I’ve unpacked my products and am ready to delve into month three.
This past weekend’s weather opened up another perfect opportunity to hike. I wasn’t going to let it go to waste. As I stated in my last post, hiking is my preferred way to get exercise and keep my body moving toward better health. It wasn’t as strenuous of a hike as the previous weekends in terms of steepness, as the the bulk of the inclines were walkways rather than a series of stairs, but my heart and leg muscles were getting a great workout. We probably did almost 3 miles by the time we tweaked the original trail of 2.8 miles we started out on.
I also took my hiking poles on this trip, so there was more upper body work as well. I enjoyed every step despite the mental battle to keep going when my body was ready to give in. Concentrating on breathing deeply for optimal oxygen intake was essential. As was reminding myself of one thing on my vision board: to one day climb the steps of Machu Picchu.
I wish I could say I woke up feeling relatively “fibro normal” as I did after last weekend’s hike, but that was not the case. I was up in the middle of the night with searing pain throughout my entire body. And today my energy levels are low.
I won’t call this a step backward, however. Last week was a productive week for me and my energy levels remained at a place where I felt more in charge of my life. And to then to also fit in a hike at the end of that busy week was a huge win! Although today it is expected to be nearly 70 degrees today and it will take all I can to muster a walk through the neighborhood, there “ain’t no valley low, ain’t no river wide enough” to deter me from doing so.
Dear well power,
‘Cause baby there ain’t no mountain high enough Ain’t no valley low enough Ain’t no river wide enough To keep me from getting to you babe
Remember the day I set you free I told you you could always count on me darling From that day on, I made a vow I’ll be there when you want me Some way, some how (lyrics from Martin Gaye’s “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough)