Oh, those fabulous, vile vittles. Gut health goals!

As a kid, on my walk home from the grocery store, I’d snug that paper bag close and draw it up close to my chin. It was that loaf of bread that mom told me to purchase and the bagger had, thankfully, placed at the top of the bag enticing me to do so. On a warm summer day, the sun would encourage that just baked smell to permeate my nostrils, so I’d often walk along with my nose as close to that loaf as I could. I’d then begin my taste for a warm dough ball that I would make from a slice of bread as soon as I arrived home. Bread, was my weakness. As was pasta and lasagna. It was not uncommon for me to eat a half a loaf of bread to make cinnamon sugar toast for breakfast for myself. Make a loaf of garlic bread, and I might not have felt compelled to share. Today, it still sounds delicious, but for a mere second or two. When my brain suddenly drops that memory of what my body feels like after partaking in it, that desire for a bite dissolves.

I do love food. But I have always tried to balance my wants with my needs. Gaining weight was a huge reason for this, but my slow digestive system was the other.

When I was first diagnosed with digestive issues, I was told I had a “slow system”. In other words, I didn’t poop often. In fact, I could go 2 weeks without having a bowel movement. Just imagine all those toxins building up in my system. Ick! In my late 20’s, the term irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) was used. At that time, I was dealing mainly with constipation, bloating, headaches, and lower body pain. In 2001, I took a fall at work. A year later, after not completely becoming rid of pain in my shoulder and neck, my worker’s comp doctor started treating me with a prescription medication. I’ll spare all the attempts made to rid me of the pain, but let’s just say the med list became longer each time I had an appointment.

A year later, I was not sleeping more than 2-4 hours a night and I had lost so much weight the doctor warned me about losing more. But the medications I was on made the thought of food nauseating. Most days I sat on the couch in so much pain I couldn’t bear to make myself get up. The pain was unbearable and I had no will to continue life.

In 2003, I had had enough. The doctor diagnosed me with fibromyalgia and myfofascial pain syndrome, told me to take my pills, and get a job. His encouragement was “you are going to have pain for the rest of your life, but you won’t end up a wheel chair.” I left in tears and swore I would not continue on the path he and prescription pills had me doomed to take.

For the next 10 years, I researched. I added supplements to my diet and I did everything I could to keep the weight off since several doctors warned me of added pain if I added weight. I did begin to improve, but I still didn’t have my life back. By 2013, I was plagued with diarrhea 3 to 4 times a month. I was given a prescription to use when the loose stool came on, but then it would bind me up. I once again, tweaked my diet. I became gluten free, reduced my sugar intake further, and started looking further into more supplements. Gut health is important, and I was convinced of that. Things were becoming bleaker, as I started having all over chronic body pain, migraines made visits, and I started becoming plagued with vertigo. I also hated food. My stomach felt like it was always filed with acid. Everything tasted horrible and I had the taste of burnt ashes on my tongue. I had been tweaking my diet trying to get control of my issues. But I couldn’t figure out what was causing all of this sickness in me. After being told nitrates might be causing my vertigo, I avoided foods containing it. The vertigo ceased. The gluten free diet started to improve my digestive system, and I began having bowel movements almost daily. I was slowly peeling back the smelly onion layers of issues, but I had a long way to go.

Image may contain: indoor
The three products that are bringing me back to a life desired.

In the middle of last year, I hit a breaking point. My energy levels had me moving at crawl, my pain was pushing to a level that I felt my brain was becoming numb, and it took everything I could do to muster up the strength to push through the day. Every Saturday, and sometimes Sunday, my body forced me to stop and try to recuperate from the week. Days were becoming a blur filled with pain. My brain was exhausted from the “fake it til you make it” regimen I was putting myself through. I just wanted to sleep so I didn’t have to feel the pain. But the pain kept me from sleeping.

I was forced to do something that breaks my heart to this very moment. I had to stop taking care of my grandsons during the day. I had to put myself first, although “my self” wanted to be with them. It was during this time, Plexus made an appearance. Skeptical, but desperate, I looked at the premise and ingredients behind their goal to improve gut health and maintain healthy sugar levels. All of the information I found pointed to the deterioration I felt was occurring in my body for years. Medications taken as a child, poor food choices starting as a teenager, medications taken after the fall, and toxins building up after years of constipation and likely also from the environment, had burdened my body to place where it could not heal itself. I was already taking many of the vitamins and minerals in the Plexus products, but I was certainly not schooled in knowing which ones might further promote how another one works within my body. Perhaps they had the right formula that I was seeking. Well, at least that was my skeptical hope.

I’m not sure how to round up this post, as this journey is still a work in progress. But I can give the facts as to where things seem to be progressing:

Decreased pain

Increased energy

Improved digestion

Decreased inflammation

Improved sleep

Increased hope

There are so many other gears and pulleys that moved me away from a healthy life and body and then back to where I am now that aren’t shared here. But, I guess if you follow along, they will slowly be revealed. And, I hope as I journey forward, more answers will be uncovered. And with that willpower to keep seeking,trying and sharing, more well power.

Be well!

A (3rd) shift in life and mindset during stay at home orders.

Unprecedented times. How many times have you heard that lately? But it is true. Most of the generations today have never lived through such trying times of uncertainty and social isolation. And I believe most of us are digging deep and analyzing how we chose and need to live life now compared to how life was pre-Covid19. It’s only natural to compare what once was to what we are currently living through. There is a huge sense of loss on many levels at this time.

I have to admit, at the start of this, I was not in the least filled with dread or concern with being told to shelter in place. I looked at it as my responsibility to work toward the common good of all. I certainly didn’t want to put my family in harms away, nor did I want to be part of a chain that might possibly transmit the virus to others. I tried to look at it as “life as usual”, with just a little tweaking.

I have been doing a lot of tweaking and self evaluation prior to all of this. At the end of last year, I was no longer taking care of grandsons. I had, at that time, decided I needed to look more at my health issues and put my entire focus on that. It was a large part of why I could no longer physically keep caring for them. Pain, inflammation, and digestive issues had taken over too much of my life. With all the extra time on my hands, I wanted to utilize it for a positive change. Admittedly it was mentally difficult to not have a purpose. To place all the focus on myself seemed selfish. I had to keep reminding myself that I was actually making a crucial health choice and that it would ultimately be important for me to do so as to enjoy traveling with my husband, be physically able to play with grandsons, and live out all the other nuances I had desired to have in my life. I was tired of the daily doldrums and disappointments of deciding what I had to eliminate from each day in order to push through it or to take part in any small things that brought me joy. It was time to tackle and eradicate the issues that were forcing me to make these upsetting and mentally debilitating choices.

When my health issues came to boiling point about 16 years ago, I took it as a sign that I had to slow down. I had to not be that “yes” person who took on more than I could cope with because I would become a disappoint. I used it as a wake up call. I knew I needed to slow down, but it wasn’t until a critical point that I actually took action. Despite all I have tried, I’ve not overcome all the issues that are depleting parts of my life. My second wake up call was that moment I had to tell my son I could no longer take care of the his boy in a way I felt they weren’t being affected. I weep now at the memory of that confession to myself that I couldn’t carry on with something that brought me such joy. My life was being controlled by an internal monster. I felt had lost everything that defined me because of it.

Two months into tying to regain myself and my life, I know I still wasn’t being honest with myself in what I truly needed to be doing and that I still wasn’t giving it enough. I was mentally giving up and allowing the pain to consume me. I felt lost and wasn’t sure where to turn. Some of it was because I was mourning the loss of time with the grandsons. I was trying to get more sleep as I often only slept only 4 to six hours a night. I was getting more sleep, but it was taking me 10 to 12 hours to get the needed 8. I did remain focused on eating right and tried to get some sort of physical workout when pain levels weren’t soaring. However, mentally I was drowning and the pain was winning yet again. I remained in the “fake it till you make it” mode and throwing on a convincing smile.

Doctor after doctor have warned me about not putting on weight as it would exacerbate the pain I was already experiencing. I knew I had to move more in order to keep the pounds at bay, despite how much it hurt. Unfortunately, hitting my mid-50’s, the number on the scales was creeping up. My husband and I were taking walks, albeit not as long as I had hoped. It was just so painful to move. And I was walking indoors in order to keep moving and was doing yoga, although at times that was even difficult. Trying to refocus through Mel Robbins program Best Decade Ever helped pushed me through the harder days and to remain hopeful for a better future despite the pain. It was during this time a high school friend who I had been chatting via IM with about supplements that help reduce pain, told me about a product another mutual high school friend was using. Being a skeptic, I merely stalked her Facebook page for awhile until I finally got up the nerve to comment. When she reached out to me, I, with my doubt in tow, let her explain the premise behind the products. A few weeks later, I decided to take her up on a three day trial. From there, I decided the products were worth a 3 month trial.

I was just at my third month of using the Plexus products, when the stay at home order was enforced. It was then that I felt this mental push to up the ante. Life once again, was directing me to step back. I was feeling the positive effects of taking them, but I was still saying quite ugly things to myself. Negative talk can take you down a deep rabbit hole both mentally and physically. So, while I was further losing myself, the world seemed to spinning into an unknown dimension. It took my thoughts back to 911, when our nation made a collective gasp and we all had a mutual understanding, empathy, and alarm for the suffering that was occurring. This seemingly unwieldy situation is happening on a global scale. This, this overwhelming lack of control, has been my third wake up call. I had to gain some control over this world of chaos within my personal space.

I have to admit this ability to cope waxes and wanes. However, I’m sure I am one among billions who are feeling the mental strain. But this third, and deeply immense wake up call, has brought me further into seeking positive change. I have a long way before I feel I am capable of eliminating my mental struggle. I’m still questioning my ability, but not my determination. I am walking more. I’m resisting the need to stress eat. I meet my insecurities at the yoga mat at least 5 days a week. And I am taking advantage of the plethora of free programs, videos, and blogs that encourage self discovery and self love. I’m tweaking my Plexus products to get the best results for my body and needs. And each night I read at least 15 minutes in order to remove any negative thoughts of the day. I’m not sure what will bring me to the edge of my best health yet. But, with the uncertainty of what we are currently living in, I do know I want more than just a mediocre existence. And while being asked to shelter in place, I feel the need to start building something that will be better when we come out on the other side of this.

I’m also hoping the world also emerges more peace-filled and whole.

Some days digging deep means you just scratch the surface.

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.

Got goals?

Go on! Go get the ones that count.

Why get fit? Why now?

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.

Until next time, ponder this…

What does your best decade ever look like?

Month two of working toward well power.

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.

Recipes:

Maple-Dijon-Cider Pork Tenderloin

Warm Potato Salad with Hummus and Arugula

Forward from here.

I’ve been reluctant to start this blog. Just as reluctant as I was 18 years ago to accept I have a chronic issue. I couldn’t name it aloud, because I refused to accept it as part of my life. It, in my eyes, showed weakness. And never would I allow anyone to see me as such. This has been my curse since a child: to be perceived as weak and to do my damnedest to prove to the world otherwise.

I know some of the graphics and titles on this page might make not sense to you at all at the moment. Because in the context of this blog narrative, they don’t. I’m a perfectionist by nature, and although that might often serve me in certain situations. In this one, it hinders me. Therefore, I decided to forego making the blog all pretty and organized at the onset, and, instead delve into writing. It will all meld given time. A commodity I also often deprive myself of.

So, here I am, nearly 56 years old, and owning up to a weakness in my body. Which has ultimately crept into my mind, my well being, my day to day life and my personality. But, I have grown to see within it, my strength.

Today’s strength is writing despite my fear of failure, my current pain levels, and my reluctance to show such a personal side of myself. Cocooning my true self is truly safer than what might transpire here. However, I propel myself forward with the hope it won’t be as scary as what I’ve convinced myself of.

So, why this blog? I have been working to find answers on my own for so long, and I have come across so many others trying to do the same thing. I’m not so sure how parallel our symptoms might run, but I do see the mental struggle is. Therefore, maybe as I share a new perspective, idea, answer, to one of my issues, perhaps someone else will find something that they can utilize to alleviate or lessen theirs.

I’m trying to move out of my cocoon, where I feel alone in my suffering. The hope is to transform. To move, along with others, by utilizing this long standing willpower within us, and use it to create well power: the power of being a healthier version of ourselves, that lends itself to living within the power of stronger well being, both mentally and physically, to reconnect with the person we were before our bodies were besieged, and to living out dreams long left abandoned.

I’m committed to this desire . I need to be. It has what has gotten me this far. But I need to keep reaching, because the longing for it festers as deep as the pain. I’m in it to win it. And, I hope you will be, too.

You deserve to be well. You deserve to be understood. You deserve to bring back those dreams you thought were gone forever. You deserve to watch, and feel, and revel in them coming to fruition.

Let’s do this!

(And, bam! Publishing before I tweak, re-tweak, and self doubt comes a knocking.)