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.

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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!

Refocus and redirection in the midst of seemingly forced life changes.

It’s hard to decide where to focus, what exactly the writing should look like. Bring in personal experiences, desires, expectations, plans….. where focus should be in time of quarentine. Life isn’t like it what we are used to and how we have set up our everyday patterns. Where should we place our time and energy? We aren’t used to focusing on mere survival. It is so much more than being in a physical place, it is what we build within that space to encourage a healthy mental space.

My yoga mat has become my refuge for getting away from the negative and the newly attained unalterable situations. However, although it has been weeks, it has often felt like years. Sometimes writing can be another place of mental reset, but it is sometimes difficult to syphone the thoughts into one cohesive topic. I find it amazing that, in a time where we are forced to slow our lives, our minds runneth over.

I have been trying to use the time to make thoughts focus on future movement: finding and setting up a new home, traveling to a few places on my wish list, taking hikes across new terrain, and spending time with family we haven’t seen for some time.

It’s a good time to recenter and refocus, but it is difficult without seeing what life will be beyond. But do we really need to see that. Do we every really see the result before we have worked through the various choices and solutions? The real battle is within ourselves to think we have to fully understand and visual that life exactly as it will be once we arrive. We take issue with stepping into the not knowing. Is it because we are unsure of ourselves and our ability to adapt and cope outside of our old patterns. Maybe we should ask ourselves if those patterns were 100% working in our favor. Yes, others will make decisions that will affect life going forward. And we will have to adjust to that. But what about those changes that might ultimately lift us from ruts we might have been in prior. Changes that might bring about new opportunities and fresh ways to consider living your life.

Think back to when you were a kid. How easily did you adapt? You crawled and that was good enough. Or so our little minds thought, as we were reaching into areas we had never chartered alone. But then you were placed on your feet and encouraged to walk. So you did. We weren’t given the choice, but yet we instinctively new the benefit in pursuing and mastering it. It didn’t matter how many falls we endured. The muscle memory of that encouragement and success propelled us through the next life lesson.

But where is that thought process now as an adult. Reunite with that resiliency you had. As children we are hopefully gifted with people who encourage us to learn and grow. I’m sure all of us had someone like that in our life, or we wouldn’t be where we are today. We were encouraged by loved ones to push through and to be confident in our ability. We were being filled with tenacity and know how to always remove obstacles, find solutions, and persist. But somehow as adults we forget those lessons. We see the obstacles, halt, and question why they are there and why we are the ones burdened with them. Rather than grow around them and use them as a way to climb higher.

I know we are experiencing something that is uncomfortable, confusing, and feels confining. But, it is all about how we view this time, harness it, and plan for the future, that causes us to fall into its grip and swallow us up or ignites us to grow bigger. We cannot see what lies ahead, but we can decide to move the obstacles as they present themselves and find ourselves a comfortable or perhaps even improved life beyond it.

A particular situation stirred these thoughts in me. My eldest grandson, who is typically a “follow the rules” kind of kid, and whose confidence is just beginning to emerge, evidently had decided his bangs were bothering him. Aren’t we all experiencing this given we haven’t had haircuts, at least professional ones, for nearly 2 months!? While his mom was busy working out and dad was giving his two younger brothers a bath, he went into the kitchen and grabbed a pair of kid scissors. He then boldly began cutting his bangs. Now, mind you, he had not expressed this visual impediment aloud, until his dad walked in to find him addressing it on his own. Although taken aback, dad just asked him what he was doing. After and explanation of how bothersome it was to have them blocking his vision, he was allowed to proceed with his remedy. His hair was then styled by his dad; AKA, buzzed off.

Even having no experience with that task at hand, he tackles it with a determination and certitude that the outcome will be nothing but an improvement and be met with positive results.
The pride in the accomplishment and a new skill formed is obvious in that stance and grin.

This is precisely the way I want to tackle the current situation and all hurdles going forward. Why not cut to the chase of what we need to change in our life that wasn’t working us toward a positive direction or serving to fulfill us, We need to get past what appears to be blocking our vision.

This is the opportunity to grow, learn new skills, and be reminded that all of the falls, hurdles, and setbacks now provide more experience than we had when we took our first step or handled our first pair of scissors in fumbling, uncoordinated, hands.

Trim away what blocks the view. Then grin proudly to have succeeded at your best possible attempt.

The willpower exists. Employ it. No, do one better, capitalize on it.

Be powerfully well.

(Featured image: Keepinspiring.me)

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.

Weekend Woes

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.

Relearning What I Learned

On Sunday I did a 2.8 mile hike with my hubby, son, and daughter in law. I must admit it was a bit ambitious, as it was a hike to a waterfall, so there was an abundance of steps. And treacherous ones at that, because they were quite step and those closer to the top of the mountain were covered in hidden ice. But if I am going to deal with pain, hiking is one of those things that are worth it to me. Even if that means, I am always behind and there is a slim chance I will catch up.

I took my time and rested as needed. I also focused on relaxing my muscles and breathing through each step so I kept getting plenty of oxygen to my muscles. There was as much mental work as physical going on. But it was all worth that huffing and puffing and moments of despair that crept in when I felt like heading back down that mountain.

I tried to stay in the moment and look at all the breathtaking scenery around me. I focused on the rush of the water in the river, and used its power to propel me. And it worked! I made it to the top and reveled in the immense spill of the waterfall. The mist coming off of it was cold and exhilarating. I learned and relearned that I can partake in these rewarding paths, despite the trials of taking the rougher trails.

I was surprised the next morning that my stiffness and soreness was no worse than most mornings. My calves just felt a bit tight. I was ready to start my week off on a positive note, so I began working on a post for this blog. Here is where I started making some wrong decisions.

It was a rainy, dreary day, so it was perfect for snuggling up on my bed and typing away as I listened to the rainfall. Unfortunately, I wasn’t listening to my body. I worked on writing and researching. I took some time to pay bills and gather tax information. I sorted through mail and paperwork. But I didn’t take the time to do yoga or any type of physical workout. And what a mistake that was.

My sleep last night was so sporadic. My pain had increased. It is as if I have spent a day wrapped like a mummy and curled inside a small box for hours with no room to move. I know this is what happens when I don’t move enough. That’s the thing with fibro, you can either move too much, or not enough. Balance is important. I’ve learned this, I know this, yet, from time to time, I have to relearn it.

There is something else I relearned. I have to be authentic. I enjoy writing, but there was no real joy in yesterday’s writing. It wasn’t totally coming entirely from my voice. My style. So, even though it was an accomplishment, it was also a lesson. Not only was it too long for me to sit and write, it likely was too long to read. I’m not even sure it was as coherent as it should be. But, I am better for having written it. Just as I am better by having hiked that mountain.