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!

Plexus and the Pink Drink Progress Update: Fibro symptoms reduced.

Happy Friday! This post was supposed to have been finished two weeks ago. Life and laptop issues and mere procrastination has delayed that. Wednesday marked my four and a half months of taking Plexus products, so, it is about time to share how it has improved my health. I take three products religiously: Slim (Microbiome Activating), Bio Cleanse, and ProBio 5. If you are unfamiliar with what the benefits and purpose of these supplements are, I have included a brief explanation at the end of this post. I had thought to share it first, but for the sake of sounding like one of those long winded infomercials that seem to never get to the point, I decided otherwise. Instead, I’m going to first update on the improvements I have experienced and you can chose to read about the supplements after if you so chose. Or even skip to the supplement explanations. Again, your choice.

So, now on to all the positive changes I have experienced. The real good stuff! I am trying to be oh so cautious and mindful of what I express in terms of improvement, so as to give credence to how these products have actually influenced that change. I have not changed any other area of my life, taken other products, or engaged in any other health approaches, in order to realize the full affect these products solely have on any improvements I see. In fact, as I have felt improvement, I have tested them further by increasing physical activity and introducing foods I normally could not tolerate. It is no by scientific data, but it is my heartfelt darnedest to personally investigate if these products will help with my specific issues.

I’m forewarning you, it’s a no holds bar going forward. I’m going to throw out the exact experiences, no matter how personal.

Here goes:

Digestive Issues: Pre-Plexus I was experiencing bouts of diarrhea if I ate certain foods. (Those with Fibromyalgia also have IBS) It could be anything from a bit of gluten, to a milk product, to too much broccoli or pineapple that would start the onslaught of problems. Sometimes I couldn’t even decipher what caused it. After years of constipation, this situation of emergency runs to the restroom started back in 2013. Three years ago, the hemorrhoids became a major issue. They were to the point where some days I couldn’t walk without being miserable. This then decreased my ability to feel comfortable using walking as a way to lose/maintain my weight. In fact, it became a hindrance to almost all physical activity.

For the past 3 weeks I have had minimal hemorrhoid issues. I can only surmise that this is due to a more regular and consistent bowel movements. I have had lasagna with regular, not gluten free, noodles and had no issues. No stomach pain, no nausea, or diarrhea plagued me. I have not had any bloating or stomach and intestinal pain for the past three months. Holy smokes has that been fabulous! No more having my clothes feel tight because my gut is extended.

Pain issues: How about I make this easy and just list the improvements?!

  • No morning stiffness for about a month now
  • I haven’t had the deep, bone breaking pain for about 6 weeks.
  • The tingling, surging pain like when you hit your elbow has not reared its ugliness for about a month.
  • No longer have debilitating pain in my elbows.
  • No longer have swelling in my hands unless I am outside on a very warm day or when I take long walks.
  • No longer waking up with harsh pain. I still have pain at night, but it is not so debilitating that I can’t fall back to sleep and just want to curl up and cry. It’s tolerable. I do feel a bit achy in the morning, but it is not the type of pain where I am dreading touching my feet to the ground in order to get up.
  • If I had to explain my daily pain in terms of numbers, I’d say that I used to deal with pain levels of 5 to 6 throughout a typical day. My levels are now down to about 3 to 4. They can spike a bit, but never remain at the higher level throughout it. I think the best way to explain it is rather than having pain that makes me stop and catch my breath, it is a constant ache that is still a bit mentally tiring, but not also physically debilitating.
  • I am able to get through making a meal without having to stop to catch my breath because the pain is getting out of control.
  • My hubby and I have been walking 3 to 5 miles at least 5 days a week. My pain levels may sometimes increase, but they still are not to the levels I would have had in the past. They might fall into the 6 range after a 5 mile walk, but in the past that would have put me out of commission for the day. Perhaps even for the following day as well. I am also trying to do yoga each day.

My energy has also improved. Although I am walking long distances, I am still able to complete other daily tasks without feeling exhausted and having increased pain. Now don’t take this as I am “back to feeling and moving normally”, because I don’t feel that will ever be a possibility. I will never go back to how I used to feel and move, but I can improve it to a point where I feel I have some control, am able to get through more tasks within a day, and the struggles are not causing further anxiety or depression. I am hopeful, but need to remain realistic. Fibromyalgia currently has no cure, but I will leave no stone upturned in order to find out ways to live better despite it.

Okay, I believe that sums most of it up. So, here now is the further explanation of the supplements I am taking.

Slim with Microbiome: It’s also known as the pink drink. Although it is demonstrated to help lose weight, and that is something I desire, I began using it for other reasons. It promotes the growth of good microbes and supports a healthy glucose metabolism. Admittedly, I look forward to having this every day. (I seriously love it!) I drink it an hour before my first meal of the day, which given that I am currently doing a daily fast of 18 hours (eating for the remaining 6), I tend not to drink it until lunch time.

Bio Cleanse: Stated as a cleanse, I don’t particularly like to phrase it as as such, as the word “cleanse” has negative connotations for some. A cleanse is often seen as a harsh purging of the body. I have tried one of those harsh cleanses that had me drinking this weird concoction that I would have rather vomited than allow get through my system. But, because I was desperate, I endured it. I have not experienced that adverse reaction to BioCleanse. In fact, I have noticed nothing but positive affects to my body including decreased inflammation and

This is how I view the importance of BioCleanse for me: Our bodies are set up to eliminate the toxins that are ingested or that our body come into contact. However, given the number of toxins we are subjected to in our environments, sometimes our bodies need a little aid in ridding them. This product aids in that elimination.

Some of the symptoms I have had over the years have pointed to toxin overload in my system. There are several times when I have become ill when being exposed to things like cleaners, detergents, and products people use on their lawns. I have felt light headed, nauseous, suffered headaches and even migraines when exposed to them. Therefore, I am taking the Bio Cleanse to aid my system and hopefully decrease the possibility of experiencing these issues. It also helps eliminate the harmful microbes in the gut.

Pro Bio 5: While the Bio Cleanse is eliminating the harmful substances and microbes, Pro Bio 5 in introducing the good gut stuff. This is essential for being able to properly digest food and to maintain health. I have been taking probiotics for several years, but I believe the key to my recent success with improving my gut issues is the removal of the toxins and harmful microbes with Bio Cleanse and the Pro Bio introducing to help balance my gut.

I’m not going to pretend I am an expert on gut health, but I do urge you to do your own research on it. There appears to be many health issues that are linked to having an unbalanced gut. I can speak to how it has improved my health. I have, for years, tried to regulate it on my own by way of probiotics and food choices. And, yes, even that nasty cleanse I had tried. I have made progress in terms of finding foods and environmental problems that trigger my issues and did decrease my bowel issues to a point. However, it has been only since taking these products, have I begun to feel as if I might be able to get a handle on more of my health issues.

I’m not expecting a cure. I’m just looking for a life better than what I was experiencing. And I want to feel as if I have some control over continuing to improve it. The past couple months have given me hope. That, my friends, on its own, is huge, because I have lingered in the despair of having none for so long.

My path to health might not be the same as yours. This might not work for you. But I hope, at the very least, it encourages you to keep seeking your best health.

Wishing you happiness and good health.

Until next time… Keep digging deep to find that will power to become well.

A jounal, a blog, a destiny unknown.

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.)

Ain’t no mountain high enough.

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.

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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)

Always here for you,

Willpower

What a pain, pain is.

This totally feels like it’s going to be perceived as a whining session, but I am seriously not. And it certainly isn’t about getting sympathy. My hope is to make others aware of the scope of what my body does to keep my living life as I once could. I have not absolutes on why it happens, I can only explain what I endure. Because there is mental and physical aspects to it, I want to present it in small chunks. Therefore, for this post, I am going to focus on the physical pain portion of it.

Two years after a fall, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and myofasical pain syndrome. There are a lot of details and experiences wrapped in those two diagnosis, but for sake of time, and perhaps your sanity, I’m going to refrain from telling those stories now. I may share them in a post at a later date.

Here is the Mayo Clinics definition of fibromyalgia:

Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. Researchers believe that fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way your brain processes pain signals.”

Now here is my best explanation of what that pain feels like:

Tense your entire body as if you feel like something you fear is about to happen to you. Tense everything from your leg muscles, your facial muscles, the bottoms of your feet. Everything. Now imagine never allowing those muscles to relax, yet you must carry out your day.

Now imagine your muscles are being twisted, over and over, until there are twists atop twists.

Okay, muscles tight and twisted? Now focus on your bones. They are being repeatedly assaulted by a sledgehammer. Blow by blow they feel as is they are being splintered. The pain is severe and deep; it hurts to the very core of them.

Next, the underside of your skin is on fire. Your feet burn, and it goes deeper with each step you take. In some places, your outer skin is afire, as if someone has suddenly touched you with a hot iron.

You know that feeling when you hit your elbow? That radiating stinging and tingling that courses down your arm? Imagine it occurring throughout your entire body. No specific place or pattern, just randomly showing up and lasting for minutes or hours.

Fibromyalgia is also marked with what is called tender points. I’ll throw this last little explanation in with the help of Healthline: “Tender points” on the body are one hallmark of fibromyalgia. When you press on these spots, they feel soreTender points can be located on the back of the head, elbows, shoulders, knees, and hips. There are 18 possible tender points in all. I have all eighteen. Always the overachiever. 😉

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Now keep all those things going at once; this is the height of a bad flare up. But, it can show up in when you think you’ve got things under control and are sitting in a movie theater or on that vacation you’ve been looking forward to for months. No warning, no reason. It just arrives uninvited. You know you certainly didn’t pack it in your suitcase. Who would?!

Sadly, it doesn’t stop there. Perhaps none of those symptoms are not visiting you on a particular day. Maybe, it is just a bit of muscle tightening. But suddenly, you can’t walk without being drained and exhausted. Your body feels like lead and you are walking through muck up to your chin and into a head wind. Yesterday you might have bounded up the steps, but now you are winded by going up 4 or 5 and need to stop and catch your breath.

All of this can happen individually or simultaneously throughout a day. One day you can run a mile or hike 3, the next day you can barely get yourself to the bathroom. It can be exacerbated by lack of sleep or sleeplessness, overexertion, not moving enough, cold weather, change in barometric pressure, diet, illness, stress, depression, anxiety, and hormonal changes. That, in a nutshell, is the physical infliction of fibromyalgia.

Myofascial Pain:

Mayo Clinic explanation:  “Myofascial pain syndrome is a chronic pain disorder. In this condition, pressure on sensitive points in your muscles (trigger points) causes pain in the muscle and sometimes in seemingly unrelated parts of your body. … This syndrome typically occurs after a muscle has been contracted repetitively.”

So, remember that muscle reaction to fear I had you mimic earlier? Imagine all that contraction going on. Each of those are now being plagued with the possibility of myofascial pain, if I cannot remain in control and keep them from tensing. Unfortunately, many movements used in daily activities cause them to contract and remain so. Thus, calling in in myofascial to over react.

The fascia is like that thin membrane you see when you eat chicken. It lies between the flesh and the skin. Here’s the medical description:  A fascia (/ˈfæʃ(i)ə/; plural fasciae /ˈfæʃii/; adjective fascial; from Latin: “band”) is a band or sheet of connective tissue, primarily collagen, beneath the skin that attaches, stabilizes, encloses, and separates muscles and other internal organs.

Here’s is my explanation of what happens physically with myofascial pain: I call it my push me- pull me pain. Basically a group of muscles react as if they are overused. This tends to be the group of muscles I originally injured. In order to protect themselves, they attach to the fascia. Now because that fascia is wrapped around and through so many muscles, it literally tugs on them with each movement. Now, my body subconsciously, or I consciously, start to use another set of muscles instead. Those then become fatigued and grab onto a big of fascia. Between me trying to use various muscles and those muscles now attached to fascia that is pulling across other muscles, it is an all out war: my push me- pull me in action.

So, therein lies my wish list of things to lessen or eradicate. It is almost 19 years in the making, so I know it will take time to pick it all apart. I have done much in the way of that in the last 16, but I’m determined to do better.

Thanks for following along on this journey. I’m hoping and striving for epic changes and improvement.

If you deal with any chronic or life altering setbacks, please share. It’s always good to know we aren’t alone in them. Finding mutual understanding without humiliation is key.