4 Tips for Avoiding a Holiday Fibro Flare

“The holiday season is a perfect time to reflect on our blessings.”

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With the hustle and bustle of the holidays upon us, it’s best to plan ahead to try to avoid a flare rather than recover from one. Between visiting family and friends, shopping, and cooking, who has time right now to deal with the pain and exhaustion of fibromyalgia? Not me, that’s for sure! Who’s with me?

Here are my top tips for avoiding a flare during the holidays:

  1. Get your Zzzz’s. Yes, it’s tempting to stay up and visit, or get up early to get that turkey in the oven, but don’t sacrifice your sleep to do so. Your best offense is to get maintain your schedule and get those 7-9 hours of sleep! Your body will thank you.
  2. Take care of yourself. Hosting the family get-together? It’s OK to ask for help. You don’t have to do everything yourself. Make it a pot luck. Or cater in part of the meal. I like to set the table and prepare desserts and part of the meal the night before so I am not overdoing it on the day of the big event! Consider buying some fancy paper plates instead of using the good china. And when the kitchen is clean and the guests are gone, try a relaxing bath before bed. 🙂
  3. Eat properly. Yes, it’s the holidays. We are all going to indulge a little. But try the three bite rule when it comes to dessert or your major weaknesses: take just 3 bites of that pie or casserole. It allows you to sample and enjoy, but not overdo it. Chew slowly and pause between bites.  Avoid gluten, dairy, sugar, or those foods that you know trigger your flares (Fibromyalgia, migraines, and IBS can all be triggered by food).
  4. Exercise. Taking even 10 minutes for some Pilates, yoga, or a walk after that big meal will help keep everything in check. Here are some yoga moves to try to keep your digestion working properly.

I love the holidays: the food, the parties, visiting family. But I don’t love being curled up in bed because I overdid it. I prefer to enjoy my family time and count my blessings. I can skip that pecan pie if it means I won’t be in bed the next day.

“The holiday season is a perfect time to reflect on our blessings and seek out ways to make life better for those around us.” 

– Terri Marshall

Avoiding disaster is far better than recovering from it, and just a few simple steps can help you enjoy your holidays, so you’re not missing out on all of the fun!


Do you have other tips for avoiding a holiday flare?

Cheers!

Cynthia

A Good Laugh and a Long Sleep

There’s an Irish proverb that goes, “A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor’s book.”

It’s no secret that we live in a world of always-on, information overload. I started this post earlier this week while I was out of town for work, as I was caught up in a self-imposed state of sleep deprivation. Easy to do because: 1) I don’t sleep well when not in my own bed and 2) I am not receiving the evil eye from my husband for spending too much time on my phone or tablet. But yet thanks to our ‘smart’ devices, our attention span is now worse than a goldfish. Smart devices making us dumb and taking us away from precious sleep, both directly and indirectly. So what can we do?

Continue reading “A Good Laugh and a Long Sleep”

I Am No Longer Superwoman

“Done is better than perfect,” according to Sheryl Sandberg in her book Lean In (one of many unread books on my list. More on that another time). It’s a philosophy I have tried to adopt this past year, as I have come to these realizations:

  • I am no longer Superwoman
  • I can’t do everything
  • The things I do manage to do are far from perfect

For a Type A perfectionist, that was a bitter pill to swallow. These realizations come after my years of suffering from Fibromyalgia. I find as I get older it is harder to recover from a “flare” and I really need to make myself a priority if I am going to minimize the number and lengths of flares and remain pain-free.

Continue reading “I Am No Longer Superwoman”

Fibromyalgia Awareness Day

Your Voice Matters

For those of us who live with fibromyalgia, we are painfully aware of it every day. But this year May 12 has been designated to educate others. The theme this year is “Your Voice Matters” to call attention to the fact that everyone has a say in education, awareness, and making changes to help those who suffer from chronic pain. fibro3

What it Is

As I described in an earlier post, extreme fatigue, sleeping issues, and that “I-just-got-run-over-by-a-Mack-truck” feeling are the most prevalent symptoms for me.  Other common symptoms of fibromyalgia include:
  • Constant dull ache on both sides of the body and above and below the waist
  • Tension headaches
  • Inability to concentrate on tasks
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Depression

Fibromyalgia is the second most ailment affecting the musculoskeletal system after osteoporosis.  Source: http://www.ecarediary.com/Blog2713

Sounds great, huh?  Lucky me, as I have both!  Diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in 2000 and with Osteoporosis in 2015. I know and live with chronic pain, but try my best not to let it get me down or slow me down. And then there are all of the other weird ailments that get lumped in with this condition, for lack of any other explanation. There’s a very good list by Sophie at Fibro Diaries that lists 100 different symptoms. I have probably had most of them at one point.
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More Reading

So in the spirit of helping with awareness, here are some other websites and bloggers I like, that write about life with fibromyalgia:

  • Periwinkle Pursuits where Rene writes about life with fibromyalgia
  • Counting My Spoons where fellow fibro-warrior Julie writes to educate others on many health issues
  • Chronicles of Fibromyalgia where Leah shares her fibro journey and struggles
  • Dr. Murphree’s site has good information on the condition; listen to one of his conference calls
  • Read my earlier post of how I cope – healthy lifestyle choices are the best methods for me and I feel it when I make bad eating choices or have high stress levels

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My Voice Matters

Hopefully I have provided *a little* awareness on this “invisible” condition. So the next time I seem a little grumpy or am moving slowly, it’s probably because when I crawled out of bed and kicked fibromyalgia in the butt that morning, it kicked back.

Do you have any good resources for fibromyaglia or coping with chronic pain to share?

Cheers!

Cynthia

Lifting the Fibro-Fog

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Rainbow Bridge at Niagara Falls, October, 2015

A little more about me today. If you are familiar with the symptoms of fibromyalgia, you might have heard the term “fibro-fog” describing those periods where you can’t think right, and sometimes suffer memory loss or have difficulty concentrating. It is a very real thing for us fibro-mates. I have experienced this feeling more times than I care to admit, and to this day my memory is not as good as it used to be. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2000, and have probably have had it since I was a teen.

I have long considered myself a “highly functioning” fibromyalgia sufferer because no matter how crappy I felt, I have always tried to push through. I rarely take sick days so if I do, you know it’s bad. There have been plenty of “mack truck mornings” in the last 15 years, but THANKFULLY those days are fewer and fewer for me.

I still have flares occasionally, but they are not as bad or as long lasting as they once were. After years of various medications and trial and error, I believe I have found what works best for me. Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV. I have not received any sort of compensation from any of the people/sites I mention later on. I have just done lots of research and been to my fair share of doctors. But I am a firm believer in a more natural approach as I seem to have severe reactions to many medications I am prescribed. I believe in letting the body heal itself – this is what works for me. These are my opinions.

A few weeks ago I remembered a time when I was 16 that we thought I had mononucleosis. I was suffering from extreme fatigue and had lost a lot of weight. My mother took me to the doctor where they ran tests for mono, strep, etc., and treated me with ampicillin for some infection I cannot recall. At the time I was a vegetarian too, and I can remember my mother telling me that if the doctor thought that was why I was sick, I was going to have to eat meat again! I ended up quitting my part-time job for several months due to the fatigue. I think this illness at 16 must have been my trigger for fibromyalgia, or the first bout I had with it.

About 8 years ago I heard about Dr. Murphree from a friend whose wife also has FMS. I looked him up and signed up for his email newsletter. I listened to a few of his teleconferences and started researching vitamins and minerals that I needed. I ditched all of the medications and started taking various supplements morning and night. This seemed to help, but I was starting to experience more frequent digestive issues and had a series of health issues from 2011-2012. In 2012, one of Dr. Murphree’s newsletters led me to JJ Virgin and her book The Virgin Diet. Now I have always been relatively slender and I work out regularly, but the premise of her book – ditch 7 foods for 7 days and lose 7 pounds – intrigued me.

It wasn’t so much the possibility of losing weight as it was finding those foods which trigger bad reactions and are most likely to cause the inflammation in my body. Since my teens and 20s I have had various reactions to what I thought was yeast – breads, cakes, and later wheat beers. Turns out it was probably the gluten and sugar. So I did the trial and found that wheat, sugar, and dairy are definitely triggers for me. For the most part, I have ditched gluten and dairy, but I do occasionally cheat. And my stomach will pay the price.

So what has helped me lift the “fog” and keep my symptoms at bay:
1. Exercise. I exercise daily if possible, usually first thing in the morning. I walk on the treadmill or elliptical, walk the dogs, do yoga or pilates, and use light weights. I aim for 30 minutes a day for at least 6 days. There’s usually one day a week that I am so tired I cannot get up to work out during the work week.
2. Diet. As I said I avoid certain foods and artificial ingredients. I also prepare most of my own meals and rarely eat out. Sundays are a big meal prep day for me. And they wear me out. But it’s worth it.
a. My breakfast is usually a protein smoothie with almond or coconut milk, pea protein powder, fruit, kale, and chia or flax seeds stirred in at the end. Also 1-2 cups of black coffee.
b. My lunch is usually chicken/veggies/rice or a chicken salad or leftovers or hummus and veggies.
c. Dinner usually contains lean protein, veggies, and rice.
d. I drink a lot of water. Hot water with lemon. Iced water – plain or fruit-infused.
e. I usually allow myself some dark chocolate or homemade protein balls or granola bar, and usually almonds and fruit are my snacks during the day.
f. At night I sometimes drink hot herbal tea to help with digestion.
3. Accountability. I use a FitBit fitness tracker and MyFitnessPal app. These two items help me be accountable to myself.
4. Supplements. At night I have reduced the number of supplements I take, as I don’t feel the body can absorb all of those things and it is better to get them through your food. I take Calcium + Vitamin D (otherwise I wake up with ferocious leg cramps, plus it’s good for my osteoporosis), Fish Oil (to help with the inflammation and brain health), and a probiotic (for digestive health).
5. Not trying to do it all. I have had someone else clean my house since right after being diagnosed. I don’t get my nails done. I don’t eat out. I would spend a day or two in bed after cleaning my house, so this is my splurge. My husband and kids do their own laundry and help with chores around the house. They understand my condition and don’t demand things of me – I am the one putting pressure on myself to try to do it all.
6. Attitude. Again, I have had my fair share of being sad and depressed about feeling like crap and not being “superwoman,” but attitude is a powerful thing in the battle of one’s health. So I choose JOY. I smile. I try to always believe that my glass is half full.

 

Joy
“Joy does not simply happen to us. We choose joy and have to keep choosing it every day.” ~ Henri J. M. Nouwen

Notice I didn’t mention sleep, because that is one area where I am still lacking. Six hours of sleep is a great night for me, but five hours is the norm. And it’s even better when I can sleep straight through. This is an area I am working on, but for now life is good.

I hope this helps give you some ideas about what has helped me with my FMS struggles. (Click the links for additional reading.) Do you have other things that have helped you?

Cheers!

Cynthia
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Hello world!

This is my very first post. I have been toying with this idea of blogging for quite some time now, but really haven’t found a focus. I have a variety of interests, but really don’t have enough to say to devote an entire blog to any one of them. So this blog is going to likely be a random collection of things for now, while I find my way.

A bit about me and some of the things you may see here on my blog. I am married to an awesome and ever patient husband. We have two kids who I adore and two dogs who are a bit crazy.  I love beauty and fashion, but there are so many awesome bloggers out there that I follow that have far better taste than I have. My family and I love to travel, and try to take one or two big trips a year. I love to eat healthy and take care of myself, as I suffer from fibromyalgia and control it with healthy habits. I work in technology and government, and love to read the insights from leadership gurus such as John Maxwell, Jack Welch, and Dr. John Izzo. I try to learn something new everyday!

“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” ~ Andrew Gide

If you follow me on twitter, most of my tweets are related to technology and leadership.

If you follow me on Instagram, most of my pics are of food and my travels.

Happy Friday the 13th and happy blogging!

Cheers!

Cynthia