Food Detoxing

Medication and illness don_t own me anymore. I own my life. And my life is spectacular!

This week’s post is kind of off topic from what I usually post about, which is either the writing life or striving to live a life of love and grace. But it’s a topic that has made such an enormous difference in my life that I have to share.

Feed Detoxing.

From as far back as I can remember—from the time I was 23-years-old, to be exact, but we won’t say how many years ago that was—I’ve battled anxiety and panic attacks after a traumatic event. Shortly after that I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, living daily with pain. Some days were much better than others. I was on a number of SSRI’s throughout the years, discovering that they were also prescribed for fibromyalgia, exchanging the side effects for being able to live a functional life. I was also on a pain medication for “my” fibromyalgia.

As the years progressed, I also battled hypoglycemia, sometimes having spells so severe I was near fainting. Add to that IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), typical of someone with anxiety and/or fibromyalgia, and I was living a cautious life of what I could and couldn’t do, where I could and couldn’t go.

Finally, I got fed up with the pharmaceutical industry and my need for a drug to help me live this gift of a life I’ve been given. I wanted to live it fully and completely, without abandon, without worry, which you can imagine is difficult when you have GAD. (Generalized Anxiety Disorder)

Just another label I was determined to kick to the curb.

No Labels!I’d decided to no longer own these diagnoses by calling them my anxiety, my fibromyalgia, my IBS, etc. They weren’t mine at all, and I was done telling myself they were or allowing the medical profession to lead me to believe this.

Please note, I’m not saying medication for illnesses, mental or physical, is a bad thing. Sometimes medication is necessary. But I think it has become a crutch, a way of making life easier rather than better. Easier and better are not synonymous.

I’d done some research on nutrition and made the decision to use food as medicine.  Two 90-minute sessions with a nutritionist changed my life in unimaginable ways. She taught me what foods aggravate the conditions that plagued me and which helped. She looked at my blood panel and showed me what supplements my body was lacking, further aggravating the conditions.

For three weeks I was to cut out all gluten, all dairy, all processed foods, all sugar, and coffee, eating only clean, whole foods. It was a complete change from the way I’d been eating and took some getting used to. Sugar was by far the most difficult. It felt like I was an addict craving my fix. Sadly, that wasn’t far from the truth.

I was given a specific regime of supplements to take, among them magnesium citrate, 3000 mg daily of fish oil, 5HTP, zinc, methylated B-12, L-Glutamine, and digestive enzymes. Since I’m not a big meat eater, she suggested a plant-based protein drink as well, since dairy was out.

Fully committed, I stopped off at the health food store on my way home from the first session and purchased what I needed to get started. (I had already begun weaning myself off of my pain medication and SSRI weeks in advance.) During those three weeks of abstinence from all of the possible trigger foods,  the pain and anxiety all but disappeared.

I’d never felt better in my life!

After three weeks was up, I began re-introducing each of the potential trigger foods I cut out at the beginning of this plan, one at a time, to see which affected the symptoms of each condition. It took one day to see that dairy was a culprit. Pain took up residence once again. During this process of reintroducing each of the foods, I found gluten to be another culprit. I found too much sugar to just make me sluggish and not operate at my best capacity, which seemed to instigate pain.

With my new way of eating, no dairy or gluten and limited sugar, and taking my supplements, I’ve been completely off of all medication and have never felt better. I live the life I’ve always dreamed of, and since I sleep better than I have in a very long time, I now have energy that had been lacking for years. I go where I want to go, when I want to go there, and do what I want to do.

Sunrise

Another bonus? I no longer use food for comfort. When I eat, I pay attention to what each food item I’m eating is doing for my body and how it’s helping me. It’s changed my attitude about food from that of comfort to sustenance and nutrition.

Medication and illness don’t own me anymore. I own my life. And my life is spectacular!

 

Thankful Thursday – The Lives and Health of My Boys

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I clearly remember the phone call I received from my 16-year-old son while I was nearing the end of a workday.  “Mom, I saw someone shot.  They aren’t moving.  Mom, there’s so much blood.” And the line went dead.

I attempted to call him back immediately, my fingers numb and not even feeling the number keys.  No answer.  The thought of praying escaped me while I was consumed with fear._MG_0597

After calling 9-1-1 in a desperate attempt for answers, the dispatcher assured me my son was fine, to remain calm, and to keep calling him until he answered.

Calm?  Not a chance.  My adrenaline was speeding far too fast to slow down, much less be calm.

As I look back on that day, how he happened to be driving on a road at the very time two men were attempting to carjack several vehicles, the bullets that splayed past my son as the two suspects were shot by investigators, an officer stopping my son and telling him to call 9-1-1 while the officer kept his gun on the suspect, I realize God was in control.  Of that particular situation and of my son’s life.

And I am so thankful for his life and his health.  And for a God who protects and saves.

My son’s comment as he tried to process such a horrific scene as best a 16-year-old can, “It’s not like it is in video games.  There’s so much blood.”  And my response, “You’re right, son.  In life there are no do-over’s when it comes to death.  It’s for real.”

A hard lesson for a child.

I remember the phone call I received two years later about my other son, then 17 years old, as I had just gotten settled in the stands to watch a Colorado Rockies baseball game.

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“Ben had an accident at the pool.  He’s okay but they’re taking him to the hospital with a head injury.”

“He’s okay” and “head injury” in the same sentence created sparks of conflict in my mind.  Besides that, he was a lifeguard.  How could he have an accident? I tried to reason without success.

On a 30-minute car ride to the hospital that felt more like 3 hours, I arrived in time for tests to reveal it was more serious than they had thought.  He had brain bleeding and two neck fractures.  He was whisked off to a trauma hospital with me not a half of a step behind him, jumping in the ambulance beside him and the paramedic.

And once again, I realize God was in control of that particular situation and of my son’s life. And once again I am so thankful for my son’s life and his health.  And for a God who protects and saves.

The neurologist’s words, “A person normally doesn’t live from such an injury, much less walk again. You’re very lucky.”  And my whispered words, “God has a plan for your life, son.”photo (25)

I wasted too much time feeling sorry for myself, horrified by all of the “what-if” scenarios my mind circled around;  time wasted that I could–and should–have been praising Him for His presence.  For not “almost” taking my boys from me, but completely shielding them from real harm. For giving them protection and life.  Twice.

God gave me my boys not once, but twice.  He gave His own Son so that I may have mine forever.  Thankful?  Words cannot even begin to express.

English: Rainbow

Here’s to a heart of gratitude from a parent for the lives of her children to the ultimate Parent of all.

All is Grace.

TGIF – Gratitude Friday

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Top three things I’m especially grateful for this week:

1.)   A good report from the Hematologist after more than a week of needless worry. Amen!

2.)  Taking a nature walk after said news, my heart filled with renewed appreciation for my health, and noticing the little things that bring me joy, like two prairie dogs (yes, I know they’re rodents, but so darn cute), one chasing the other, jumping on him and rolling together in one tangled ball, disentangling and starting the game over again.  And over.  And over… 🙂

3.)  After “studying” gratitude for as long as I have, coming to the realization it’s not a feeling, but a choice. And that’s GREAT news.  We have control over our choices, but not always our feelings.

Please share your gratefulness this past week in the comments section. 🙂

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Have a beautiful day!

Silence – Part II

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In Part I, I announced My One Word, Silence, for 2014, and the benefits I have found through my conversion to one word rather than a list of resolutions.  Following is a list of how one word can help shape my character and draw me nearer to God if practiced diligently, keeping in mind it’s about progress, not perfection.  And to think this list can happen from just one word. 🙂

1.)  When I feel anger toward someone for their words or actions, whether they were intentional or not, remaining silent until I’ve had time to process and bring it before God will prevent me from spouting off with a comment I will likely regret later.  And staying silent, not even so much as to comment under my breath to myself in the name of venting, will keep my thoughts clear. I believe that our thoughts become words, so if I say something unkind in a moment of emotion, whether to someone else or to myself, I’m allowing my thoughts to travel that path.  Stopping a negative thought with a positive one before it flows into words, prevents those thoughts from germinated and growing wildly out of control, weeds choking out anything beautiful that has the potential to grow.  And it’s impossible to feel anger when I’m being grateful to God for something He’s blessed me with.

2.)  Taking a moment of silence before responding to a question that holds any weight gives enough time to invite God into the conversation.  If I follow His lead, I can’t go wrong.  In the presence of impulsivity and many spoken words, there is greater chance for sin.

3.)  It’s in silence and stillness that God breathes answers to my questions, even those that are often unasked.  If every waking moment is absorbed in sound, whether it be the television, radio, others or myself talking, there is no room for listening to His still, small voice.  I enjoy listening to the K-LOVE radio station in my car, or WAY-FM, songs and spiritual words lifting me high.  However, I have found that when I listen for it coming from Him, in silence, rather than through noise on the radio, it blankets my heart in peace that is incomparable to anything else.  That being said, unless I think about the word “silence,” in a world that’s accustomed and conditioned to noise, I often run on auto pilot and turn my radio on without thinking.  My one word reminds me to invite the silence into my day.

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4.)  Keeping my one word consciously and  subconsciously close, invites my thoughts to be still, bringing them back to Him, riding that wave of peace.  It’s a peace that is unmatched and one I discovered cannot be found anywhere except in close communion with God.  Silence reminds me to take deep, slow, cleansing breathes throughout the day, keeping the chaos and noise to a tolerable minimum.

5.)  Mindfulness of silence keeps me from reliving yesterday or jumping ahead to tomorrow, and keeps me living, fully experiencing, the here and now.

As I now prepare to sit quietly and enjoy a moment of silence before proceeding with my day, I wish you all a beautiful, peaceful year, journeying on your path to growth toward whatever it is you’re striving for.

Peace to you.

Pet Therapy

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Man’s best friend.

While this may seem to be a bit off-topic from what I typically write about, it ties into well-rounded health, peace and happiness.

If you own a pet–or if a pet owns you, as is the case in my house–it’s easy to see why there are careers in pet therapy, facilitating healing through the love of animals.  Not only do animals make us happy, they can make us healthier.

Studies have shown that animals can help with depression, anxiety, fatigue, aid in the healing process and coping skills from mental health illnesses, heart disease, and even cancer.

They’re known to help and bring comfort to hospital patients, victims of crime, and military vets.

As for me personally, coming home at the end of the day to find my little Pomeranian anxiously jumping on her hind legs as I come through the door, nothing but sheer excitement to see me, brightens my mood from the most difficult day.  It can lift a fifty pound boulder right off my shoulders and crush it to a pile of silky sand at my feet.

Ninety-nine percent of the time I make it a point to come home on my lunch hour as well. Yes, to let her go outside to do her “thing,” observe and explore the back yard, and get some fresh air, but equally for a shot, my “fix” of the pure joy she brings to me.

It’s on those mental health days I’ve mentioned in an earlier post that snuggling under a blanket, good book in hand, and cuddling with Roxie, who is overjoyed with having me home, giving me kisses and unconditional love that only animals have a way of giving just perfectly, that heals and strengthens my heart and mind.

She sees me at my ugliest, physically and emotionally, and loves me anyway. Complete acceptance and forgiveness. Her enthusiasm for morning play as she bounces and buries her nose beneath the covers, burrowing her way across the bed like a groundhog, brings that first smile to my face to start my day.

In the midst of a bad day, I’ve never been able to not “turn that frown upside down” and smile when an email pops up with pictures of animals and babies.

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A heart can’t resist smiling, tensions easing, gratitude bubbling to the surface, when we see the innocence and feel the peace from such pure love. The kind of love God knows we crave.  And the kind of love that He provides through His wonderful creations, finding joy when His children are filled with joy.  Amazing God.

All is Grace.

Mental Health Days

Mental Health Awareness Ribbon

If someone hurts your feelings, it’s unimportant unless you persist in remembering it.”

I’m taking the day off from work today as a mental health day. With difficult things coming at me from all directions lately, I’ve decided to disconnect from the world and re-connect with God. When my boys were in school, I used to give them two mental health days each school year. They used them so wisely, planning very carefully when to use them, and usually saving them until the end of the year when their mind truly needed a break. I was so proud of them for using those two days as they were intended.

After I finished my time of quiet meditation, prayer, and Bible reading this morning, my mind traveled to my job. For most of my life, whenever things got tough, I was a “quitter”.  That’s changing.

I work in a large company that has many women employees. I’m not sure what it is, but this has been, by far, the most difficult job I’ve ever had when it comes to relationships with others. The cattiness and pettiness are brutal, the gossip rampant, and sometimes it feels like I’m in a shark tank.

That being said, I have been at this job for seven years now and I have not quit, as has been my history.  Not that I haven’t wanted to several times, but I have stuck it out. Many people would argue that life is too short to be miserable.  And I fully agree with that sentiment. However, this is what I have learned by sticking it out:

*     Others cannot make me miserable unless I allow them to. Joy comes from within me. That means I can find joy wherever I am and whoever is around me. If I allow others to make me angry or rob me of my joy, I’m giving them power over me. That can only happen if I allow it to.

*     Looking back through the events that have led me to this job, I truly believe that God has placed me here to make a difference. To learn how to be happy and thankful despite circumstances and to practice persevering through hard times. It has made me stronger, more resilient, and more compassionate.

*     Meditation is really such an easy thing to do, but so darn easy to forget in the midst of a struggle. Placing a reminder in front of me like a simple acronym that only I understand, reminds me to take time, even if all I have is a moment, to take a deep, slow breath, focusing on something I’m grateful for. Practicing meditation during all circumstances has made me much more proficient at it regardless of the noise and activity around me. It centers me, brings me back to God, and quiets my mind, making me more intact internally when externally things are nothing less than crazy.

*     When those around me are talking about someone, not only do I not have to participate, but I don’t have to listen, or even pay attention. It’s okay to get up from my desk to make copies, get a cup of coffee, or even make a point of walking by the person being talked about and show compassion with a simple smile.

*     When I’m on the receiving end of the gossip, and it reaches me, if I have done what is being said and it was wrong, I can take it as a reminder to not do it again and make amends if necessary. If I didn’t do it, then I have nothing to worry about. I can take the high road, knowing the rumor doesn’t have any foundation.

*     I don’t have to please anyone other than God. Having struggled with being a people pleaser for most of my life, this has been huge. And I get constant practice at my job. Not only is it okay, but commendable, to do the unpopular thing if it means pleasing and serving only God.

*     Not to take things personal. If someone is having a bad day, or women are whispering around me, it’s highly unlikely about me at all. Everything is not about me. And there is such freedom in remembering that!

I am grateful to work in a place where my immediate supervisor believes in mental health days. In working with victims all day, she understands the importance of taking care of ourselves. And that is something I’m so grateful for.

All is Grace.

Thankful Thursday – Free From Pain

For anyone who has fibromyalgia, or knows someone who does, you know the toll it takes on a body, both physically and mentally.  The pain can be debilitating during the day and can keep you awake at night causing your body and mind to become fatigued from lack of sleep.  Even when you think you’re asleep, the pain keeps you from falling into a restorative deep and restful sleep, leaving you feeling lethargic and with little to no energy in the morning.

I was first diagnosed with fibromyalgia many years ago when I was a single mother with two young energetic boys.  During the flare-up that led to my diagnosis, my muscles and joints hurt so badly I couldn’t even walk up a flight of stairs, much less effectively parent my two boys.  Thank goodness their father was able to pick them up and keep them for a couple of days until I was able to somewhat function again.

As the years passed, flare-ups appeared during difficult, stressful times in life, if I worked out too strenuously for too many days in a row, or if I went on eating binges of food too delightful to pass up.  Sure, I felt the pain after, but sometimes in the heat of the moment it was easy to forget the consequences as I shoveled that second piece of cake into my mouth or that extra handful of M & M’s.

During the past six months I decided to re-evaluate how I was treating my body.  The fibromyalgia pain was more constant and more severe, seriously intruding into my normal daily activities.  There had to be an answer.

I visited my doctor who gave me a prescription of Flexeril to take before bedtime and Neurontin to take during the day.  I’m not a good patient when it comes to taking medication, so I decided to do a little more research on my own for an alternate answer.

The biggest culprits for me had been lack of sleep–which I mentioned earlier is common with fibromyalgia because one can’t sleep due to pain, said pain causes lack of sleep…and on and on in a vicious cycle, stress, diet, and exercise–or lack thereof.

Since life itself is stressful, I realized stress was inevitable.  However, the way in which I was dealing with it had room for improvement.  A lot of room, actually.  That’s when I began to take yoga and meditation seriously.  And it has helped tremendously. While I still don’t handle stress in an exemplary way, I’m learning, steadily improving and getting stronger.

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I was a bit obsessive about running and working out, and have learned and implemented new workouts that give me a great cardio workout, like bicycling, cardio boxing, and a library of favorite DVD’s, as well as more muscle toning exercises, that have allowed me to cut back on running.  Also, I’ve given myself permission not to engage in vigorous exercise every day.  I’ve developed a healthy balance which has developed a healthier and less painful me.

As for diet, I had read that dairy, artificial sweeteners and gluten are the three biggest culprits for triggering fibromyalgia symptoms.  I knew right away that cutting out all three would never work for me.  I’m not that disciplined when it comes to food.   I weighed the pros and cons of trying each one individually to see if excluding any of them would make a difference.  Bottom line–I’ve cut way back on artificial sweeteners, choosing sugar over a sugar substitute. I haven’t, however, been able to give up my vice, A & W Ten.  Although a friend told me recently that there is a root beer that is made with Stevia. I will have to look for it. 🙂

Since my husband has Celiac disease and I cook for him by those guidelines, the obvious choice was to try eliminating gluten.   I have to say what a HUGE difference it has made.  In the past six months, I’ve rarely had a headache, which was becoming a daily event, my daily activities are no longer curtailed, my pain has been kept to an absolute minimum, and I haven’t been waking up groggy, exhausted, stumbling through brain fog, feeling that way as well throughout the day.  While I still have an occasional flare-up and I still take an occasional Flexeril tablet at bedtime, I’ve not had to take a single Neurontin, which was prescribed to take on a daily basis, several times a day.

Gluten-Free Blueberry Walnut Muffins Sprinkled with Cinnamon

Gluten-Free Blueberry Walnut Muffins Sprinkled with Cinnamon

The fact that one ingredient is so toxic for me and has the potential to do so much damage and cause so much pain is enough to keep me away from it even when I see something that before would have been irresistible to pass up.  Gluten = poison to my body, and from what I’ve read, it reacts that way to many others with fibromyalgia.   So for anyone who reads this who suffers from chronic pain, it’s worth a try so you can have a shot at living your best life and lifestyle.

And the best news? I still get to eat my Greek yogurt.  🙂

Healthy Choice Vanilla Bean Greek Frozen Yogur...

 

 

 

 

All is Grace