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!

 

The Rainbow After the Rain

This morning as I was doing my “prayer and meditation time,” finally feeling better after having a flu bug that knocked me down harder than I can ever remember, I thought about something my sweet grandma said I told her numerous times years ago.

“Grandma, I like getting tummy aches ’cause it feels so good when they go away.”

She said she thought it was so funny when I said that.

However, maybe I was on to something at that young age, with that sentiment that was difficult for grandma to understand.

It’s not by avoiding the difficulties that we get to see the joy, but by going through them. By embracing them even.

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. (James 1:2)

Going through the pain of losing loved ones has led me to a greater appreciation for the people who are still in my life.

Going through the devastation of suicide with a boyfriend years ago and with my stepdaughter later has led me to an empathy for others experiencing that devastation, enabling me to shine a light so they, too, can get through that very black space of so many questions and so much guilt.

Going through the process of healing after being sexually assaulted by a stranger at the young age of 18, working my way through the fear and turmoil that followed me for years, the PTSD, has given me the aptitude to help other victims of crime along that dark, lonely path. The path that only a survivor can possibly understand and give hope to the still suffering that there is light at the end of that tunnel.

August 14, 2013 036

At the risk of sounding cliché, it’s not until after the rain and the cracks of thunder, frightening bolts of lightning, that we can see the incredible rainbow that brings peace and awe.

While I wouldn’t count it joy while in the midst of those dark times, the fact that there was joy in my life afterward is nothing short of miraculous. Those trials have led me to a closer relationship with my God. My Savior–literally. Left to my own, I would not have survived, but He carried me through those troubling times. Like the footprints in the sand poem.

footprints-in-sand1

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)

And today? I’m so thankful I’m feeling better and embrace this day with renewed energy and passion for health.

Peace, my friends. Have a beautiful day.

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.

Runner

 

 

 

 

 

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

Thankful Thursday -The Smallest Hope

provoking sunrise

Recently I was laid up with an unexpected illness, accompanied by a level of pain I can’t ever remember experiencing.  On the third day I woke feeling relieved of the pain.  Until I tried to ride my bike and walk, both of which were not possible, as it brought the pain back full force.  However, what was a constant, won’t-let-up pain, did let up for a couple of hours.  And those couple of hours gave me strength, relief, and hope to carry on when the pain got bad again.  God knew what I needed and He provided.

This experience brought to mind other areas in which the smallest hope is glossed over as coincidence or not recognized at all.

When fretting over something I’ve said or done, something I try not to do but also something I have yet to master, and I’m caught in the middle of inner torment, that moment comes when I realize that God is all I need to please and the burden disintegrates into dust particles.

When in the middle of writer’s block or a stand-still in my writing life and that story idea pops out of nowhere, flashing through my conscious.

When guilt makes its ugly way into my writing time, telling me that’s time that should be spent doing something “important” and “worthwhile,” and then comes that comment from a friend or stranger telling me that something I wrote made such a difference to them.

When it’s been a gloomy, rainy spell and the sun decides to peek from behind the clouds for the briefest of moments, it’s rays creating the most beautiful iridescent streamers of light reaching all the way to the mountaintops.

When it’s been a long, dark, cold winter, and finally that burst of green comes through the thawing earth, showing the promise and hope of spring.

Crocus in Snow

When it’s been a difficult week at work, lots of noise, angry callers and co-workers, and then that afternoon happens that all is silent–the phones, the people, even the background noise.

When it’s been a morning, a day, a week, of feeling painful insecurity, and someone decides to make a comment about nice you look, how much you mean to them, or gives you a hug out of nowhere, letting you know you are valued.

When I’ve had a restless night, complete with unsettling dreams, and when reading the Bible during quiet time the next morning and the absolutely perfect Bible verse is laid out before me, lifting me up.

During these moments of hope, is my mind saying “It’s about time” or “Thank you.”  Each phrase is short, simple, yet place the heart in opposite hemispheres.  One shows the heart to be connected to oneself, while the other shows the heart to be connected to God.  One is negative, one is positive.  It’s all in how we choose to live and see life.  Glass half-empty or glass half-full.

Entitled or grateful.

Gratitude changes everything

Today I choose to be grateful.  And, God willing, tomorrow too.  But right now all I have is today.

Thank you God.

All is Grace

Forgiveness and Consequences

forgiveness

forgiveness (Photo credit: cheerfulmonk)

When her child is hurting, why does a mom take it upon herself to want to strip away the pain, rescuing her child, his immediate happiness trumping an opportunity to pray he use that moment of adversity and trial to grow closer to God.

At least that’s what this mom tends to do.

When my child, even my adult child, chooses to live life separate and apart from his mom, breaking my heart wide open, exposing the rawness, the very nerve endings throbbing red with pain as when a hammer hits a thumb, why does it cause this mom to feel overwhelming guilt for something I may not have done? 

Or perhaps even worse, something I may have done very wrong.

Why must I reduce it to be the result of something I did or didn’t do, rather than a sign of his growing independence as he grows a family of his own? 

It was once told to me that the best gift we can give our children is to teach them how to live without us.  So why must I look at it as a weakness on my part rather than a strength?

Could it be the fact that I still hold myself guilty for something that happened long ago? And why is it so much easier to  grant others forgiveness and grace that we oftentimes cannot extend to ourselves?

Could it be one can’t actually forgive oneself, but only simply give it to God, to be rid of it once and for all? Could something I’ve been making so hard really be that simple? 

Christ has forgiven me for something that happened over a decade ago as many times as I have sought His forgiveness. And that has been a million times. Or so it seems.  

How many times must I ask His forgiveness before it becomes a lack of faith on my part? An unbelief that He forgave me the very first time I fell on my knees, tear-stained, heart broken, still breaking, asking Him to forgive my selfishness and waywardness.  

What if He’s teaching me lessons in forgiveness, trust and consequences?

What if He is teaching me that when my child does something that may cause me heart-wrenching, raw pain, such as turning a back, spouting hurtful words, that that is how my own behavior, as His child,  pains Him?

Asking For Forgiveness

Asking For Forgiveness (Photo credit: hang_in_there)

A pain that is wild beyond description or comprehension.What if He is teaching me the depth of His love and forgiveness? That just because there is forgiveness, does not mean there are no consequences.

Teaching me that even though He has truly forgiven me, unpleasant and painful results from sin long ago can still appear in my life. Like a volcano a decade old, the gray ashes still falling, spiraling down ever so faintly around shoulders who long ago caused the eruption. A reminder.

Teaching me that not only does forgiveness not mean there are no consequences, but that consequences may be part of the forgiveness? In order to teach me a lesson that will last, to prevent further pain. That the price we pay is something to consider a gift.

What if He is teaching me that because He has forgiven, I can rest in Him while I pay that price? That He is with me on the journey, rather than facing the bare, cold bones of that reality alone.

In my child’s worst moments, even my adult child, I would never withhold forgiveness from him, but extend even more love. More grace. More compassion. Walking with him, holding him every step of the way, no matter how rocky or how long the journey. 

What if He is teaching me the reality and depth of His love and forgiveness, knowing that what I am capable of feeling is only a fraction of His love for us. For my son.

That is something to be eternally grateful for. A lesson worth the pain to learn. To remember always.

That I can walk the road of my life,  rocky with debris from my choices and sinfulness, God’s outstretched hand helping me up each and every time I trip because I looked away from Him.  That He watches over my children, His children, better than this mom could ever imagine.

Consequences. Forgiveness. Intertwined to perfection.

Grace to You.