I haven’t been around this week. I haven’t been posting or reading. Unfortunately I have an upper respiratory infection that has taken a lot out of me. I’m also dealing with the unpleasant side effects of a high dose of antibiotics. No matter how well I care for my health the fact remains that I spend a good amount of money on drugs that suppress my immune system. Getting an infection is worse than it used to be. They seem to take hold faster, stay around longer, and I end up feeling wiped out for way longer than I used to.
So I just wanted to say that I’ve been away-but not because I wanted to. I am trying to get over this infection. I will be taking it easy this weekend. Hopefully I can be more present next week. Have a great weekend everyone!
Notepad (Photo credit: Jennifavor)
A note to myself on what food is and isn’t
What you are:
- Fuel for my body
What you are not:
- Pain relief-emotional or physical
- A treat
- Stress relief
- A hug
- The answer to life’s stressors
English: A body pillow. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
One thing that can really derail your journey to health is a lack of sleep. Adequate rest not only affects your attitude and cognitive abilities, but it can also make it harder to maintain a healthy weight. Studies have shown that those with chronic insomnia have higher rates of diabetes and have a harder time maintaining a normal body weight. Sleepless nights also impact our immune system and our body’s ability to heal itself. Lack of sleep can be a serious roadblock for anyone on a journey to health.
Unfortunately I possess 3 out of 4 risk factors for chronic insomnia. Shift work? Check. Being a woman? Check. Chronic pain? Check. The only risk factor I don’t have is a medical diagnosis such as sleep apnea that would interfere with my sleep pattern.
One of the worst parts of insomnia is the long night that stretches endlessly while my exhausted body and active mind are at war with each other. On the one hand my body is demanding sleep –on the other hand my mind is too active and alert to allow the body’s wish to be fulfilled. That is why the book Restful Insomnia by Sondra Kornblatt caught my attention.
While this book goes over the basic insomniac rules-sleep schedule even on the weekends, turning off your tv and cellphone, ect the author believes that those with insomnia can achieve a restful state even if they do not actually get more than a few hours of sleep. The author says that the focus of bedtime should be comfort and relaxation. She believes that whether we sleep or not a restful state can be achieved. She goes one step further in asserting that once we get used to achieving a wakeful rest at night we will find that we have fewer and fewer bouts of insomnia. A relaxed mind and body should ultimately lead to the sleep an insomniac so desperately craves.
While the book doesn’t pretend that there is an easy cure for insomnia it does offer hope. Even without sleep you can face the morning less exhausted than normal. I will be some of her techniques a shot for the next month. As she suggests I will be making sure that I prepared for a night of sleeplessness by having “nest” of comforts that will aid in my relaxation. I will use deep breathing and body awareness to turn off my mind in hopes of resting. According to Korblatt one you are able to achieve wakeful rest sleep is not far behind. And sleep is my ultimate goal. I don’t mind putting in the work if this method increases the number of nights that I wake up in the morning feeling rested. If anyone is interested in my progress I will be glad to write a follow-up post with how well this experiment worked.
I know that one of the biggest roadblocks on my journey to health is lack of sleep. Whether it is the fact that I work 1st, 2nd, and 3rd shifts on the routine basis, or the fact that rolling over on a tender joint wakes me in the early morning hours and prevents me from going back into a deep sleep, I am routinely sleep deprived. And like any other step on my journey to health conquering insomnia requires a lifestyle change, bumps in the road, and ultimately victory!
It often seems as if we do not give the credit due to the phrase “I’m doing better.” Doing better is seen an admission that things have not been going as well as hoped and that the situation has not been resolved satisfactory. This statement in the same breath gives hope and admits defeat. Doing better is a two word phase full of hope and fear, potential and acceptance, and joy and pain. Doing better can reflect a journey through a land of uncertainty in which the journeyer is cautiously hopeful about arriving at their destination. But doing better seems to always come with a question mark. Will better last and is better going to be enough? Will better ever turn into good?
But “doing better” is so much more. While doing good/well is the ultimate goal there are innumerable and infinite amounts of baby steps between doing poorly and doing well. Doing better denotes some battles have been won. We have gained some ground against our enemy. Doing better opens us up to the possibility of defeating whatever we are struggling against. After all if we have won some battles, who is to say that more victories are not in our future? Doing better should be filled with more hope than dread. Doing better should be inspirational rather than defeating. Doing better is destination on the road to good. You can’t get to “good” unless you first pass through better.
That is where I am right now. I am doing better. I am eating better, I have a new medication plan to deal with my RA, and I am incorporating exercise back into my daily schedule. Am I where I want to be? No. But I am getting closer. I’m certainly doing better!
Banana on Pancake (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I came upon a recipe for clean pancakes a little while ago. In was simple, inexpensive, and didn’t require any cooking ability at all. It seemed like the perfect way to indulge in one of my favorite breakfast items without the fat and sugar usually associated with a pancake breakfast. I was really excited by the possibility offered by the my new recipe until I took my first bite of the clean version of banana pancakes. They were just wrong. The texture and flavor was off. It was too much banana flavor without any other contrasting flavors. None of the problems were huge by themselves. It was simply that the many small things wrong added up to something I deemed uneatable and promptly threw in the trash.
As I spent the rest of the morning in mourning the possibility of a wheat free clean pancake the thought kept coming to me that if I could tweak the recipe enough to fix the numerous small problems the result could be the delicious meal I had been dreaming of. So I started off by using more oatmeal, less banana, playing with my vanilla and cinnamon ratios, and changing the time and intensity of the blending process on my Vitamix. The end result was not only something I could eat but something that I’m sure I will be making over and over again.
This got me thinking about my health goals and how I have been approaching them. I have the right idea with eating clean, eating a vegetable based diet, and increasing both my activity levels and my exercise. However, I am not making the progress that I want so it is definitely time for some tweaking.
The first thing to be tweaked will be my exercise routine. I hate my gym. The place is just creepy to me. It’s one of those 24/7 places and there is hardly ever an employee in the gym. I don’t like working out in an environment where there is no one around in case of an emergency situation. You can literally be in the gym by yourself in the evening. I am just not comfortable with that. I want someone to call 911 if I go flying off the treadmill and bust my butt!
So it’s time for me to figure out how to get my exercise in without the gym. I am not a huge fan of workout DVDs so I think I may just map out a walking route in my neighborhood. It will also be a great way to make sure I get enough Vitamin D. Even if I decide a stroll around my neighborhood isn’t going to the answer to my exercise dilemma I will keep working at it. If I can fix a broken recipe surly I can fix a broken exercise routine.
I’ve been busy this week! There have been some ups and downs but over all I it’s been going well. I’ve discovered Pintrest and I have been gathering some promising looking vegetable based recipes. If you have any favorites let me know. I am almost done with my prednisone so hopefully I will see some weight loss in the next few weeks. Have a great weekend!
Sugar sugar (Photo credit: dhammza)
I think that sometimes the thing that hinders a journey to health the most is the fact that we often feel powerless to the outside forces in our lives. I know I often fail to recognize that although I cannot orchestrate the events of my life my sense power does not come from controlling events. The power comes from my ability to make healthy choices and decisions despite the situations that can life force upon me.
This realization came to me while standing in the middle of Walgreens. I was aimlessly roaming the isles with a bottle of water with a sense of dread. I had this nagging craving for sugar-it didn’t matter that I wasn’t hungry. It didn’t even matter that I didn’t particularly want any candy to eat. Prednisone always makes me crave sugar. The thing is I am not a sugar person normally. My snack of choice is salty-give me potato chips, peanuts, popcorn any day over a candy bar. But my brain on prednisone craves sugar.
As a walked the candy isle with a sense of foreboding I felt completely powerless. Here I was, someone searching for health, about to gorge on hundreds of calories from a nutrient poor food. And this wasn’t the first time. In the two weeks I’ve been on prednisone I have put on 5 lbs due to poor eating. And I was about to continue the pattern. As I reached for some nameless candy bar something stopped me. I realized that I didn’t have to indulge in this self-destructive behavior just because some drug was telling me I had to. It was at that moment that I realized that I was the boss of what was put mouth not some drug that my disease periodically brings into my life.
The resulting feeling of success and control was definitely greater that the ever present sugar craving I seem to have on this medication. I cannot control the curve balls that RA throws at me. I cannot control when or if I have a flare. I cannot control my need to ingest medications that are counterproductive to my goal of clean, nutrient dense foods. What I CAN control is the fork to mouth action. I can take comfort in my ability to decide and override these cravings. Will I always win? No. But from now on I’m not going down without a fight!