Thursday, December 30, 2010

New Beginnings

**Warning: Long post, go potty and grab snacks**

Last Christmas, my focus was on weight loss and running. I wanted to run my first 5k, had signed up, then couldn't due to injury. I just never quite got back to running again as injury after injury plagued my running career. However, I did make some progress on the weight loss front. :-)

Last year, Santa brought me 2 new pairs of running shoes, an ipod shuffle and workout clothes. Santa was very, very good to me. Well, and my birthday was in there too.

Santa was very good to me again this year. Once again, Santa's focus was on health. I won't list all that he brought me, but I do want to talk about one particular thing I received.

Probably the most useful and amazing gift I receieved this whole holiday/birthday is a book called Reversing Fibromyalgia: The Whole-Health Approach to Overcoming Fibromyalgia Through Nutrition, Exercise, Supplements, and Other Lifestyle Factors by Dr. Joe M. Elrod. A mouthful of a title for a book that is only a mere 286 pages long. But those 286 pages have held the most hope I've had since being diagnosed in 2003 (click here for a bad description and discussion of treatments that really don't work for any Fibro person). In short, the beliefs behind what causes it tend to be injury, extended illness, and long periods of extreme stress. Some theories claim multiple, microscopic muscle tears, others claim a mycoplasmal bacteria (hum... I did have mycoplasmal pneumonia a few years ago), others suspect greater sensitivity to environmental toxins, the body not processing Substance P correctly and not getting to the 4th stage of sleep, where humans manufacture Growth Hormone, which is needed for cell replacement and regeneration. The theories are really complex and I'd be happy to explain them if you'd like.

When I was first diagnosed, there wasn't much information. To be honest, there's still not a lot of information or hope in the medical world today. Like migraines, they simply don't know what actually causes Fibromyalgia. We don't know what causes it, how to treat it, or how to prove it exists- just like migraines. Many doctors still believe that it doesn't exist, telling patients it's "all in their head".

Initially, I didn't accept these answers. I didn't accept that there wasn't a way to make my life better. I tried the drugs that were prescribed, usually with uncommon, debilitating side effects. During this time, allergies I've never had before have cropped up, I've gained weight (about 80 lbs), been lethargic, so foggy I can't string together a sentence, much less a thought, been unable to stand the taste of proteins or slept an inordinate length of time daily. In addition, my inflammation markers are sky-high without an explanation, which, isn't helpful in the slightest.

Because of these effects, I chose to quit pursuing prescription medication of any sort. I've dealt with my pain by taking it easy when necessary and powering through the rest of the time. In short, I've come close to running myself in the ground and have endured prolonged bouts of laziness out of necessity. In the last 2 years, I've mostly found my new homeostasis point. I do ok. But, just "ok" isn't good enough. I shouldn't be settling. And...

Our beloved Stephanie from Being Stephanie reminded me of that when she started her own journey to better health this fall.

This book, Reversing Fibromyalgia, is the first I've ever really experienced a doctor who "gets it". That alone is exciting to me. Finally! Someone who truly understands!

Obviously the title says it all. According to this book, the answer to my problems lie within the realms of sleep, nutrition and exercise. It's all natural, no drugs and completely sensible approach appeals to me.

Some of the things I'll be doing different are:

Gentler forms of exercise- walking, yoga, martial arts and pilates. I'm giving up Zumba and running for a while. Besides, they seem to be injury laden for me right now. (And no, that's not how I ended up with a hole in my elbow. It was aliens, I tell ya! Aliens!)

Regular exercise- I endeavor to work out 6 days a week, for as many minutes as I can handle, potentially 2-3 times a day if I can't do very many minutes at once. And daily stretching! And light strength training. Stretching is key though. I'll have to do it daily.

High potency liquid vitamins- the theory here is that Fibro sufferers have lower stores of important vitamins due to stress and stresses upon the body. So, if I'm chronically low on say, my B-vitamins, I'll have less energy and not utilize iron correctly, leaving me anemic (which I have been for years). Of course, the B-vitamins are just one example.

Continue my quest for less processed food- the theory here is that chemicals and preservatives are causing more stress on my body and that Fibro might be partially caused by years of a eating crappy and not nutritiously.

(Are you seeing a theme here? Less stress on the body!)

Better sleep- meaning a higher quality sleep where I twitch and thrash (and clock my husband) less, achieving a deeper state of REM than I do now. We'll discuss this more in depth later on.

Change my carb to protein ratio again- I'll be aiming for a 70/20/10 ratio, as in 70% high quality carbs, 20% fat and 10-15% protein, with a reduction in red meat consumption. This is different from how I eat now and will be difficult. For the last 5 years, I've been eating more like 50/20/30, of carbs, fats and proteins.

Juicing- I'm going to give it a try. I've read that we absorb vitamins best in food form, or as long as our bodies think it's food. Supposedly we don't absorb much from pills because our bodies don't see it as natural food stuffs. (Wish it didn't recognize chocolate as food stuffs!) I'm prepared to drink a few ounces of gross, disgusting healthful cocktails if it helps me feel better. Wish me luck!

Lose weight- but this is the last of my priorities right now. Hopefully, the changes I'm making will facilitate this.

According to Dr. Elrod, you should only make one change a week, maximum. Otherwise, human beings aren't likely to stick with a change. One change a week is reasonable! I can handle that!

What I need from you, dear friends, is to hold me accountable. I need someone to remind me to make one change a week and stick with it. I also need someone to help me track how I'm doing. So, please feel free to nag at me. (Be warned though, nagging makes me cranky). Sometimes it's easy for me to lose sight of how far I've come or accurately judge whether or not something seems to be working for me, because I'm with me day in and day out. Having someone ask helps me monitor myself and the changes I'll be making.

So, this next week, the first change I'll be making is with vitamins. I'll be ordering them tomorrow and starting them as soon as they arrive, on Monday or Tuesday. Also, while not intended as a second change, Dude, Bad Pants and I will be starting Kendo classes once a week on Monday nights. Yes, we will be beating each other with bamboo sticks, wearing bamboo armor. (It's a martial art and on the approved exercise list for starting out on this new path).

Now, the length of time is supposed to take up to a year for a real, more permanent change and return to health to happen.

2011 is the year I'm going to take back my life!

Any questions?


cdncowgirl said...

Yes I have questions!!
As the originator of this blog I have to admit I had weight loss in mind but I need to say that I also had HEALTH in mind. So I love the fibro talk.
Could you please do posts on the steps you're taking with this new game plan? Maybe a weekly post or two on the next step and the results you're getting could be info for us and incentive for you??
Have to admit that I'm pretty interested in this topic. My mom was diagnosed with FM fairly recently (a year?) and she really thinks I should talk to my doc about it (of course that means I need to find a doc... which I need to do anyway)

Sooo... liquid vitamins. Where do you find them? What are they like cost-wise when compared to traditional pill vitamins?

Anonymous said...

You should absolutely buy this book for your mom and have her get her doctor on board. The new problem here in the US is that FM patients are becoming un-insurable. My diagnosis has been eliminated from my records because any insurance change would leave me ineligible. My challenge now is finding a doctor who will work with me, but keep my FM status out of my file. It can be done, because my MIL has MS, yet it's not in her file so she won't lose her insurance either. Complex, no?

I haven't seen liquid vitamins outside of some alcohol laden tiny bottle in the drug store. So, I looked them up, compared and read reviews on Amazon. (Amazon- my favorite place!)

The vitamins are costing me about $27 for a month's supply. Of course, my husband is going to take them too (mixed in juice to help with taste/absorbency/to be more like food), so a bottle will last us half a month.

The real issue that is being seen with pill vitamins is that they don't really absorb. Any plumber can tell you about that. The new theory behind this is that pill vitamins are also not metabolized well because they aren't viewed as food by the body.

Think about it. We don't break down and absorb non-food items well at all. Pennies are found in the diapers of small children who swallow them, if they're lucky. Or in surgery if they're not.

Also, I'm choosing the liquid form because it's more readily absorbed, already in a broken down state, not needing to be digested.

Vitamins alone are a really, really lengthy topic that maybe I can break down a bit this next week.

And yes! I'll try to post weekly! If I don't, harass me, k?

It's really late now and I've watched far too much Doctor Who for one night! So, I'm off to bed now. G'night!

Anonymous said...

Oh, to answer you more specifically about the costs of traditional pill form vitamins, pretty comparable if you're buying quality and not just what's inexpensive. In the case of vitamins, quality is far more important than you'd think, with less expensive vitamins being made with poorer quality grades of ingredients. I think Steph is taking some whole food type of vitamin/mineral supplement now.

Mrs Mom said...


I'm really interested in this journey- it seems like all of us were interested in shedding pounds, but have turned more towards HEALTH-- better health-- overall. This is going to be an excellent topic on here!!!!!

I'll nag ya... muwahahaha.. you can get as crabby as you like with me, and I'll merely laugh at you and tell you to suck it up and COWGIRL UP!!


Laura said...

Ok - count me in on the nagging!! I'm an expert - just ask my hubby. Lol

On a more serious note, I'm glad you found a book with some different insights to hopefully help you out. I'm interested in auto-immune problems as well as things like FM.

Maybe we could do some sort of weekly post/check in here to keep each other motivated????

I'm on the train on my way home, so tomorrow and the weekend will be spent planning on sorting out my plan for the new year...

fernvalley01 said...

I also have Fibro and Lupus, and am I ever excited to read about that book.I have been on a cocktail of vitamins and minerals thet has made a huge sifference , and the other suggestions you made some I have tried , others I will sure have a go at !Thanks

Anonymous said...

Have you considered hot yoga (also called Bikram yoga based on the guy who coined it)? It's chock full of stretching and the heat really helps with injury-prevention and flexibility. Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

MM- Thanks! I know you'll be on the phone checking up on me!

Laura- Nag away! But don't be surprised if I snarl back. I'm just wired that way. Any particular auto-immune issue you want info on? I've looked into a lot of different things because of the Fibro and often see overlapping information.

fernvalley- what have you tried? What has worked? What hasn't? Care to share?

Allison- I haven't tried hot yoga. I'm sure it would help. I tried aqua aerobics in college, only the pool wasn't warm enough, beings it was a pool used for Olympic training (55 degrees vs nice, warm ones at hotels). I will have to look into it more and hope classes aren't too far away.

Also, an update:

Kendo has been over-booked and we're all wait listed. This could mean a couple days, a week or the next session in March. They did not expect people would be itching to beat each other with bamboo sticks so eagerly! If we have to wait until next session, we are at the top of the list.

fernvalley01 said...

Short version is this , high dose Magnesium and calcium, Vit D, B and K. I take an herbal remedy called "Recovery " and also use a product called D ribose . will get back to you with details later

allhorsestuff said...

This is such an encouraging post!
And it was NOT as long as you described...
I will be sharing your site here with some other blogger friends that have these issues and some clients too, that have Fibro.

I am probably on the verge of it...since I DO NOT sleep in the winters S.A.D. but being self employed..I TAKE time off and get sleep when ever I need it.

I have a "Green Grocer" grocery store owner, that found a liquid vitamin. Look into it, it is called,
" FLORADIX " it is a product of Germany imported through a Co. in Washington.

Awesome plans for the new year. I will be following along too..and gleaning!
THANKS YOU WOMEN!This is a great Blog Site !!

Stephanie said...

Yes, yes and YES!

If anyone has any questions they can email me or leave a post on my blog.

I am excited for you and your family. Keep up the good work on letting us know how it goes - may not always be rosy but it should be an interesting ride.

I started juicing too - did I already tell you that? I have been doing the green smoothies but they are labor intensive suckers. Green Juice is a little easier. I am experimenting on combinations that give a super energy boost in the morning so that maybe someday I can skip the coffee.

Don't know if you've tried it yet but you have to be real careful with wheat-grass while its good if it hasn't been treated right or left out on a shelf too long you'll be running for the toilet if you strait shoot it. Its gotta be super fresh from the grower that day and high quality. I know of a blog post or video somewhere that explains it.....if I could find it again.....

Anonymous said...

I hadn't decided if I was going to try wheat grass or not. But, I figured if I choose to, I'll grow it myself. It's also known as "cat grass" at the big box pet stores. It's not hard to grow and an extra window box full for my cats would make them very, very happy.

Halo Hill said...

You're all giving me hope! I'd never heard of the book. I'm glad I found your blog. I have FM (almost 20 years now), but I am now unable to work, and have been denied disability twice. Both of these health problems are extremely isolating and discouraging, so thank you. Before I got fibromyalgia, I jogged more than 25 miles per week. Now, I doubt I could -walk slowly- even a mile a week. Thanks for the info and encouragement.

Also in Oregon (but no sunshine lately)! :)