**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!