Wednesday, October 30, 2013

My Health Is a Priority, Too!

After a week of taking my vitamins and supplements again, I'm feeling a lot more like my happy self.  No, I'm not pain free and super energetic.  I may never be.  But it is wonderful to be back to my functioning norm again!

My accidental self-imposed flare (because I kept forgetting my vitamins) has reminded me of how often we neglect our own health.  We rush through life trying to take care of our loved ones and to provide for our families.  We are so busy rushing from here to there and back again that we forget one important person: ourselves!

Now, I'm not saying it is time to get all selfish and think of only numero uno.  That wouldn't be a healthy way to live either.  However, it IS healthy, good, and advisable to think of our wellbeing, too, in the midst of daily life.  In the end, what it comes down to is if we aren't going to take care of ourselves, how will we take care of our others and provide for them?

I know it is a hard thing to grasp.  There is so much to accomplish in a single day already, so how can we make some time for ourselves?  Or we have convinced ourselves that it is okay to sacrifice now because we can rest later, after things quiet down.  Or we may tell ourselves that it's selfish to think of ourselves when other people need us.

Regardless of what excuses we conjure up, our health and wellbeing are and should be important to us. Our bodies are quite fragile.  They can only handle so much abuse and neglect before they start to break down.  I learned this difficult lesson a few years ago.

I am living with severe fibromyalgia constantly because (I believe) I disregarded the warnings my body was blaring and pushed myself too far for too long.  I had fibro symptoms most of my life, but never this severe or constant.  If I overextended myself here or got a little too physical there, I felt it.  But within weeks, the worst was behind me again.  I can pinpoint the onset of this constant fibro flare to August 2008, right after I graduated college.  And up until last year, my symptoms were steadily getting worse.

Since I began taking better care of myself (although I still have much to learn, obviously), I have constant pain and fatigue, but the severe levels come and go.  No longer am I bedridden.  No longer am I stuck in my house all the time because of pain and overwhelming anxiety attacks.  Those days are gone, and I plan to NEVER allow them to come back!

The biggest turning point in my life with fibromyalgia was the day I gave myself permission to think of myself and to take time out just for me every day.  I don’t always follow through on that permission. Sometimes I forget.  Other times I still feel guilty.  And once in a while, I get so frustrated with my body that I give up on myself for a spell.  However, each and every time, I come back fighting harder for the things that help me be healthier and happier with fibro.  And that, my friends, is all that matters in our daily battle with chronic illness.

© Amanda R. Dollak 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Trick or Treat!

May your Halloween have lots of treats & few fibro tricks!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Giant Gingerbread Cookies?

My diet is making me see yummy desserts everywhere, so could you help me out?  What do these haybales remind you of?

Monday, October 21, 2013

I Act Like a Moron Sometimes

I am always one who tries to focus on the positive and what is healthy.  But, sometimes, we all occasionally need to hear the bitter truth, and I am no exception  That is why I am going to admit today I sometimes act like a total moron.  Yep, I said it.  I own up to the sad truth, so I can learn from it and move on.

Most of the time, I am an intelligent and sensible woman.  I have book smarts, common sense, and plenty of life experience for someone my age.  But to be completely honest, I do dumb things sometimes...things that leave me shaking my head in total disbelief.

My latest walk with stupidity is health related.  I have had fibromyalgia for years, and it has been severe for the past 5 years.  Since traditional medicine didn't work out, I've experimented with many lifestyle changes.  One of the things I've found which helps improve my symptoms and my quality of life is supplements.  I take vitamins B, C, D, and E daily.  Each morning, I also take magnesium and calcium supplements and probiotics for my IBS symptoms and urinary health.  That equals 9 pills to take every single morning.  Yes, it is a hassle to choke all those pills down daily.  I'd much rather be doing a thousand other things
However, without them, I'm back to being stuck in bed and miserable.  So, why do I keep forgetting them?  Why do I not make my supplements a priority?  I went a week without taking them--again--and I feel awful--again!  I knew this would happen.  Yet, I kept putting my supplements off again and again.  Does this make any sense to you? It doesn't to me, so I can only conclude that I can be a total moron at times!

So, once again, I'm making a pact with myself to make time every morning to take my supplements, no matter how disgusting they are or how busy life gets.  My body isn't going to take care of itself.  No, it is MY responsibility.  My body is precious and irreplaceable, so I promise to take care of myself today and always.  All of the hard work and discomfort will be with it in the end because letting my health go will only lead to worse and much, much more unpleasant consequences.  I'll thank myself later!

Have you ever forgotten your supplements or medications, as well?  If so, do you have any special  techniques that help you remember?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Fitness Does Not Have to Be Futile with Fibromyalgia

October 27th will mark my 2-month anniversary of scheduling morning walks at least every week day. In the process, I gained 6 pounds and then went back to my starting weight. I’ve questioned my sanity. I’ve wondered if it is all worth it. I’ve struggled with my self-doubts and wrestled with my fibromyalgia. I celebrated my triumphant first run in at least 5 years. And I continue to be frustrated that the scale simply won’t budge!

Still, I’m NOT giving up! I refuse to let my fibro and extra pounds defeat me. I know in my heart I’m making progress and that is ALL that matters. I am experiencing spurts of energy like I haven’t known in ages. Yeah, I still get exhausted from my walks, but they don’t kill me anymore. Plus, I can now do a hilly 25-minute mile. Nothing fancy or noteworthy for the normal person. However, for this fibro warrior, who couldn’t even make it around the block the majority of the time when I first started, that is reason to celebrate, indeed!

Oh, and take a nice long look at the photo accompanying this post. At the beginning of my fitness challenge, I filled every inch of those jeans. The scale may insist that nothing is happening, but clothing doesn’t lie. My eyes and measurements don’t lie either. My stomach is slowly shrinking. My thighs and hips are tightening. My rear end is lifting. My poor bust is shrinking (but I know eventually it’ll all even out again!). So, who cares if I weigh the same yet? Not me!

I know I am building a solid foundation for future health and weight loss. I’m bringing back my muscles. I’m recreating the first real determination and consistency with fitness since fibromyalgia hijacked my life. And little by little, I’m reminding myself I still have it in me to be fit and healthy even with chronic illness in the mix.

What are you doing this month to reclaim your fitness and health?

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

I Am More Than Just a Number!

Dear 178,

I would sure appreciate it if you said “goodbye” now!  I’ve been stuck with you glaring back at me for over a month now on my scale.  You have scoffed at my improved eating habits.  You have turned your nose to my morning walks on weekdays. You have tried to convince me that all my hard work is in vain.

Well, 178, I have a couple things to tell you before we part company.  (1) You are just a number, pal.  You are a poor excuse for measuring my progress towards a new, healthier me.  The inches that are melting away from me don’t lie.  The increased room in my clothing doesn’t lie.  And my newfound confidence and eagerness don’t lie either.  But you do, and I’m through putting so much importance on you!

(2) You are destined to’s just a matter of time.  Poor 178, you don’t realize how soon you are going to become just a memory.  You can’t stick around forever, not with my determination to bring back the body, which I loved and which was so full of energy and health.  You fate is sealed.  Before long, I’ll be shedding you for a leaner, meaner number, and I’ll never once look back.

But don’t take it too personally.  Even the new numbers aren’t going to mean much to me.  My health, my happiness, my existence--they all could never be summed up with a number on a scale.  No matter how big or small that number may be, it will NEVER be me.  And that realization has set me free from your vile control.

I am now free to enjoy life, no matter my weight.  I am free to love myself, regardless of my size.  I am free to embrace being me with gusto.  I am free to throw out the dreaded bathroom scale--and I am seriously considering it this VERY second.

Goodbye, 178.  I won’t miss you...EVER!  You may cling on for dear life a little while longer, but I joined a weight loss challenge this week.  And do you realize what that means?  Yes, I now have even more motivation to leave you in my dust.  So long, 178, and don’t ever bother trying to come back to visit.  You’ll never be able to reach me where I’m going!

Forever NOT Yours,

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

I Got Lost Today

Snapshot from my walk
I got lost today. For a month now, I’ve been taking a morning walk every weekday. I head out each morning from my door and pick one of two paths: a hilly route around my block or a flatter but longer route around the dead-end street above my home. I chose the latter today, which makes this my sixth walk on this route.

It’s a pretty simple route: (1) walk from my house to the intersection. (2) Follow the curving street until it reaches the dead end. (3) Then turn around and retrace my steps back to my house. It’s so simple that I’m sure my dog could walk it on her own.

But anyone with fibromyalgia soon realizes that nothing is ever easy with this debilitating condition. As usual, my 7-year-old son (who I cyber school at home) and I eagerly set off on our morning walk with our family pooch in tow. I noticed immediately that the morning air is getting crisper and the beautiful fall leaves are beginning to adorn the world in all their glory. Fall is my favorite time of the year, so soaking up the many sights, sounds, and smells of autumn is exhilarating. And I was filled with such contentment and happiness this morning…

...until my fibro fog decided to strike with a vengeance! One second, I was admiring the splendor of fall and taking a few snapshots with my cellphone. The next I found myself dizzy, disoriented, and with no idea where I was. For a few split seconds, my surroundings looked completely foreign, and I felt like I was lost!

Believe me, my first reaction was to panic and freak out. My heart started racing. My anxiety suddenly reared its ugly head. I began sweating profusely. And my entire body started trembling.

Catching a glimpse of my son, though, in my confused state, I reminded myself that I really needed to take a deep breath and try to come down. I know from experience the more relaxed I can make myself, the quicker the brain malfunction passes. Plus, I didn’t want to scare my little buddy.

As such, I closed my eyes for a few seconds. I took a few slow and deep breaths. And I pushed all the panic away. As soon as I opened my eyes, everything was back to normal as suddenly as my brain had gone blank. I recognized every house and every tree. I could visualize the way home even without looking behind me. With that realization, I sighed a HUGE sigh of relief. Another one of those horrifying (but far and in between moments--thankfully!) had passed.

My son and I finished our walk with our sweet doggy and continued on with our day like any other. Still, part of me couldn’t help but harbor the notion--just for a fleeting moment--what if one of these colossal brain farts (as my husband calls them) settles in and never fades away? What if I’m stuck in a state of intense confusion for the rest of my life? It’s a frightening thought, indeed!

Yet, I refuse to allow that thought to stay and fester. Ultimately, life is brimming full of what-if’s for everyone. Life is forever opening up new possibilities every second: both good and bad. However, only a handful of them ever happen, so it would be pointless and insane to obsess over the bad things that may happen (or probably will never happen) someday. If we focus too much on the negative possibilities, we’ll miss all the wonderful things that DO happen. Instead of enjoying the here and now, we will be squandering the present by worrying over what possibly won’t ever happen our entire lives. That’s certainly no way to live!

Consequently, my weekday morning walks WILL continue like nothing ever happened. Hey, I may get lost for brief moments from time to time with my fibro-dysfunctioning brain. It’s bound to happen since it’s happened before. But I refuse to allow a distant possibility to sideline me from living my life as fully as I can. Fibromyalgia steals plenty of my precious seconds. I’m not about to freely hand over any more of my life!