Fighting back against chronic pain with a simple, creative, & healthy lifestyle. Inspiring others to become warriors.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018


It's Blood Orange Season.  I scored a bag at Walmart.  I know. Big bad box store.

Honestly, if you think that the only place you should shop is Whole Foods, you need to realize that most of America is still small towns.

Small towns usually only have a Walmart...even smaller towns don't even have one.

Of course I'm thinking of Junction, Texas, where I went to graduate school.  There was one stop light in town, the local grocery store was Super S Foods. The closest Walmart is 50 miles away.

I like to think that anyone who wants to try to eat clean, eat paleo, or dip into the Whole30 has a chance, even when you are in a small town.  So I shop at Walmart to know what the possibilities and challenges are for eating healthy.

Another great option for getting your clean eating products is Thrive Market.  I love Thrive.  They have some of the best prices out there, and they sponsor free memberships to low-income American families. They are committed to sustainability and social justice projects.  The part of me that earned my Master's of Art Education is jumping for joy at the social justice aspect.

Thrive Market sells your favorite organic and non-gmo brands for up to 50% off retail.


I digress.

Blood Orange Chia Seed Pudding - Requires Overnight or 8-10 Hours Refrigeration
Paleo, Vegan, Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free

Ingredients:
    4 Blood Oranges
    1 can of Unsweetened Coconut Milk (or 13.5oz of Almond or other Nut Milk)
    1/2 C Chia Seeds
    1/4 C Honey or Maple Syrup
    1t Vanilla
    Spray olive or coconut oil
    Dang Gluten Free Toasted Coconut Chips, Caramel Sea Salt

    Supplies:

    Very Sharp Pairing Knife
    Chef's Knife
    Cutting Board
    Blender
    2 - 4 Jars
    Measuring Cups and Spoons

    This made 28-30 oz of pudding so I filled up two wide mouth 16 oz Mason Jars. You could split it into four servings easily.

    Get it done:

    If your pairing knife isn't sharp do yourself a favor and sharpen it quickly.

    Using your chef's knife cut the oranges into quarters, and then cut each quarter in half.  You should end up with 8 pieces per orange x 4 oranges = 32 pieces. Remove any seeds you spy and discard while slicing.

    Here I am slicing regular oranges using the same technique.
    Press down and through to the other side away from your hand.
    Now for the fun part. If you are like me and have trouble standing, bring the oranges, cutting board, blender, and pairing knife to your table and sit down.

    Take a slice of orange and hold down one of the tipped edges with of your finger. Now take your pairing knife and cut in between the pith and the fruit slightly to get it started.

    Then pressing down firmly, slide the knife across the orange AWAY from your hand in one smooth motion.

    This is why you want a very sharp pairing knife.  It should easily separate the fruit from the peel. Drop the orange in the blender and discard the peel.

    Don't obsess about getting everything off the peel, life it too short and you'll go crazy.

    Finish off the rest of the oranges dumping all of them in the blender, throw away the peel or compost them if you are into that sort of thing.

    Now shake the can of coconut milk.  Open and dump into blender.

    Measure out your honey. PRO TIP: Spray your 1/4 measuring cup with your olive spray, or coat with coconut oil, to make the honey come out easier, it will not alter the taste of what you are making.

    Add vanilla to the blender, cover and blend.

    After fruit has been thoroughly blended and mixed, stop the blender and add the chia seeds. Turn the blender on a few moments to mix the chia seeds in.

    Pour into your containers. Cover and chill overnight or at least 8 hours for the seeds to develop fully.

    I topped mine with Dang Gluten Free Toasted Coconut Chips, Caramel Sea Salt for a little extra crunch and kick!  They were a super yummy addition.


    Done! Now go Treat Yo Self!

    Tuesday, January 30, 2018

    Let's say that you’re interested in trying out yoga. If you’re like most of my friends you’ve never been to yoga class, ever.

    If you are a chronic pain and illness patient the likelihood of you going to a class, or spending the money for a private lesson, probably isn’t going to happen anytime soon.

    However, there is a wealth of information out there on the web, on YouTube, there’s even yoga apps. Most Apps are good if you are a ‘norm’ but if you’re like me and have chronic pain, they are way too advanced.

    I'll touch on how to modify yoga poses in another post in the future, look for it.

    For now, let’s say you want to get started at home. I chose Iyengar yoga for a reason. They use props to modify the traditional yoga poses to help you achieve the pose without hurting yourself.

    You can find several beginner or gentle Iyengar classes on YouTube.
    I have hyper-mobility in conjunction with my Adhesive
    Arachnoiditis. Yoga blocks help me from hyper-extending. 

    Yoga props are expensive though.

    I did end up investing because after a month of yoga I realized that this was going to really help my pain.

    I picked mine up at TJ Maxx at the end of the year clearance sale.

    Ross, Marshalls, TJ Maxx, Homegoods, Khol's, Target, and Amazon have an abundance of yoga props when you feel you are ready to commit.

    January is when workout items get placed in these stores because of the New Year Resolutions and Goals people want to achieve. 

    Around March and April these items go on clearance.  That's a great time to pick yoga props, clothes, and other workout related items.

    Until then, try these 3 Household Items to Substitute in for Yoga Props.

    1. Yoga Blocks

    The Clorox or Lysol wipes container is a great match for the tallest part of the block.

    Any household canned good is perfect for the shortest.

    For the medium side, I found this Trader Joe's English Toffee Can.  However, it's also the height of a 30 oz Miracle Whip Jar.

    2. Yoga Strap

    A belt.

    Seriously that's all you'll need to start with.

    If you progress further and want to invest, this is the first thing I would buy.

    There is a whole new world that opens up when you get belts. You can link them together and use them in your house similar to the yoga trapeze ads that you see on Facebook constantly.

    3. Yoga Bolster

    About 4 to 6 Beach towels folded into 4ths will get you a height similar to a yoga bolster. Just alternate each folded end.

    Yoga bolsters are a serious financial commitment. I didn’t buy my yoga bolster until I was four months into my yoga training.

    The cheapest one that I found was on Amazon. I think Amazon has some good deals, you just need to shop around to find the best ones.

    I bought one that was on the low end of moderate pricing and I'd say that it's OK, not great, but OK.

    You do get what you pay for.

    I’m sure later down the road I will probably invest in a higher quality one, but the one I have now is fine and it suits my home practice purposes.


    I hope this helps anyone considering doing yoga at home. These 3 household items to substitute for yoga props, really will give you what you need to get started on your home practice.

    Monday, January 29, 2018

    Pain Flares. Migraines. Chemotherapy Sickness

    No one likes them and no one wants them.  Sometimes you can distract yourself, sometimes you are just in survival mode until it passes.

    What to do?

    Chronic Pain and Illness Flare Ups: You Need a Survival Kit!

    I have a pain flare box.  It's my survival kit.  I have it stocked with items to distract me, help me, and comfort me.

    It's located right next to the downstairs sofa for convenience.  I have to pass by the fridge to get to it, so I pick up my gel ice packs on the way.


    So what's in my kit?


    17 Things you Need in a Chronic Pain and Illness Flare Up Survival Kit

    1. Break though pain medicine

    If you don't have kids or pets that would get into it, I recommend getting a small pill pack and putting a few of your medicines in each slot.

    2. Several snacks that I can eat to take it

    If you haven't noticed, I'm a bit of a Paleo and Whole30 freakazoid.  I have Nick's Sticks, Larabars, Epic Bars, and RX bars in my kit so I can stay true to my healthy eating.  I'm working on a Paleo 'Saltine' recipe when it is ready, I will let you know.
    If I didn't have an apple obsessed golden retriever, those would be in there too.

    Taking l-glutamine in conjunction with your pain medicine helps leaky gut and builds the body’s natural pain reliever[s] (Tennant, 2017, Arachnoiditis Handbook for Relief, pg. 4, 16)
    • Improves gastrointestinal health because it is a vital nutrient for the intestines to rebuild and repair.
    • Helps heal ulcers and leaky gut by acting as a Band-Aid for protection from further damage.
    • Is an essential neurotransmitter in the brain and decreases muscle wasting.
    4. Nausea medication

    5. Muscle relaxer

    6. Bottles of water

    Hydrate! Hydrate! Hydrate!  I cannot stress enough the importance of drinking water during a pain flare. You need to get your cells moving and flush your body.

    7. Contact solution, case, and sleeping mask

    Sleeping masks are amazing. It really shuts out the light, letting your body's natural melatonin work.  Also helps to make it easier to take a nap during day time.

    There are several kinds out there but this is the highest rated one on Amazon so it must be good. It comes in a three pack.  Keep one in the bedroom and one by the couch.  Last one is clean so you can rotate them in and out.
    8. Heating pad

    I know that this seems counter-intuitive since I said I was getting ice packs on the way to my couch.

    Well, my nerve pain extends from my lumbar spine to my hip and down my legs. However, during a flare I tense up, usually leaving me with a tension headache after the pain flare has left.

    I wrap this little beauty nice and snug around my neck and shoulders. Plus, during the winter, it is not super pleasant to have ice packs shoved down your pants.

    9. Soft, fuzzy socks

    My go to pair died I wore them so much, they were a spa aloe Dr. Scholl's sock. Soft and warm, I swear angels made these. I couldn't find the aloe ones but did find this shea butter pair. Sounds like a little slice of heaven in a pain filled day. I can't wait to get a new pair.
    10. Coloring book and markers

    Sometimes coloring is nice if I can really get into it. I have a lapdesk stashed under the couch. I recently got into a motivational sayings coloring book.  I'm switching it up from my Harry Potter one.  To each his own.  There are some marvelous books out there from Game of Thrones to Swear Words.
    11. Sleep headphones

    SleepPhones you can truly, actually sleep in. I love these. Flat speakers inside a soft, fleece headband. YAAAAS!

    12. One of my favorite books

    Right now I'm super into the Throne of Glass Series by Sarah J. Maas.  There are several books in the series. #leohusband got the first book for me Christmas 2016 and I've been hooked ever since. I feel like I would describe them as Assassins Creed meets Harry Potter meets Game of Thones.


    13. Obi ice wrap

    I made this myself and I will be putting up directions, as one of my weekend warrior projects, and links to get one if you are not down with the skills of sewing.

    I love it. It fits the Large Ace Bandage Gel Ice Pack and ties to anywhere on your body.

    14. Soft headband

    Sometimes you just want your hair out of your face.  I did cut all my hair off once I realized that my nerve pain was going to be permanent. It is a long pixie though, so I still feel the need sometimes to get it off my forehead.

    15. Essential oils

    Young Living's Cool Azul is my hands down go to. I rub it directly on the area of pain.

    I can't ever have heat on my nerve pain. It makes the neuro-inflammation so much worse. Cool Azul is the only rub I've used that doesn't heat up after cooling. It stays cool. I love that.
    16. Peppermint chap-stick

    I just find that peppermint really helps to calm the nausea down. I also know that medicines can really dry your skin out (again, hydrate!) so I like to keep my lips from cracking.

    17. Comforting scented lotion

    You want to put the most delicious smelling lotion you have ever breathed in your survival kit.  Smell plays a huge part in your brain receptors.  Get something that will make you relax and hopefully soothe you.

    Why not perfume or essential oils? 

    Perfume has alcohols in them, not to mention they can be overpowering, and will contribute to drying out your skin, again, it's a side effect of medication.

    Even though I love them, essential oils always stand a chance of irritating your skin, or worse, your eyes.

    Trust me, the last thing you want to do is rub your rollerball essential oil blend on your temples and it gets in your eye. Now you're in pain and your eye is stinging like crazy.

    Not that I've done that.

    OK, so I have.

    In my defense, and why I really don't recommend them, pain flares tend to put you into a panic zone and you may be a tad bit overzealous in rolling that on your forehead...my go to is Bath & Body Works Stress Relief Lotion

    Saturday, January 27, 2018


    I was an 8 on the pain scale last night. I also made a vow to eat 80% of the month paleo.

    I’m so proud of getting dinner on the table. I figure all of my other chronic pain and illness warriors would like to know 3 fast and easy paleo meals.

    1. Salmon with Red Potatoes and Green Beans.
    Paleo and Whole30 Compliant.


    Ingredients:

    • 1lb of salmon
    • 4-6 red potatoes
    • A couple of big handfuls frozen green beans (let’s get real here chronic pain and illness warriors don’t need to be standing up snapping green beans)
    • Olive oil
    • Garlic powder
    • Kosher salt
    • Pepper


    Supplies:

    • Cookie sheet
    • Aluminum foil
    • Cutting board
    • Knife
    • Medium-Large Bowl


    Get it done:
    Pre-heat oven to 400°.

    While the oven heats, cover the cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Put a couple of big handfuls of frozen green beans into the bowl.

    Scrub the potatoes and cut in half, half again, and then in thirds. Dump into bowl with green beans. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with garlic powder, season to taste with salt and pepper. Use your hands or a large spoon to toss the vegetables around a bit to coat them thoroughly. Set aside.

    Place salmon in center of cookie sheet, skin side down. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle garlic all over salmon, salt generously. Dump veggies from bowl around the salmon.

    Pop into oven. Cook 20 minuets. Pull the salmon out and place on plate and return veggies to oven for an additional 10 minuets.

    Dinner done!


    2. Sweet Potato Hash
    Paleo and Whole30 Compliant

    Ingredients:

    • Applegate Farms Uncured Beef Hot Dogs
    • 2 large sweet potatoes
    • 1 Red Onion
    • Olive oil
    • Salt
    • Pepper


    Supplies:

    • Cookie sheet
    • Aluminum foil
    • Cutting board
    • Knife
    • Large Bowl


    Get it done:
    Pre-heat oven to 400°. While the oven heats, cover the cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Scrub the potatoes and cut in half, half again, and then make 1/2 moons. Dump into bowl.

    Chop the onion in half and then in 1/2 inch slices. Add to bowl. Get out all the hot dogs. Line them up and chop them into 1/2 moons. Add to bowl. Drizzle ingredients with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Use your hands or a large spoon to toss around a bit to coat them thoroughly. Dump onto cookie sheet, spread out evenly.

    Pop into oven. Cook 20 –30 minuets or until sweet potatoes are soft.

    Dinner done!

    3. Pork Chops with Turnips and Brussels Sprouts
    Paleo and Whole30 Compliant

    Ingredients:

    • 2 - 4 pork chops
    • 4 Turnips
    • 1 bag of frozen Brussels Sprouts
    • Olive oil
    • Salt
    • Pepper
    • Herbs de Provence or Italian Seasoning


    Supplies:

    • Cookie sheet
    • Aluminum foil
    • Cutting board
    • Vegetable Peeler
    • Knife
    • Large Bowl


    Get it done:
    Pre-heat oven to 425°.

    While the oven heats, trim off the ends and peel the turnips, cut turnips into bite-size pieces. Put the prepared turnips in the bowl.

    Open bag of Brussels Sprouts. Cut spouts in half lengthwise. Put in bowl with turnips. Drizzle olive oil into the bowl and sprinkle semi-generously with salt, pepper, and herbs. Use your hands or a large spoon to toss the vegetables around a bit to coat them thoroughly.

    Cover the cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Place prok in center of cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle both sides with salt, pepper, and herbs. Dump veggies from bowl around the pork.

    Roast for 20-25 minutes. Pull the pork and set aside to rest. Pop veggies back in oven for an additional 10 minutes or until turnips are soft and golden.

    Dinner done!


    I hope you enjoy these 3 Fast and Easy Paleo Meals because I sure do and they are definitely husband approved.

    -Adina Mayo

    Thursday, January 25, 2018

    It’s no secret that I am a big proponent for meditation.

    Meditation is a key part of Hal Elrod's The Miracle Morning.

    I'm am so obsessed with this book, I'm telling everyone I know to read it. In fact, I just got off the phone with my DZ BFF, I was encouraging her to relax before her year end review, she's going to read it.

    In the Life S.A.V.E.R.S., the first S. stands for Silence...meaning meditation.

    Currently, I am using the Headspace app. While using this app I found 3 important meditations for dealing with chronic pain or illness.

    THE PAIN MANAGEMENT PACK

    First, headspace has a wonderful pain management pack. It’s a 30 day pack that takes you through learning how to manage your chronic pain.

    For me, the pack helped most when I was out and about in public and had a sudden pain flare strike.  Feeling helpless in a terrible moment: I’m not at home, I don’t have any of the items that help me through pain flare.  However, now I know a few techniques to take the edge off. Is it perfect? No. But, it does help me get through a situation until I can get to my house.

    Some of the things that most don’t realize about chronic pain and illness is that it goes hand in hand with depression and anxiety.

    Headspace also has a wonderful depression 30 day pack and anxiety 30 day pack.

    THE ANXIETY PACK

    I went through the anxiety pack first because I felt that that was what I needed immediately after finishing the Pain Management Pack.

    I was having anxiety about trying to fall asleep at night, riding in cars, what I was going to fix for dinner because I felt so bad, and many other things.  The anxiety pack really helped my breathing and focus. Andy Puddicombe the meditation guru's voice is so soothing and he really takes you through your thought processes when you are in an anxious moment. In fact, sometimes I can’t even hear him speaking in my head when I feel my anxiety ramping up.

    THE DEPRESSION PACK

    Depression is also something I never thought I would experience.

    I’ve always been a happy go lucky person, but after two years of nonstop nerve pain that was uncontrolled, I fell into a depression, and I didn't even know it.

    When I went into the depression pack just to see if it was something I wanted to do, that’s actually when I have the dawning realization that I was depressed. The 30 day pack really help me put things into perspective, when it was over, I decided to go seek medical advice for my general practitioner.

    If you have a chronic condition and you feel like you may be depressed I highly recommend this package. You may be similar to me and you just don’t realize it.

    In my experience, 3 important meditations for dealing with chronic pain or illness are the pain management, anxiety, and depression packs on Headspace. I highly suggest that if you suffer from any of these conditions to check them out. And sometimes they're even funny! I mean look at the update notice...hilarious!

    If you haven't checked out The Miracle Morning they have it in audio, if you like to listen and drive, or paperback.




    Wednesday, January 24, 2018

    I was walking in Walmart of all places yesterday and I could not believe my eyes when I saw this. Paleo Popsicles!

    I’m always looking for ways to treat myself tearing my healthy diet. There’s just sometimes when you need a pick me up. It’s also great when that pick me up is not bad for you or it doesn’t destroy all the hard work you’ve done with your diet.

    I tried these the other night, and they were really good. I also was surprised to see that the ginger component of this really settle my stomach down.

    I’m definitely going to be trying the other flavors. They have apple crisp, coconut, and strawberry passion. I’m thinking when spring comes around I’m definitely going to be trying that strawberry passion.

    The apple crisp also sounds great for fall and Houston Texas, because it still hot as hell.

    Ingredients: Filtered Water, Pineapple Juice, White Grape Juice, Pear Puree, Ginger, Chia Seeds, Guar Gum

    It was $4.94 at my Walmart so that's not bad if you are looking for a shortcut.  If you're like me, sometimes I'm in a pain flare or I'm exhausted so I just don't want to do it myself.

    Tuesday, January 23, 2018

    I really got into a collagen and matcha afternoon pick me up without the harshness of coffee. I know everyone faces tiredness at about the mid-afternoon point.  Sometimes when you do have a chronic condition, that old mid-afternoon slump turns you used to have, turns into a dead bone feeling of tiredness you just can't head bob your way out of.

    If you haven't tried Thrive Market yet, that is where I get the culinary matcha used to whip up this drink. It's amazing and I love it.  Thrive is great is you live in a small town (or even a big one) because they offer amazing prices. That is so beneficial to me as most of our income goes to my medical expenses.  Plus, not everyone has a Whole Foods Market near them.


    Thrive Market sells your favorite organic and non-gmo brands for up to 50% off retail.

    As I am mostly paleo, I put in a teaspoon of honey along with a tablespoon of full fat coconut milk, a scoop of collagen, and 1 teaspoon of matcha powder with about 8-12 ounces of Zico coconut water. All of which you can get on Thrive.

    Blend with your blending stick or blender and enjoy.

    From Matcha.com, its many health benefits, matcha…

    • Is packed with antioxidants including the powerful EGCg
    • Boosts metabolism and burns calories
    • Detoxifies effectively and naturally
    • Calms the mind and relaxes the body
    • Is rich in fiber, chlorophyll and vitamins
    • Enhances mood and aids in concentration
    • Provides vitamin C, selenium, chromium, zinc and magnesium
    • Prevents disease
    • Lowers cholesterol and blood sugar

    Matcha tea is an easy and simple way to add powerful health benefits to your everyday diet.
    We went crazy and decided to try one of those subscription meal delivery services. I was stuck in a rut of doing the same Paleo and Whole 30 meals back to back, and up and over and under!

    I looked at all of them, because there are a lot of services out there.  I had specific criteria...had to have organic options, had to be Paleo compliant, or at least enough where I could add a few things of my own to make it that way.

    Lo and behold...there is only one company out there (hopefully more will come soon) that met my criteria.  Sun Basket.

    It offers Paleo and Whole30 compliant meals.  They also use organic ingredients which makes my Regenerative Medicine doctor do a happy dance.
    I really hit my stride and went full force into bullet journaling this past July. I have used the 'normal' grid look to track and record my pain levels, sleep, etc.

    I went crazy and decided to jazz up my bujo (gotta love that slang) and started to do some mandala type designs. I ordered a wonderful template that helps create that circle tracker look you see on a lot of bujo's. It's a flat compass and protractor by Moxiedori on Etsy.



    I love that it fits in the back of my Leuchttrum 1917.  This way it is with me no matter where the bullet journal mood strikes.

    On this spread I wanted to stipple inside the Moon Tracker portion.  I'm still such an art nerd.  You can take the art teacher out of the classroom, but you can't take the art out of the teacher!
    Learning to do affirmations is still a work in progress but thanks to The Miracle Morning I really have been able to clarify them. Now being a chronic pain warrior I know I need to do affirmations.  This was my first attempt.  I didn't really get HOW to do affirmations.

    One of my favorite bullet journal bloggers suggested The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod and in it he explains how to create your own affirmations and how to make them work on a daily basis.

    Even if you don't have the mental capacity (I'm looking at you brain fog) to focus on making your own. Hal Elrod has some great ones on his website that you can start with.  I love his Health and Energy one and have been using that affirmation all of January.

    I really do recommend his book The Miracle Morning.  I will do a separate post on how it helped me to deal with my chronic pain later in January.

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