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

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Yoga practice that includes supported and inverted poses increases circulation of lymph—a clear, watery fluid that moves through the body picking up bacteria and viruses and filtering them out via the lymph nodes.

Unlike blood, which moves as a result of the heart pumping, lymph moves by muscular contractions.

Physical exercise, such as yoga, is key for keeping lymph flowing.

The movement of lymph is also affected by gravity, so anytime your head is below your heart— for example, in Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend) and Salamba Sarvangasana (Supported Shoulderstand)—lymph moves into the respiratory organs, where germs often enter the body. When you return to an upright position, gravity drains the lymph, sending it through your lymph nodes for cleansing.

However, the regular layman is not an expert at Salamba Sarvangasana. Heck, I've been doing serious yoga for over a year now with an everyday commitment and I'm not super comfortable with Supported Shoulderstand. 

Therefore do what I did and invest in an inversion table. Plus, you get the added benefit of traction.

5 Ways to Drain Your Lymphatic System

1. Hang Upside Down
I have an inversion table, the Innova ITX9600 Heavy Duty Inversion Table and I love it. It moves my spinal fluid for me because mine doesn't move on its own anymore, it clears my lymph, takes pressure off my compressed lumbar, and gives my spine traction.

However, you can't just get on and flip yourself upside down.  You have to work up to the 85°.  

Start with 30 sec at 15° and over the course of a month work up to 3 min.  

The next month increase the angle to 30° again taking a month to work up to 3 min. 

3rd month is 45°, 4th month is 60°, and the 5th and final month is 85°

2. Child's Pose

Balasana - Child's Pose

Begin by sitting on your feet, with your knees separated and your big toes touching. With your eyes closed, fold your torso forward, letting your forehead rest on the floor or on a support like a bolster, blanket, or block so your head and neck can rest more fully. Place your arms on the floor in front of you.

3. Downward Facing Dog

Adho Mukha Svanasana - Downward-Facing Dog

From Child’s Pose, press your hands into the floor, tuck your toes under, and lift your hips up and back into Down Dog. Rest your head on a support. Extend through your inner arms while pressing the tops of your thighbones firmly back and away from your face.

4. Standing Foreward Bend

Uttanasana - Standing Forward Bend

This one is easy, you used to do it all the time in elementary school. You know where you bend over and touch your toes, or at least you used to.  Use a yoga prop or a chair it you can't touch your toes.

From Down Dog, walk your feet up until they are in line with your hands, hip-width apart. Clasp the back of your heels with your hands, gently bringing your torso toward your legs.

5. Dry Brushing

In 11 Tips for Losing Weight with Chronic Pain and Illness, I talk about dry brushing.  How flushing your skin, lymph, and fascia increases blood flow, reduces inflammation, water weight, tightens your skin, and moves your lymph.




I searched all over YouTube and this was the best video I found that wasn't about some attention-grabbing, look how hot I am in my underwear while I brush myself 'instructional' video.

These women have good knowledge and the model looks like she is an Olympic Athlete, not a Hawaiian Tropic Model.

Now go drain your lymph and reap the benefits!

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

My newest and best tool for organizing my morning is Hal Elrod's The Miracle Morning or TMM for short.

TMM states to get up an hour early and essentially have some much-needed me time: mentally, soulfully, and physically. Eldrod calls his morning routine Life S.A.V.E.R.S.

S is for silence (meditation or prayer or both)
A is for affirmations
V is for visualization
E is for exercise
R is for reading
S is for scribing (journaling)
He also says to do this no matter what time you go to bed. He has lovely affirmations to read to get hyped and good tips on how to get you out of bed.

I did his program faithfully for 30 days and my pain levels definitely went up. I also simply lost energy or 'ran out of spoons' by lunchtime, if you want to put it into chronic pain terms. However, at the end of 30 days, I got more accomplished than I had in the last two years. That's results.

I caught onto the program when one of my favorite bullet journal bloggers was mentioning it in her New Year's post. She was talking about Level 10 Life Goals and I didn't know what that meant. So in researching it, I found that Level 10 Life was part of The Miracle Morning program.

On Amazon, there is a slew of TMM books, the original version, plus several new additions...one for realtors, salespeople, parents, and even college students.

I was not surprised to see that there was not a Miracle Morning for Illness...

Being ill, disabled, or suffering is to be a part of marginalized society. I will keep my social justice diatribe to myself, or attempt to at least.

Being used to the fact that most self-help, habit change, education, and inspiration books are written for normal people with average problems, I decided to give it a go with as open as a mind as I could get.

Sometimes my snarkiness can get in the way of a good read, but again, I have to realize that the author isn't thinking of someone with a devastating, painful illness when they are telling you to get out of bed at 4:30 AM or to assure you that you can function on 4 hours of sleep.
I know I can't unless I want a pain flare from hell.

So here is my:


3 Ways to Modify The Miracle Morning for Chronic Pain and Illness


1. Pick your bedtime and stick with it.

First off, those of you that work and have chronic illness and pain, bless you, I seriously don't know how you do it and I'm fully aware that I have advantages that allow me to stay homebound.

My point is, whether you do or you do not have a job, you need to figure out what is your sleep goal. 7, 8, 9 hours of sleep? more? You need to know. Spend time tracking your sleep and your energy levels.


I know that I need 7 - 8 hours of sleep to not run out of spoons and hopefully avoid a flare-up of my nerve pain.

I don't have a job so I 'technically' don't have to get up an hour early, but I do have yoga and physical therapy a couple of times a week. It would be nice to get a jump start on the day before I have to go...which is why I wanted to try TMM to begin with.

To get up by 6, I have to get in bed by 9 so I'm asleep by 10.

Yes, it takes me an hour to fall asleep.

It's called chronic pain for a reason.

I say my TMM affirmations to help me get ready to wake up. An hour into being in bed my sleep medicine kicks in and my lidocaine patches numb my nerves down to a 3 or 4 on the pain scale which is enough to go to sleep.

Hopefully, I stay asleep, but sometimes I don't (more on this later).

Either way, I should have gotten enough sleep to be awake by 6:00.


2. Just Be Consistent No Matter the Wake-Up Up Time

Let's say you had a high pain night, or the new medicine the doctor put you on made you throw up all night long. 

#truestory 

Don't get up an hour early, but when you do get up, do your TMM.

This past Friday morning I woke up with horrifying pain. This is nothing new, it happens once or twice a month.


In fact, I was dreaming I was in terrible pain...only to be woken up at 4 AM at an 8 on the pain scale. 

I crawled out of bed, grabbed my emergency snack and bottle of water, took my medicine and laid in bed waiting for the breakthrough medication to kick in. I did not get up when my furry, golden retriever alarm clock told me it was 6:30.

Side note, I had my dog trained so well after 30 days of TMM that I no longer have to set an alarm. He just wakes me up.

#leohusband got Fluffy Alarm Clock outside and fed. 

Meanwhile back at the lodge, I slept until 10:00 AM. When I did get up I immediately did my Life S.A.V.E.R.S.

Who cares that it's 10:00?

I still got them done and even though it set me back another hour to start my task list at 11:00, I felt happy I got my SAVERS in. Doing them made me productive for the rest of the day. SAVERS really kick start you, even on bad days.



3. It doesn't have to be an hour.

Elrod even mentions this in the book, somedays he has an early meeting and needs to get out the door. He describes using one minute for each lifesaver.

Basically, you can adjust the program to tailor to your needs.

My program is different depending on the day, although some things remain consistent.

S - I always do my 10 min of Headspace

A - My affirmations are usually 3 - 5 min. 5 minutes if I have plenty of time, 3 minutes if I have yoga or PT that day

V - Same as above, what I usually like to do is combine affirmations and visualization to 5 minutes on a 'quick' day

E - I'm slowly working up to 2 min planks. I add this in with a couple of yoga asanas, except on yoga class days, those days I just plank. My E is anywhere from 4 - 15 min depending on what I have going on. Cleaning the house day...just planks. Yoga class...just planks. Nothing physically demanding that day...full routine.

Consistency here is key.

Since I workout every day I'm building more muscle and the intensity is low, so I'm less likely to have a pain flare.

If you are a completely inactive chronic pain patient you may want to check out my guide to getting started on a workout program. Instead of 10 min, I would say start with a 1 min slow walking lap around your house or 1 min of soup can bicep curls on each arm. Start slow!

R - I normally read for at least 10 minutes. Usually, it's longer because when my timer goes off I read until I get to the next section.

S - I love that this program has built-in journal time. I always spend at most 10 minutes in my bullet journal. This has made my consistency skyrocket on keeping up with my bujo. My trackers are accurate. My goals and task list are always at the forefront because this is the last thing I do in my SAVERS.

It is worth mentioning that Elrod also states that you don't have to do them in order. I just prefer it this way because after my workout is over I finish the rest of my water and grab a cup of coffee to enjoy while I read and bullet journal.

I really do recommend checking out TMM and read it with an open mind especially if you have a chronic condition.

I definitely remember thinking, "Sure sounds easy when you don't have a night of painsomnia..." However, I think the actual morning routine and habit forming process can lead to a healthier mindset and enable you to do things you did not think were achievable.

Monday, February 26, 2018

According to the last blood test I had, I have less than 5% production of estrogen, 1% cortisol, .04% progesterone and literally, I heard nothing after that...something about my testosterone also being low and having Hashimoto's.

.04% progesterone?!?!  I'm (or I was at the time) 37 for Pete's sake. Seriously?!

So was it the pain that I was in? Or all the medicine for the pain that I was in?  What totally screwed up my hormones, adrenals, and thyroid?

What came first the chicken or the egg?

9 Signs Something is Wrong with Your Hormones

Two weeks ago I talked about the 5 side effects of chronic pain and illness that no one talks about.  Hormones were number two on that list.

If you are and have been stressed to the breaking point and beyond then you have altered your hormones.  End of story.

How?

Stress and emotions are very closely linked with hormones.

Stress makes your cortisol kick in.  Too much stress over a period of time puts a strain on your adrenal system.  Long periods of high stress, like several months to year or more, your cortisol hormone disappears and you enter adrenal failure.

In adrenal failure long enough your thyroid fails, and it becomes a chain reaction.

That's where I am.  My functional medicine doctor luckily got to me in stage 3 adrenal failure.  I have almost zero hormone production...and the signs were all there.

1. Headaches

Traditionally, testosterone and estrogen have been considered to be male and female sex hormones, respectively. However, estradiol, the predominant form of estrogen, also plays a critical role in male sexual function. Estradiol in men is essential for modulating libido, erectile function, and spermatogenesis.

As it is seen, estrogen is the main hormone in keeping the body fit and dips in estrogen first results in a headache.

2. Mood Swings and Brain Fog

A fluctuation in the hormones creates a blur in the brain like a fog hence the term foggy memory. Although it’s common during menopause it can be an underlying symptom of other hormone related issues.

Depression is a state of mind which makes you feel irritated, sad, anxious all at the same time for no fault of yours. Stress is the main culprit. There are major mood swings seen during this time. The imbalance in the hormone affects the brain chemicals.

I'm always been pretty goofy, I would say maybe bordering on happy go lucky, but my artistic brooding side keeps me from being completely in that category. I'm quick witted and funny.

This changed. I don't know if it was an overnight change (Note to self, ask #leohusband) or if it was gradual with the decline of my hormone production.

Either way.

I changed and not for the better. I wasn't quick on the uptake anymore. I didn't crack jokes nor did I understand them.  After my pain was in control, for the most part, I started sleeping and this symptom did not go away, we knew we needed to consult my doctor.


3. Insomnia and Tiredness

Tiredness is often mistaken as laziness. Being tired all the time need to be checked. Low levels of thyroid hormones rob you of your energy and make you sleepy.

The pain kept me up but after I got it under control, I still couldn't sleep. Mostly I would fall asleep between 10 - 12, depending on when my pain medication kicked in and then wake up around 2 or 3 every day, for over a year.

Once the worst part of my pain flares stopped, I still couldn't sleep.  With non-existent hormone production, you can't sleep, even with sleeping medication.


4. Food Cravings, Insatiable Hunger, Weight Gain, Inability to Lose Weight

There's hungry and then there's you just ate an 18 oz steak, sweet potato, green beans, and a salad an hour ago and you're still hungry.  You are not Michael Phelps.  You are not burning food that fast. No, but your hormone monster is demanding to be fed.

I did a great post on how to lose weight but if you are giving it you honest and true best effort and aren't you need to look further.  At your medicine and at your hormone levels.  Something there is off.  For me, it was my gabapentin and adrenal failure that kept me from losing weight.

5. Acne

Acne or two is not a worry, nevertheless, if it’s a persisting issue it can be a symptom of hormonal imbalance. Excess androgen overwork the oil glands clogging the pores creating breakouts.

6. Sexual Interest

I feel this is self-explanatory but I'm going to touch on it anyway. If you have an increase or decrease in this area, it's a hormone issue.

7. Hair Loss and Hair Thinning

Hair loss is common in men, high levels of testosterone increase the chances of balding.  However, stress can cause hair loss or thinning. If it's not genetic...it might be hormones and stress.  Hair loss is a major sign of hormone issues, especially if you are a woman.

8. Unexplained Prostate and Vaginal Issues

Estrogen levels increase significantly in the prostate with age. One of the leading causes of prostate issues in men is hormone imbalance.

Frequent infections, unexplained burning, loss of moisture, frequent ovarian cysts, all of these could be caused by hormone imbalances.

9. Men

Low semen, low libido, and erectile dysfunction

In a normal person, the follicle stimulating hormone and the luteinizing hormone work together in the reproductive system. In this case, the imbalance creates infertility due to low sperm count and mobility.

9. Women

PMS from hell and/or Long, Heavy, Irregular Periods (or worse both) 

PMS is a time when women notice severe hormone imbalance. I could tell something was off when I changed into a completely different person after ovulation.

The previous 20 years of PMS were nothing compared to the absolute depression, irritation, anger, and fatigue I felt post arachnoiditis.

Heavy Periods, we all have the occasional period that is really heavy, heck I thought my periods when I was on Warfarin (blood thinners for my Deep Vein Thrombosis or DVT) were the absolute worst. I even have Severe Level IV Endometriosis, three surgeries to date for it.

Nothing I had experienced in the past compared to hormone depleted, adrenal failure periods.  6-8 weeks of heavy bleeding.


If you have any of the above symptoms I suggest talking with your doctor, preferably a functional medicine doctor.  Next week, I will discuss natural and homeopathic treatments for hormone imbalances.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Olive Garden's Zuppa Toscana Soup is one of my favorites of all time. Now #leohusband and I tend to lean toward Mom and Pop type eating establishments.  We rarely dine at chain restaurants with a few exceptions. Olive Garden and Pappasito's are those exceptions.

There is an Olive Garden halfway between my longtime BFFs house and mine that we like to meet and double date at.

I always get the Zuppa Toscana - Spicy Italian sausage, fresh kale and russet potatoes in a creamy broth. Made with gluten-free ingredients, according to the menu. Side note I love it when restaurants put Gluten Free next to a steak menu item.

Eating at an Italian restaurant isn't usually a great Paleo or even a Whole30 go to.  Even this soup isn't because I know that the Italian sausage has sugar in it, it's made with dairy milk, and probably has even more sugar added to the base.

However, I do love it and if it's too cold for me to eat salad, I'm weird that way.  Then it's my go to.

So I was thinking it had to be easy to make it.  I'm usually famous for guessing people's "secret ingredient" by the taste or smell.  So I already know the basics, broth, milk, sausage, kale, potatoes, onions...but there is probably garlic in there as well.

So let's make it Whole30 friendly since it's still technically February and I'm just not ready for salad season yet.

Whole30 Tuscan Soup

Ingredients

1 lb ground pork
6 slices of Whole30 Approved bacon, cooked and crumbled
4 large red potatoes, peeled and diced (sub in white sweet potatoes if you don't eat potatoes)
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 box of baby kale, roughly chopped or torn
8 oz of full-fat unsweetened coconut milk
4 cups beef bone broth
1 cup chicken bone broth
1 tsp garlic, minced
1 bunch fresh Italian parsley, washed, de-stemmed, and roughly chopped
2 tsp salt divided
2 tsp black pepper divided
1Tbl of Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp fennel

Instructions

Cook the bacon until crispy in a skillet on the stove.  I personally like to just throw on extra bacon when I'm cooking breakfast or another meal that week that involves bacon. Transfer to a paper towel, blot, and let cool.

While the bacon is cooking wash the parsley and start de-stemming the leaves.  If you are a chronic pain and illness warrior like me, sit in front of the TV while you de-stem.  Check on the bacon every 3-5 minutes.

After you have the leaves separated, roughly chop them and set aside.
Set the instant pot to sauté and add the ground pork in the pot, 1t of the salt and black pepper, the Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, and fennel. Combine thoroughly. Cook until browned and drain on paper towels but leave the fat in the pot.

While the ground pork is browning, dice the onion.

Keeping the instant pot on sauté, add the onion and garlic to the fat and cook until translucent.

Remove some fat if desired. Add the Italian sausage back to the pot.

Turn the instant pot off sauté and pour in the broth, coconut milk, rest of the salt and pepper and potato. Stir to combine.

Lock the lid onto the instant pot and set to 13 minutes on high.


While the soup is cooking roughly chop or tear the baby kale and crumble the cooled bacon. Put the bacon and the parsley in serving bowls.

After the soup is done, do a 10-minute natural release. (Chronic Pain Warrior tip - clean up the kitchen and set the table if it's not already done)

Remove the lid and stir in the kale and allow to wilt in the hot soup.


Serve topped with bacon and parsley. I like LOTS of parsley in mine and #leohusband not so much so I like to let guests choose for themselves.

Enjoy!

Thursday, February 22, 2018

I recently retook the 5 Love Languages quiz from Dr. Chapman’s book, The 5 Love Languages. I've been at a crossroads in my life the last two years. I have drastically changed physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

It stands to reason that if I have changed, my love languages have also changed.  I wanted to see if this was true and sure enough, they had changed from receiving gifts to acts of service. I will say that words of affirmation still came in as second.

I wanted to retake the quiz because mainly I was trying to figure out why some things were bothering me at home.  

I have reached the point that I have my pain relatively under control, I'm doing positive things in life, I've come to terms with my situation, I'm stronger, I'm thinner, and have more energy.  I had to ask myself, why am I still cranky? frustrated? resentful? burned out from give, give, give?!?!

Well, my love language shifted and my needs were no longer being met.

According to Dr. Chapman, the Five Love Languages are Acts of Service, Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, and Physical Touch.

He defines each category below:

Acts of Service
Can vacuuming the floors really be an expression of love? Absolutely! Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on an "Acts of Service" person will speak volumes. The words he or she most want to hear: "Let me do that for you." Laziness, broken commitments, and making more work for them tell speakers of this language their feelings don't matter. Finding ways to serve speaks volumes to the recipient of these acts.


Words of Affirmation
Actions don't always speak louder than words. If this is your love language, unsolicited compliments mean the world to you. Hearing the words, "I love you," are important – hearing the reasons behind that love sends your spirits skyward. Insults can leave you shattered and are not easily forgotten. Kind, encouraging, and positive words are truly life-giving.


via GIPHY
Quality Time
In the vernacular of Quality Time, nothing says, "I love you," like full, undivided attention. Being there for this type of person is critical, but really being there – with the TV off, fork and knife down, and all chores and tasks on standby – makes your significant other feel truly special and loved. Distractions, postponed dates, or the failure to listen can be especially hurtful. Quality Time also means sharing quality conversation and quality activities.


Receiving Gifts
Don't mistake this love language for materialism; the receiver of gifts thrives on the love, thoughtfulness, and effort behind the gift. If you speak this language, the perfect gift or gesture shows that you are known, you are cared for, and you are prized above whatever was sacrificed to bring the gift to you. A missed birthday, anniversary, or a hasty, thoughtless gift would be disastrous – so would the absence of everyday gestures. Gifts are visual representations of love and are treasured greatly.


Physical Touch
This language isn't all about the bedroom. A person whose primary language is Physical Touch is, not surprisingly, very touchy. Hugs, pats on the back, holding hands, and thoughtful touches on the arm, shoulder, or face – they can all be ways to show excitement, concern, care, and love. Physical presence and accessibility are crucial, while neglect or abuse can be unforgivable and destructive. Physical touch fosters a sense of security and belonging in any relationship.

This got me thinking, if I was feeling resistance at home, even with self-care days, maybe my idea of "Treat Yo Self" should also be aligned with my love language?

Over the next 5 weeks, we are going to discuss how to "Treat Yo Self" based on your love language.  I will offer some targeted self-care suited to your personality.


via GIPHY

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Adho Mukha Virasana - Child’s Pose 



Child's Pose helps to stretch the hips, thighs, and ankles while reducing stress and fatigue. It gently relaxes the muscles on the front of the body while softly and passively stretching the muscles of the back torso.

Child's pose is normally done on the floor on your knees.  However, if you have had trauma, or are a chronic pain patient you won't be able to do a traditional child's pose. 


This is how my yoga instructor put me in the pose because otherwise, I wouldn't physically be able to. Trying a do a traditional child's pose (which I probably could have forced my body into) would have caused pain.

To set up grab two chairs.  You want your legs at a 90 angle so add towels until your seat is high enough.  On the other chair layer pillows and towels up to support your chest.

Press your toes forward, release the back and pelvis skin toward the chair. Support the upper body and relax for 1-5 minutes. Start with 1 and over a month work to 5.

Then work towards the floor. Took me a year. 

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

What is a Capsule Wardrobe and Why You Should Start One Now!?!

Especially if you have too many demands on your time, your energy, your health, and your life.

Capsule Wardrobe
French Wardrobe
KonMari Wardrobe
Project 333
Be More With Less Dressing

All of these terms describe the same idea. It is the idea of having a beautiful wardrobe of a few items that mix and match to create multiple outfits.

It is the idea that 50 items (or 33 in the case of Project 333), including shoes, belts, jewelry, and accessories, gives you more freedom.

Freedom from what?

Freeing up your time in the morning because you have fewer decisions to make regarding your clothing choices.
Free energy because you have less decision fatigue.
Freedom from doubt that you don't look and feel your best because you kept only the items that make you feel delectable.
Freedom from guilt for impulse clothing buys.
Freedom from shopping highs.
Freedom to say no to something that doesn't fit into your capsule.
Freedom to buy quality items that last.
Freedom from competition with other people's (and advertiser's) idea of what you should wear and buy every year.

    As a chronic pain patient, I can't even count how many hours I have stood in my closet feeling I had nothing to wear.

    Feeling that I was ugly.

    Feeling unsexy and undesirable.

    Feeling upset, miserable, and guilty that I had lots, and lots, of beautiful clothes that I could not wear, did not want to wear or did not make me feel beautiful.

    I should not be standing that long trying to put on clothes in the morning.

    That's bad for me physically but what about people with no problems? They don't have the time to be standing in the closet either. You have a job to get to, or kids to get out the door to school, or both.

    How can your life get immediately easier? Create less decision fatigue.

    Clean out your clothes for good and create a capsule wardrobe.

    Capsule Wardrobe 101


    Get all of your clothes, and I mean all of them.

    ALL OF THEM! 

    The ones you hid under the bed. The boxed up clothes from undergrad in the attic. The clothes in your storage unit. The ones in the upstairs closet. Hell, get the ones still stored at your parents' house. Pile everything on the bed and start your first sort.

    Project 333 creator states putting it on your bed so you have to get it done. I did this even though I knew doing this in one day was going to cause a pain flare. It made me get it done by the end of the day.

    It took me two days to recover from doing this.

    The first day after I laid on the couch and watched TV. Thank goodness Houston froze over because my husband had to work from home. He fed me.

    Day two I could move but was more energy wiped than hurting.

    First Sort - Love and Hate

    If you love it and are absolutely going to keep it put it on a hanger and put it back in the closet sorted by color (this is important for later).

    I love ROY G. BIV method of sorting my clothes. It's how I always knew one of my sorority sisters pilfered something of mine in the house.

    Reds (and variations of red like pink)
    Oranges
    Yellows
    Greens
    Blues
    Indigos (Dark Blues)
    Violets (Purples)

    Then your neutrals:
    White
    Cream
    Brown
    Navy (Anything Blue Jean)
    Gray
    Black

    If you hate it get rid of it.

    This means it looks frightening on you.

    This could have been a gift, an impulse buy, fad fashion from 10 years ago, or something you wore when you were 18 and now you're 38.

    Make two piles one for a donation if it is still a good item and one for the trash. Items that have stains, holes, and reek of body odor should be thrown away.


    Second Sort - It Might Fit Again

    Now you should have what you love and hate separated, you have a bunch of maybes leftover.

    Now it gets hard. This is the pile of clothes that have possibilities but also have negatives. If it doesn't fit anymore it needs to go. I know that you think to yourself I just need to lose that 5 pounds...

    Toss it.

    If you lose the 5 pounds treat yourself to something new that is a quality item. You know in your heart of hearts that if you do end up losing the weight you are going to want new clothes to treat yo self with.


    Practice the KonMari Method of discarding clothes, hold it in your hands, thank it out loud for being an amazing ___ (dress, skirt, top or jeans) and let it go.

    Do this for all clothes that no longer fit.

    Now separate the too small or too big clothes into donate and discard.

    I had both as I was in the middle of my weight loss journey. Let me tell you, getting rid of the big clothes was actually harder than the small ones because of the fear that I might be that big again and would need those big clothes.

    Third Sort

    You should now have clothes you love and clothes that fit you.

    Of the clothes that fit you. Pick each piece up and hold it. How does each piece make you feel? Good? Happy? Sexy? Irresistible? If these words do not describe to you how you feel, then let that item of clothing go.

    Almost done!

    Of the clothes that you are now (for the most part) keeping, start matching them up to other clothes in your closet to break them up into seasons.

    I divided my clothes into:

    Winter - December, January, and February


    Spring - March, April, and May


     Summer - June, July, and August


    Fall - September, October, and November


    The Fourth and Last Sorting

    Clothes that did not match any color schemes.  I had weird one-off colors that just didn't go with anything else.  I also put those into the donate pile.

    To find your color schemes:

    Since I live in Texas I have to be prepared for all weather occasions. Just take this winter. One day is 70°F the next is 15°F. In my winter wardrobe, I have tank tops and shorts to wool lined trousers and sweaters. So I have to have a variety of options.

    Summer for me only involves shorts and dresses.

    Figure out what you need based on seasons.

    For instance, I don't have that many long sleeved items because...Texas. The few items I had obviously were going to be used in November, December, January, and February.

    You can see a better idea of what I am describing in this video. Laid out on the bed, I am already matching up color schemes. I'm also talking about how when I was suffering from uncontrolled high pain how shopping for clothes was one of my addictions.


    I would like to state that I went shopping with my husband this President's Day sale and didn't buy any clothes, that was a huge step for me.

    Going to a capsule wardrobe has really helped me save time, energy, and unbelievably money.  I feel happier with less because I'm not weighed down with stuff that has so many negative feelings associated with them. I also don't feel the urge to shop because I like my wardrobe the way it is.

    Monday, February 19, 2018

    Today I would like to discuss some of the things I touched on last Monday with 5 Side Effects of Chronic Illness that No One Talks About...

    Weight Gain
    30 pounds lighter than 2017 and 2016 but it took sacrifice
    and hard work to achieve despite the pain.


    There are lots of depressing things about being diagnosed with a chronic illness and disease but weight gain, for me, was one of the most depressing and expensive side effects I experienced

    Expensive because I had to buy clothes I could fit in.

    Depressing because I did not find myself attractive as well as, the quality of food I was eating was not healthy or beneficial for my brain.

    Then why didn't you just avoid gaining weight in the first place?

    Picture this, you are already upset that you are in pain or sick. Maybe you have been in this state for a while. All you really know is you used to be X and now you are Y.

    You've been to doctor after doctor trying to get a diagnosis, in and out of surgeries, treatments, and a vast array of different medications to either treat you or in my situation, make you comfortable.

    Each medication, surgical procedure, or treatment comes with its own version of side effects which ultimately set you up for a battle with weight gain.

    My Weight Gain

    At my largest, I feel I'm barely recognizable.
    My 5th Wedding Anniversary March 2017
    One month before my Adhesive Arachnoiditis diagnosis.
    I went into my first back surgery doing a Whole30. That's right. I started a Whole30 one week before my microdiscectomy. I even brought almonds, my own organic apple juice, and Larabars to eat in post-op.

    I stayed on the Whole30 throughout my first surgery recovery which was easy since I went off the Tylenol 3 a few days afterward. However, I still had to stay on the steroid pack until it was done.

    Then a month later I had chronic disc prolapse.

    Another steroid pack to see if it would calm things down, which didn't work and then I was back in surgery. A third round of steroids post-op and more Tylenol 3.

    This time my stomach was torn to shreds with 3 steroid packs in a row and Tylenol 3 becoming a constant daily necessity so I had to add in a slice of toast when I would take my painkiller. I was also taking it more often so that meant meals every 4 hours just so I could take my medicine, even in the middle of the night.

    The pain never stopped after this. Another month later, still complaining of non-stop pain I was given a 4th steroid pack. I was fed up and knew it was time to get further help.

    I finally landed in physical therapy and pain management 3 months after my second surgery. During my initial assessment in physical therapy, I found out I gained 30 pounds in just three months and I wasn't even eating "bad" food!!! I had the occasional treat but nothing outrageous.

    Even after starting physical therapy I didn't lose a pound. The start of 2017 forced me into a desperate wakeup call. I had a wedding to attend at the end of February and I desperately needed to lose weight in order to avoid buying an expensive dress.

    I did my 3rd Whole30, started yoga private lessons and doing yoga every day at home, on top of physical therapy, and lost nothing.

    That's when I knew. It was the medicine. I was on Gabapentin, Flexeril, and Tylenol 3.

    It didn't help that my pain was still vastly uncontrolled.

    My pain doctor switched me to Lyrica, I will save that discussion for another blog post, which worked imperceptibly better than Gabapentin but the side effects made it unable to take.

    Finally, a week before the wedding I ended up dropping $250 on a dress, the biggest size I've ever purchased I might add and had zero ways to treat my pain since my pain doctor washed his hands of me. Unfortunately, it would be several more months into 2017 and 5 more doctors until I found out what was wrong and get my pain under control.

    Now it's February of 2018 and I have finally lost the 30 pounds I gained and then some.

    How did I lose 30 pounds with intractable pain?

    Short version, doing anything and everything possible to get my pain under control to be able to workout and eating healthy, small proportioned meals.

    Long Version

    1. Acupuncture or Dry Needling for Pain Management

    You have to move to lose weight.  You just have to. It sucks since pain and energy loss is dominating your life but there it is.

    Dry needling, an alternative medicine treatment, helped me ease the greatest of my pain flares enabling me to build more muscle during my physical therapy and yoga sessions without massive pain flares.

    Working out still hurt and did cause me to have pain flares but instead of going to a 9, I went to a 7. If that doesn't seem like much then let me break it down for you.

    Level 7: I can move enough to get my IFC TENS unit on my body, grab an ice pack, and shove some food in my mouth to take my breakthrough pain medication.

    Level 9: I am crying and begging my husband to grab my IFC TENS unit and put it on me.  I am moaning out loud uncontrollably and I can't move it hurts so damn bad.  I am nauseous, on the verge of throwing up from the sheer amount of pain ripping through my body. I am unable to get food or even get my medication to take it.

    2. Supplements for Weight Loss and Pain Management



    I started researching supplements.

    These basic Amino Acids help with pain management and weight loss.

    (Check with your doctor before beginning any supplements)

    I started with 1000 mg Taurine, 500 mg Carnitine, 1000 mg Arginine, and 500 mg Colostrum as soon as I woke up with 16 oz of water.

    I gradually increased those over several months to:

    4000mg of Taurine
    1000mg Carnitine
    2000mg Arginine
    2000mg Colostrum

    I also increased my Turmeric/Curcumin to 6000mg a day for pain control over the same several months.

    3. Epsom Salt Baths

    Depending on your specific needs you need either a hot or ice bath.


    For me and anyone with MS, you should not expose yourself to more heat. I have neuroinflammation, which a hot or even a warm bath is going to cause more inflammation.

    Sure I would love to drop $800 a month on a cryochamber but who the hell has that kind of money?

    My pain solution and post-workout or fasciablasting treatment, Epsom salt ice baths with lemongrass and lavender.

    I won't lie. It's hell.

    3 minutes into it you get numb and the rest of the 17 minutes go by smoothly if you have a good book to read or a video to watch. Set a timer, get out, and put your comfiest lounge clothes on and drink some hot unsweetened chamomile tea.

    Do some research to see what kind of bath temperature would help you the most. The Epsom salt will help your muscles, the essential oils will soothe you and also help with pain.

    4. Eat Healthy and Do Portion Control


    I did another Whole30 and this time, despite the rule to not obsess over calories and measure food out, I had to weigh and measure out my food. I had to do the Whole30 and count my calories to start losing weight.

    After the Whole30 I immediately switched to Paleo and have been Paleo ever since.
    Yes that means even measuring out blueberries!
    I did three months of strict Paleo eating. Strict! No cheat days. By July of 2017, I finally lost about 15 pounds. Only 15 more to go!

    Research food programs that emphasize vegetables and proteins to find one that works best for you. I do find that the Whole30 is a great starting place with superb resources online that are free.

    5. Stop Eating Out

    Seriously. Just stop. Your body and bank account will thank you. Restaurant food has chemicals, preservatives, additives, hidden sugars, and too much salt. Even salads.

    6. Cut Out Alcohol and Soda (all kinds!) and Increase Water

    Stop drinking these.
    Period.
    Even diet sodas.

    This is key if you want to lose weight. I limit myself to a glass of red wine or two only for special occasions. Thanksgiving. Christmas. My Birthday. You get the picture.

    Start adding fruit slices to your water if you are craving a treat. If you need to have that fizz check out LaCroix. A month into cutting out soda, you will be over that craving.

    To increase your water, you need to take your body weight and divide that in two. Depending on your activity level, that is how many ounces you should drink.

    Let's take my husband, he weighs 165 and is very inactive because of his desk job. His body weight divided by 2 is 83 oz rounded up. That's how much water he should drink in one day.

    If he increases his activity level:
    Light that's an extra 8 ounces: 8+83 = 91
    Medium: 16+83 = 99
    Heavy: 24+83 = 107

    7. Be Sugar Free and Chemical Sweetener Free 

    Sugar is the worst thing for you.
    Cut it out.
    Leave it behind and move on with your healthier life.

    I could go on and on about how sugar is inflammatory, it makes you gain and keep weight on, and is more addictive than cocaine.

    Watch the documentaries Fed Up and That Sugar Film, do some research and whatever it takes to make up your mind about this issue and where it stands in your life.

    Chemical replacements for sugar are just as bad if not worse.

    8. Therapy

    Get a professional to talk to about what you are going through. Stress and depression can keep the pounds on your body even if you are working out and eating healthy. There also may be some underlying past experiences that cause you to overeat or seek comfort in food.

    9. Dry Brushing and Fasciablasting


    Dry brushing and fasciablasting target flushing your body and fascia to increase blood flow, reduce inflammation, water weight, tighten your skin, and move your lymph.

    There are numerous videos on YouTube on how to best dry brush and fasciablast.  This in conjunction with your increased water will help you eliminate and detox faster.

    If you are fasciablasting as a chronic pain patient I recommend following the same procedure as your baths.

    Even though they recommend heating up your muscles/fascia I will have an instant pain flare. I do mine "cold" and have experienced the same benefits.

    Ashley Black's Fasciablaster was a game
    changer for me.
    You should also go extremely light and slow. Only increase in speed after months.

    Also only start in one area. I chose my IT Bands on my right and left leg. I then added in my stomach after a month. Then my quads after another month, and so on, until I got up to doing my whole upper leg, glute, and stomach area.

    I still do not do my whole body as that would just too too much for me.

    10. Find Some Form of Exercise and Be Consistent

    Whether it is yoga, pilates, walking, or lifting soup cans, do something active.

    For tips on getting started see my 3 initial steps for starting a workout program post.

    11. Change Up Your Medication

    It's been three months.

    If you have faithfully completed a Whole30 or another corresponding program while doing portion control.

    Worked out at least 5 times a week.

    Added appropriate supplements to help you lose weight and completed all of the above tips and are still not losing weight or inches...It's your medication.

    Talking to your doctor about switching your medication is a difficult process, plus just trying to find something new that works is another terrifying procedure for anyone in pain or sick.

    However, if losing weight is going to help you in the long run, it's a topic that needs to be broached with your doctor.

    You need data though.

    Taking data to show your doctor about your program, trackers, and goals is necessary so they can see what you have been doing on your own to make an assessment that it is really your medication.  It's what truly helped my pain management doctor determine that dry needling was beneficial for me. So I was able to get another prescription.

    Having trackers and data can establish a timeline, show your routines, and highlight areas of progress or regression for your doctor.

    Check back with me to see how to start a Chronic Pain or Illness Bullet Journal to document your progress. Sign up under the "follow by email" to get the content delivered to your inbox.

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