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

Friday, July 27, 2018

There's nothing easier than throwing on a bunch on sheet pan veggies in the over to roast while you are busy grilling steaks.

Look next week for my Ladies Grilling Guide...

Right now I'm loving roasted radishes, broccoli, and red onion. Super simple to make and you can even use frozen if you are one of my chronic pain comrade in arms.

Summer Steak Side Dishes
1. Roasted Radishes, Broccoli, and Red Onion

1 bunch of radishes
1 lb of broccoil
1 red onion

Scrub the radishes, cut in half lengthwise and then into quarters. Cut the broccoli into 1 inch florets. Cut the onion in half and then into 1/2 inch half moons. Dump all veggies into a large bowl. Drizzle with Avacado Oil, salt and pepper. Stir well. Roast on a sheet pan at 425 for 30-35 minutes.
2. Roasted Beets and Sweet Potatoes

1 bunch of beets
2 sweet potatoes

Peel the beets and sweet potatoes. Cut into 1/2 cubes. Toss with avacado oil, salt, pepper, and herbs de provance. Roast on a sheet pan at 425 for 30-35 minutes.
3. Green Bean Salad

1 lb of fresh green beans
2 tomatoes
zest of 1-2 lemons
4-6oz of crumbled feta

Bring a large sauce of generously salted water to a boil. Trim the ends of the green beans. Cut away the core of the tomatoes and coarsly chop. Zest the lemon. Add the green beans to the saucepot and cook for 4-5 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water. Transfer to a lage bowl. Add the tomatoes, lemon zest, feta, and 1 t of olive oil.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

I don't know if you have heard this but Texans like steak. In fact, if you ever get the chance to visit the great city of Houston you need to check out Taste of Texas. It is an experience. The best part is they can make everything Paleo and Whole30 compliant.

If you can't hop on a plane and are just dying for a good steak...I've got you covered.

Honestly, I kinda hate giving my dry rub recipe away because it makes a delicious steak but here I go.

Paleo and Whole30 Texas Style Dry Rub

I started making my own dry rub because too many supermarket rubs or marinades have non-compliant ingredients in them, even the organic ones at Whole Foods had a form of sugar in them.

Supplies:
Large Bowl
Funnel
Mason Jar or an airtight jar with rubber seal
Whisk
Herb grinder or mortar and pestle
Ingredients:
(Organic Where Possible)
1/3 c Onion Powder
1/3 c Garlic Powder
4 T Salt
3 T Pepper
1 T Mexican Oregano finely ground
1/2 T Smoked Paprika
1/2 c Cumin

Whisk all ingredients in a large bowl. Using the funnel pour into mason jar. Good for 2 years!

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Today I was sitting here contemplating life while crawling off the couch (I'm on day three of no coffee) to do my physical therapy exercises for my left shoulder.

In case you are just going me, let me catch you up. At the end of April, I severely hurt my left shoulder in yoga. It took me much too long to get into my orthopedic and by then, I had chronic throbbing pain.

So my diagnosis was shoulder impingement, rotator cuff tendonitis, and bursitis. It also took me much too long to get a steroid shot. Damn summer vacation and the doctor's taking off work.

Apparently, summer is not the time to hurt yourself!
So my PT is going ok...but I felt it could be better. I'm just not progressing fast enough or maybe I'm just so tired of being in pain. I'm on week 4 of my PT and my awesome Physical Therapist is on a much-needed vacation. I realize the irony here of saying he needs a vacation and my doctor's do not but - my doctor has literally taken off 6 weeks this summer - 6!

So I went to my favorite YouTuber's Bob and Brad the PT Guys as I like to call them. While I initially went there to see their shoulder impingement video, I found this gem.

15 Exercises You Should Never Do

A-MAZE-ING!

I have done almost all of these - flashbacks to my high school Colorguard days where we warmed up with windmill's every day. Ours looked prettier than the PT Guys but still! I'm seriously not questioning why I have joint pain now...of course if I actually do have Elhers-Danlos then that just makes it worse.

Definitely check out their YouTube Channel - it's amazing and has helped this chronic pain girl out on more than one occasion.


Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Ever since May I’ve had a really hard time keeping up with my bullet journal among other things.

This is also because I haven’t been doing my miracle morning for about three months now. I’m trying to diagram where my motivation is falling, I noticed that I kept up with my bullet journal more when I took the time to create beautiful layouts.

I think approaching August I’m going to jump back into spending more time creating a gorgeous design in my bullet journal. My goal this week is to get August set up and come to grips with my morning schedule.


I do love the miracle morning - that said - doing it from January to May, I felt less rested and more tired. I kept eating breakfast later and later and sometimes not at all.

Well, with all of the research I'm doing on cortisol and how it has such a strong connection to adrenal fatigue (which I also have) and hypoglycemia - the late breakfasts or zero breakfasts have contributed to my overall health.

I just kept becoming more and more exhausted and it definitely did not help that my golden retriever kept waking me up earlier and earlier. Hey, I'm supposed to be waking up to my 6:00 AM alarm not at 5:30 to feed you. UGH!

So the lack of sleep, not eating on time, and drinking too much coffee has landed me where I am now.

Back to the drawing board. So why did my carefully crafted habits fail when they were technically easy to follow?

Simplicity isn't everything but good rest and common sense are when it comes to troubleshooting problems. Now that I have had my hormone testing done, I'm convinced that sometimes habits fail due to unknown circumstances. In my case, eating too late and too much coffee just led me deeper down the rabbit hole to a place where I could not sustain my habits.

I'm working on a three-month detox for my adrenals so after that I want to re-read The Miracle Morning and see how to adapt and get back into it in a healthy way.

I want to streamline my morning routine so I can make sure I'm getting my journaling done but am getting food into my body at the exact right time. I can't wait for my adrenal books to get here so I can really delve into things like when to eat, when to snack, when to workout, so I can reset my cortisol.

Monday, July 23, 2018

After spending a couple of days with my amazing sister-in-law I truly realized the next level I needed to take my health journey to.

While I feel I know what my food triggers are*...she really knows what her food triggers are.

*I know that refined sugar, soy, and gluten are going to trigger a pain flare which is great but she knows things like pecans are a trigger for her or eggs...?!?! That frankly is amazing to me.

She did a food sensitivity test and diet to figure out her triggers and I think this is my next journey with my functional medicine doctor.

My most recent medical testing with him was a 30-day hormone test. It was exhausting trying to remember to do it exactly one hour after I woke up, but the results came back with estrogen and progesterone low but within range and slightly estrogen dominant. However, I had abnormally high cortisol levels in the afternoon and evening and non-existent testosterone levels.

I'm going to cover low testosterone in women next week.
So I initially thought how can I tackle my cortisol issues with diet. I really love that my shift in thinking immediately turns to natural remedies but I had to laugh when my doctor suggested yoga and meditation.

Um, yeah. I already do those...like every damn day. So this leads us to supplementation and diet.

Now, last year in July I was actually in Stage Three Adrenal FAILURE! I had NO cortisol. I had depleted all of it. I have battled my way out of that and my ability to do more, be in pain less, and not be wiped after a simple yoga session and shower is greatly improved.

However, I'm still not quite fully healed because apparently as soon as my cortisol production came back...it is still functioning abnormally: low in the morning and high in the afternoon and night.

So in my cursory search for cortisol, I, of course, found that most books involving the topic of cortisol are dealing with Adrenal Fatigue.

There are many, many books out there but I was really disappointed that almost every one was about a "Quick Fix" and "Lose Weight Fast."

Seriously?!?

Insert diatribe here about people not wanting to work hard for their health goals and are looking to do the minimal effort to feel better, lack of willingness to become knowledgeable about the subject matter, and would rather focus on the number on the scale instead of the numbers in their bloodwork and/or avoid the topic completely by binging another show on Netflix.

I want to know real, actual science behind cortisol and adrenal fatigue and what helps or triggers the malfunctions besides just 'daily stress.'


4 Foods to Avoid or Fix Elevated Cortisol....better known as Adrenal Fatigue.

So I did a toe dip in the pool of internet research to immediately find these 4 items. However, on a more serious note, I will be doing reading in an actual book to find out what other things are not great for cortisol, so stay tuned while I investigate further.


1. Sugar

Avoid it.

I already do avoid sugar so what gives here!

Sugar can alter your hormones and since cortisol is a hormone - cut out sugar. Now interestingly enough, when I started my Whole30 back in May I immediately dropped weight. Thinking this was strange since I'd been eating paleo for over a year #breadwinnerbff and I tried to diagram what was the change and the only thing I could think of was that I was only eating two servings of fruit instead of my normal 3 or 4.

So she and I agreed that something was causing inflammation (the key here is not weight gain but inflammation) and maybe more than two servings a day of fruit is still too much sugar for me.

What can I say? Me likey the fruit.

2. Caffeine and Specifically Coffee

Avoid it.

Caffeine spikes your cortisol levels - it makes them rise. The true 'natural' cortisol that is supposed to exist in humans functions like this:

Your cortisol rises just before waking in order to wake you up and get your going for the day. Over the day your cortisol tapers off gradually until bedtime when it is at it's lowest in order to help you sleep. Caffeine makes your cortisol rise so drinking a some in the morning can increase that awake effect but drinking one in the afternoon breaks your body's natural cycle.

Once that cycle is broken and altered it becomes an endemic problem - more caffeine - more cortisol - more exhaustion.

Coffee is a naturally occurring source of cortisol.

Ok, this just straight up upsets me. I love coffee but for the next month I'm going to limit it to just one cup in the morning to see how I handle it - if I'm still not seeing any changes with my food program or supplements then I'm going to reserve coffee for special occasions only.

3. Alcohol

Avoid it.

Alcohol like caffeine increases cortisol levels. I already don't drink much alcohol - I usually reserve it for special occasions and I generally only drink wine. I occasionally have a cocktail but that is pretty rare.

Now in my research on alcohol and cortisol levels, it seems that long-term use of alcohol has the most relationship effects regarding high cortisol levels. This makes sense and frankly is so similar to the caffeine problem - you're stressed - so you are already releasing cortisol - you have a beer to relieve that stress - your cortisol levels rise further.

4. Processed Foods

Avoid it.

Anything processed is not going to have good grains, healthy fats, or the complex fiber you need. I've ranted enough about processed foods in past posts, it's just not good for you. Sorry Mrs. Stouffers...

As I've said, across the board these are the 4 groups that seemed to be consistently mentioned on every health website I found. From here, information gets sporadically different, which is why I would like to check out some actual scientific evidence before I just go spouting a bunch of "avoid chocolate, no chocolate is good" nonsense.

Monday, July 16, 2018

I'm always trying new products in my quest for pain relief.

I'm still on a year and a half waitlist for Ehlers-Danlos testing. You'd think they could just have everyone come in and give their damn blood so we could get a move on. However, since I do have Adhesive Arachnoiditis, an untreatable and incurable disease of the spinal cord, the pain can at best be background noise throughout my day and at worst crying and convulsing on the floor.

I've experienced both in my journey and it just depends on the day. Regional nerve pain is too hard to predict and control.


Topical Chronic Pain Solutions


In my quest, I stumbled upon Charlotte's Web Topical Hemp Balm. Hemp is different from CBD products as it is covered under the 2014 Farm Act. It should be noted that CBD is not legal in all 50 states but Hemp is.

Thrive Market

I ordered this from Thrive Market to try for some of my worst nerve pain flares.

Right now, I have bursitis and shoulder impingement (rotator cuff tendinitis) in my left shoulder. My arm has been killing me for months to the point of wanting to cut it off. On top of my Adhesive Arachnoiditis pain, I have been pretty miserable. I can't lay on my left side for relief, nor can I lay on my right for relief.


This balm has been my saving grace. It takes about 30 minutes to work after applying but keeps the pain down for about 4 hours without having to take ibuprofen or naproxen which can kill gut bacteria and lead to Leaky Gut - a problem I have been battling for over a year now with the help of my functional medicine doctor.

I wish it would work a little bit longer and while it does great for my bursitis inflammation, it is hit or miss for my nerve pain. There is a stronger lotion that I may try when I run out of the balm so stay tuned to my chronic nerve pain journey.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Through numerous conversations and supportive shoves gentle nudges from #leohusband I've finally gotten past my mental roadblock of going back to work.

I've worked so hard to manage my symptoms of Adhesive Arachnoiditis that while I still have bad days, I have more good than bad. I've even had good months. Four weeks of good days. It's hard to beat that.

Now that I've committed myself to get out there and I've applied at several local community colleges, I'm now planning on how to get through my days when I am working. To me, that means an easy meal to put on the table while staying healthy.


Thrive Market

I've been trying out several 'pre-made' Paleo and Whole30 kits, meals, and corner-cutting / time-saving products like Thrive Market's Paleo Pizza Crust.


Thrive Market Paleo Pizza Crust Troubleshooting


Now before you nail me to the wall, I know that cheese isn't Paleo and yes, I put it on my pizza.

I want to state up front that I know most of my food triggers for pain and inflammation and cheese isn't one. I still don't eat much of it but when I do I'm comforted by its nutritional value. Cheese is a source of conjugated linoleic acid, a fat that may have anti-cancer, weight-reducing, and heart-protective effects.

On to the review...

For the first batch, I followed the directions to a T and it did not turn out well. The dough was way too sticky and when I rolled it out on my greased and floured wax paper it stuck like glue. So I had to ball it up again and start over. Ugh, I was so upset too because I rolled my first perfect circle!!
Take two!

So I followed the directions again and using my Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer with the dough hook I slowly sprinkled extra mix into the dough until it formed an actual dough ball, not a sticky mess.

Then instead of using wax paper, I used greased and floured parchment - that way I could cook it directly on the parchment without having to remove it and transfer it to a baking sheet - or in my case a pizza stone. Easy Peasy.


Thrive Market Pizza Crust Review

The crust had great texture and color. It was crisp and had a good pizza crust feel. Even #leohusband liked it. The 12" round pizza gave us each 3 small to medium size slices (sized compared to fast food pizza like Pizza Hut). However, the grain free crust had us nicely filled up and unlike major pizza chains - I didn't crave food within an hour or two. I was satiated.


Our one drawback was that the crust was...sweet.

The recipe called for a tablespoon and a half of honey. I think that was way overboard due to the fact that we could taste the sweetness. I would personally recommend 1 tablespoon or less of honey maybe even 1 and a half teaspoons.


Taste: ★★★☆
Chronic Pain Ease: ★★★★☆

As long as you are using a stand mixer with a dough hook this is quick and easy. However, if you don't have a stand mixer then I think you would end up standing up for a while to make this.  Also, definitely use the parchment.

Without a Stand Mixer:
Chronic Pain Ease: ★★☆☆☆

Monday, July 9, 2018

I deal with some sort of pain all the time.

I have Adhesive Arachnoiditis and Level Four Endometriosis - the most severe kind to have. I'm also on a long ass waitlist to see if I also have Ehlers Danlos. It's fun being me and I'm only slightly sarcastic when I say this.

Side note, my spunky much younger sister-in-law told me about a tee shirt that said, "I see your sarcasm and raise you some sass." I definitely need this tee.

Seriously, it is fun being me, pain and all, and after the two and a half years of darkness I was in, I can confidently say this.

However, that doesn't mean I get frustrated when new things occur or when I suddenly start having severe pain either in a known area or a brand new one.

This is where troubleshooting comes in. I have to ask myself if it related to my endometriosis or adhesive arachnoiditis first. If it's not - then I have to figure out what happened to me that this new issue is chronically hurting...(my knees, my shoulders, my ankles, etc.)
5 Ways to Troubleshoot Pain

1. What is New in Your Life?

Have you started a new supplement or medication, a new workout program, new eating habit, new furniture, or heck, even new shoes???

I have really emphasized starting only one new thing at a time. Unfortunately, I should take my own advice. Insert laughing until you are crying face here.

In one week, I bought a new sofa, started pilates (because yoga has currently messed up my shoulder), and driving myself around my giant mega-metroplex. Then I went on vacay with #leohusband to see his family. Talk about stupid. We got back late, late Thursday night and by Friday I was in so much pain my seven-step process didn't work. I was in so much pain I eventually passed out due to exhaustion around 1 AM.

Luckily, I woke up Saturday around a 5 and have worked hard to keep my pain at a 5.

So again, don't do what I did these last two weeks, try to stick to one thing at a time to see how it is affecting you.

2. If you Start Hurting, Immediately Stop.

This is a great piece of advice from my Physical Therapist and a Level (something or other but extremely advanced) Iyengar Yoga Teacher, I had the lucky opportunity to take a private lesson from.

If I'm totally honest, I'm also bad about this. I have a hard work ethic and sometimes I have this drive to work through the pain because I want to get stronger. Unfortunately, this backfires on me all the time. If you are doing something that hurts, as in sitting, standing, and new exercise etc. Immediately stop and do something different.

In the middle of writing this, my nerve pain turned on and I immediately got up and got ice to sit on. After I complete my thoughts here I will probably start a new sewing project so I am moving around and not sitting down. Plus, my mind is distracted so double bonus.
3. If That Area is Talking to You, Don't Scream Back at It

My #breadwinnerbff and I were talking about her getting back into CrossFit. They did a day of arms and shoulders and she was commenting on either taking the day off because her shoulder was 'talking to her' or letting the trainer know at the gym to modify her workouts so she doesn't injure her shoulders.

Oh, how I wished I had that conversation with my yoga teacher back in April. My left shoulder was still talking to me a week later and revisiting all the exercises we did in the previous week landed me with shoulder bursitis and impingement. You don't ever want bursitis or any kind. It sucks just as bad as my adhesive arachnoiditis. Ugh!

So the point here is if you are aware of an area in your body because it has been overworked then don't work it further, especially if you are over the age of 30! 18-year-olds can do that crap, not you.

4. There are Sore Muscles and Then There's 'Holy Crap, Cut This Part of My Body Off'

I've been sore and I've been sore where it's kicked off my arachnoiditis, but with a true injury - there's throbbing, limited movement, and sharp pain. This is the kind of thing that needs medical attention. The first week I overtaxed my left shoulder I was sore but I could still move and had no agonizing pain. The second week was a totally different story.

If I could have cut my shoulder off I would have. That is not normal and if you are feeling anywhere along these lines then you should get a doctor's appointment immediately.
5. Surgery Should be Always Your Last Option

There are some people who believe that if you step into an orthopedic's office that they will immediately recommend you have a surgery. Now, this is quite possible but I believe a good orthopedic surgeon will exhaust all options first before suggesting surgery.

If you go to an orthopedic surgeon that immediately suggests surgery, get a second and third opinion. If there is severe damage then yes, you may have to have surgery but in most cases, you can recover with physical therapy and a combination of pain management treatments like acupuncture or dry needling, ultrasound, steroid injections (never get a spinal steroid injection), cryotherapy or topical medications.



Tuesday, July 3, 2018



To me nothing says summer like BBQ.

It's a southern thing I guess. I prefected my BBQ pulled pork recipe last year at #leohusband's request. He loves pulled pork and I love it because it is so easy to make. Just put it in the Crockpot and forget it. Last minute company or plans - use your Instant Pot.
Whole30 and Paleo Pulled Pork


Ingredients:
14 oz of Whole30/Paleo BBQ Sauce
1 pork shoulder (approx 2.5 lbs)
1T fresh lemon juice
1 medium diced onion

Place roast in Crockpot or Instant Pot.

Crockpot:
Cook on low 10-12 hours or high 5-6.

Instant pot:
Place on wire steaming rack. Add 1 c of water to bottom for 8 q or 1/2 c for 6 q. Cook on high pressure for 30 mintues with a 10 minute release.

When cooking cycle is complete for both Crockpot and Instant Pot, remove roast and discard cooking liquid.

Shred pork with 2 forks and return to Crockpot or Instant Pot.

Add BBQ sauce, lemon juice, and diced onion.

Cover and cook on high (slow cooker high setting on Instant Pot) for 1 hour.


Serve on buns or over coleslaw salad or both. That's how #leohusband does it. I do it with just the coleslaw to stay compliant.



Monday, July 2, 2018





There's not a whole lot of recipes for Whole30 or Paleo BBQ sauce that don't use exotic ingredients like Tamarind. Since I don't live anywhere near a market that would sell that I had to come up with my own recipe.

I will warn you, this is a Texas Style sauce, therefore it is vinegar heavy and not sweet.

Whole 30 and Paleo BBQ Sauce

Ingredients:
1 large onion diced
2T compliant oil
6 cloves of garlic
16 oz of organic tomato sauce
4 dates chopped and diced finely
2 T of coconut amnios
4 T apple cider vinegar
2 t black pepper
1/2 t salt
4 t ground mustard
1 t Wright's All Natural Liquid Smoke Hickory or 1 t of smoked paprika

Equipment:
Medium Saucepan
Blending Stick
Mason Jars
Measuring Spoons

Make it:



In a saucepan saute the diced onion and garlic until browned. Add the tomato sauce, dates, coconut amnios, apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper,smoked hickory (or smoked paprika) and ground mustard.

Stir Well.

Bring to a simmer for 10 minutes and then using a blending stick or your blender, completely blend the BBQ sauce.





To bottle:

Make sure your mason jar is sterile by thouroughly cleaning them with boiling water or washing them on the sterilize cycle on your dishwasher.

Pour your sauce into the bottle while is just off the simmer. Be caeful and I recommend rubber gloves for protection.

Immediately tighten the cap and allow to gently cool. The cap should seal.

Can be stored in the refridgerator for a few months but use it within a week of opening/breaking the seal.






Serve over all BBQ but I especially recommend my pulled pork recipe coming tomorrow!

Sunday, July 1, 2018



I've always hated coleslaw even before I gave up sugar. I'm sorry but a 'salad' should not be sweet.

However, #leohusband has a thing for pulled pork sandwiches - the Carolina kind with coleslaw on the top. Last year, I endavored to make a Whole30 and Paleo Version of these treats for his birthday. It was a great day - celebrated at one of our local craft breweries with friends and family. Several of the ladies in attendence, including me, are all on a health journey so it was even more important to come up with a recipe enjoyed by all.



Whole 30 and Paleo Southern Cilantro Coleslaw

Ingredients:

2 bags of organic coleslaw mix - the ones with carrots, green, and red cabbage
2 green onions sliced on the diagonal
1/2 c of chopped cilantro
2T Primal Kitchen Mayo
3T fresh lime juice
Sambal oblek to taste

Equipment:
Large Bowl
Small Bowl
Whisk
Measuring Spoons
Juicer

Make it:

Wash all the produce. The coleslaw mix should already be washed.

Spin dry the cilantro in a lettuce spinner.

Dump the two bags of coleslaw mix into a large bowl. Toss well.

Chop the cilantro and add to the bowl. Toss again.

Cut the green onions finely on the diagonal. Add to the bowl and toss.



In a seperate small bowl, add the mayo, lime juice, and sambal oblek. If you like things spicy then add about a tablespoon, if not, I recommend a 1/2 teaspoon.

Whisk the wet ingredients together until they are completely incorporated. Pour over the salad mix. Toss to coat everything evenly. Refrigerate for one hour before serving.

Serve on its own or over pulled pork. Stay turned for my BBQ sauce and Pulled Pork recipes!

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