Today my husband and I are celebrating our 11th wedding anniversary. He made the joke this morning that it has been 11 long years but I feel like the time has flown by. He does too honestly but it isn’t nearly as much fun as kidding your spouse. I still remember every moment of that day like it just happened. 11 years ago on this day it was also a Sunday and since it is Labor Day weekend we had an extra day for our guests to stay or have time to get home without too much hassle. I woke up on a similar day like this where the weather was perfect, the sun shining, and my mind racing. It was only racing because I was so excited but I had all day to wait. I had left my then fiance at the rehearsal dinner and told him I would see him tomorrow afternoon. I went back to my mom’s and when I woke up I was ready to go.
After a fantastic breakfast made by my mom the ladies were off and running to get our hair, nails and toes done. We had a few hours in the morning for the dazzle and then headed to the wedding where my dress waited, the rest of the ladies met us, and the guests would be arriving. I had spoken to Matthew that morning but had not seen him yet. As we were getting ready our wedding coordinator came down and said a very handsome man had arrived. I knew that was my soon to be husband. I was changing my life from single woman Nicole Snider to married woman Nicole Richard and I was so excited and nervous and scared and sick. I had just been diagnosed with MCTD 2 weeks earlier and I was on some serious medication trying to make it through the day with very little pain.
When I had ordered my dress and shoes I didn’t know what was in store for me and since I’m only 5’3” and my husband 5’11” I wanted to add a little height so I ordered 3” heels. Not a good idea with someone who has MCTD and her legs hurt so bad she can barely walk but it was what it was. 2 weeks earlier I told my then new doctor that the only thing I wanted was to be able to walk down the aisle to my new husband. He said I would get down the aisle but I had long road ahead of me that I needed to prepare for. My husband and I didn’t spend a lot of time of preparing for our wedding but we did spend a lot of time preparing for our marriage and our future. This MCTD deal was not part of that plan but sometimes plans are derailed. MCTD was going to be a big part of life and preparation was going to be key.
I took my medication, put on my shoes and walked down that aisle to my husband. He was as handsome as I had imagined and I couldn’t wait to get down there to him. We had a quick a ceremony and went right into pictures and the receptions. We had a dance that we spent months preparing for and as I look back on that evening there was nothing I would change. Still today as I think back there is truly nothing I would change about anything that happened in that day, evening and the last 11 years. Life doesn’t always take us in the direction that we want, expect or prepare for but it doesn’t mean it is necessarily taking us off track either.
If I didn’t get told 11 years ago that I had MCTD I might not be the health nut that I am now, I might not have started training for life and adding exercise to my life with the same determination that I do now, and I might not be the hardcore researcher that I have become. I do this so that I can be as healthy as possible while managing my MCTD so I can be the best wife I can. I don’t look at my life and want my husband to take care of me, I want to take care of myself and be the partner I was meant to be. I realize that if I became very sick he would take care of me and I’m grateful for that but if I can make it so that never happens then I’m doing the very best I can. My life has been faced with obstacles but so have many others out there and we all deal with them differently. I will always find someone who is far worse off than I and I will always be grateful for the place I have found. I train for life because as much as I want to be an athlete I want to be a healthy woman so my exercise is for my health.
After 11 years of marriage I’m still learning all kinds of things about my husband. He is smart and funny and so kind. Although I knew that about him already I didn’t know that he had this passion for golf that has recently surfaced and he takes his golf as seriously as I take my weight training and yoga. We each have our passions and we learn that each other are capable of great things. I am so excited to see where the next 11 years takes us and another 11, and another 11, and even another 11 after that. I’m sure they will all look so differently but be just as much fun.
It is no surprise to anyone that stress is a negative health trigger and with MCTD it can take very little stress to send us into flare. 11 years ago when I was first diagnosed my Rheumy had mentioned that the less stress I have in my life the better I will. For many years I lived by those words and although we cannot reduce all stress in life there are ways to keep it low. I lived a moderately stressed life for many years and felt like I was in a good place in my life. I had flares like anyone with MCTD and sometimes I knew exactly why they happened and other times I really couldn’t pinpoint the cause. A couple of years ago I took a new job at my company knowing that I was entering a new realm in life. Within the first year of taking this job my blood pressure which had always been normal had gone into dangerously high, my sleep become sporadic and restless, my eating become sporadic with severe cravings, my doctor diagnosed me as menopausal with adrenal fatigue.
My second year at this job was more the same, I was able to get my menopausal symptoms under control which helped my sleep patterns and allowed me to feel more rested in the mornings. My blood pressure fluctuates between normal and high quite often. I spent 6 months doing nothing but walking and yoga to try and get my adrenal fatigue back to normal and just continued to live with the severe cravings, weird eating habits, and sporadic meals. However, all of this was painting a much bigger picture in my life that yes I could live like this but should I? Do I really want to endure this type of lifestyle? Is this really the best thing for me, my health and my family? Am I happy at this point in my life? Am I living the life I want and do I still feel charmed? I have been asking myself these questions for several months now and each time I keep coming back to the same thing.
My intention was to work really hard for a shorter amount of time and then do something that I really want in the next stage of my life. However, after only 2 years I realize that I don’t have another 3-5 years of energy to keep going this way. Now some might say that I haven’t had a flare in 410 days so the stress doesn’t seem to be making me flare or setting my MCTD and yes that is a true statement but I also don’t believe I’m as healthy as I could be. Some might say how much healthier can I get and I believe a lot healthier. I believe my mind is not nearly as healthy as it could be, my body could be even stronger with a little less stress and my soul could be happier as well. I enjoy my life and my family and for the most part I do still feel charmed but things have taken a turn for me in the last couple of years which is making me re-examine where I’m going.
I spend hours a week doing yoga and yet my golf pro believes I’m one of his most stressed and tense clients. I work out and lift heavy and yet my trainer believes I could be stronger. I love my family and my husband but yet they think I have taken on too much and don’t want to overwhelm me. I also believe I have taken on too much and need a little less overwhelm in my life. How do I get back to the place I was and how do I de-stress a much stressed life?
My answer is to make changes. This is not easy and not for everyone but one of the lifestyle changes that the Paleo community believes in is to get to a place where you are living and loving life. Doing what makes you happy and healthy. Working towards a moderately stress free life and enjoying that stress free life. I am not naive enough to believe I will be stress free but I do think there is plenty of room to decrease stress and I’m find my avenues. I have agonized over how to make this work and my day finally came. Once I started the process I immediately started to feel better. I slept so good for the first time in a really long time and honestly I thought I was sleeping well before. There was a time in my life when I would go to bed, wake up before my alarm and be ready to start the day. That has not happened to me a in a long time. Really I would go to bed, wake up before my alarm but not feel that complete restfulness. I have a golf lesson this weekend I’m hoping my golf pro says to me that he notices that I have de-stressed and released some tension and perhaps my golf game can really take off. In the grand scheme of life golf is not important but it is an indicator of what my body and mind are doing and perhaps it will show me real markers like a constant normal blood pressure, good eating, low cravings, and wonderful sleep.
While many of you are probably still enjoying hot weather during the day, warm nights, and hazy with a little humid here in Maine our season is changing. When pre-season football starts that is the sure sign that our weather will start changing too. The days are still warm but the nights and mornings are brisk, cool and a little damp. It won’t be long now and the leaves will start to change and the waters will turn cold again and everything starts to get ready for the winter weather.
When the season changes from summer to fall I have to mentally prepare for it. I love the looks of fall so much but our summer is so short and considering it just started right after the July 4th holiday it seems like we haven’t had a chance to really immerse ourselves in hot weather yet but now is the time when we have to start preparing for fall and of course the dreaded winter. We are already getting ready to have our wood pellets delivered to be ready for the winter. This part I don’t mind because it means physically moving 2.2 tons of bags which is all part of my heavy lifting life routine.
However, as many of you are aware with MCTD some of us have Raynaud’s and many people have Raynaud’s without having any other autoimmune disease but it can be uncomfortable in the cold months. For the brief time that we have had summer and warm weather I have not suffered with Raynaud’s or should I say it hasn’t been noticeable enough for me to write about it. I always have some color of purple in my fingers and toes and my nephew as cute as he is young and doesn’t understand why my fingers look like they when no one else has that issue. We talk about it and although he doesn’t understand some day he will. In the meantime I take measures to help the situation and in the summer time I can be a little lax with them but as the season changes I see my fingers changing right along and it can be dangerous to ignore the situation so now I’m back to taking care of my fingers.
In the morning when I wake and it cold outside I must cover them and try to wear layers so that my body temperature says warm until the day is warmer and then I can take off a layer or two. I have also been using the heat in my car and making sure my hands stay warm while at work since the A/C is still on but not really needed. If they get too purple it makes it hard to type and do my work so I am very conscience of them. I also use Niacin if needed during the day. However, as I have stated before only the flush Niacin really works so I don’t take it if I have any meetings since I don’t want to be a red and try to explain to anyone why I am looking this odd way. Layers work really well at work and I use them.
It seems like common sense stuff but it is so important especially now that I don’t have Bikram to turn too. It used to be that I was in a 105 degree room 5 days a week and that had my body feeling very warm. Now that I’m doing vinyassa and the room is not warm I find that it takes my body longer to heat up.
I was in class yesterday and I wear long pants, short sleeve shirt and long sleeve shirt during my class. At the end the instructor mentioned that it got hot in there and honestly I didn’t feel the heat. Perhaps I’m not working hard enough!!
I have been at my clean eating challenge now for just about 2 weeks. Not enough time to really establish concrete information but enough time to analyze a couple of things. The first is if I do not get enough food my mind starts to play me. For instance, I got caught up in meetings and food was not a priority, I didn’t feel hungry and thought I was ok until I hit a wall and just knew that I needed something sweet. What I needed was food but what my mind was saying is that it was deprived and wanted something rewarding. I did not engage in my sweet tooth and instead had a bigger than normal meal when I had time and the sweet need subsided.
I work in an office environment and as you can probably guess there is some sort food around here at all times and if I don’t stay on top of my food my brain can get out of control thinking it needs to partake in the goodness around here for no other reason than it is here. I have been able to put all cravings aside at home but I’m also having big beautiful filling dinners so the need for anything after dinner is not existent. My goal is to get to the point when I am nourishing my body enough that all cravings go away but I don’t know that if that is realistic. I hear of other people saying they don’t have cravings and read posts and articles of people who can change their taste buds so that berries seem too sweet sometimes. I long to be in that boat but don’t have a clear understanding how long it takes or if that is truly possible for me.
I have found that I don’t need snacks the way I once did at 10am and 3pm so I know things are changing for the better but I also haven’t gotten to the point where if I cannot eat food that my body is ok with the intermittent fasting approach either. I also move a lot during the day and in order to keep up with my activities I need the food so fasting isn’t really that important but life does get in the way and I would like to be able to go about my day as normally as possible and if food is not an option for several hours perhaps that will be ok and my mind won’t start gravitating to sweet things.
I do realize like I said at the beginning that it is too soon to tell exactly what kind of changes my body is making. I have been cutting back on gluten and grain now for 2 years but the sugar I didn’t tackle because I really do enjoy sweets and I enjoy indulging in them with my family and husband when I want. After our escapade to camp this year and really over indulging I decided I don’t have to cut them out forever but I would like to make a change enough to have them when I want and not think about them nearly as often as I do.
Ever have those sluggish days and you just aren’t sure what causes it, why you are dealing with it, or when will it go away? I have many times myself but have you ever had sluggish days and you know exactly what is causing it? Can you tell I’m having a sluggish day? I am having a sluggish day and it actually started yesterday. I was going back through my journal trying to pinpoint my trigger for why I might be feeling this way and it hit me after reading a few days of my journal, the whole reason I keep a journal but I digress.
As I’m reading I see that I started my after vacation detox of getting back to real food and took out all grains and sugar as of Sunday. Notice I didn’t say carbs since I have been eating a lot of vegetables and had a couple of days of sweet potatoes to keep my body performing strong during my weight training and Insanity sessions. With that said however I did some research and about the 3-5 day mark your body starts to revolt a bit and you become very sluggish, a little irritable and your performance drops. After a about a week the sluggish is supposed to subside and the performance should come back. I was not rocking my work out very well yesterday and took this morning off since my body is feeling pretty tired. On Sunday it will be 1 week and I can see where I go from there.
The plus is that I don’t have those cravings in the afternoon like I was before and I feel like I’m eating a little more than I was before but my trainer will analyze my food journal and let me know if he believes the same to be true. I never get blamed for eating too much but I certainly have weeks where it shows I’m not eating enough and that may be life, the fact that I’m a woman with my own head games, timing, or all of the above. As my trainer has me lifting heavier it is more important than ever to get out of my own head and make sure I’m eating enough to perform such tasks without the risk of injury. I have made 3 commitments to myself this week and doing quite well with them but they are also difficult so I’m taking it day by day with a refocus on the importance of each one. My first commitment was to drink a green drink every day, ok this one is not difficult more a habit forming task which is going just fine. I like the drink and since it has pre and probiotics so I can only see it being a benefit. There is no sugar in this drink as I’m being extremely careful about grains and sugar.
My second commitment is to eat real food and although I had a lot of preparing to do over the weekend each day has been full of real foods that are filling and satisfying and I have used an apple once this week for a sugar craving that I had but that was early on and I don’t see apples as my issue. This is hard for my brain to commit to long term but maybe my taste buds will over power my brain and if I don’t want the grains and sugar I certainly realize my body does not “need” them.
The third commitment and also my hardest, to get off the scale addiction I have had for my entire adult life. I have used the scale to measure my success but losing weight in the form of muscle instead of fat does nothing for my performance but it certainly looks good as I look down between my feet and my brain registers I’m doing well. My life should dictate if I’m successful in the way I look, feel and perform. These words are so much easier said than done but I am willing to try. I have a pair of pants that I am using to measure my success instead of the scale. As time goes on I hope I’m pleasantly surprised and if not I may ditch this pants thing and go back to the scale!!
I’m sure many are familiar with the phrase “I need a vacation from my vacation” and that is exactly how I feel this morning. The whole plan was to be with the entire family for a week at the lake just like we have done that last 9 years. Lake life requires nothing but resting, relaxing, playing in the water, and making some meals. This year we added the additional value of golfing, and it was truly a relaxing trip as well as extremely enjoyable. We didn’t have the whole family but we had a lot of it and planned our days really well. We would start with walks or some would head out in kayaks and get the blood flowing a bit and get a little exercise. However, the first question of the day is what will be eating. We had it pretty well planned and I felt really good about all my choices except when it came to the sweets. I love them so much and I do indulge often but I way over indulged this trip and to no fault of my own my body let me that under no circumstances was this behavior acceptable. I will also say we had quite a bit of damp weather since we were right on the water therefore some of my stiffness and soreness could be due to the extra damp air. I did drink alcohol almost every day at the beginning until I felt really terrible and cut it out for the rest of the trip. I did not flare nor did I worry I would because that was not what I was feeling. I was however feeling like my body was inflamed and that I was feeding it way too much sugar, gluten and alcohol and not nearly enough vegetables. Again, I only have myself to blame and will not insinuate I was persuaded in any way. My decisions are my own and I make my own decisions.
We arrived back at home on Saturday and my detox regiment began. This is not detox in the sense of “Master Cleanse” or fasting techniques but real food detox. The first day back I went right to the store and stocked up on all things fresh and clean. We made a list of the meals we were going to be preparing and the foods I would need for work. We made dinners that could be eaten for a few days and stocked up on a lot of greens to make sure any protein we had would complement the greens nicely. By this morning my body was feeling better and the stiffness has now starting to subside. I also booked a training session for this day so that when I got back from camp I could also get work out beating. I was not disappointed. I was a little on the light side since it had been a week since I did any heavy lifting but we wrapped my hands and loaded the bar and started the lifting. By the end of my hour I was certain I had finally found that calm that I needed and my body is not as angry anymore. I still need to stay on my real food detox plan for the next several days if not weeks and make sure my body has reduced some inflammation. I also need to find my sleep again, we don’t sleep well at camp and now that we are home we aren’t sleeping great yet but I think the next couple of days things will calm with my body and mind and I will find my restful sleep once more.
Finally, I’m not saying I’m giving up all sugars and sweets because I love sharing them with my husband and my family but I do need to let the afternoon cravings subside that keep creeping in and that I indulged during my week away. A little yoga, a lot of walking, some heavy lifting, very clean eating and back to drinking only water and tea and I’m certain this body will thank me again.
I would never not enjoy my vacations or indulge if I want but I do realize that my body is very delicate and it doesn’t take much to get it out of order and much harder to get it back in order but I a couple more training sessions to help this body find its strength once a again and start to build off that strength. I’m looking forward to some yoga and although I did take my yoga mat on vacation I did not unroll it once. My intention was good, but my execution lacked commitment.