Category Archives: Alternative treatments

DETOX STRESS

We are a couple weeks into the New Year and you might find yourself saturated with the word detox. I know I am hearing that word in casual conversation, seeing posters about the newest detox, join the 14 day detox, people at the gym sipping on their juices because they are detoxing and when I hear this I don’t know what to think. As a society we spend the last part of the year abusing our bodies so we can detox them when the New Year starts. What does detox really do for the body? Is it possible that the detox itself can be stressful to the body? What constitutes a detox program and what really works? We are so focused on our goals which by the way is not a bad thing but are we willing to go to extremes and is that bad?

I bring this up because I was recently approached to try a detox program and here is my thought on the whole thing. By the way I am not looking to lose weight but like everyone I did a fair amount of abusing my body between Thanksgiving and New Year’s so my body could literally receive food at any moment without feeling hungry. In fact I laugh and say that I have not felt hunger since before Thanksgiving because there is so much food around during the holidays that I’m tasting something and never feeling hunger pangs. With that abuse comes the mind and body addiction associated with so much food and always eating. Not to mention that my sleep patterns had changed due to what I was eating and to be honest I don’t go off the rails that much but even a little can set me back.

So, on January 2 I had to make the decision to get back to regular eating and regular sleep in that order because once my eating was back to normal my sleep would follow. My exercise was a constant the whole time so I didn’t have to add that to my routine.

It only took a few days of clean eating for my sleep to go back to normal and actually make my workouts feel stronger again. My weight training sessions were stronger and my spinning was stronger. I spend a lot of time on my yoga mat but even my focus was better while I was there. Analyzing what it means to detox and looking at different programs, I did my own detox but without giving up any food. I know that many of the detox programs offer “enough calories” because you are drinking so much juice or other liquids but is that kind of detox un-necessary stress on the body? All of us are faced with stressors throughout our day and should we be adding a stress of very little food after gorging for so many weeks during the holidays? I don’t have the answers and I don’t use the word detox when I’m talking to people but I just say I got back on track right after the new year and everything is back to normal for me. At that point they can decipher what that means.

I don’t walk in anyone’s shoes but my own and each day I am trying to make my body a little stronger so I need to eat real food and honestly I eat a lot. I wouldn’t say that I have felt hunger pangs yet this year but I’m not in that constant mode of eating either. I fuel regularly and based on what my day has in store. If I know I’m going into a stressful day I try to not add that that stress by worrying about my food or lack thereof. I have cleaned my cupboards and anything I want to eat is suitable to me again. There will always be times when I will run up against temptations and wouldn’t be human if I didn’t but when I feel strong and see progress with my yoga practice and weight training abilities it sure makes those temptations less. Also those temptations have to be pretty special, but they will arise again.

You may be doing your own detox and actually feeling good so if that is the case than I urge you to do what feels right for you. If you are feeling stressed with your detox maybe rethink it as stress is a big trigger for MCTD flares and you don’t want to inadvertently cause a flare while “doing something good” for yourself. As the year moves forward it is important to take care of your mind and body and soothing your soul. Just a side note I am still meditating each and every day sometimes with success sometimes not. A reader suggested I try honest guys and I did. I would recommend them to others as well. I don’t use it regularly because I really like picking a song off of a CD and just getting lost in my breath and the music but if I need some help I will turn to them. The meditation is my 2015 commitment and one of my favorites. Every year I pick goals that require me to do more and this goal is unique in the fact that I do less. I just need to sit quietly by myself for a few minutes each day.

STICK WITH IT

I wrote a post a few weeks ago about sticking with your change, goal or resolution for 66 days in order for it be part of your new routine.  My change is to meditate each day and as of today I’m up to 8 minutes. Not very impressive for the fully committed meditators I’m sure but for me a huge accomplishment.  I started at 3 minutes and moved to 5 minutes and a couple of days tried my first 8 minute session. It was a crash and burn session in the fact that for whatever reason my mind did not want to be sitting on that bolster, against that wall, listening to those sounds, wiping out those thoughts for any length of time.  I started some negative talk and had to remove it immediately. I didn’t fail because I couldn’t sit there that day but I think I put too much expectation on myself to soon so I tried again this time with no expectation and found that quiet moment for 6 minutes.

The next day I went back to my space and 8 minutes seemed very doable and there was my graduation point into the 8 minute mark.  Once I make the commitment and do it each and every day at the same time it really does seem easier.  The thing to remember is that I don’t take a shower every day at the exact same time but I do take a shower every single day so the commitment is to meditate before taking that shower. This morning we talked a lot about meditation and the benefits in my yoga class and even though I was at the studio for 3 hours I still did my 8 minute meditation when I got home and before I got cleaned up.  I don’t know what will happen when I have to take multiple showers in a day but it certainly wouldn’t hurt to meditate multiple times a day, but who needs that pressure when you are just starting out? Not me, that is for sure.

My yoga instructor mentioned that she decided for one day to do 10, 1 minute meditation sessions throughout the day and she was telling us that it is really hard to meditate for even a minute during the day.  This was interesting because I had heard that we can all find 2 minutes a day to meditate but I don’t think it is that simple.  If there are 10 specific areas in which you know you will be meditating it might work but just finding 10 random times during the day seems very difficult.

During my work day I say to myself each and every day that today is the day that I will get up and stretch and get more water every hour.  I try to remember but my day moves quickly and I really get up and stretch when I need to and get water when I reach for my jar and it is empty.  I wish I was more mindful at work for the little things but I’m spending so time being mindful for the work things that I don’t have any more to give for the little things.  The little things matter just as much so as I get better at meditating and reducing stressors my belief and hope is that it will help me focus on the little things as well.  It is all about balance and although I have found some nice balance in some areas the other stuff will come.

I am fully expecting to find myself in more crash and burn sessions as I continue this endeavor for daily meditation but I just have to nice when I am struggling and allow the positive talk to be front and center and not allow any of the negative talk enter into the mix.  This is not a sprint and won’t be over quickly so sure I’ll fall but it just matters that I get back up and try again.

TIME FOR CHANGE

As we move out of this year and say good-bye to all the good times, bad times, and just times we prepare to say hello to the New Year we find ourselves making New Year resolutions.  Some we will keep and some we will try our very best and still not meet the expectation.  How do we make these New Year’s resolutions stick?  I must admit I don’t make New Year’s resolutions but I set goals and I have found to make the goals meaningful and give it a real purpose so when I’m struggling to meet my goal, or just begin my goal I can look back at the intention for that particular goal.  I have also learned recently that it takes 21 days to change a habit but 66 days to make it automatic without thought and just part of your life’s routine.  Keep that in mind with whatever goal or resolution you set and make sure you stick with it long enough for it to first be a habit and second to become automatic.

I am setting the intention for daily meditation.  I have been doing a lot of research and now with my yoga practice it has become even more important.  Some might argue that meditation is just second to sleep on the scale of most important daily routines.  This is a practice just like yoga and one must start out slowly and deliberately in order to reap the benefits of the quiet mind.  I started a few weeks ago and only for 2 minutes.  You will hear people say everyone has 2 minutes and that is true but everyone only has 2 minutes to do things they want to do.  Even finding 2 minutes for mediation if it is not engrained in your routine is difficult so I have chosen to meditate the same time every day so it becomes automatic in my life routine.

I have however graduated to 5 minutes and will increase little by little until I feel I have reached my divine time.  I don’t know how long or how long it will take to get there but making this part of my day is just becoming what I do like getting up and going for walk, or getting up and going to my spin class.  I am truly at my best first thing in the morning so my perfect mediation time is right before getting into the shower.  I know I will shower every day no matter what because I have been doing it my entire life and therefore before I do I give myself that time for mediation.  This also means I don’t rush getting ready and therefore it slows down my entire day.  It seems like a minor change but it has been really beneficial for me in many ways.  At this point it is just becoming a habit but it will become automatic and although act of meditation might be automatic the actual meditation is a true practice.

Meditation is teaching me to quiet my mind, while also teaching me to be with my thoughts for a period of time.  The idea is not to wipe away all thoughts but allow them in and let them go.  Yoga is a sequence of postures to build strength in the body so that we can sit for a long time with our own thoughts.  That is very difficult for some people and as you look around at people walking by themselves are they really by themselves or are they on their phones?  Can two people walk side by side without a saying a word and just enjoy each other’s company? Many cannot.  Is it possible to go to a restaurant by yourself and enjoy an incredible meal?  Some find that act very scary and others who see you sitting there feel bad for you.  What if you just feel good in your own skin, know you are a good person, and enjoy your own company?  I say congratulations to you.  If you aren’t there yet perhaps spending a few minutes completely by yourself with your thoughts and in your body might help you find the comfort for those very things.

Final thought, choose meaningful goals or New Year’s resolutions and give it 21 days to form the habit and 66 to make them automatic and enjoy what the New Year has to offer.

OUT OF BALANCE

I wrote in my journal this morning that I have gone 33 days without a flare and while I’m writing away in my journal I’m feeling as though there is so much I want to write but nothing is coming to the surface for me to write about. I went for a walk and did some weight training thinking that the sweaty morning would be what I needed to make me feel whole. After an hour and half of sweating, grunting, and working my body I was still feeling out of sorts. I had a yoga class planned but I got there early so I could spend a little time on my mat by myself before the rest of the class came in. The Sunday morning group are delightful people who I enjoy speaking with at great length but I needed a little time by myself in a comfortable environment with a little quiet. I got to the studio unrolled my mat and started in Mountain Pose or Tadasana.

I must say ahead of time that with my teacher training I am working on my Mountain Pose all the time. Getting the triangle in my feet just right, laying all 10 toes on the mat equally, locking my legs without locking my knees by really using my quads and hamstrings. Tilting my tailbone towards the floor, lifting my abdomen. Opening my heart center by seeking my shoulders downward. Pulling my chin back, lifting my head ever so slightly, and yes breathing. This is how I have learned this posture, this is how I spend hours practicing this posture. This is how I see me doing this posture really well.

This morning I got on my mat, rooted my feet and felt my body do what it wanted to do, not the words I speak so quietly in my own head about this posture. This is not my time to teach or be taught, this was a few minutes on my mat by myself to let my body do what it needs to do. I knew I wasn’t in a perfect posture, but no posture is perfect. The beauty of yoga is that we can always be changing our postures based on what our bodies, minds and spirits need. There are many times in my life when I need to be perfect or want to perfect, whatever that perfect looks like for me at the time. In the yoga studio I do not seek that perfection. I can be exactly who I am, a non-perfect woman, wife, daughter, sister, aunt, friend and yoga practitioner. The beauty of practicing alone is that there is truly no judgment. I do not see myself, no one sees me either and I am doing exactly what my body wants.

I felt really out of balance this morning and honestly needed a good cry on my mat. What am I sad about? I have no idea, I rarely have time to be sad and I rarely find myself in a situation where I am sad. I could be confusing sadness for honest and great fatigue. I know that I’m out of balance and haven’t felt great since my flare which was about 37 days ago. I don’t know what brought that flare on and I don’t know why it is taking so long for my body to get back to my base line. I have tried extra sleep, I have tried physical therapy. I have tried hours upon hours of quiet time on my yoga mat. OK, that is not true, I am on my yoga mat for hours upon hours but that is because I’m in teacher training and have to train, practice, and train some more. I am exhausted with life and feel so fatigued that I want to cry. This feeling out of balance has gone on long enough and now I’m desperate to find that balance I need so much. During my class I was using a mantra “I will find balance” I said it over and over at different periods of that 90 minutes.

As my husband and I went about our day doing chores I was saying in my mind, “I will find balance” and as we walked the golf course playing for one of our final days I was saying “I will find balance” the more I say it the more I will believe it. This is part of my living yoga, not just learning it or teaching it but really living it. We all find ourselves out of balance. Sometimes it is for short periods of time and we find our way back with ease. Other times it is for long periods of time and we aren’t sure how to find our way back. I am living in the world of unbalanced and I realized that being “desperate” is not the way to find my way back but to actually start moving myself back to a place of balance.

This evening I’m giving my body exactly what it needs which means I will sit quietly, by myself, watching a sad movie of my choice without judgment and just cry if I need to. I won’t force it because if I find that the cry is not really what I need but more just some quiet time there is no need to cry I don’t want to force it. Finding balance is going with the flow, being in the moment, and letting things happen the way they should. I don’t want to dictate how to get back my balance, I want to feel the balance make its way back natural. I just hope it happens soon.

MOST RECENT DOCTOR APT

One of my requirements for managing MCTD is regular doctor appointments with my Rheumy and they can be anywhere from 4 months to 6 months depending on what he sees, how my blood work looks and if we are making any changes. It has been 6 months since my last appointment but in that time I have reduced 2 medications, started biking and have gone over 320 days without a flare so this appointment went very well and we are not making any changes as we speak.

The routine of my appointment is get called in by the nurse, weight, blood pressure, prescription refills, issues and then when the doctor is ready he stands outside the door looking at my chart trying to get a sense of who is behind that closed door and what kinds of things need to be addressed. In this case the nurse for warned me that he had a resident with him on the day of my appointment and would I mind if he came in to listen. I certainly never mind as I think the more exposure our young doctors get is just better for all of us in the long run.

As he stood outside the closed door with the resident he opened my chart and I heard him say “oh this patient is unlike any other you have met today. She takes her health very seriously and mostly is so active that fitness is part of her management process.” Of course I am smiling from ear to ear inside my little room and wondering how the 3 of us are going to fit in here and what is this resident going to think of me. Before every appointment I must wait in the waiting room like everyone else and when you are sitting there you cannot help but notice the extremely frail, sick, and in pain people all dealing with their own medical issues. Rheumatologists deal with many different diseases so I have no idea who has what but you can tell the newly diagnosed ones, the ones that have been coming to this place forever, the ones that age is taking its toll and the ones that are really sick and coming to the appointment is probably all they will accomplish that day. We all have our own levels of disease, what I do is not what others can do but I didn’t start out where I am. I had to work from the bottom to get where I am today and my chart indicates everything I have ever done. I do not make changes, decisions, or try anything new without first running it by my Rheumy, he is truly the one doctor in my life that looks at all aspects not just my MCTD but everything and even though I have other doctor’s they have not figured out that I’m one person and what they suggest could have repercussions for other areas but my Rheumy is thinking of me as one person with many aspects.

He has never said no to my crazy of ideas of alternative therapies, he has never said no to diet change requests, he has never said no ever except to coming off of prednisone and I’m still working to change that no to a maybe or even a yes.

The resident had lots of questions but I think he was supposed to sit and listen. I’m ok answering questions and at this point nothing is private so I gave him the green light to ask. He wanted to know how I started exercise and with pain how does that work and how the medications I’m currently taking make me feel. This young man could very well replace my doctor one day and I want him to be educated in every aspect and not just by book. We are all different, we do different things and we recover differently. I have co-worker that goes to the same doctor for her RA we are not anything alike and I don’t judge her but I do realize that when we walk in there we are walking in at very different places in our lives. The doctor’s we come in contact with have to understand that as well and meet us where we are. This young doctor is well on his way to a successful career helping many people with autoimmune diseases, arthritis and other medical issues.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT

Happy Holidays to all.  Now that Christmas is over and New Year’s is just around the corner my question is what happens next? What does my 2014 look like, what new challenges will I try and what goals will I set? The end of this year has been so great for me and I have found a new strength and a new drive.  I wasn’t feeling great at the beginning and middle but the last several months have been much better.  Working with a trainer again has given me great strength and doing my Insanity classes has increased my endurance and stamina and as well as running again has shown me that even at age 41 I’m very capable of doing what I want as long as I take care of myself.

I am not one to make New Year’s resolutions but there are certain things that I want to recommit to this year. I’m having deja vu which is probably because I said that very thing last year and here I am another year in saying the same thing.  This is probably typical of most people as we try to better ourselves or see things in ourselves we would like to change we use the New Year as a place to do it.  In the past I have set goals not resolutions and last year I used the word resolution which was “commit” I was very committed this year to family, work, health and fitness.  I really want to focus my attention to my diet, nutrition and truly putting sugar in my past.  One thing about myself is that I have a serious sweet tooth and yes I indulge it regularly but after several days of doing this, like right now, I feel terrible.  Nothing else has changed just the sugar consumption but I know if I hadn’t indulged as much I wouldn’t feel so exhausted, bloated, sluggish, irritable and did I mention exhausted.  I do realize that the holidays bring on a level of exhaustion and fatigue with or without indulging in certain foods but my fatigue is just compounded.

I will say again, I want to recommit to a cleaner, more natural diet and eliminate sugar from my diet. This is an ongoing goal that I have to fall down, pick myself up and keep trying.  I have tried many times and honestly for about a year after my MCTD diagnosis I was sugar free but I was eating gluten back then so I didn’t feel so deprived and eating things with no sugar wasn’t easy but it felt doable.  Now I have reached a place in my life where I think I can either be gluten free or sugar free but not both and I need to change that mindset.  I believe my body wants to be both; I just need my brain on board. I have been experimenting in the kitchen way more this year than any other time in life and I’ve created some really incredible meals, desserts, salads and smoothies so I just need to expand my knowledge and try to remove sugar or sweeteners from those recipes.  I was listening to a podcast that discussed Xylitol and stevia and how these two “natural” sweeteners don’t spike the blood sugar levels or cause the liver to adjust how it functions.  I’m still doing research on this so I clearly understand the difference between these two sweeteners and other sweeteners so if anyone has information please let me know.

GRAIN BRAIN – David Perlmutter

I just finished listening to an audio book that I had to write about. It is Grain Brain by David Perlmutter and whether you read it or listen to it, it is worth the time.  This book is well written and has a lot of information about what grains; especially gluten can do to our brains and our bodies.  Our brains really need fat to survive and yet most of us are deathly afraid of fat.  We are told to eat good fats and most of us don’t want to even think about eating fat because well we think that eating fat makes us fat.  This has been drilled in our heads for most of our individual lives so it is no wonder we are slow to change.  I think most of us believe that EVOO is good for us but what about animal fats, butter, walnut oil, and avocado oil?  These are good for us too but we think that the more we eat of them we are doing bad things to our bodies, our weight and what a mental game to eat such fats.

David Perlmutter has some good information and delivers the information in a way that is easy to take in but still not easy to believe.  Hearing it over and over is really the only way to make real changes.  This is not an easy change for many of us even though we know it is good our brains stop us in our tracks and guilt sets in. He describes all this in his book so it is more common that I initially realized. I too struggle with the idea that I should be eating more fats but I do get a good amount in my diet daily, probably not enough, but enough to keep my body sustained which is really all I’m looking for at this point.  My husband has taken to “bullet proof coffee” very easily and he says that it keeps him full most of the morning so he doesn’t need a snack between breakfast and lunch anymore.  What is bullet proof coffee?  Dave Aspry came up with this combination of mold free coffee, grass fed butter and MCT oil.  My husband chooses his dark roast black coffee, grass fed butter and coconut oil as his MCT oil.  The butter and oil mix nicely in the hot liquid and the fat sticks to his ribs and allows him to feel good.

Dave Aspry has a podcast as well where he talks about his very strict diet and all the bio-hacking he does for his body and brain.  It is pretty interesting and you can tell he has made a career out of bio-hacking himself and sharing with anyone who will listen.

Many of these bio-hackers have similar philosophies to David Perlmutter and the idea about grains is growing daily.