Category Archives: Flare-up

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.

TIS THE SEASON FOR STRESS

First things first, here are my weekly Fitbit stats.

Total steps week = 88,338

Average daily steps = 12,620

Miles walked = 33.78

Average number of floors climbed = 130

On with the stress. Everyone looks forward to spending the holidays with loved ones, sharing food, laughing over drinks, spreading the cheer and engaging in the stories but when we are out and about it seems as though everyone is stressed.  More than just stressed they also seem incredibly tired and completely worn thin.  This is the season when we do way too much and somehow completely forget how to say no.  I bring this up because for the readers with MCTD you only have so much energy to give on any particular day so finding extra energy can be really difficult.  I know from experience that it is very hard to say no to one more get together, one more fire side chat, one more “this is really important” dinner with either friends or family and one more “I could really use your help shopping” so give yourself permission to say no.

No one wants to disappoint people on any given day but certainly no one wants to disappoint our loved ones during this season.  They have been there for you and helped you through some really challenging, scary, tough times so you feel as though you want to thank them and by doing so you end up doing too much.  Remember these very people that were there during your challenging times also realize that your bodies run out of energy very quickly and not putting yourself first could end you up very tired or even in bed with a flare.

I’m not saying use your MCTD as an excuse, but I do think that putting yourself above all others for a few moments each day to assess how are you feeling on this day, what kind of energy do you have, how much do you really have to do and how much can you actually do are very important questions to ask.

I have been living with and managing MCTD for 11 years and still after all this time I have to pick and choose the important times and yes there are times when I run myself into the ground but getting back up takes me a little bit longer so there are consequences for those actions.  My family is the last group of people who want to see me stressed, over tired and just making it through the day so they are also the first ones to give me the break of not participating and staying home to rest.  The rest of the world doesn’t even see me with an illness most of the time so when I tell them no I see the perplexed looked on their faces but I have nothing to explain or defend.

Getting to a place in your life when you can truly own your decisions and feel good about the decisions you make is unbelievable and it didn’t come to me over night. It came to with each flare and each recovery.  Although my base line is different and my endurance is better I still feel fatigue and when I do I have no one to blame but myself for not reading the signs and listening to my body the way I should.  I am going to get through this season, all the crazy hours, eating, drinking, song singing flare-up free but only because I have found my active listening skills and really worked to listen to my body and know when it is time to say No.  We believe we may miss something, but if you are in bed with a flare you are 100% certain to miss something.  Keep yourself well, forgive yourself if you over-do it and send yourself compassion if you do flare.  With each flare and recovery you will find the skills needed to read the signs and react in a way that helps your body.

The season is supposed to be fun so try to keep the stress of it down to a low roar.  Happy Holidays.

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.

BACK TO PT

This past year I was feeling so strong and yes even a tiny bit arrogant because day after day went by without a flare and watching those days tick by made me think that I could focus my energy on strength through weight training, more spinning, and lots more yoga which I have been doing but in the process I gave up my physical therapy all together. I didn’t just cut back I cut it out and looking back at this past year I think that may have been a mistake. I was using regular PT as a way to keep my body healthy and keep good energy flow from feet to jaw. Taking the year off I didn’t realize that my body was falling out of alignment again and things were getting twisted. However, 4 weeks ago I had my first flare after 440 days and my body really hasn’t recovered fully. I am back to doing my normal weight training, spinning, Insanity, walking, and with my yoga training I’m doing yoga every second that I’m not doing something else so a big increase in yoga. Someone looking at me from the outside would think that I was right back to normal. I call it base line because I will not be normal, but my body has not gotten back to base line. My hips, hands, and jaw are still very stiff and very sore. I can function just fine so I’m not still in flare but I can tell something has changed.

It could be the change in the season, it could be I’m not doing Bikram anymore so my body doesn’t have the warmth it had for 10 years prior, it could be that I’m pushing it harder with spinning and Insanity that I wasn’t doing previously, but I refuse to believe that I’m just getting older so things are going to be stiff and sore.

I decided it was worth a trip back to the PT to see what they thought and it was obvious to them that my body found itself out of alignment again. My shoulders are not even, my hips are not even and my posture has slipped a bit even with the hours I’m spending in Mountain Pose. What does this mean? It means that I need the PT to get back into alignment and that PT may be a piece of my health puzzle that I always need. I started with a couple times a week to get started and will drop to once a week shortly and after a few weeks when things seem to be back to base line I can figure out how to work it into my regular life again. That will mean something else will have to give and since I’m making my life about yoga, I am certain that yoga will not be sacrificed. I also need the weight training to stay strong and healthy, and don’t’ forget walking, we all need to do more walking, so that leaves spinning and Insanity. I love spinning and can do it first thing in the morning so it comes down to my lunch time Insanity class. As much as I enjoy Insanity I will not be able to do it as often as I have been but it is probably better for my body to have a break.

Our bodies need breaks and I think my body is telling me it is time for a break. I am willing to listen and do what needs to be done in order to find that nice balance again. It might take some time but all I have is time. My MCTD is not going anywhere and each day that passes by is just a reminder that I need to balance the autoimmune with good health. The good health comes in the form of nutrition, exercise, rest, recover, sleep and flexibility.

NO DENYING I’M IN FLARE

As much as I want to ignore it and pretend it is not happening I am in flare. After 440 days my body has decided to revolt for whatever reason and has turned on me. I have been feeling so strong and so good for so long but this morning I woke up and my body was hurting, I have a fever, I have a sore throat and my hair feels different and it hurts to touch it. There is no denying that I’m in flare with all those symptoms. I have to take it easy, bring my body back to life in my new normal and start again. It does give me hope that I went as long as I did but it is a reality that I still have MCTD. Sometimes you wonder if you are cured when you go long periods of time but I will never be cured.

What caused this flare? It could be the weather, it could be that I didn’t sleep for nearly a week and my body just couldn’t take the exhaustion anymore. It could just be because I got into something or near someone that had a virus and I caught a little bug. Either way it doesn’t really matter what happened but it did happen and now once I feel better I start the process over again. I do believe that I can go the distance again but I need my body to get back to normal again in order to start the process and it might take several days to get back to my new normal before I can start the process.

As much as I’m disappointed I’m also so grateful that I went as long as I did and that my body was strong enough to last 440 days without a flare. It gives me great hope to do it all over again. Maybe even get to 500 days this next time but certainly I need to get better and back on track.

DE-STRESSING DOES WONDERS

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.

Teetering with Flare

A Black and White Cartoon of a Fatigued Housewife Collapsed In a Chair - Royalty Free Clipart Picture

 

picture from http://www.picturesof.net/pages/100802-143365-880053.html

Today I’m at 384 days without a flare but I certainly was teetering on the edge of a flare yesterday at day 383. I woke up early and I really didn’t feel like getting up and starting my day, so to do any form of exercise first thing did not feel appealing. I decided to stay in bed just a bit longer and got up to head out to my yoga class. My first yoga class was hard and I felt my body disagreeing with being there and stretching in triangles, warriors, and folds. Since I didn’t work out before yoga I decided to stay for class number 2 and and after my 3rd downward facing dog my wrists were in agony so when we were in plank and flowing into chaturanga I really regretted staying for another 90 minute class but I knew that my body was stronger than my mind was letting on and I finished the class with grace. We hit the floor in savasana and it only took a brief second for me to fall asleep right on the floor. I did wake up as soon as I heard the instructor’s voice again but I realized that I was facing a high level of fatigue.

I headed home and my husband could tell immediately that something was not quite right so I headed in and just laid down for what I thought was going to be a brief moment but instead it was an hour, and when I woke up I was feeling so much better. My body was not in agony but my mind was still pretty tired. I think I was dealing with a very high level of fatigue so I had to listen to that inner voice and just take it easy. I’m so glad I did because the rest of the day and today I am feeling much better and although I was teetering on the edge of a flare I do not think I went over to the other side and I didn’t end up in bed feeling very sick so I feel like listening, acknowledging and dealing with the facts of my body at any given time can really help me stay in the flare-up free zone.

Today was a day that started with a lot of exercise including strength training, cardio, and my new favorite find, golf. My husband and I have been really enjoying our trips out to the course and spending time together in the fresh air. Being able to laugh at ourselves has really helped keep the frustration at bay with this game they call golf.  

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