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Time to Learn!

I just wanted to share my news with everyone. Living with an autoimmune-related condition can be hard and exhausting at times, especially as I try to juggle in between flare ups.

But

I decided to take my experiences and move more into the health and wellness arena by starting this blog, working with a preventative health company to share some of the blogs and working for a research scientist who focuses on wellness. So I took another step and decided to apply to a masters degree in public health program that focuses on nutrition.

And … I’m excited to announce that I received my admission letter today to UNC Chapel Hill!! I’m amazed and so so thankful to have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others. And of course, I will update this blog with information that I learn. I can only hope that it is helpful to all!

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The AIP and me

Allow me to remind everyone that I am not giving medical advice, but just sharing my journey that has allowed me to move toward better health.

If you caught my first update of the year, then you’ll remember that I wanted to try the AIP, autoimmune protocol. So what is it? It’s a complementary elimination diet to remove foods that could be a trigger and help heal your gut. There’s also a lifestyle component that focuses on sleep, reduction of stress and movement among other things. Now I will be honest, I tried a semi-elimination diet about 2 years ago but didn’t go all in.

And going all in for me is EVERYTHING!

I find that if I try to slowly transition, I’ll cheat because I keep putting off the next item to eliminate. This time, I did go about 95% elimination as there were food items that wouldn’t last too long. But I didn’t replace those. So now I’m going on all in. And here are my thoughts:

  • Meal prepping is crucial. Since I’ve eliminated so many things, I have to cook alllllll the time. I live in a college town and there are just lots of chain restaurants and fast food places. I do have a couple of go to places just in case but I’m trying to limit my use of those.
  • Sleep is your friend! I have to go into the office one day per week and need to get up earlier to be on time. But my go to bed time is about the same = less overall sleep. And I can definitely tell a difference.
  • Movement as exercise. This is a carryover from working with my nutritionist (who I’m starting to work with again!) but finding movement that works with you and doesn’t burn you out is important. I overdid my movement today while watching Encanto and dancing merengue in my living room! But I recognize that and will focus on restorative movements tomorrow.
  • Trying different recipes has been very helpful. I also track my nutrients in an app to see where I’m landing since the goal of AIP is to focus on nutrient density. In my case, dialing back my fats would be helpful.
  • And I can’t say enough about drawing inspiration from those who have completed the AIP and seen such tremendous progress. My goal is to try this for 3 months before methodically introducing food in stages. In full transparency, the first 10 days were not fun. It was like a detox for me but I know that doesn’t happen for most. If I have detox symptoms again next month, I’ll try introductions earlier. It’s recommended to do AIP for at least 4 weeks before reintroductions.

I’ll keep you posted on how this goes! Have you tried an elimination diet? If so, how did it go for you? Let’s share our experiences!

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Experiencing Cryotherapy

Allow me to remind everyone that I am not giving medical advice, but just sharing my journey that has allowed me to move toward better health.

Sooooo I decided to give cryotherapy a try! It’s touted to help decrease inflammation, which I am still trying to work on. So I thought- why not?! I decided to search for locations in a couple of areas and landed on one that has a special if you were visiting for the first time. Great!

Near the entrance

While the location that I visited was small, the staff was super helpful. I used the changing room to switch to shorts and a workout shirt. Then I had to pile on a ton of safety gear so that there’s no frostbite or anything; this includes heavy gloves, extra thick socks, heavy slippers and a covering for my ears. I felt like I was going camping in Alaska!

Then the attendant explained that I would walk into the first chamber for and be there for 20 seconds. He would then buzz for me to enter the freezer where I would be for 3 minutes! I do like that they allowed me to pick my choice of song that would be played inside the chamber to take my mind off the cold 🥶

Just outside the cryo chamber

The first chamber actually was not that bad. But when I had to step into the freezer – 😱 is I’m sure what I looked like. Well not at first. I wasn’t sure what to expect since I tend to get cold really easy. But it wasn’t bone chilling cold, just I’m shivering through these 3 minutes cold! But I made it out 😁

Would I go again? Yes- I want to get tested for my c reactive protein level before I go again and then retest in about six months to monitor the effectiveness of cryotherapy. They also have an option to do localized cryotherapy which I could try on specific parts, like my knee. I think that would be helpful.

So what about you? Have you tried cryotherapy or similar? Let me know what you think and share your story!

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Trying CBD

So I’ve read the info about CBD oil and given my battle with inflammation and sleep challenges, I decided to give it a try because why not 🤷🏽‍♀️ What do I have to lose but inflammation?! And if I sleep better, inflammation naturally decreases.

Allow me to remind everyone that I am not giving medical advice, but just sharing my journey that has allowed me to move toward better health.

I tried more than one brand on my way to choosing the one that I use now. Since I don’t want a potential lawsuit, I’ll not mention the names of the others. The first was from a health food store that I frequent often. It seemed to work but the taste was awful. Just imagine eating weed. That’s how the oil tasted as it was unflavored. I don’t know how anyone could use that long term. So I decided to try flavored CBD oils. One flavored one was from another health food store that I go to alllllll the time. A plus for the flavor but OMG- I stayed sleepy with that brand and always had brain fog. So I kept researching until …

I decided to give One Farm a try. Now, I really didn’t want to try it because I have to order online and I’d rather get something in person, if possible. I learned of the brand through my part time job; I work for a research doctor who had discussed the results of studies and mentioned this product. So I made sure to order a flavored version.

And – this one has a great taste which is a plus for sure. I tend to sleep better when I take a dose along side winding down at night (easier said than done!). I’m not sure where I stand with inflammation levels just yet. I am researching functional doctors so that I can get my C Reactive protein tested and see where I land. My trial period is always 3 months to decide whether I’ll stick with a practice as natural methods tend to take more time to resolve issues.

Just a note – I am not affiliated with One Farm. I do not get any kickbacks from mentioning the product here. They have other products that I’m going to try in the future and will share the results. Have you tried any CBD products? What has been your experience?

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Turning Off Nerves – Wellness Wednesdays

For the last few months, I have been working with a pain management specialist regarding some areas of osteoarthritis that I still contend with. The area of greatest concern is my neck which seemed impossible to fix, no matter how many physical therapy sessions I go to.

Allow me to remind everyone that I am not giving medical advice, but just sharing my journey that has allowed me to move toward better health.

I have had a hard time with mobility in the neck cervical area. And sometimes it can be worse than others to the point that I have to take Aleve to try to get the area to move more. Is it better than before? Yes, but it is still not great. Then there is the pain that occurs at times, which can lead to a headache. What to do?

My physical therapist in North Carolina recommended that I see a pain management specialist to see what options might be available so that I don’t take meds as often. That can have its own side effects and I don’t want even more issues.

So I worked with a specialist over several months. For insurance purposes, I had to go through a couple of rounds of testing to see how well the procedure might go. And I passed those, which was great. I then did the formal procedure. The procedure numbs the nerves for up to a year with radiowaves. I was given a bit of pain killer to take the edge off the pain. But it still hurt!

And while I’m not 100% (yet!), I have seen some improvement. I started physical therapy again and my physical therapist noticed a difference too even though I hadn’t been in 6 weeks! Has anyone else found a way to better manage arthritis? If so, I invite you to share your experiences. See you next week!

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Adding Ginger – Wellness Wednesdays

Ginger has been a staple in the seasoning cabinet for some time. However, it was in 2009 that I learned more of one of its uses.

Allow me to remind everyone that I am not giving medical advice, but just sharing my journey that has allowed me to move toward better health.

In 2009, I started having horrible digestive issues. Looking back, I think much of it was caused by stress but I couldn’t figure out how to get a handle on things. My mom suggested that I take ginger tablets that she liked and sent me some. And they seemed to help. To this day, I still ginger around as a just in case, especially if I eat something that is not quite the best for me.

Have you tried ginger? I also drink ginger tea probably twice each week. It’s especially good when the weather is chilly. Below I’m including some of the qualities of ginger as mentioned on earthclinic.com:

  • One study suggests that ginger is one of the most effective preventative treatments for certain types of cancer including colon cancer, as it significantly reduces inflammation throughout the body
  • Has also been proven to relieve muscle pain and fatigue
  • Used to treat a number of gastrointestinal disorders as well as autoimmune diseases such as arthritis
  • Taken as a daily supplement, ginger can prevent liver damage caused by certain medication
  • Can also help with hypertension, painful period symptoms and migraines

I’m not saying that ginger is a cure all. And I always recommend that you work with your health care provider. But if you have not tried ginger, I recommend it. The taste can be overwhelming for some. If the taste is too strong for you, trying ginger tablets might be your best option.

See you next week! If ginger has helped you in any way, I invite you to share your results.

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Trying Turmeric- Wellness Wednesdays

Turmeric. For years, I never even knew what it was so I was blown away by what this spice has been used for over the years. Never heard of it? Let’s take a closer look.

Allow me to remind everyone that I am not giving medical advice, but just sharing my journey that has allowed me to move toward better health.

I think I first really heard news about turmeric the first time I lived in North Carolina. My goal was to cook more and I started seeing this spice listed in recipes. Now, I had eaten at Indian restaurants for years and didn’t realize that it is used in various dishes especially since turmeric doesn’t have an overpowering taste.

Then I read that turmeric can behave similarly to pain killers and relieve inflammation. That was a game changer! I started using turmeric every time that I cooked 😂. When I started working with the nutritionist, turmeric was one of the supplements that was included in my list of vitamins. I even drink turmeric teas frequently, my latest find is a combo of turmeric and green tea.

But really, what does it do? I’m including info below from earthclinic.com


“Regular use of turmeric has been found to reduce the occurrence of Alzheimer’s disease and may play a role in its treatment. It is also being studied as a natural remedy for arthritis, ulcerative colitis, and similar conditions, as it has anti-inflammatory characteristics. Turmeric is also an effective remedy for skin conditions like cystic acne, boils, hidradenitis suppurativa and MRSA.”

Amazing right?? I’m not claiming that turmeric is a cure all, but I can definitely tell when I’ve not used it for some time versus daily use.

Have you tried turmeric before? Did you notice any benefits? I invite you to share your thoughts below 👇🏽. See you next week!

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Apple cider vinegar – Wellness Wednesdays

I found out about Apple cider vinegar (acv) around 2009, 2010. I was having a good deal of gut/digestion issues, among other things, and was seeking any resource that might help! I came across the website, earthclinic which became a wonderful resource for natural solutions.

Allow me to remind everyone that I am not giving medical advice, but just sharing my journey that has allowed me to move toward better health.

According to earthclinic.com, I started using acv for – “antifungal2 and antibacterial effects. Studies have even found that apple cider vinegar has immunostimulant properties.3 It promotes good digestion and skin health.” And it has really been a huge help with my digestion.

I generally make an acv tonic that is a mix of apple cider vinegar, a bit of honey and a couple of shakes of cinnamon with room temperature water. I drink it most mornings when I first get up, before eating. On occasion, when I can find it, there’s a premixed apple cider vinegar drink that is available in several flavors that I buy. Oh, I get the acv with the the “mother” in it. If you look at the bottle, there is a darker cloudier bit which is the mother and is dissolved into acv as you shake it up.

And there are so many other benefits of acv. Below are 9 benefits listed on earthclinic.com:

  • Alleviate acid reflux
  • Aid weight loss and calorie reduction
  • Clear sinus infection and congestion (yes it works for this too!)
  • Treat pink eye
  • Alleviate ear ache pain
  • Improve skin health
  • Balance hair sebum and ph
  • Stop food poisoning
  • Reduce high blood pressure

Have you tried apple cider vinegar? What has your experience been? Share 👇🏽. See you next week!

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Meditation – Wellness Wednesdays

Meditation moments

I will admit – I used to think meditating was all about chanting and making some weird noises over and over again. And that it was only for hippies, not this African American city chick. And I was so wrong!

Allow me to remind everyone that I am not giving medical advice, but just sharing my journey that has allowed me to move toward better health.

Growing up, I wasn’t into yoga or meditation. I stretched after working out because that’s what the exercise classes did and I stretched for running track. I started trying yoga-esque workouts in my early 30s when I moved to North Carolina the first time. I started because my walking seemed to be uneven and yoga like workouts seemed to really help; this was well before I knew the issue with osteoarthritis. But I still hadn’t really delved into meditation.

I didn’t really begin meditating until some time after the age of 40. I was still going up on sugar so I looked at meditation as a way to bring me back down. I tried a couple of apps on my phone for free trials and thought little of it. It wasn’t until I learned more benefits of meditation and the difference between the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems did I begin to make more of an effort.

See, for me, meditation touches on everything that blows up with PCOS – inflammation, irritability, irregular sleep habits, high cortisol, constant fight or flight nervous system, food cravings and anxiety. (I had to take a breath just writing that) These all correlate with the sympathetic nervous system – go, go, go, go. Think of the fight or flight response of a tiger chasing a hunter.

Meditation helps bring all of that down for me, especially being relaxed enough to actually sleep and stay asleep. In that way, I’m able to tap into the parasympathetic nervous system – rest and digest, relaxation and decreased heart rate. (Via Science Direct). And when I am more relaxed, the body can function as it ought to more easily.

I still use a meditation app on my phone, Headspace. I’m still not that person who can meditate for hours on end, or even 30 minutes for that matter! But I do appreciate the time that I take to let the day slip away, relax and prepare the body for sleep. If I feel anxious during the day, I may do a short meditation on breathing to bring the heart rate down. It’s all about balance – high stress response leads to high cortisol which leads to more inflammation which leads to a host of issues for me. So I use meditation as a preventative measure.

If you have tried meditation and seen great results, please share your experience below ⬇️. And if you haven’t tried it, I would recommend giving it a whirl. Until next week …

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A Pizza Find

I have been wanting really good pizza for awhile! But with so many dietary restrictions, it’s a challenge to find something to purchase that won’t cause pain or bother my allergies; in other words, cause more inflammation. So I decided to start paying attention to ingredients that I might be able to try and give it a whirl.

And I made on today! AND IT WAS TASTY! When experimenting, I don’t really use measurements lol; it’s more of a play it by ear method. The crust is cauliflower based by Caulipower. I then minced 4 cloves of garlic and poured extra virgin olive oil in a bowl with the garlic so that the oil covered the garlic. I whisked for a bit and then whisked in dried oregano.

With the garlic oil base

Next I poured these onto the crust. Tomatoes are nightshades and tend to cause joint pain so I’m trying different bases. I cut up pre-cooked chicken sausage and added to the crust. Lastly I used a mix of goat cheese and vegan cheese (that’s not cashew based because cashews are a no for me) to top. I baked for about 15 minutes on 400 degrees.

What would I do different? Probably just use goat cheese. I liked that more than the vegan cheese but that’s matter of preference. I would also have added onions, olives and more oregano. Next time, I’ll also try a pesto base instead. To keep from getting bored, I have to keep trying different options. This will definitely go into the rotation!

Finished pizza

Any suggested toppings? List them below and I’ll try them too. 🥂 to your good health. Until next time!