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Birthday update!

Yesterday was my 46th birthday! 🥳🥳🥳🎉🎉🎉

And I’m so grateful for another year. I started an active rehab program with a wellness center to have better mobility and build strength, both of which I need. Since being there, I’ve been able to go forward down the steps rather than turning sideways, bend the right knee more regularly (yay!!), do water exercises weekly and incorporate more yoga on the floor rather than in a chair.

I also started taking medication for Ankylosing spondylitis and that helps tremendously for pain and fatigue. I’ve got a way to go (because brain fog is real! 🤯) but I’m so glad that I’ve made progress. I’ve even started walking more regularly, which had been a challenge because joints would be painful with swelling.

And I’m continuing to work on diet and lifestyle. My sleep is still spotty at best, but I’ve started reintroductions for the AIP and I’m now on stage 2. I did add black and pinto beans early because I needed the calories and feeling of fullness from fiber!

And I’m including a recent photo comparison. The pic on the left is from my cousin’s wedding, just over 5 years ago. The one on the right is earlier this week at the beach with family.

Hope your health journey is going well!

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What’s your why?

Everyday, I have a decision to make: to either do all the things to give me a chance to feel great that day or revert back to old habits that weren’t the best for me. Every. Single. Day. I say this because every day is NOT a great day but I choose to move forward with something that can help tomorrow.

Why? Even when it’s hard. Why? Even when I seem stuck. Why? Even when there’s no progress. Because I cling to my reasoning behind what I’m doing. See, when I started my journey in getting healthier, my nutritionist asked – what’s your why? I took that to mean- what’s the reason that is so strong that even when I don’t feel like it, I’ll keep at it. My why?

Elimination of pain

So as I’ve mentioned, PCOS can cause low grade chronic inflammation which I definitely deal with. Well when everything is inflammatory, then it can have negative effects on the body including the wearing and tearing of joints; this can lead to osteoarthritis. And arthritis is painful. Pain is that motivator for me.

I plan to start the autoimmune protocol diet in January to start targeting what may be causing pain and to heal the gut, which I need in the worst way. When you wake up in some level of pain everyday, then you will look for ways to reduce pain – physical therapy, gentle exercise, NSAIDs, more sleep, Epsom salt baths, CBD oil, dietary changes, weighted blanket. I’m trying them all in an effort to minimize pain and enjoy each day.

So what is your why? Whether you are just starting or looking for ways to stay motivated, I encourage you to find a strong reason to stay on track. Writing it down and sharing your reason with accountability partners are both great recommendations that I’ve used. On my vision board, I even include ways to accomplish my goal.

What is YOUR why? Share below and motivate someone today!

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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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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 …