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Sugar Rush

It’s that time of year when sweets are in abundance EVERYWHERE! I even saw this display at a local big box store. There were even TWO displays and they were gone within a couple of weeks 😱

Bags of sugar!

And it’s sooooooo tempting to give into all the sweets. But the sweets are laced with so much sugar! And yes, I used the word “laced” because sugar lights up the same parts of the brain as drugs. I have been researching the effects of sugar for years and while I don’t have the links for proof, please take the time to research what I mention below:

  • Sugar is addictive (as mentioned above)
  • Regular sugar has no nutrient value to add to your food
  • Sugar suppresses the immune system, making it harder to get better when you’re sick and consuming it
  • Sugar in excess seems to affect the level of sweetness that your taste buds become accustomed to
  • Sugar is detrimental to so many body processes and functions

When I consume too much sugar in a sitting or in a day, I can quite literally FEEL all these areas of my head lighting up because I try to minimize sugar as much as possible. My joints ache and hurt, making mobility much harder. And the uveitis in my eye begins to flare and it’s really hard to get that down. Whew!

So what do I do? When I do add sugar on purpose, it’s usually honey or maple syrup. I do have treats sometimes – there’s a non-dairy frozen dessert that I like or I may have portions of organic dark chocolate. But pain is a motivator and on my quest to live and feel optimally, then avoiding excessive sugar is a must.

Enjoy your holiday season! I’m just reminding you to be mindful of what you eat. Everything affects your body and wouldn’t it be great to be at your best over the holidays? 🤩 That’s my goal!

Got any recommendations on how to keep the sugar to a minimum during the holidays? I would love to hear your advice!

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Losing Inflammation- Wellness Wednesdays

Everyone deals with inflammation. You get a cut, a bruise or some other bodily harm and your body has an acute inflammatory response to help heal the area. But what do you do when the body has a low level chronic inflammatory response that doesn’t turn off?

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. But I do want to provide further info on inflammation that can be found at https://inflammationresearchfoundation.org/inflammation-science/inflammation-details/time-cellular-inflammation-article/

So when I found out that I had osteoarthritis, I was blown away. I mean, I wasn’t even 40 and one of my knees was near bone and bone?! Well, after doing research, I found that one of the ways PCOS can affect women is to cause low grade chronic inflammation. And it can happen in so many ways – being overweight, lifestyle choices, eating too many inflammatory foods – the wrong oils, processed foods etc- not getting quality sleep which means that your body doesn’t have a chance to repair from inflammation. I could go on and on.

When I started with the nutritionist, one of the markers for inflammation, C-reactive protein was SKY high. So we started changing what I ate, making better lifestyle choices, losing weight and doing gentle exercise. Exercise can be tricky because the body can think that higher intensity is a stress which can result in higher inflammation. Ugh! 😩 what to do??

My nutritionist recommended using vitamin c. Vitamin c has been researched and shown to aid in reducing the C-reactive protein level. So I started taking that 3 times a day. Below is the link for one of the articles that I read- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18952164/

I also started using spices that have been shown to reduce inflammation – ginger and turmeric. A note if you try turmeric: to activate it, you have to use it in conjunction with black pepper. I drink hot ginger or turmeric teas on most days as well as take turmeric supplements. With the lifestyle and food changes, my C-reactive protein has been cut in half. I haven’t checked it recently but hope to sooner rather than later. Hopefully, my continued efforts will decrease the level even more! 🤞🏾 the earthclinic website has so many details on both spices.

Lastly, I made lifestyle changes to incorporate more holistic long term adjustments. Yes, making changes this way can take longer but I’d rather not keep taking ibuprofen or nsaids. I also take Epsom salt baths weekly, do yoga and have started grounding. If there is a possible natural remedy, I’m going to try it.

What recommendations do you have to tackle inflammation? Has anything worked for you? Leave a comment below and let’s chat. Until next time!

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Summer fun – Wellness Wednesdays

Have I mentioned before how much I love summer?! Being born in the summer surely has something to do with it 😉 I mention this because finding something pleasurable or that you find joy in is a part of wellness. So I’m sharing my summer joys.

Summer for me is all about relaxation. And that falls in line with my meditation work. I’ve recently read more about grounding and try to step in the grass daily, when it’s not raining. I have a massage chair topper as well to help with relaxation. That helps your nervous system turn on the parasympathetic stage- rest rather than flight or fight mode.

While I try to get outdoors throughout the year, I really focus on outdoor life during the summer. I walk outdoors a lot more and spend more time exploring the area, discovering new things. I try to visit the beach, hike, ride a bike – basically anything that allows me to enjoy the world around me.

Barbecue and ice cream! I’ve had to back off of these to adhere to diet protocols but summer is the best for both. I have found mustard based bbq sauces since I can’t do tomatoes. And ice cream on hot days – whew! I’ve found a non dairy coconut cream brand that I absolutely love. But …sugar *sigh* so I reserve that for days that are over 90 degrees. It’s all about balance.

And while I don’t swim, I do like to get in the pool occasionally or just sit out and bask in the sun 🌞 I try to go before kids get to the pool so going early on a hot day is crucial. I prefer the beach but I don’t live close to any at this time.

What are ways that you enjoy the summer? Comment below 👇🏽. Maybe we have some things in common ☺️. See you next week!

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Less Stress – Wellness Wednesdays

Over the last couple of years, I have purposefully been looking for ways to de-stress. I would only take self care seriously when I went on vacation but that’s not enough to sustain a stress free lifestyle. As variety is the spice of life, below are things that I started incorporating more regularly.

Yoga – I have taken one on one yoga classes to learn how to modify various techniques. The breath work in yoga has helped so much. I even did a yoga workout on PBS this morning that is chair based. It also helps with flexibility concerns so it serves as a win-win.

Massage – love love love to get a massage, especially deep tissue massage. That has helped so much with the arthritis symptoms as well as serving as an outlet to destress.

Prayer – some call it quiet time or contemplation time. This is so essential for me to bring stress down. It helps me to keep life in perspective. I tend to get a little hyper or think “what if’s” and this helps temper those.

Meditation – this is the most recent addition for me. I use a meditation app at night to just relax and breathe. And it helps me to fall asleep. Meditation is a great way to lower your blood pressure too.

Exercise – aerobic exercise is your friend. Walking and hiit workouts are such good ways to just get the stress out of my system. I love being able to just forget about what bothered me before the workout.

Beach. Outdoors. Nature – the ultimate stress reliever! Nature is a such a good way to disconnect from stresses, work, pressure. When it’s nice outside, I try to get out almost every day. Reconnecting with the earth keeps you grounded, research shows.

What things have you incorporated to reduce stress? What works well for you? See you next week!

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Beyond Work – Wellness Wednesdays

Even before the pandemic, I worked in a remote position. BUT I had a good deal of travel in my previous job so I wasn’t at home all of the time unlike my current situation. One thing that remote work has really pushed me to do is have a life outside of work!

For far too many years, work has been everything and outside interests were a tiny speck in my life. Sure, I went on vacation, but I didn’t take the time to pursue things that I was truly interested in. Well being at home alllllll the time definitely changed that up. I have always enjoyed being out in nature but now it truly has purpose. And I’m able to finally explore the area that I moved to last year but couldn’t.

In my quest for physical health, I had to realize that other aspects of life play a part in wellness too. And then I had to act on that, which can be easier said than done. I even attended a session today sponsored by my job on burnout and that can affect everything in your life- body aches and pains, minor illnesses, anxiety, restlessness, insomnia …the list went on and on.

Some things that I’ve done for self-care that have absolutely nothing to do with my job include:

  • Spa day! 🧖🏾‍♀️
  • Visiting family monthly since I live less than 90 minutes away, the first time in YEARS
  • Visit the art museum
  • Find walking trails to check out
  • Visit nature areas, and more

So I encourage you to join me in celebrating life outside the confines of work if you have not and do what brings you joy. I’m sharing a couple of pictures from my recent adventures below. See you next week!

At the overlook
At an area park
In front of the art museum

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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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Dehydration Dangers

Sooooo…I live in the southern states of the United States and in the summer, it gets HOT. I mean, hot with humidity that makes you sweat instantly. And while I love hot weather, it can be extreme.

That leads to the downward slope into dehydration. My go to exercise is walking, especially since gyms were closed in my area due to coronavirus and I don’t know that I would go even if they were. I think I’ve been running slightly dehydrated for some time but it was not overwhelming.

Until this past weekend. I had started walking later in the morning. Mistake #1. While I drink a ton of water, I was not adding beverages specifically with electrolytes or foods that would supply these. Mistake #2. I was still wearing exercise pants to walk in because all of my shorts are too big. Mistake #3. And the list goes on…

I began feeling really dizzy Thursday evening to the point that I needed my mom’s help that night. The next morning, I was so weak and dizzy that just walking to the bathroom was taxing. My parents eventually called EMS because getting down the stairs would have been impossible. And the testing at the hospital confirmed moderate dehydration so a drip IV was needed.

Why do I mention all this? Because I don’t want the same thing to happen to anyone else. I am ALLLLL about staying healthy in all weather but be aware of the extremes. I even came across an article today that discusses making better choices when walking in the heat. The link is: https://blog.myfitnesspal.com/6-hot-weather-hacks-to-keep-walking-through-the-summer/?utm_source=mmf&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=MMWalk_Newsletter_20200728

Please check out the article and stay healthy everyone. 🥂to your good health. Until next time …

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Grass, trees and trails – oh my!

Allergic to alll greenery outdoors but I love walking and exploring so do it anyway 😂😂

I’m always looking for good walking areas and I found a couple of locations to go to: flatter trail closest to home and a split trail that goes to two parks about 10 minutes away. With the advent of the coronavirus, the walkways been more congested than usual so I try to go at odd times and hotter parts of the day. My joints LOVE heat so this is a win-win.

Community trail that is closest to home. One day I will conquer the entire trail!
Trail leading to Gold Park
Strolling through River Park

Getting outdoors allows for a change of scenery and can produce endorphins to make you feel better. And I love warmer weather so getting in a sweat is a plus! My acupuncturist is all about walking outdoors as nature, especially green and trees, relaxes the body. And with stress levels through the roof, who doesn’t need a way to relax?!

I truly hope this finds you well, safe and healthy. Have you found a place to get away? If so, drop a line below; I’d love to hear from you! 🥂 to your good health.

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Ergonomically Working from Home

Today’s blog post will be the last installment of working remotely as multiple states seek to re-open soon. I believe that many employees who did not have the opportunity to work remotely prior to coronavirus may be able to moving forward as companies see that employees can be productive and save on overhead while working from home.

One of the aspects of working from home that I did not consider when I began is ensuring that I used ergonomic products. Now, I’m the beginning, my health was not 100% so I worked from the comfort of being in bed …or so I thought. Not using the appropriate office furniture and equipment definitely took a physical toll on me – even to the point of now doing physical therapy for spine and neck. Yikes!

What would I have done differently if I could go back on time? I would have actually used the desk that I had but rarely used. Then maybe I would’ve noticed other products that could help along the way. I’ll share the two that I purchased since beginning physical therapy.

This is my stand to hold my laptop. It ensures that my eyes are actually at the appropriate level so my neck, shoulders and spine can attempt to be in alignment. The stand is adjustable in height as well and can work for either laptops or computer monitors. While this is not an endorsement, I purchased it at Staples before the outbreak of coronavirus.

My desk has a keyboard holder that slides out as well. Purchasing a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse was a game changer. Before I held my shoulders up as I placed my forearms on the desk to type. Wrong, wrong, wrong said my physical therapist. Using the keyboard has decreased neck and shoulder tightness and tension. Again, game changer. This is not a super fancy keyboard. I picked them up at Target immediately after a physical therapy appointment. The combination of both purchases was well under $100 so I consider them great investment tools.

Health is a priceless wealth. Invest while you can.

Bryant McGill

What suggestions might you have regarding ergonomic products? Has anything helped you? We would love to hear your feedback! As always 🥂 to your good health. Until next time …

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Remote work, part 2

I work remotely 75% of the time so I am sharing tips from my “normal” as so many are adjusting to this current reality.

This week’s advice:

– show your manager that you are working by picking up a side project.

Yes, that may sound odd when you have your regular work responsibilities so let me give you my example. When I am not working from home, I travel a great deal, sometimes every week for months at a time. Since all of my travel has been canceled through at least the end of April, I have much more time to fill during work hours. I decided to work on a procedure manual for my role. The job that I hold never existed before so I know there is nothing written down documenting what I do, how things are accomplished, the appropriate contact people, etc.

Not only does this self-given project fill my work hours, it also demonstrates initiative, being a self-starter, makes a great use of time- and your manager will know that you have been working. You may not travel, but you could use the time typically spent on meetings that are now conducted via email.

I hope this helps. Any other suggestions that may assist others?