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Then and Now

About a month into my journey to feel better, I started taking pictures to chronicle my progress as the scale doesn’t always correlate to progress. And I still do it because the body dysmorphia is real! I may not see myself as the size that I started, but I also don’t see my current size the same way others do.

So …the left hand picture is from September 2018. I remember buying that shirt; I loved it! It was a size XXL from JCPenney. The picture on the right is from last week. I am going to a funeral and, as usual, most of my clothes are too big *sigh*. I live by a Gap factory store that has AMAZING prices so I headed there to find something appropriate. The sweater is a small 😱 I haven’t worn a small since 8th grade while running track! The skirt is a size 8, both by banana republic 😱 I don’t ever remember wearing anything below a size 9. I’m always amazed when I see these comparisons.

How it started. How it’s going

And as you can see, I still have a knee sleeve on as my right knee continues to be a challenge. That day, I had gotten steroid shots in both knees so I’m still researching ways to improve joint health and minimize inflammation and arthritis. I plan to start the autoimmune protocol (AIP) in January to continue to reduce inflammation and figure out what triggers I may have.

I’m also focusing on gut health and started a new probiotic that is supposed to be great. With all the research available about the gut and the need for bacterial diversity to support health, I’m hoping that the probiotic, along with continued modifications, will help. And on most days, I aim for 5-6 servings of veggies and 1-2 servings of fruit along with protein; I eat a good deal of fish. All of this is a change from then to now.

Let me know what changes you’ve made and seen in your health. And any tips to reduce inflammation are great appreciated! To your good health…

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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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Eating across America – Wellness Wednesdays

One of the hardest parts of changing my eating habits was finding an acceptable place to eat when I travelled, especially for work or vacation as I may go to an area that I’m not as familiar with. So today I’m doing something different than my other posts. Let’s chat about great places to eat that may meet dietary restrictions.

As I mentioned before, I follow a cross between the paleo diet and the AIP protocol, focusing on nutrients like iron, my continued problem child 😃. So I can’t just say- oh let me grab a breakfast sandwich from this chicken place that has wonderful biscuits and chicken! And that can create a problem. I have quite literally sat and started crying because I’m hungry but have no idea of what food is in an area that I won’t have a reaction to later. whew!

So…let’s share recommendations of where we can eat. I’ll start with what have been go to places for me.

  • Whole Foods market. Prior to the pandemic, this was by far the best place for me to go. The hot bar lists what is in the food so it was an easy choice. I went to Whole Foods in: Manchester, NH; Chapel Hill/Raleigh/Durham, NC; Baltimore, MD; Philadelphia, PA; Long Island, NY; Charlotte, NC; Atlanta, GA; Orlando, FL; Louisville, KY; Cincinnati, OH; Chicago, IL; Detroit, MI; Huntsville, AL; Nashville, TN; San Antonio, TX; Santa Cruz, CA; Sacramento, CA. Yes, it’s that’s serious!
  • Restoration Cafe in Manchester, NH has great smoothies. I cannot do almond butter and almond milk but this place carried other nut butters and coconut milk.
  • Founding Farmers in the Washington DC area. I love love love this place. The menu is seasonal and always super fresh.
  • Zoe’s kitchen is one of the only chain restaurants that I frequent but the quality isn’t consistent. Some are always great but others aren’t so good.
  • First Watch is probably the only other chain restaurant that I go to and only for very specific items. Quality is always consistent so when I get a quinoa bowl in Franklin, Tennessee, it tastes the same in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
  • Green District Salads in Louisville, KY. A relatively newer place with a few locations around the area. You can customize salads or wraps and they’re always tasty and fast.
  • Zameen at the Point in Capitola, CA. This is a small Mediterranean spot that I came across while in the area. It was soooo good and very fresh.

What places do you recommend? If you live outside of the United States, I invite you to share your recommendations as well – have passport, will travel! And if you have enjoyed the wellness Wednesday series, let me know and I’ll keep posting. The series was to be limited to summer so this may be the last post; let me know!

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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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Anniversary Sunday!

Three years ago, in the latter half of August 2018, I decided to make a real effort with getting healthier. I was tired of being sick and tired all of the time. Nothing was working and it seemed that something new was wrong all of the time. And I knew that I needed to do something in a different way this time.

See I had been to an expert in PCOS while living in Baltimore. And I was told to just take birth control pills until I died, unless I planned on having kids and we could look at other meds then. WTH! 🤯🤦🏽‍♀️ ummm, no I’ll pass. I had been following different docs for awhile and kept hearing about keto and thought – hey why not? Nothing else had worked.

Left – before an interview, Aug 2021. Right – before work, Aug 2018

So I started on keto and did that for 3 months until I literally had no appetite and couldn’t sleep. While I lost weight, keto was much too harsh for me physically. Some do well on it; I just couldn’t continue. I then migrated over to paleo. The weight released slower but it was a much more sustainable way for me, especially due to a heavy travel schedule for work.

And after doing the work, here I am, 3 years later. It’s not all about the number on the scale. Yes I’ve lost 100 pounds which is AMAZING and I’ve kept it off. But I also can sleep more than 4 hours per night. I don’t feel sluggish and sick all the time. Brain fog is gone. My outlook on everything is more optimistic. PCOS is much improved. Are there still challenges? Absolutely, but as I continue to research, read, learn and grow, I hope to find ways to smash those challenges too.

Left – Aug 2021 brunch bday celebration. Right – Apr 2018 work gala (I had very few full length pics that year 😲)

Change is hard. Growth is hard. I get that. But I had to learn that to get where I wanted to go, I had to change and grow. And you know what? You can too! I’m not so special that being healthier is exclusive to me. Just start, today. And that decision to start in August 2018 has led me to where I am today. Until next time, to your health! 💥

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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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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!