I'm taking part in a wonderful challenge called Bliss Connect's 6 Weeks of Bliss. The challenge is all about health this week and what my plans are to make 2012 the healthiest year yet.
For Fibromyalgia sufferers, being healthy can seem like an impossible feat, but with slight changes to one's lifestyle, a proper diet filled with all the basic food groups, exercise, some inspiration, and a little bit of stubbornness, you can reach your healthy goals.
I've discussed exercise a lot on this blog and I believe that it's important for Fibromites to engage in gentle exercise routines when flares are at their peak. Gentle yoga, tai chi, or other forms of slow movement exercise are great for the days when your flares are tough.
The gentle art of stretching your muscles can help them be massaged into relaxation. I also like gentle yoga because the movements are slow enough for me to realize the flow of my body. Sometimes aerobics or zumba classes can be tough for me because the movement is so fast that I overstretch an already fatigued muscle. Cardio is also very important, however so I save my zumba for the days that I'm as pain and fog free as possible.
A proper diet is also very important to maintain one's health. I'm a firm believer in saying that everything is good for you in moderation. Part of that has to do with the fact that I'm Italian and I LOVE good food, but there is also another reason why. I'm a meat eater by choice and I know that some vegans will argue with me that meat can be substituted because protein is found in many different foods.
I have nothing against vegans, in fact, I was one for a brief year of my life when I was first diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. Eating greens helped me to cleanse toxins out of my body which in turn gave me a lot of pain free days. But being vegan-- at least for me-- had a down side. I got tired, irritable, my hair was falling out, and I was always hungry. As a side note, I'm pretty thin by nature at 115 pounds. At the time I was tipping the scales at an even 100 and always being hungry was not an option for this gal! I was thin by nature-- not choice so hunger made me cranky.
Loss of hair is understandable if you don't incorporate enough protein in your diet. I know I didn't because tofu, though wonderful in moderation, was making my stomach upset in large doses. My hormones also took a turn for the worst-- hence another reason for being cranky and irritable.
So to me, meat is an important part of a Fibromite's diet. The meat, though should be good quality. Purchase organic, hormone-free, and wild caught varieties of meat and fish. These meats tend to be on the pricier side, but you can get great deals on certain ones. Whole chickens and chicken legs are always priced less than boneless breast. 80% lean ground beef is another great bargain as opposed to 90%. White fishes tend to be priced lower than salmon. And salmon in the canned variety is just as good as fresh and at a better price. I also tend to buy my fish frozen because it is usually less per pound that way.
Lastly, I'm going to discuss inspiration, lifestyle changes, and stubbornness. I added stubbornness to the mix because it takes a little of that sometimes to work through your pain. We fibromites can sometimes discourage ourselves in trying new things because we are afraid of the pain we might face the next day. I'm here to tell you that it's okay to be stubborn and try that new thing anyway because you just might surprise yourself.
I wrote a blog entry last year on my daughter's girl scout trip and I was talking about this very same thing. You see, if I kept to my ideals and saw a night's stay on the floor of the New England Aquarium as a flare waiting to happen, I wouldn't have gone and probably wouldn't have allowed my daughter to go either. But instead I threw caution to the wind, raised my Taurean stubborn streak to the limit, and went. And you know what? I had a BLAST and didn't have a flare! Never be afraid to try anything new.
Lifestyle changes for your flares can be as minimal as giving up heels and wearing flats to work to being as extreme as leaving a stressful profession for a less stressful one. It depends on you and your circumstances. I personally left my stressful retail management career to become a full-time author, mom, and caregiver to my mother and grandparents.
My changes weren't easy because I had to find the positives. This is where inspiration comes in. My inspirations were Cher and Madonna. I've seen them reinvent themselves many times over the years and I figured if they could do it for their careers so could I. I found the key to redefining myself had nothing to do with what I chose to do for money. In fact, my profession of choice was holding me back from my true greatness in life. My true greatness was a passion for helping people and that got lost in the shuffle of trying to pay my bills.
Having said all of this, I think my plan for the healthiest year is to make sure I keep finding inspiration because without that I'd feel stuck and I won't want to do any of the things that help me to stay healthy. Inspiration can be easy to find if you are open to receiving it. I find inspiration in my tired moments from the faces of my children who are happy to see me coming home from work. I hear it in the voices of the parents of the children I teach when they tell me about their child getting excited about religion for the first time. I feel it in emails from people across the world that I may have never talked to without having Fibromyalgia in common.
Here's to finding your inspirations for 2012!
Love and friendship,