Barbara Leech is a freelance writer and mother of four from Maine who lives with fibromyalgia, lupus and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. She considers herself a survivor of all things and is passionate about family, faith and small victories. Barbara is a writer for NewLifeOutlook|Fibromyalgia. For another one of Barbara's articles, please visit: http://fibromyalgia.newlifeoutlook.com/fibro-guilt/
My Fibro New Year’s Resolutions
It is that time of year again when people start resolving to change their bad habits and promising to be healthier and wiser than they have been for the last 12 months.
New Year’s resolutions are a tradition for many, and although the concept is often unsuccessful (often abandoned by February) I have reached a turning point with my fibromyalgia that I want to support with better, healthier behavior.
I have been in a period of “healthful calmness” for the last several weeks. I almost feel I must whisper it, so fate doesn’t catch wind of my good fortune and suddenly take my health for a turn in the wrong direction.
I suffer from fibromyalgia, Hashimoto’s (autoimmune thyroid disease) and lupus (autoimmune system attacking my body and organs) and all three seem to be under some level of control right now. My organs are doing well again and my hair has stopped falling out. Fibromyalgia seems to be hovering at a manageable level of pain each day. I still battle debilitating fatigue on some days, but it is not every day as it once was.
Life is easier to deal with. I am afraid to say the word “remission” out loud, but I think about it daily, hopeful with the possibility that peace might be mine for a little while. So naturally, I feel inspired to do all I can to support my health and keep my fibro as calm as possible. It may be time for some New Year’s resolutions.
I have asked for advice from my rheumatologist, my endocrinologist, and cardiologist… all of whom are wonderful specialists, but who often lack solid answers. This time was no different. I got responses like, “Keep doing what you’re doing,” and, “Exercise more, but don’t overdo it.”
If I look at what seems to have worked best, what may have led to this moment when I have a bit of hope that next year could be more healthy for me, with fewer days of pain, it is hard to pinpoint a clear path to take. I’ve even looked back at my journals, which I keep for this very purpose of playing detective about what brings about relief and what triggers a flare.
What Stands out as Important?
As I craft my New Year’s resolution list, I am not at all certain it will bring about a fibromyalgia remission, but I am hopeful it will create the best opportunity for my pain and fatigue to continue to ease — and maybe yours too.
Faith and hope are beautiful things and it is my hope that you will try to make a promise to yourself this coming year. It is so easy to choose things that are not the best for our health, from drinking soda or too much alcohol (ahhh the holidays) to eating fast food.
Fight the urge to indulge in things that make you feel worse and aggravate your fibromyalgia. I encourage you to compile a list of your own (or steal from mine), but try and put your health first for the next several months. Commit to being healthier than you are right now (mentally, spiritually and physically) and at the very least, you may have fewer bad days and be in a better position to fight your daily fibro battle.
My New Year’s Resolution List
I asked a friend of mine who is a nutritionist to give me some advice, and with her thoughts and the insights from patterns I see in my journals, I’ve written down my resolutions:
* I will eat my veggies. I promise I will eat more veggies with each meal. My plate will be 75 percent veggies and 25 percent protein.
* I will try to avoid processed foods. Only turkey hotdogs, sandwich meat and bacon that are nitrate free will pass my lips. I will avoid chips and all those fun snacks at family gatherings and focus on the fruit and veggie platter.
* I will cut back on gluten intake. While I am not gluten intolerant (according to tests), I have read that limiting it as much as possible can make a difference in someone with fibromyalgia and autoimmune disease. * I will let go of my fibro guilt. Even though I have been feeling better for the last couple of months, I still have days when pain and fatigue come knocking on my door. I often allow fear of this to get me into what I call the “blame myself mode.” I think about what I did to trigger it and I beat myself up for having fibromyalgia. This coming year I will not blame myself or feel guilty on days I must rest.
* I will stop envy and anger. I am embarrassed to admit that this is a big one for me. Even though I know it is wrong, it still sneaks up on me. Many people in my life are so happy and healthy… which is great, but it all plays out in front of me while I fight for normalcy. So no more jealousy or anger at the unfairness of the cards I have been dealt.
* I will remember to take my medications. My memory is horrible and in the past I have missed doses of medications for several days in a row. I will organize my meds so I cannot help but remember to take them. I will set an alarm on my phone as backup.
* I will exercise. Few people love to exercise, and it is so hard to get started when you feel pain each day during normal movement and activities. I have been better about exercising lately, probably because I have felt better, so movement is easier than it once was. I will keep up this momentum and get at least a little each day.
* I will rest. I am a bad sleeper. I struggle to sleep each night and because of work and kids, I never nap. I promise myself I will listen to my fatigue and say no to some activities when I am feeling exhausted.
I think deep down we all know what we could be doing better, letting go of and putting into our bodies that we are not, to improve how we feel. Fibromyalgia is a strong foe, so to have any hope of winning this war, we must look out for ourselves and take care of our bodies. This is the typical focus of most New Year’s resolutions, but for a fibro-warrior, it is even more, important to commit to taking care of yourself better in the coming year.
Thank you for your guest post today Barbara!