Friday, December 9, 2016

Don't you DARE give up!!

A year ago I was sinking into a quicksand pit of depression. Healthwise, 2015 had been a lousy year.  Strange infections, chronic bowel problems, facial skin cancer chemo, knee surgery, a pending Achilles tendon surgery, laryngitis, weight gain and--to cap it all off--a diagnosis of fibromyalgia which explained the inexplicable aches, pains and malaise I'd been feeling all year. Christmas was hardly more than an inconvenience.  I hadn't the inclination nor the energy to decorate or bake.  We ended up stringing a set of mini-lights on the jade plant in the living room, and called it good.

A year ago I thought I'd seen the last of good times, good health and youthful vigor.  The outlook was gray and foggy.

Have you been to that dim, shrouded place?  Are you there now?  I have good news for you: it is NOT your new, permanent home!  It's only a stop along the way to something far better.

Maybe you think you lack the power to change your life for the better.  Maybe you think there are no circumstances or influences that can make a positive change in your situation.  You are wrong on both counts.  You alone have the power to improve your life.  It's up to you to actively seek solutions and help from other sources.  No one else is going to do it for you.  As much as your friends love and support you, they can't shovel you out of a hole.  They've already tried.  You have to claw and climb out by yourself.  The good news is that it's a whole lot easier than you may imagine!  Just get the ball rolling, ever so slowly.  The rest will take care of itself.

I was blessed to have positive choices revealed to me in 2016.  I took full advantage of those opportunities, and I made the choices that would ultimately turn my health and outlook around. Yes, I still have fibromyalgia, but I've taken steps to minimize its effects on my life.  Yes, I still have "aging issues" like wrinkles, failing eyesight, and bladder urgencies.  My strength and coordination are diminishing.  But I can live with these "normal" processes.I have no choice there.  I do, however, have choices on how much I want to suffer from fibro's pain, stiffness and malaise.  And I've chosen steps that have literally given me my life back.

DO NOT GIVE UP.  Stop complaining, stop the self pity, get off your ass and try something new.  
The most effective change you can make:  
Whittle yourself down to bones and muscle.   

The second most effective change:  

If you are in physical or emotional pain, or if you're not happy with your life circumstances, my Christmas wish for you is that you put one foot in front of the other and start making the changes.  You only have one life and one chance.

As a very influential candidate said to a group of challenged citizens a couple months ago, "What do you have to lose?  What the HELL do you have to lose?"

Friday, November 18, 2016

Pain is gone! Remedy worked!

Good news!  The agony I experienced last night ago at bedtime faded with the stars and hasn't returned.

This validated my belief that I can control my fibromyalgia symptoms by "living right."  I expect I'll feel even better tomorrow as my system will be further cleansed of the stuff that made me hurt so badly yesterday.

Today I got up at 6 a.m. as usual and hobbled downstairs feeling like I was 95 years old.  Fed the dogs, then retreated to the basement for one hour of gentle but steady exercise.  Within minutes, the pain and stiffness with which I awoke had greatly diminished.  Usually by the time I've fed the dogs and gone downstairs, I'm feeling at least 50 percent better than when rising.  No matter how much I hurt upon rising, I can always count on that.

Things continue to improve over the next hour.  I keep moving at a moderate pace, from one piece of equipment to another, from one body part to another, never repeating the exact same workout two days in a row. The hour flies by ever so quickly.  At 7:17 I'm headed back upstairs to bed for a 45-minute"nap," where I stretch out in "corpse pose" and concentrate only on relaxing the muscles I have worked.

When I get up again, I shower and prepare for the day.  I am now pretty much pain-free. I fix my husband's breakfast and prepare a smoothie for myself.

For the rest of the day, I stay in motion as much as possible.  This keeps the "rust" from settling into my bones and soft tissue.

"Lunch" consisted of  two cups of salted-in-the-shell peanuts with a cup of coffee.  Not the best choice, but not the worst either.  High protein + high fat = satiation.

I stayed honest at dinner...I really missed my wine, but opted to refrain because I knew it would cause a negative reaction.  So I polished off some leftover chicken salad (just chicken and lettuce) with a glass of vitamin water in the wine glass.

Total calories for the day: about 1,000.  Just right.  No bloating, Quiet gut.  No inflammation.  Tonight I will sleep well, knowing I made the right choices to heal myself for another day.

The right foods for YOU + moderate, frequent exercise + water + rest = NO MORE FIBROMYALGIA least, not until I allow myself to mess up again. And I will.  But a "well lived" day is money in the bank that pays interest.  Those dividends will help me get through the next recession, otherwise called "Thanksgiving."

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

I know why I hurt tonight

Tonight my joints are screaming.  Ankles, knees, elbows, shoulders are stiff and painful with inflammation that's so pervasive with fibromyalgia.  My brain is foggy too.  Today I nearly wiped out a woman at Costco with a frozen turkey I was slinging into my cart.  I kept running into other people's carts, and in the produce room I walked away from my own cart and grabbed someone else's by mistake.  I'm surprised I was able to make the two-hour drive home without incident.

But I am filled with optimism.  I think I know WHY I'm feeling fibro-like today...and that's why I'm going to change things tomorrow with the hope of feeling 100 percent better.

Here's what I think I did wrong today and yesterday to bring on the fibro attack:
  • I didn't drink enough water.
  • I didn't exercise for an hour this morning.
  • My sleep was disrupted because I was in a hotel room last night.
  • I ate crappy food instead of sticking to my regular regimen.

Tomorrow I WILL feel better.  I'll get up at 6a.m., exercise for an hour, return to bed for another hour, get up and drink plenty of water all day, and eat a minimal amount of food that is kind and gentle to my system.  There will be no gluten, refined sugar, or alcohol in my diet tomorrow.

Stay tuned and find out if I am in fact pain-free tomorrow evening.  I want to prove it to myself...and to you other fibro sufferers out there...that we really can minimize or eliminate our symptoms by "living right."

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Kicking fibromyalgia in the ass....

Find your magic hour

With four hip replacements behind me, I don't physically kick balls, stones or cans much anymore.  But for the past several months I've been kicking fibromyalgia in the ass.  I'm here to tell you that you, too, can kick fibro or most other chronic physical issues in the ass if you really get down to business.  In the process, you're going to lose weight, feel better about yourself, get stronger, and be able to live a somewhat normal life once again.  Without drugs.

My method, which I outlined in my last post, consists of these steps:
  1.  Eliminate foods that are difficult for you to digest.
  2.  Set aside ONE HOUR A DAY for some sort of exercise.
  3.  Go to bed earlier.  Take rest breaks during the day

For me, these three things are totally integrated.  I can't skip one and expect to feel well the next day. My favorite, however, is #2.  Set aside ONE HOUR A DAY for some sort of exercise.  So let's talk about that.

First, I credit my physical therapist, Stan, for getting me into this ONE HOUR A DAY thing.  He's been a therapist for 30 years and he knows his stuff.  He's seen it all.  He is passionate about this ONE HOUR A DAY mantra, which he says generally falls on deaf ears.  Face it, we've all heard this preached to us and most of us think, "Well, that would be nice but I simply don't have the time, and I hate exercise."

Now shut up and tell the truth.  You DO have an hour to devote to yourself, your well-being, the betterment and longevity of your life.  You just have to look for it or carve it out of your existing schedule.  Not only that....but you DO enjoy some forms of physical activity, whether it's dancing, walking your dog, bowling, raking leaves, or having sex.

To make this even easier, think how quickly you form habits.  Do anything for a few days or a few weeks in a row, and it becomes comfortably habitual.

So let's first find that hour in your day....that very special hour you devote to just yourself.  No excuses.  There's a way to do it.  My special hour--which has actually become the most precious hour of my day--starts at 6:15 a.m.  The dogs get me up at 6 a.m. for breakfast.  The feeding/pottying ritual takes about 15 minutes.  At 6:15 I head for my basement "gym" with my iPad in hand. Now, granted, my little gym would make most physical therapists jealous; I have a lot of exercise "toys" and I use them all during my workout because I like the variety.  But if I had to, I could get an adequate workout without any of it.  The key is to simply KEEP MOVING at a comfortable (not a killer) pace.  We'll talk more about exercises in a future post.

The 6:15 morning hour was the ONLY one I knew I could stick with.  At that hour there are no phone calls or doorbells.  The dogs have gone back to bed with my husband.  I seal myself off from the rest of the world, with the understanding that I am not to be interrupted unless it's an emergency.

As much as I enjoy exercise, I know that if it doesn't happen for me at 6:15, it's not going to happen that day.  I'm not talking about the additional spurts of exercise we all get during a normal day, whether playing at the dog park, splitting wood or grooming horses.  Sorry, but those don't count!    They should be IN ADDITION to your special hour.

Some suggestions for finding the hour:  

  • Instead of relaxing on the couch to watch your favorite weekly TV show, watch it streaming on your tablet while you peddle an exercise bike.
  • Get up an hour earlier...and go to bed an hour earlier too.
  • Put the dogs in crates so they can't bother you during your hour.
  • Tell your family members they'll have to fend for themselves in the kitchen during your hour.  
  • Buy some Leslie Sansone "Walk Your Way to Fitness" videos to use in your living room.
  • Ignore your phone!!!!!  YOU are more important than that thing!!!!

Next post:  

What you DON'T need to do to get a good one-hour workout. 

"Bucket List Weight Loss"--Order your copy today on Amazon.  Available on Kindle as well.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Feeling younger every day

Four months ago I sold most of my Size 6 jeans in a yard sale because I'd resigned myself to never getting into them again.  I ached all over virtually all the time, and was also resigning myself to a fairly depressing and scaled-down life of inactivity.  Moving hurt.  Living fatigued me.  That's what fibromyalgia is all about.  The arthritic knee didn't help either, and the Achilles tendon surgery I'd had last winter had taken its toll on my strength, stamina and flexibility.  I thought I was going to have to accept feeling like an 80-year-old, even though I was only 63.

Today I'm replacing the Size 6 jeans I sold....with more Size 6's.  I don't hurt like I did four months ago.  Even the knee is improved.  I have my life back again.

In fact, I feel like I'm getting younger every day.  I no longer feel 80, or 63.  Maybe 45 or 50.  I'll take that!

The secret?  Actually, I have two, and I'll share them with you.
1.  I gave up foods that disagreed with me.
2.  I changed my daily exercise routine.

Sounds pretty simple and common, I know.  But the turnaround in how I feel is anything but "common."  It's a freaking miracle.  First, a brief look at the dietary changes....

I stopped eating refined sugar because I knew it was causing inflammation and spikes in my blood sugar.  I stopped eating most gluten for the same reasons.  I eliminated artificial sweeteners and processed foods.  And I drastically cut back on my alcohol intake.  This all started as a water fast back in June, and it morphed into an appetite-killing realization that food often made me feel worse than hunger did.  Certain foods are safe and satisfying, so I concentrate on them and eat only what's necessary.  Most days I now consume about 1,000 calories.

The other secret:  I devote one hour of every day to uninterrupted exercise, immediately followed by total rest and a shower.  My hour starts at 6:15 a.m., after I've fed the dogs.  That's the only hour that works for me.  If I don't do it then, it won't get done.  The exercise is light but nonstop.  I don't even break a sweat.  I just keep moving, doing a wide variety of things to include yoga, resistance exercises, light cardio, and coordination drills.  After my hour, I return to bed for 45 minutes.  In yoga they'd call this time "savasana," a time to rest and rejuvenate the body after working it.   When the gentle alarm goes off, I rise and jump into the shower for a hot, invigorating scrub that leaves me ready to tackle the day ahead.

In future posts, I'm going to elaborate on how I came to adopt this new lifestyle.  I know it won't work for everyone--especially the "going back to bed" part.  But the combination of good nutrition and consistent exercise has turned my clock back about 15 years.  And there is no medicine that can replicate that feeling!

I'll be sharing my adventures in physical therapy with you too.  The four months of PT following my Achilles tendon surgery have changed my life.  Let me tease you by quoting the slogan that's plastered over the doorway of my physical therapist's office:  
 "Exercise is the best medicine."

More to come.  I might as well warn you, I'm going to be preaching my discoveries with a passion!!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

A re-discovered pain reliever that works

Nearly three months ago I drastically reduced my daily caloric intake to less than 1,000 calories.  With only a handful of exceptions, I've stuck with the low-cal eating every day.  My average is probably about 800 calories

So how much weight have I lost?  I don't even know, and I don't care.  None of this was done to lose weight.  It started, rather, as an elimination diet to help ease my symptoms of fibromyalgia.  I was sure some common food groups, for whatever strange reason, were aggravating my fibro symptoms--widespread pain, extreme stiffness, lack of mobility, mental fog and depression, to name a few.

The first thing I pitched from my diet was sugar.  Sorry, but no one can say anything good about what refined sugar does to the body.  It's like slow poison to your insides, and it can cause inflammation in every joint in your body.  I used to live on candy when I was younger and in denial.  Now I avoid the nasty stuff because I know what it will do to me, and it's not worth it.

Along with the refined sugar went the artificial sweeteners.   I simply don't trust the chemicals anymore.  It's not often I use any sweetener but, when I do, it's all natural Stevia.

Alcohol also went by the wayside for a while, but I've started back on the booze in moderation.  I went several weeks without imbibing a drop, and then eased up a bit to enjoy a glass of cold Chardonnay once in a while.  I continue sipping wine or margaritas maybe two nights a week now, but could easily go without it completely. Certain triggers--like emotional stress, a wonderful evening horseback ride, or a crowded social event--can make me "thirsty," although I could be just as satisfied  with water instead.  I've all but given up beer for two reasons: the first is gluten (it makes me feel bad), the second is the bloated, uncomfortably full sensation it gives me.

So what's changed?  Is my new way of eating worth it?  Well, for the present, the answer is an emphatic YES.  There's no doubt I have food sensitivities that aggravate inflammation and cause gastric upsets, both of which contribute to a mental fog and mild depression.  That's all part of the fibromyalgia mystery.  After eliminating those problematic foods, I can wholeheartedly say I have a LOT less discomfort and considerably more energy.  Best of all, my outlook on life and the future has brightened by leaps and bounds.

Admittedly, a big part of this is due to the weight loss that was inevitable on a severely reduced calorie diet.  BEING OVERWEIGHT HURTS.  Since publishing my book, Bucket List Weight Loss, five years ago, I'd slowly gained back nearly half of what I'd lost. Never mind the reasons for now...I'll address those in a future post.  The important thing is that I gained back enough weight to make my already compromised body hurt even worse than it already did.  You should try carrying around a 10-pound bag of potatoes for a couple weeks and see how you feel.  If you're more than 10 pounds overweight, just imagine carrying around a layer of all the extra weight you now have.  Think you could do it?  Nope, not without some serious pain.  But carry that much extra right now!  So imagine how much BETTER you would feel if you lost that extra layer.  You'd feel like you were floating with your feet six inches off the ground!

Where am I going with this?  Right back to Bucket List Weight Loss.  I strongly believe that losing ALL excess weight is the best medicine and pain reliever for many common ailments--especially the age-related issues.   If you hurt, and have been overweight for much of your life, you truly may not know how incredibly good you could feel if the extra weight was gone from your body.  What a tragedy for you! 

It's not my job to tell you how to lose it.  All I can do is set an example of the end result and say, "You must find your own way."  The principles in Bucket List Weight Loss still work for me, and I am SO glad I wrote them all down in a book I can review from time to time when I need reminders.  Expect more posts as this "rerouted" journey continues. My goal is to help you, through weight loss and exercise, to reclaim your life and your health as you choose to define them.  Stay tuned.

Bucket List Weight Loss is available in paperback or Kindle at this link:

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

The Best Thing About Fasting

For more than three weeks now I've been thriving very happily on less than 1,000 calories a day.  I embarked on this low-cal venture, not to lose weight but to eliminate foods  I thought might be aggravating my fibromyalgia symptoms.  Diet has long been suspected of playing a major role in this incurable syndrome where the brain misreads nerve signals, resulting in widespread and inexplicable pain.

I've made some great, life-changing discoveries in the past three weeks...and I've also reaffirmed some long-held ideas of my own.

One of them has to do with fasting.  In Bucket List Weight Loss, published five years ago, I wrote about my love affair with Cambridge weight loss drinks.  Cambridge was basically a fast.  To have ultimate success, you were to drink three 110-calorie Cambridge shakes a lots of water.  And that's all.  Coffee and diet sodas were optional, but absolutely no other nutrition was allowed.  The beauty of Cambridge, to me, was its simplicity.  It was so restrictive that I couldn't even consider cheating a bit.  It was like locking myself in a cell with no access to food.  It was absolute.  And easy.  At least, after the first couple days.

Fasting is the same concept.  When fasting, you're limiting yourself to certain liquids each day, with the understanding that eating ANYTHING else will blow the whole thing, waste your time and money, and make you fatter.

Total water fasts are best done under a doctor's supervision and with total rest.  Neither of those was practical for me, so three weeks ago I reverted back to good old Cambridge.  I did that for a few days, then added a "real dinner."  That's pretty much what I'm still doing.

I fell off the wagon a couple times.  They were just little falls, but I felt horrid 12 hours after each incident.  Macaroni salad--can't handle the gluten.  Weiners--probably too much salt and chemicals.  Alcohol--gives me a headache.  Potato chips--lethargic after eating a few.  So I've been eating baby carrots (raw and cooked), strawberries, blueberries, grapes, spinach and a microscopic amount of lean meat.  Surprise:  I am satisfied, I feel great (relatively speaking), and I have no cravings.

Perhaps best of all, I've only weighed myself a couple times because I'm not obsessing about it!  I guess I've lost about 12 pounds and know that my final 10 will drop off without any effort.  With the weight loss, my joints don't ache as much, and my mental outlook is far brighter.  The idea of alleviating pain from my life is  much more motivating than shrinking down to a certain size.

It's this simple:  I eat the wrong things and I have pain.  I eat the right things and I don't have pain.  It makes my nutritional choices pretty darn easy.  The minor and transitory discomfort of an empty stomach can't be compared to the pain and stiffness that make climbing stairs impossible.

Fasting is to eating what abstinence is to birth control.  It works 100% of the time.  If you're inclined to try a modified fast for a few days, do your research first.  Learn how.  Convince yourself you're not going to die or compromise your health if you don't eat for a couple days!   Set your parameters, keep temptations out of sight, and just GET THROUGH the first two to four days. Let your body rest and heal.  Then start adding the foods you know your body appreciates and needs.  If you suspect some of your former foods harmed your body, you're probably right.  Trust your gut.  Once you feel better after fasting, you won't want to do anything that will bring that pain back to you again.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Day 6: Suspicions confirmed

Yesterday was the fifth day of my VLC  (very low calorie) fast.  I started this last Monday as an experiment to battle my fibromyalgia.

Losing weight has not been my primary goal, even though it's naturally happening on a diet of less than 400 calories a day.  My intentions were to quit eating just about everything, clean out my system, let my body rest, and then start adding back some foods to see if they caused FM flare-ups.

Pain-inducing poison!
My suspicions were confirmed  first thing this morning.  I'd done well all day yesterday, but fell off the wagon--slightly--when I attended a potluck dinner last night.  There were NO salads or raw veggies on the table, save for a bowl of home-made cilantro salsa.  So I ate a cup of it. NEVER have corn, beans, onions, tomatoes and cilantro tasted to heavenly to me!  Then I had two small kebobs my husband had prepared for the event.  The smoky grilled peppers, onions, cherry tomatoes and mushrooms were divine, as were the small chunks of marinated venison.  The downfall, however, was the dessert table, with bread pudding soaked in a sugary hard sauce.  Once I sneaked a tiny bite, I had to eat more...which ended up to be way too much! Full of bourbon-soaked sugar and white bread, I went to bed feeling bloated, tense, and resentful of my lack of willpower.

I didn't sleep well and got up this morning feeling like the vindictive Mac truck had hit me again.
Not surprisingly, it was EASY for me to flow through today with nothing but two 110-calorie Cambridge drinks, and  the remainder of my husband's leftover kebabs for dinner.  I enjoyed them guilt-free.

This will probably be the end of my posts about this experiment because I've accomplished my mission.  I am now 95% sure that sugar and alcohol do indeed exacerbate my painful FM symptoms.   Likewise with processed flour, and probably any processed foods.  Maybe even red meat.

It's interesting how much easier it's been to stick with this "diet" when my motivation has been pain control.  If I'd only been in it to lose weight, I would have looked in the mirror three days ago and said, "What the hell, you look fine just the way you are" and headed to the kitchen for a cold glass of chardonnay. (Funny how we rationalize our way out of things we don't want to face.)  But pain slaps you in the face and is undeniable.  When there's a way to possibly eliminate it and reclaim your life, it's easy to do what is necessary.

Today I've been walking up and down our stairs without limping, wincing or even hanging onto the railing.  It's been a long time since I've been able to do that.  Is it just coincidence?  Is it just the cycle of natural healing and FM flares?  An improvement in the barometric pressure.  Could be.  But as long as my "elimination diet" is working, I'll stay on this path.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Day 5 of the Fast

What started out as a "water fast" five days ago has morphed into VLC (very low calorie) liquid fast of not more than 400 calories a day.  This is Day 5, I'm still on track, and I'm feeling surprisingly better than I have in a long time.

I'm doing this not to lose weight, but to lessen symptoms of fibromyalgia.  The theory is that certain foods wreak havoc on the body of someone who has fibromyalgia.  The most common symptom of FM is widespread pain, achiness and stiffness in the body's joints, tendons, ligaments and soft tissue. Other symptoms frequently include fatigue, lack of strength and stamina, headaches, digestive issues, foggy brain, chills and flu-like sensations.  No one really knows what causes it, and there is no cure.  There is, however, management.  Since every FM victim's symptoms are different, each of has to learn what sets off a "flare" and how to minimize the voracity of it.  A "flare" can happen without provocation or prediction, and can last for several days, rendering the victim to bed rest for the duration.  It definitely has changed my lifestyle and caused me to slow down and even cut out some of my favorite activities.  That's why I'm desperate to reclaim my former life as an active person, and that's why I'm fasting.

First I'm eliminating the toxins in my body.  Next I'll gradually and carefully begin adding foods to see how my body responds to them.  I suspect that sugar, alcohol, flour, excessive salt, chemicals, and possibly even red meat are contributors to my FM.  So I'm "off" those for a while.  My nutrition is coming from three Cambridge drinks
per day, supplemented with water and an occasional amino energy drink.

So far, here's what's happened after five days of my experiment:

Overall body pain--greatly diminished, almost gone.  Still have the "legitimate" arthritis-based stiffness of knees and shoulders, but far more mobility and range of motion.  I can walk up and down stairs without groaning with every step. Energy--greatly enhanced!  I don't feel sluggish or fatigued.
Mental clarity--more stable.  Not moody.
Sleep--incredible. No restless legs.  I sleep soundly for hours, and my dreams are pleasant.
Hunger--I'm truly not "hungry."  My gut is empty but it's also QUIET.
Meds--Still can't believe I've gone nearly 5 days without ANY Excedrin.

I've ingested no alcohol, sugar, processed foods, etc., in five days and I feel markedly better.  Hmmm.
I've discovered all those Excedrin and pain pills I've been taking weren't helping--and thus, weren't necessary! I see a future again.  I'm making reservations for a Hawaii vacation next year, and for a cross-country ski trip in January.  My clothes fit better.

So I guess I'll ride this trail for a while longer.  Day 6, here we come.  Cheers!

Thursday, June 16, 2016


The frustration of fibromyalgia pain continues, as I adjust to the reality that this is my future.  It's not always horrible--in fact, it's usually just mildly debilitating and annoying.  I'm still trying new things--supplements, oils, various exercises and routines--in search of a magic pill, even though all research tells me there is none.

Then I heard from an old idol, who has inspired me to take the next big step in healing. Cindy Joseph is a supermodel--believe me, you have seen her--who first caught my eye about 15 years ago in a J. Jill catalog.  Cindy's a "mature" model who broke the mold. She didn't start modeling until she was 49. She had long gray hair and wore minimal makeup.  She emanated confidence and class.  She made a HUGE impression on me.

I didn't know Cindy's name until a month ago when I discovered her new minimalist makeup line on the internet.  It's called "Boom," and it's specifically for older women who are tired of painting on a mask every day to try to make themselves look younger.    If you long for a 20-second makeup routine that complements your age and personality, rather than trying to disguise it, I suggest you look at her "Boomsticks."  They're fabulous.

Anyway, I was so happy to have found Cindy again, learned her name, and read her philosophy for aging beautifully, that I emailed her to express my gratitude.  I included a link to this blog.  She responded with sincere warmth and said she'd just read my last post ("What's happened to me.")  She suggested I research a health clinic called "True North" in Santa Rosa, California.  She knew a 78-year-old woman who'd been 100 pounds overweight and had FM.  The woman was now 85, had lost the excess weight, and was "cured" of FM. 

I looked up the clinic and learned one of their primary healing techniques was water fasting.  Drastic, yes, but apparently effective and safe if done under medical supervision.  The theory behind water fasting is that your body, in a resting mode, can contribute all its energy to healing itself, rather than digesting food or trying to build muscle.

Since I'd long suspected certain foods and alcohol were exacerbating my FM symptoms, I committed to trying a water fast.  That meant NOTHING would pass my lips except Excedrin, no vitamins, no caffeine, no chewing gum or breath mints.  What did I have to lose except pain?  If I dropped a few pounds in the process, so much the better.  But that was definitely not my motivation.

So here's what's happening:
Day 1.  Surprisingly easy.  By 3pm I was so stiff I could scarcely move, and this I attributed to the lack of anti-inflammatories in my system.  (I have routinely taken from two to six Excedrin daily for the past MANY years.)  Aside from the stiffness, I felt okay--not particularly hungry.  Before bed, I did "modify" the fast with a 110-calorie Cambridge drink, which I always keep on hand for emergencies.  (Read Bucket List Weight Loss to understand my addiction to Cambridge.)  I got up to pee four times that night.

Day 2.  Woke with a screaming headache that spanned the width of my forehead, but getting out of bed was surprisingly easy.  Usually I feel like I've been hit by a Mac truck the day before, but on this day I felt like I'd maybe been bumped by a Volkswagen.  The headache persisted, however.  For me, a headache is incapacitating. So I gave in and took a migraine pill (Zomig is a wonder drug for me), had another 110-calorie Cambridge shake, and went back to bed.  When I got up at noon, the headache was 80% gone, and I tiptoed quietly through the afternoon at home.

Then came the flu-like symptoms: chills, nausea, general malaise. And the headache was threatening to return with vengeance.  If I could just get rid of the damn headache, I thought, I can get through this.  I need caffeine! Lots of it.  More than coffee can provide.  Time to modify the water fast again.  I mixed up a concoction of amino energy drink I'd bought at Costco a year ago.  Mixed with coconut milk, the drink had about 60 calories and no "bad stuff"  (except caffeine). A few sips, and instantly I felt recharged.  And the headache vanished!

In addition to another liter of water, I had one more Cambridge shake that night. When I went to bed  I was utterly amazed at how good I felt.   I HADN'T TAKEN ANY EXCEDRIN IN TWO DAYS!  Nor had I ingested any alcohol. sugar, salt, wheat, dairy or meat.  I felt a calmness and serenity that gave me the best night's sleep I'd had in weeks.

Day 3.  A breeze.  In addition to water, I had three Cambridge shakes throughout the day (330 calories).  Plus, I treated myself to the coconut milk/amino protein concoction (another 60 calories).  My only big booboo was gulping down a Diet Pepsi after I'd mowed a very large lawn.  I immediately regretted it, as I could feel that cold garbage sloshing around in my otherwise clean gut. So I chased it with a liter of water and got through the rest of the day.  Once again, I retired to bed feeling utterly relaxed (no growly gut, no restless legs, no intense aches) and slept soundly with pleasant, entertaining dreams.

Day 4.  TODAY.  I feel so calm, physically and mentally.  Not interested in running six miles, but I can't anyway.  I will do some light exercises today and continue my water/Cambridge/amino energy  regimen.  I haven't felt this good in a long time.

Check in with me tomorrow.  As long as I feel this good, I plan to continue.  Maybe I'll even weigh myself tomorrow, but probably not.  I don't even care about the weight.  Getting rid of chronic pain is far more important!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

What's happened to me

It's been a while.  Because my news hasn't been "good," I've been reluctant to post.  I kept waiting for a change for the better, but it never came as I thought it would.  So now it's time to face reality and bring you up to date.

The year 2014 was a traumatic one for me.  Nope, I didn't get cancer and I didn't get divorced--nothing quite that horrible. But I did experience a couple events that took their toll on me, emotionally and physically.  I'll tell you about them some time later. I've been on the road to recovery ever since, and it's been a bit bumpy.

I'm not a Size 6 anymore, nor am I a fine specimen of physical fitness and vitality.  I'm now closer to a Size 10, and I hurt all over most of the time.

By early in 2015, I realized something about my health had changed.  I had totally inexplicable aches and pains, fatigue, occasional loss of concentration, and depression.  By June my doctor had ruled out rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid problems, and other likely diseases.  What was left was a diagnosis of fibromyalgia.  I'd never really believed in this "syndrome" before, but all the signs started falling into place as I learned more about it.

Fibromyalgia has changed my life and started me on a whole new journey (adventure?) of learning to cope and learning to accept new limitations.  For those of you who don't fully understand this condition, stay tuned; I'm writing a book about it.  Of course, there are plenty of books on fibromyalgia out there already, but this one will be in my voice, written for my friends and their friends.  It seems to be a "baby boomer" disease--that is, it was given an official name just a few decades ago, even though the symptoms have been around for centuries--so you'll be hearing more about it from all directions in the next 20 years.

Meanwhile, I'm adjusting to a new "normal."  It's more important than ever for me now to get enough sleep, to avoid stress, to keep good nutritional habits, and to respect my physical limits.  Since my diagnosis a year ago, I've had my left knee worked on (it WAS a meniscus tear after all!), had a bizarre and painful infection of my ear cartilage, and had my Achilles tendon sliced to facilitate removal of a bone spur beneath it.  Things are healing, I think, and I remain optimistic that once again I'll be able to feel my age (63 now) instead of feeling like I'm 90.

After being non-weight-bearing on my right foot all winter (due to the Achilles surgery), I'm now getting moderately active again.  I've started back to yoga--in a chair--and I am cautiously and slowly walking about 6-10,000 steps a day according to my Fitbit.  I miss my sports--kayaking, riding, cross-country skiing, hiking, and dog agility--and I continue to work toward that day when I can resume them again. 

As for my diet, I eat well--not too much--and still love my Greek yogurt, brown rice, wine and beer!  The lack of activity helped me pack on about 15 pounds, which I expect will come off in their own good time.  I am SOOOOOOOO GLAD I wrote Bucket List Weight Loss because I can now refer back to the one "method" that worked so miraculously for me...and I know it will work again.

If you're still struggling with weight and self image, I encourage you to get the book or RE-READ the one you already bought.  And stay tuned for more updates on coping with the aging process!
Life is still a beautiful experience if you make it such! book is still available at Amazon: