Figuring out how to manage my disease is always a work in progress. I tinker on myself like an old man tinkers on his beloved classic car. Lovingly finding ways to care for it, finding just the right parts to keep it functional, and taking it out for a spin in the Sunday sunshine.
A couple years ago I decided I would do everything in my power to try and achieve better health. Having no control over my disease would often make me feel helpless, so I decided to take back the control. I began controlling what I could, when I could, which gave me a feeling of ownership in my health. I was no longer someone that had a disease happen to them, I was a person living with a disease.
I outlined what I could reasonably control: diet & exercise (yes, I’m beating that drum), my attitude and outlook on life, emotional relationships, and a consistent relationship with my rheumatologist and therefore my meds.
My relationship with my rheumy is open and honest, to the point of sometimes frustrated tears, but more often tear-inducing laughter. When I recently told him it takes every bit of willpower just to take my meds for fear of side effects, that signaled to him that it was time to tweak the dosages. A work in progress.
I worked on telling those around me what I need. Scratch that, I am still working on telling those around me what I need. A work in progress.
I decided I wanted to be happy in life. That doesn’t mean I am happy everyday, that means that I try to be. I rekindled old goals, and set some news ones, focusing on what it meant to be ME in life. I’m still learning what it means to be me. A work in progress.
Committing to keeping moving was the best decision I ever made. Sometimes that means training for my crazy mountaineering goals, and sometimes that means simply walking outside my house for the day to water my plants. A work in progress.
Maybe the best decision I made was to clean up my diet - for good. I will not preach veganism, as I honestly feel each person and disease is different, and therefore they need a different set of foods and nutrients. Diets are as individual as fingerprints. Regardless, cutting out the crud can help us all. Processed foods out - ‘food’ with strange ingredient lists had no place in my gut.
When I went full vegan on Valentine’s Day 2013 (a pure coincidence), I worried about energy levels and getting enough protein. I instantly started sleeping better, felt energized, and learned that veggies and grains have far more protein than we’re ever taught as kids. Don’t get me wrong, the BBQ loving Texan in me cries a little on the inside every time I pass a flaming grill, but I know how much better my body feels and that is motivation enough.
I took it one step further. I began using my food as medicine, researching what can help all my moving parts. I added chia seeds and flax seeds, experimented with dandelion greens when my liver was angry, and began eating blueberries and watermelon by the fistful to reduce muscle aches and pains. A work in progress.
Then a few weeks back, CheriBundi the self-proclaimed “cherry people”, asked me if I wanted to take their 7 day challenge. I’ve read for years about the anti-inflammatory effects of cherries, but avoided them in all of their plump red glory because I’m allergic - but only to fresh ones! So I thought, sure, couldn’t hurt! (The sceptic in me on full alert!)
A lovely box arrived, and it took all my willpower not to consume half the products immediately. For the next 7 days, I was to drink 8 oz of tart cherry juice, and change nothing else. I fully expected to see no results in a mere 7 days. I went about drinking my juice, enjoying the tartness like a refreshing lemonade.
On day 6, without putting two and two together, I was marvelling to my hubby how for the past week I had been an athletic beast, with very little pain and swelling! Setting a personal record in my 5K time, hiking a hilly 8.5 miles, and blasting through an entire mile in the pool. I wasn’t even sore… Then it hit me like a ton of bricks - it’s the cherries! I downed day 7 with glee, and on day 8, I ransacked my local grocery store for more.
I share this experience because it’s important for us to listen to our bodies, and to keep learning what they need - both physically and emotionally. To create a relationship with ourselves where we continue to keep trying, because at the end of the day, trying is what keeps us going.
Do you want to try CheriBundi?? After my great anti-inflammatory response, my friends over there offered to do TWO giveaways! Simply comment below and tell me what your “Work in Progress” is. A new goal? A great book you’ve always wanted to read? Winners will be chosen at random on Friday June 27, 5pm PST!
Or if you can’t wait that long, use the code “HB2014” to get 5% off your order at CheriBundi.com!