FIGHT HARD vs FIGHT SMART

We Fibro-Fighters face an uphill battle in our fight against FM so when I read this blog post, by Terry Springer of FibroTrack, I wanted to share. I found it to be very ‘Rocky’-like and motivating…

determinationMany sceptics and members of the “Fibro Ignorant” feel that individuals with fibromyalgia could recover if they would only try harder. They observe that many with fibro do not exercise, are significantly overweight, have terrible diets, live a fundamentally unhealthy lifestyle and appear to be doing very little on their own to get better. They conclude that laziness and apathy are the root cause.  Many believe that individuals with fibromyalgia have brought the condition on themselves and they suffer simply because they refuse to do whatever is required to get in shape and get healthy.

It’s easy to understand why the fibro ignorant come to this type of conclusion. Our society and culture view hard work as naturally leading to positive results. Individuals who put forth massive effort and leverage extreme tenacity are rewarded with big success. This is true in sports, business and many aspects of life in general. Determination and fighting to our utmost ability for things we desire are core values to our culture.

The observation by many that people they know with fibromyalgia do not appear to be fighting hard is both correct and in error. There is no denying that a percentage of individuals with fibromyalgia do not exercise, are obese, eat a horribly unhealthy diet and in fact do little on their own to try to get better. But why is this? There is no one answer. For some, it boils down to the effects of chronic pain and depression plus a lack of education and understanding about what is going on in their bodies and actions they can take to try to correct it.

images (1)For most however, the reality of fibromyalgia is that just living day-to-day with fibro is a monumental effort. Fibromyalgia leaves its victims with a very limited amount of normal “go juice” to distribute on a daily basis. Exceeding the limited amount of energy and focus that patients have available often results in a giant fibro flare-up. Pushing harder and trying to use tenacity frequently backfires bringing on the opposite result from what is desired!

Yet, not fighting hard to do all of the things that make up an effective self-management effort means that the odds of a patient recovering are minimal. Getting better is up to you.

This is a terrible Catch-22! Fighting too hard will make you worse but not fighting hard enough will prevent progress. How do you deal with the reality of not having enough energy and focus to accomplish daily everything you need to be doing? Is it impossible to fight hard enough without pushing too far?

The title of this blog posting is a trick. Fighting hard and fighting smart are not an either/or proposition! With fibromyalgia, the two tactics should be simultaneous and symbiotic. imagesEffectively fighting smart will increase your ability to gain results from your limited capacity to fight hard by ensuring that your hard fighting is targeted in the best direction. You must get everything possible out of your limited ability to fight hard!

Well-structured systems and defined processes form the core operating principles for all successful organisations. They are required to achieve the best results when dealing with any complex ongoing effort. Corporations, government and high-achieving individuals all rely on quality systems to help them best direct their focus and efforts. If you are fighting fibro and you want to recover – you must do the same!

fibrotrack-logoI hope you will check out the ultimate tool and system for fighting smart – FibroTrack.

But regardless, if you wish to make the most of the fighting hard you can do, you need systems and well-defined processes to guide you in fighting smart!

See what I mean? Don’t you just want to start fighting (again/more)?

Holy State of Amazement, Batman!

I am in a state of amazement…

Yesterday, I went shopping with Mommy. I left her at a massage place for 40 minutes of bliss so I could explore. In that 40 minutes, I hit Target, Best ‘n’ Less, The Reject Shop, Home Express and Vodafone. WOW, huh?

I figured that I hadn’t been shopping since before my operation, and I wouldn’t be going for at least another full week. So, weighing up the pros and cons, I decided it was worth using all my energy to do this, and I was ready to write off today.

And, when I met up with Mommy, we hit Big W, K-mart and a couple of little shops.

Waking up today, my ankles were their normal very-painful self but I felt surprisingly good. I FEEL good. What the…?

How cool (and cheap) is this!

Today, I went back to K-mart to pick up a garden swing that I saw, then I did some gardening, then I put together the swing with my uncle…and, then I felt tired (quite understandably).

So, I am in a state of amazement.

My thoughts on the matter:

  1. My body realises that I will resting for a whole week (in two days); or
  2. All those supplements, that I’m paying a fortune for, a finally working; or
  3. I’m about to crash BIG TIME!

 

 

Energy (and Persistence) Conquer All

We have all learned that we only have a certain amount of energy (spoons, pennies, etc.) and we need to make a conscious choice each and every day about how we’re going to expend our energy. But, sometimes, we don’t even realise that we are wasting energy on certain emotions…

Are you wasting your energy on stress, fear, anxiety, bitterness, anger, or jealousy?

These emotions have all been linked to FM (and heart disease, high blood pressure, depression and a host of others.)

There are some wonderful emotions – Love, Hope, Joy – we just don’t seem to lose sleep and energy over them.

It’s the negative emotions that drag us down, leaving us feeling tired and fatigued. Yes, we sometimes need a good cry but, how tired and worn-out do you feel afterwards?

You are NOT alone – we all know (in our heads) that we have each other (and 700 more in the VISIBLE Army); you can see it in the supportive comments here, on Facebook and in the Forum – we all have fears and anxieties….

BUT we all have the ability to create our own realities. Everything we do, everything we feel always begins with a thought.

Thoughts lead to emotions and ultimately, behaviours. Thoughts, especially in humans, are not particularly independent: if someone says to you, “I know that Fibro is caused by…,” subconsciously, you analyse the statement – Do I know this too? Why does he think I care that he knows this? Is there anything else about this that is significant that I am missing? I know that; does he think I’m stupid?

So one simple thought can mean much, much more than that one thought. If the thing the person said was something you didn’t know, it might make you feel stupid, but it isn’t the feeling “I am stupid” that is draining your energy; it is the thought over and over again in your head “I am stupid” that is doing the damage. (This is what cognitive therapy is about.)

Therapeutic pioneers shared one important belief: clients must challenge what they think, feel, and how they behave based on the power of cognitive understanding. The belief behind the theory was that distressing emotions are typically the result of maladaptive thoughts. Change the thought, and the emotion and behaviour will also be different. Change the negative thought and the negative emotion will no longer drain your energy.

So it’s the thoughts that we need to work on:

  • Practice thinking positive thoughts when negative emotions sneak up and you feel yourself sinking.
  • Realize that having negative feelings will just hurt you, not them. So there is no reason for you to have any negative feeling.
  • Practice thinking about what you let in your mind (and life).
  • Realize that you can’t please everyone. In fact, nobody can. Sometimes you need to just let some people go. Realizing this will relieve you from a lot of unnecessary burden so that you can focus on the people who you can positively interact with.
  • Practice thinking positive thoughts all of the time – listen to motivational audio program to feed positive thoughts into your mind; Talk to a positive friend who can encourage you; remember your favourite quotes to give you inspiration and motivation (or have notes with these quotes around you – on the bathroom mirror, on the fridge, on the car dash-board, etc.).

It’s definitely not easy but it will let you conserve your energy for the good things in life……

 

Just Pacing Back and Forth

Yes, it’s another pacing post! Basically, because we all need reminding.

Pacing is the key to living (not just surviving) with FM. That’s easier said than done when we can still remember what it is we used to be able to do, and we still try to do it all! But with some (okay, lots) of effort (and perhaps, some reminding), we can learn to pace ourselves.

Why is Pacing Important with FM?

FM really saps your energy. When your energy is low, each activity takes a longer time. As you’ve probably already learned, when you overdo it, you pay a steep price.

When I have a good day, I push myself – trying to do all the things I really want to do. When my symptoms begin to unmask themselves, I push myself harder, feeling like I have to get it all done before I start to feel really bad.

The problem with this is that it only causes setbacks: one productive day leads to three on the couch.

The ONLY way to avoid this one step forward, two (or four) steps backward is pacing. It takes a whole lot of practice, but after a while, it is supposed to be second nature.

How Do I Pace Myself?

A lot of pacing strategies can help you live better with your condition. They include:

  • Knowing your body

You need to pay attention to your body and know your limits. You should aim to be able to answer these questions:

    1. How much physical activity can I handle in a day or at a time?
    2. How much mental exertion can I handle in a day or at a time?
    3. What activities impact me most?
    4. At what time of day do I have the most energy?
    5. What symptoms are “early warning signs” that I’ve neared my limit?

Once you know these answers, you’re ready to apply pacing techniques to your life.

  • Short activity periods

If you have a big job, don’t try working at it for hours. Work for a short time, rest for a while, then work for another short period.

The amount of time you work and rest depends on your capacity for activity. Start with shorter periods than you think you can handle, and rest for at least 15 minutes in between. See how you feel after a couple of days, then adjust times until you’ve found the right balance. Yes, it takes time and experimentation – but what else is news with FM?

  • Scheduled rest

Scheduled rest periods are more than the short breaks we take between bursts of activity. Instead, it’s time built in to your day when you can take a nap, meditate or get some rest. Again, the length of time is something you have to define for yourself. Laying down for half an hour may give you a nice boost, or you may need a two-hour nap (I know I do).

Your scheduled rest period is not the time to check e-mail, watch TV, read or make your grocery list. Your mind needs rest just like your body. Try sleeping, laying quietly, meditating or possibly taking a hot bath.

  • Routines

Routines can really save you, especially if you have a lot of brain fog. This means (hopefully) that you won’t need to go shopping on the same day as pulling weeds.

The biggest barrier to routines is that our conditions are unpredictable. We have no way of knowing when we’ll have bad days or when a good day will take a turn for the worse without warning.

To deal with this unpredictability, build in flexibility – under-schedule each day based on that; so, if you finish up and still have energy, you can work ahead (without over-doing it, of course). If you have a few bad days when you can’t get anything done, catch up over the course of several days, re-prioritizing to take care of the most important things first.

  • Prioritizing

Priorities are crucial to pacing – focusing your energy on what absolutely must get done in a day. If less important things need to wait as a result, then that just is (this seems to be my new mantra).

If you find yourself being still being pulled in too many directions, make a list then break your list in to three parts: needs, wants and shoulds. ‘Needs’ are top priority, have-to-get-done-right-now-or-there-will-be-consequences things. ‘Wants’ are things that you’d really like to do IF you have the energy. ‘Shoulds’ are things you feel like you ought to do (maybe to please someone else or because other people would do them). Take care of your ‘needs’ first, then move on to the ‘wants’ (again, IF you have the energy without over-doing it).

When it gets to the ‘shoulds’ – my psychologist and I had a great discussion about the word ‘should’ – who is it that said we should do this or we should do that or we should be able to do this… I know it’s because we base our behaviours on what others are doing – but we need to try to let that go (and when you can, it is with a wonderful sense of freedom). You are you, I am me; and they are who they are (deep, huh?) Basically, you can only do what you can do.

The ‘shoulds’ can be a big source of guilt, But, forgetting that for a minute, for one day, try to leave the ‘should’ out of any sentences or thoughts you have – it’s a very interesting experiment!

  • Switching tasks

Instead of doing one thing for a long time, try to change the type of activity you’re doing frequently. If you do one physical activity for too long, it can tire out the muscles you’re using, which leads to pain and fatigue. This goes for both physical and mental activities.

By alternating physical and mental activities, you give your brain and muscles the rest they need. (And don’t forget that you may need rest periods in between each activity as well!)

You don’t have to use all these techniques — experiment and see what works for you.

Pacing is an ongoing process – it takes effort and self-discipline; but, once you see the difference it can make, you’ll find that it’s easier to pace yourself than to deal with the consequences of NOT doing it.

 

It’s Delightful, It’s Delicious, It’s D-Ribose


I started taking D-Ribose 2 weeks ago. (I wasn’t able to find it anywhere near me so I buy it online from iHerb.com.) My capsules have 4 250mg of D-Ribose so I thought I should be feeling fabulous.

In a study by Dr Jacob Teitelbaum, D-Ribose treatment led to improvements in all categories:

  • 61.3-percent increase in energy
  • 37-percent increase in overall well-being
  • 29.3-percent improvement in sleep
  • 30-percent improvement in mental clarity
  • 15.6-percent decrease in pain

Improvement began in the first week of treatment, and continued to increase at the end of the three weeks of treatment.

Additionally, in her book, Food That Helps Win the Battle Against Fibromyalgia, naturopathic doctor Deirdre Rawlings states that d-ribose supplements can help FM by improving energy transfer to your muscles.

So where was all my great improvement? I had written a post previously so I knew that I only needed 5mg three times a day (and I was taking heaps more!).

But guess what? I messed up (I’m blaming fibro fog, and it’s fixed now) – it was supposed to read 5 grams three times a day!

So, starting today, I am taking one capsule three times a day – it is a bit short of the 5 grams (just 750mg) so I’m still looking forward to some positive effects.

D-ribose is a type of simple sugar (a 5-carbon sugar; unlike 6-carbon glucose sugar)  that plays a role in energy metabolism and specifically in the formation of ATP, or adenosine triphosphate, the fuel that every cell in your body uses for its energy production. In fact, the ATP energy molecule is made of ribose. Ribose is found in limited amounts in meat and vegetables, though your body usually manufactures enough ribose from glucose to meet its daily needs. However, researchers believe that people with FM may have a deficit in ATP production, which accounts for the lack of energy and feelings of fatigue.

No side effects are associated with the use of ribose supplements, according to Tufts Medical Center; however, no long-term safety studies have yet been conducted. The only significant (bad) side effect seen, so far, is feeling hyper/over-energised (oh! wouldn’t that be nice!) in which case you should lower the dose or take it with food.

As with any nutritional supplement, inform your doctor if you plan to use D-Ribose.

I’ll let you know when (I’m being positive) I start feeling fantastic!

If you’d like to see iHerb’s selection of D-Ribose products, click here. Use Coupon Code LHJ194 to get $10 off any first time order over $40 or $5 off any first time order under $40.

Tears on My Pillow

 

Ready to cry… or bite some-one’s head off at any moment – flip of a coin will decide which way it falls.

Need to turn off the computer before I respond to some innocuous comment with a tirade. You know, those lovely, well-meaning comments (can I say saccharine sweet? (like early Kylie songs!) – that right now are grating on my nerves):

  • Gratitude is definitely the basis for a positive attitude!
  • I used to have more UNHAPPY days BECAUSE of it. Now, I have more HAPPY days in SPITE OF it.
  • Since we only get to go around one in this life .. I am Determined to make the very BEST of everything .. And to EnJoy as much as possible .. as Often as possible!!
  • Welcome to today everyone!!! It is a new day! A new start! Did you know that you do not have to wait for a new day to have a good day if you are having a bad day?
  • Putting a SMILE on, is NOT about faking it. When I say smile, I mean really ‘smile from the heart’. Make it count, even when you don’t feel like it, do it anyway.

But, if I turn off my computer, I’ll be all alone with the really bad tv shows and the inside of my mind.

Oh…what to do?

 

A (Rei)Ki to Effective Pain Management

I have a friend who I met at high school. We weren’t great friends then, but I knew her. When I started working at the casino, I met up with her again. For a while, she seemed to be more friends with my brother than me. She was always very relaxed, laid back and also on a different shift to me. We’d go out now and then but I don’t think it was a major relationship in either of our lives.

Now, we have both left the casino; and I have eagerly embraced her yoga-teaching, reiki-practising, kinda-hippy, relaxed friendship. She is a wonderful addition to my support network – she offers unrivalled understanding and support; she reads all the things that I send her about FM, my blog and my Facebook page (unlike most of my family); and she puts up with shopping trips with me (even though she HATES shopping!)

This friend, I have mentioned a number of times, is Thais. We keep talking about having regular yoga and reiki sessions, except that each time she comes over, we get distracted. I have no idea by what; I guess it’s just stuff that friends talk about.

But sometimes, and not often enough, she treats me with reiki. Reiki is a treatment in which healing energy is channelled from Thais to me, to enhance energy and reduce stress, pain, & fatigue. It is supposed to work by opening up a channel between healer and patient to transfer energy, and restore the body both physically and mentally.

By ‘laying on hands’ on specific parts of your body or even just positioning hands slightly above your body, a qualified Reiki practitioner can help bring relief to your chronic pain and make you feel better than you have in years. It is an ancient Japanese technique, also called ‘biofield’ therapy.

During a reiki session, muscles are relaxed, and energy flow is unblocked. This helps reduce physical tension and pain. Anxiety and stress also are reduced, helping to unblock and release emotional pain. Although you may not be completely pain-free, you feel relaxed, refreshed, and better able to cope with your condition.

A number of reiki clinical trials was recently reviewed by the International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, which concluded that there was strong evidence that biofield therapies help reduce the intensity of pain in general.

No serious side effects or risks have been identified in the medical literature on reiki, and it is considered to be a very low-risk intervention. Since reiki is facilitated either with a very light touch or with no touch — slightly off the body — it provides a therapeutic option for those who are in pain or unable to be touched – that would be some of us.

Sounds too good to be true? I can only tell you about my experience. When Thais and I do finally get round to trying some out, I always feel deeply calm and relaxed (in fact, we want to try to reiki me to sleep one night and see if it helps with the quality of my sleep). I don’t know if this is just because Thais is a calming influence to be around at any time, or if she is actually channelling her energies into me.

Has any-one else had some experience with reiki? Perhaps with a practitioner that they did not know personally (for a less biased opinion)?

Chatterbox

If you’ve been reading my previous posts, you’ll remember that I’m single and I live alone – so I spend most of my time by myself (especially as my mommy has gone on a cruise in South America,so there have been no regular shopping trips with her!)

My mommy and her partner, Henry, doing the Argentinian Tango

The funny thing I find myself doing is that when some-one picks me up and takes me somewhere (other than asking them to turn off the radio), I start blah-blah-blah-ing non-stop. It’s like I’m on some sort of psychostimulant (which I’m not – even Pepsi Max is out of the equation) or something similar. Off I go, in no real cohesive order and losing my train of thought on a regular basis, and I can’t stop myself. In fact, the constant chattering gives ME a headache. Pity to whomever is with me!

And then, suddenly, after about 20 minutes, I’m exhausted, spent, over. I lean back in my seat, take a deep breath and let out a giant sigh.

All my energy (that I saved up all day) just spewed forth (think those cherries in the Witches of Eastwick).

Afterwards, like a hangover, my head hurts and my face aches. The noises from the traffic begin to seep into my foreground. The pain begins (again) at the base of my skull, tap-dances like an elephant across my shoulders and, somehow, performs a grand jeté down to my wrists and ankles (all at once).

This is a recent development – probably 2-3 weeks.

Hmmm…about as long as my mommy has been away. Maybe there is something to be said about retail therapy!