Mind, Mood, and Attitude Show Notes

It’s easy to have a great attitude when life is great. What about when everything is going wrong? How do you keep a great attitude then?

On this week’s episode of The Whole House Podcast, Diane Tarantini and I share some of our Job syndrome stories as well as what God taught us through them.

  • Whether it is physical, financial or emotional circumstances, we can learn to ask God to change us in the midst of the crisis.
  • Often, just doing the next thing in the midst of the circumstances teaches steadfastness.
  • When physical sickness or an injury limits what we can do physically, we have to watch our emotional response.
  • When our negative emotions are in overdrive, we can quickly form toxic responses.
  • It takes 21 days for certain protein changes to happen in the brain, – for the new memory to become self sustaining and for the old memory to be broken down.

It takes three cycles of 21 (63) days to completely form a new thought pattern.

  • By day 7, the protein connection holding the memory in place is a bump shape, day 14, a lollipop, by 21 it is a mushroom. YOU must repeat the 21 day cycle three times for a thought to become automated.

Awareness is the process of bringing thoughts into captivity.

Episode 59

Our signals come from two sources:

  1. External- 5 senses.

  2. Non conscious- metacognitive (your memories).

You have to develop disciplined thought lives, and part of that is increasing awareness of what you are allowing in your mind. Be aware of the signals coming in and understanding the internal environment of your mind.

When you think, you also feel. When you think a thought, you also bring up an attached emotion.  Emotions and feelings are different.

Attitude is a state of mind – a thought plus its attached emotion. Attitudes influence what you say and do.

If the attitude activated is negative, then the emotional response will be a negative or stressful feeling.

If the attitude is positive, the feeling will be positive. Your attitude will be revealed no matter how much you try to hide it. So, you say, “I’m in a bad mood.”

Research has shown that mental practice -imagination, visualization, deep thought and reflection produces the same physical changes in the brain as would physically carrying out the same imagined process.

 

Brain scans show that the parts of the brain activated by action are the same parts activated by simply thinking about an action. This shed new depths and understanding for the scripture – Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”- Hebrews 11:1

 

As young women, we often live our lives as if our energy is finite. We  live as if we have unlimited energy and we hit our thirties, forties and fifties and realize we begin to have major health issues. If you are young, you can learn the lesson now- 

You can’t do everything, but you can do one or two things well.

It’s best to practice making choices now before stress and physical symptoms crop up. If you choose to do what is essential now, your body will thank you later. So will your family. If what is essential to you is God, husband and children, then the things outside of this scope are not essential. If you have the mindset that you can do it all, you will eventually face the consequences. If you use the measuring stick of what is truly essential for you today, the consequences will be positive tomorrow. 

As a young stay-at-home Mom, I used to volunteer for things thinking – this will only take an hour. In truth, with the driving, planning, preparing and getting out the door, the hour turned into four or five. When I returned home, I was tired and cranky. I had used all my reserves for someone else. What was essential? What was my priority? My family. My little children who had no idea why I was not happy or why church stuff made me unhappy.

It was a disservice to God, first of all for me to say yes when my insides were saying no (quietly) and I reasoned it away. It was, and still can be a disservice to my family because my witness to them became – God, church, and all of that just makes people cranky. My attitude was not one of gratitude.

My kiddos are grown now. This doesn’t mean I suddenly have unlimited energy and time. I still must choose what is essential. I also have the added limitation of several immune system disorders. With that in mind, I must choose ONLY what is essential for me, not what others say is essential. I have tried that route. It only ends up affecting my body and no one else’s.

Once my energy envelope is empty, my mind, mood and attitude suffer and I have no one to blame except myself.

The way of the Essentialist means living by design, not by default. Instead of making choices reactively, the Essentialist deliberately distinguishes the vital few from the trivial many, eliminates the non-essentials, and then removes the obstacles so the essential things have clear, smooth passage. — Greg Mckeown

Many of the aspects of our mood and attitude we have control over. We can say “no” when we mean it. We can strip our calendars of things that we know are not our “best yes”.

We don’t have to do everything. We should never take on responsibility in order not to hurt someone’s feelings. They can take care of their own feelings. If whatever it is isn’t your primary responsibility is, let it go.

 

 Here are some of the resources mentioned on the show:

Dr. Caroline Leaf

Urban Woman Syndrome

You can listen to the podcast here:

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Make sure you sign up here to follow us by email to get your free gift and receive notifications of a new post, plus our monthly newsletter!

 

 

Five Day Smoothie Challenge!

Hey Friend,

  • Thanksgiving may have been a great success and if you’re like me, you’re reliving all the fun moments in your mind. We have a fresh pocketful of memories. We may also all have some other habits too. Such as I-have-to-eat-all-the-leftovers-syndrome. I know. I feel as if not eating is wasting it. I remember what my step-father Bud used to say, “It looks better in the trash then it does on me.” He was certainly not a wasteful person, so for him to say that means a lot. The truth is, there comes a point at which we have to ask ourselves –
  • Why am I eating this?
  • Do I need it?
  • Is it helping me or hurting me? 

We don’t have to eat everything. We need to stop and ask our bodies what they need. Years ago, when I was diagnosed with Celiac disease, my gut was shredded. My muscles had wasted away and I felt more than exhausted. I felt angry that my body wouldn’t cooperate with whatever I put in my mouth. It pretty much rejected everything. I started learning more about what foods my body needed. My first step was smoothies. Not necessarily green, but packed with good foods and nutrients.

Honestly my first attempt tasted like poop. Wait. Worse. I think. I just got a bunch of kale, spinach and whatever else I could stuff in the blender and poured the result in a mason jar. My daughter, who joined me on this adventure, took a tentative sip and spit it out. I did the same.

With some more research, some more playing around, I found some smoothies that worked for me. I did some smoothie fasts (just drinking smoothies) and finally settled on replacing my morning meal with one. That’s not super hard! Are you in? One smoothie every morning for five days?  In fact I felt full and energetic and most days would realize by late afternoon that I hadn’t eaten lunch because I wasn’t hungry (that’s not the purpose, just a point).

I’m going to share five of those on our Instagram account next week – November 26th- 30th. 

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Smoothies are not a quick fix or a cure-all, but they have a host of benefits:

1) Natural Weight Loss.

2) Boost Fruit & Vegetable Intake (Particularly Greens)

3) Increased Energy.

4) Boosts Nutrition.

5) Strengthens Immune System.

6) Excellent Source Of Minerals For Healthy Bones.

7) Excellent Source of Antioxidants.

8). Supports Colon and Gut Health.

*You can find more benefits at DaveandTracy.com or research some on your own!

Are you ready to join me? Here’s a list of ingredients you’ll want to grab before Monday morning. If you can’t purchase them all, no worries. You can still do the challenge and modify a bit. I’m all about tweaking recipes.

  • Almond milk
  •  Plain Kefir or whole fat greek yogurt
  • Avocados
  • Granny smith apple
  • Protein powder
  • Spirulina
  • Cacao
  • banana
  • pumpkin
  • carrot juice
  • spinach
  • cinnaman
  • blueberries (I use frozen from the Guire Farm)
  • mint
  • Kiwi (optional)
  • coconut water

Like I said, don’t feel as if you need to buy all of these. If you just use one or two of the recipes this coming week and repeat them, that’s still a win!

On Monday, I’ll be sharing one of my favorites (I say that for all of them)- Green apple-Avocado!

Join us on Instagram for the challenge – @the_whole_house!

Need an extra boost of encouragement to keep healthy over the holidays? Hop on over to iTunes and listen to “Keeping Healthy over the Holidays.”

 

21 Days to a More Confident You E-Course

It takes 21 days to make or break a habit. Let’s BREAK the habit of self doubt and low self esteem and MAKE a habit of standing strong in our God given confidence and be unapologetic about it.

Being YOU is MORE than enough!!

This e-course will guide you with:

– scripture; to help you see yourself through the eyes of Christ

– movement; to celebrate our body’s ability to just move

– mindful eating; to help develop self awareness when it comes to food

“Confidence is all about being positive in what you can do and not worrying about what you can’t do.”

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Jessica is a daughter of God, wife, mother and entrepreneur – in that order. Her passion has, at times, been her stronghold. This has left her feeling obligated to share her struggles along with her victories to help others attempting to overcome the same hurdles. She specializes in helping women practice self love through movement & self awareness. It took her a long time to see herself through the eyes of Christ and if she can shorten that duration for others, she’s living her purpose.

The 3 tools that helped me get out of the cycle of dysfunctional eating/yo-yo dieting (which lead to a whole lot of self loathing) and find my peace with my body are what this e-course focuses on.

Scripture – It wasn’t until I was able to see myself the way God sees me that I was able to free myself from the stronghold of vanity/image issues and live in peace knowing that I am enough. Exactly where I am, I am enough in HIS eyes. Only time in scripture pointed this out to me. I withdrew from anything that wasn’t serving any purpose in my “recovery” and dove straight into daily devotional time. I deleted some of my social media accounts and the ones I did keep, I vowed to stop engaging with as much. The first thing I check in the morning switched from my Facebook feed, which usually set the tone for my entire day (which always ended in me being offended by something), to my Bible app. First, the verse of the day, and then devotional time. The words of my father now set the tone for my day and his tone is always that of love and acceptance and CONFIDENCE. Meditating on his words daily help to reassure you that, with him, you can not fail. Psalm 46:5 says it all… “God is within her, she will not fail;”

Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.

1 Peter 3:4

Movement – I had to have a long conversation with myself. I had to convince myself that I needed to move my body with more PURPOSE instead of just moving my body more… I had become a slave to movement. My life revolved around burning a certain amount of calories or taking a certain amount of steps or whatever, instead of my life revolving around God. That is first and foremost.

1 Timothy 4:8 says it like this; “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”

I went from overtraining to finding balance and peace in my workouts by extending grace to myself, coming to a realization that ANY movement, especially movement that I enjoyed, was good enough no matter how many calories I burned. Workouts should be fun, something you enjoy and celebrated!! Aim for at least 30 minutes of movement a day. ANY KIND OF MOVEMENT. What do you enjoy doing? DO THAT!! Self love through movement. That’s our goal here.
Mindful Eating – Just like I became a slave to movement, I became a slave to eating. What I was eating, when I was eating, what it weighed, what carb count it had, how many calories, YOU KNOW THE DRILL. I was OBSESSED. I would restrict myself to the point of starvation, binge and then self loathe. That was my cycle. A cycle of disordered eating. Sound familiar?

During the peak of my disordered eating episodes, I was consumed with food in one way or the other 19 hours a day. The only time I wasn’t was when I would sleep. I would wake up starving but force myself to fast until noon. I would be craving something as simple as broccoli and deny myself of it because it didn’t fit into my “plan”. Read that again, MY PLAN, not God’s. Do you think that anywhere in God’s plan for us there’s self loathing to the point of physical starvation? No.

As a matter of fact; John 15:15 says I have been chosen and God desires me to bear fruit. He wants you to know that YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH. He equipped you with everything you need to bear fruit, to be plentiful. A plentiful tree is not starving in any aspect of it’s nutritional needs.

I had to make a decision. I had to let go of the controlling relationship I had with food or I had to let this continue to consume and ruin my life from the inside out. I know it sounds dramatic but being stuck in a dysfunctional cycle of eating and dieting can take a pretty hefty toll on all aspects of our lives. I wasn’t going to let that happen so I knew I needed to become self aware of my damaging actions, triggers and fears associated with food and I started reading up on intuitive eating. Intuitive Eating is an approach developed to help people heal from the side effects of chronic dieting. … An intuitive eater is defined as a person who “makes food choices without experiencing guilt or an ethical dilemma, honors hunger, respects fullness and enjoys the pleasure of eating.

I have not mastered this yet but I am a whole lot better at eating without any guilt whatsoever than I was even six months ago. It is not always easy but it beats dieting up one side and down the other. Why don’t more people speak the truth about intuitive eating? BECAUSE IT DOES NOT SERVE THE DIET CULTURE’S NEED TO MAKE YOU ASSOCIATE FOOD WITH GUILT. God would not want us to harbor guilty feelings for giving our body nutrients via a sandwich for lunch instead of a salad. So why would we give society the power to do that to us?

By listening to our bodies and adapting to intuitive eating habits, we learn to rid our fears and guilt associated with foods and focus on fueling our bodies with what it is NEEDING and when it is NEEDING it. Notice no where in there did I say “what your bodies WANT”. We will explore that difference throughout this course.

Interested in joining 21 Days to a More Confident You? Hop on over here and click!

Three Post Crash Practices That Help CFS Recovery Part Two

Last week I began this series, Three Post Crash Practices, today I’d like to focus on number two.

When I came out of my last major crash and the fog began to lift, I did a lot of research on recovery. CFS is a strange disease. It has cycles and the best way get into a different cycle is to change a habit. It starts with one small habit at at time. Let’s say for months, I couldn’t get up earlier than nine am. One week, I push it back to eight and form some early morning routines every day. Get up. Take meds with water. Make coffee. This routine sounds simple. It is. Over the period of a few weeks, my body expects me to get up at eight and go through the routine. It becomes easy.

schedule

2. Use a schedule. I read articles and printed off worksheets detailing how to schedule a day. There are some great ones here. At first, I was overwhelmed. Some of it I thought was ridiculous. Practices such as writing down my pain score. Fog score. Duration of activity. Those sorts of things seemed overboard. I don’t think that anymore. After practicing keeping score of activity, energy levels and pain, I found patterns. I found what sorts of things sent me to a crash quicker. If the worksheets seem overwhelming, just grab your calendar. Write down your pain score every day. Between one and ten works well. Your energy level too. Brain fog too. Make sure you write down everything you do. Vacuum. Read. Write. Company. Etc…

I plan out my activities, exercise, outings and rest days. When I first came out of a major crash, I needed a day or two of rest after an outing for coffee or going to the store. Once I recovered a bit more, a trip to IKEA for the day took me a week to recover from. This is because of the three hours of car time. These are just a few examples. It took time and discipline to figure out my patterns.

Sometimes, even now, I have an outing with a friend planned and I must reschedule because I have crash-like symptoms. To push through symptoms results in a crash. I have tested this theory only to have to leave an event or leave the zoo because I almost passed out (true story).

Rest a day ahead of an event and plan to have lots of margin in your days a few days after. All of this depends on your stage of recovery. For me, coming out of a major crash meant a nap every day. After an event it meant sitting and reading. Rest didn’t come easy to me. It was foreign. A few of my kids got me an Eno hammock to string up in the yard. I can climb in and close my eyes or gaze up into the tree tops. Rest is something I am learning to do. To Be. Instead To Do.

Whatever rest is for you, it should involve two parts-rest for the mind and for the body. The interesting personality trait I find in CFSers is they were always people who never rested. I was in an IV room once receiving treatment for CFS. In the chair next to me was a math professor. His eyes were closed as he received his infusion. I spoke briefly with his wife about his busy schedule and his unwillingness to shut down. I asked Dr. P. if anyone had ever studied how many type A personalities suffered from CFS. The point is, CFSers are far from lazy. They are quite the opposite.

Schedule is your friend. Your body craves schedule and gets used to doing the same thing at the same time every day. Muscle memory takes over and it takes less energy to do the same thing. If you find yourself sitting in bed all day post crash, your body will expect it. If you start adding a little more each week, your body will adjust. If you go out and do everything the first day you feel normal, you will crash(see practice one). So pull out your schedule and get started, one baby step at a time!

Three Post Crash Practices That Help CFS Recovery Part One

“One day you’ll wake up and feel normal,” my doctor said. I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) in 2005. I didn’t believe him. I hadn’t felt normal physically for years. Every morning I felt as if I hand’t slept at all or worse, as if I had been up for thirty-six hours straight. My joints aches. My muscles felt as if I had run a 50K. And to top that off, the world was always foggy. I felt as is I were moving through quick sand instead of air. If I walked up the steps, I was out of breath, my muscles screamed for oxygen. Then one day, not out of the blue. One day, after months of following doctor’s orders, taking supplements, a strict diet with green smoothies and healthy whole foods (that’s another post), I woke up feeling normal.

I had dreamed about this feeling. I dreamt that I had gotten up and gone downstairs to make coffee. In the dream, I felt great. No aches. No pain. No brain fog. No exhaustion. Then I woke up. This time it was real. I felt okay. I couldn’t believe it. So, guess what I wanted to do? EVERYTHING. Clean the house. Write. Paint. Refinish a piece of furniture.

I was reminded of this feeling when friend and CFS sister texted me the other morning. t She awoke feeling normal after two years of the opposite. She was so excited, ready to get back to regular life, to pull her camera out, to edit photos. “Take it easy, don’t overdo it,” I said, “enjoy feeling well.”

It’s so durn tempting to conquer the world that first day of feeling ‘normal’  when coming out of a major crash. We Chronic Fatigue suffers can spend years sitting on the sidelines watching people do normal stuff such as cleaning their houses, going out for coffee, going to church, painting, writing or fill in the blank. Often, in the middle of the crash, I wanted to hit people over the head with a rubber mallet and say, “don’t complain about having to do normal stuff! Enjoy it.” Post major crash, I am more thankful. When I can go out with my sister for coffee, I write it about it in my journal and put it on my thankful list. I also keep track of my activity to avert another crash. It’s so tempting to run forward at break neck speed on the first normal feeling day. Don’t. Just don’t. You will pay the piper later.

CFS

  1. Keep some energy in the tank. Last month, I rented a RAV4 to drive to visit my brother and family. Brother Jess and I drove the RAV4 to downtown Charleston, S.C. to do some sight seeing on foot. Neither of us payed any attention to the gas gauge. We were more focused finding parking and then the time on the meter. When we got back to the car (with six minutes to spare) to leave the city, the car began a loud annoying beep. Turns out, we were dangerously low on fuel and this was the cars way of telling us. It beeped until we found a gas station. When you have CFS, often your body is beeping loudly and if you are like me, you ignore it, at least until you wise up. Then comes the crash. The body is so out of fuel, it can’t move forward. It sometimes takes days for our bodies to recycle or produce energy while non CFSers can do it in hours. So, we can’t drain the tank. We have to keep some energy. Think of it as refilling your tank as soon as it gets down to a fourth. I love Christine Miserandino’s explanation of this in the Spoon Theory. I recommend you read it and keep in mind, at the end of the day, you should have a few spoons left. It’s like keeping a bit of gas in the tank. If you don’t, you may wake the next morning feeling depleted. What does this look like? Sit down and rest when you aren’t exhausted. It’s 8:00pm and you still have a load of laundry to fold or some other tasks. You feel okay. Don’t do them. Sit down and rest. Rest when you aren’t exhausted. Weird. I know.

This past week, I ignored my own advice. I didn’t keep any energy in the tank. I drained it and dipped into the next day’s supply. I’ve been busy, getting up between five and six to write, filling the rest of my day with activity and exercise. I had a mini crash the other day. I felt dizzy, foggy and boom, I hit that brick wall. When this happens, I have to rest and usually take a day or two off of exercise (it used to be a week). I pull out my calendar and go over it. I make it a habit to write down everything I do, including exercise. This helps me assess where I need to cut back. Which leads into the second practice I will share on Monday.

My Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Journey and Exercise (abridged)

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Lori and I brave the cold and dark to get in five miles.

My sister Anne came over one afternoon to give some haircuts. When it was my turn, I half stood. I said, “I can’t…” and the world went black. My sister called Audrey (eldest daughter and CFS expert by experience). One of my sons carried me to the couch. I was coming to when Pastor Skip came in. I told them not to call an ambulance and so did Audrey. I needed to rest. I had pushed too hard. After some hot tea, I agreed to go in and get my vitals checked. I was too weak to walk. Pastor Skip supported me while we muddled through the rain. He left me hanging on a counter while a nurse gave me some forms to fill out. I hit the floor again. I hadn’t passed out this time. My body was just too weak to stand. I managed a laugh when a nurse in her haste to get me in a wheelchair hit every wall and ran over her own foot. (I love nurses!)

Shortly after that episode, I made the trek back to Dr. P. in Pittsburgh. Audrey drove. I was still too weak to make the trip. I had pushed too hard for too long. CFSers know pushing too hard leads to crashes. Crashes mean the body quits. Muscles waste. Digestion slows. Joints ache. Muscles quake and are sore. For me, there is a fever, swollen glands, headaches. Dizziness. Virals rage. Heart rate jumps out of rhythm. There are many more symptoms, you can read them in My CFS journey (abridged) HERE. CFS pushes back with a vengeance when I push too hard.

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Lori 1, Lori 2 and I meet at the stadium to walk/run five miles.

By now, if you haven’t looked at Lori’s and my Instagram account (2girlsnotrunning) or the photos in this post, you may imagine me as a frail women, sitting in a dark room wrapped up in a blanket. Nothing could be further from the truth (unless it’s winter and I’m reading a book by the fire). I’m pretty active. I love to workout. Lori helps me be consistent and rest when I need to. I’m getting ahead of myself. Both Lori and I have a goal to be healthy which leads me to my first point. Healthy is a relative term.

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CASA Super Hero 5k (April 29th)  Fun time!

  1. Get healthier. Coming out the crash I spoke of above, my health could be summed up in negative numbers. After months of some strong anti-virals and adjusting some hormones, I began to work on getting healthier. I didn’t run a 5K or walk a mile. I went in my backyard and walked for five minutes. Then ten. All the while, I shook from the exertion. My muscles had wasted away. It took time to get them back. I couldn’t start where I had left off before the crash. I started over. I couldn’t compare myself to other’s or listen to fit women who told me to push harder. What was easy for them (going up and down stairs) was excruciating for me. For a long while, I could only do anything in fifteen minute increments before I needed to rest.

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    Lori and I conquer the city at the CASA Superhero 5K.
  2. Don’t measure your success based on someone else’s yardstick. When I started going to live PiYo class post last major crash, I couldn’t hold a plank to save my life. Instructor LeeAnne showed me modifications and encouraged me to keep coming. If I would have measured my success by her yardstick or someone else’s in the class, I would have quit. The first several months I went, I limited my activity the day after. I used that day to recover.I might take a short walk instead of a full blown workout. CFSer’s cells don’t recycle energy quickly. That leads to post-exertion crashes.  Find your starting point and work from there. Your yardstick may be at zero right now. Start at zero. If that means yard walking for five or ten minutes, celebrate that. Keep track of what you do and work up by increments. Don’t go from zero to P90x if you are a CFSer post crash (even if you could do it pre-crash). Your body needs time to recover. Start slow and small. Celebrate every victory. Build by small increments. One more minute. One more step. Listen to your body. A general rule is: if you feel the same or better the day after exercise (sore muscles excluded) then you can continue that exercise. If you feel worse, crashy, flu like symptoms, fever swollen glands, etc (whatever your tell is), you had better scale back.

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    Lori, my sister Anne and I survived  conquered another PiYo live class!
  3. Know YOUR body. Know YOUR limits. I’m not cured. I’ve read those posts and those books about people who say they have the key to my CFS recovery. One drink that washes it all away. One supplement that is a magic pill. I have had friends chase me down and offer me the drink that will ‘cure it all’. It doesn’t. It hasn’t. I do take lots of supplements that help balance me out and add some energy. I have asked Jesus to cure me a million times. I’ve been told by some in the ‘name it and claim it’ community never to say, “I have CFS”. I’ve tried pretending I don’t have it. It only slaps me in the face and I suffer the consequences. This may be the thorn in my side that I have to live with. Jesus has never left my side. He pulls me through the dark times. I haven’t had a major crash in several years. I still have mini ones and those are enough to quickly get me back on track. I love the tired feeling after a long hike. It’s different than the CFS tired. I know that NOW. I didn’t used to. My old habit was to push myself in every area, filling my calendar to overflowing and run it like a gauntlet. At the end of the week, I came out bruised and battered and in bed for a day or two or a week. I don’t do that (often) anymore. Knowing YOUR body is a HUGE key to a healthy life. I need a mid afternoon break every day. Sometimes that means a half hour nap. Other times, it means watching a show or reading a book. I can’t stay up late. I never have been able to. If I do, I pay the piper. What about you? Too much sugar send you over the edge (me)? Skipping meals mess with your blood sugar (I have to eat every two hours). You must get to know your body. It is telling you something? Eat . Drink. Sleep. In today’s fast pace culture, we’re told to Do. Do. Do. We’re doers instead of be-ers. I’m much more than a be-er now. By that I mean, I pay attention to my state of being. I keep my margins wide. I allow for rest days. Jesus and I have a calendar planning meeting every weekend. If I have too much going on, I cut back. I say no. I’m not afraid to reschedule with someone. In return, I live a pretty great life. Instead of crashing and burning, I plod along steadily and make readjustments along the way. I enjoy my life.
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    Lori, my daughter Ania and I

    *Just a note. Major crashes have taken me several years to recover from. Yes, you read that correctly. YEARS. I didn’t get back to a level of fitness that I could go to a class or participate in a 5K overnight. If you are a CFSer (even an un-diagnosed one) be kind to yourself. Don’t try to do to much too soon. Small increments of change make  a huge impact.

My CFS Journey (abridged)

Friend Lori Shaffer and I have an Instagram account–2girlsnotrunning. Lori runs the account and I try to remember to send her my workout photos. I stink at the photo part. Lori has an amazing story which she shares in bits and pieces on the account. You should check it out.

Here’s the sad news. I haven’t shared my story. Lori’s story is one of weight loss, muscle building, healthy eating and determination. Mine is equal in determination, however different in origin. Like most women, I have battled those pesky ten pounds here and there. I have always loved to work out. Weird. I know. I haven’t always been able to. There have been seasons in my life when I have been almost bedridden. Other times, I have been able to get up, do some homeschooling, cooking and light housework only to crash for four or five hours. Sounds like I just got really tired, right? Motherhood and homeschooling are exhausting. There’s more to the story.

As I child, I struggled with failure to thrive, topping the scales at fifty-five pounds in the sixth grade. As a teen, I couldn’t stay up late like other teens. I went to bed by eight o’clock. If by chance, I did stay up late, I crashed the next day. I had migraines daily. Mom took me to multiple doctors with no answers. Fast forward to marriage and motherhood. I often felt as if I were walking through quicksand. I assumed everyone else did too.

After decades of struggling, I finally got a diagnosis- CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome),also called, in some circles, myalgic encephalomyelitis, because of its effects on the muscles and brain. I don’t like the name and there is talk of changing it. The New Yorker states:

“As the authors put it, “The primary message of this report is that ME/CFS is a serious, chronic, complex, multisystem disease that frequently and dramatically limits the activities of affected patients.” They suggested that it be given a new name: systemic exertion intolerance disease.”

I hate the connotation associated with the words chronic fatigue. When I have shared the name of the immune system disorder I suffer from, I often hear the reply, “well, I’m tired too.”

Instead of trying to defend myself or the name, I’m going to explain in plain English what the disease does. It’s multisystem, meaning it attacks many systems of the body at once. It is viral in nature. I have had as many as three viruses attacking my body at the same time. Instead of the fighter cells waging war on the viruses, they get confused and attack my organs and endocrine system. Fighter cells are confused because the immune system ‘wallpapers over the viruses” so everything looks normal. The virus alarm has been sounded so the fighter cells fight, just the wrong thing. ME.

  • The organs are under attack- diminished cardiovascular function, even after exercise; slowed information processing in the brain
  • Cells don’t recycle energy quickly like non CFSers do. Cells have low oxygen levels. Post exertion crashes are common. This explains why CFSers can have a great day, push too hard and then spend a couple days in bed.
  • Endocrine system is under attack- Adrenals, thyroid, hormones (totally out of whack). Hypothyroidism is common as well as swings in cortisol levels. Too much cortisol followed by too little.
  • With a compromised immune system, other syndromes or diseases join- Celiac, Fibromyalgia, diabetes, cancer
  • Because cortisol levels are out of whack, there may be extreme anxiety
  • Psychological symptoms may include- agoraphobia, panic attacks and extreme fears ( and more). When these are diagnosed separately from CFS, there is a tendency to focus on them alone. They are side effects. Someone who passed out at the mall last week due to CFS may suddenly not want to go out.

None of this sounds super scientific. I don’t mean for it to be. CFS does affect the whole body. Like I said, it is a multisystem disease. The reason it took me so long to get a diagnosis (like many others) is most doctors only look at one area of the body at a time. So, I went from doctor to doctor getting one part looked at and finding the information inconclusive. The body must be looked at as a whole system in order to treat CFS. EVERYTHING must be looked at simultaneously.

I’ll finish up today with an excerpt from the CFIDS Association of America:

“Additional symptoms are frequently reported by PWC’s such as word-finding difficulties, inability to comprehend/retain what is read, inability to calculate numbers and impairment of speech and/or reasoning. PWCs also have visual disturbances (blurring, sensitivity to light, eye pain, need for frequent prescriptions changes): psychological problems (depression, irritability, anxiety, panic attacks, personality changes, mood swings); chills and night sweats; shortness of breath; dizziness and balance problems; sensitivity to heat and/or cold; alcohol intolerance; irregular heartbeat; irritable bowel; low-grade fever or low body temperature; numbness, tingling and /or burning sensations in the face or extremities; dryness of mouth and eyes, menstrual problems including PMS and endeometriosos; chest pains; rashes; ringing in the ears; allergies and sensitivities to noise/sound, odors, chemicals and medications; weight changes without changes in diet; light handedness; feeling in a fog; fainting; muscle twitching; and seizures.”

I know this is a lot of information. I could have started out with “I was unhealthy and I got better.”  No. I couldn’t, because that’s not true. There is more to my story and I will share next week. I needed to lay down a foundation and if you are a CFSer, know you are not alone. I’m right here beside you. I wish we could get coffee and we could share our stories, our valleys, our mountaintops and most of all our hope. If you are a CFSer or know one, please share.

* I am not a doctor and the info I am sharing does not replace seeing one. If you see yourself in the list of theses symptoms, find a doctor who treats CFS!