Some Long Overdue Sunshine

I’m very new to the whole blogging scene and as far as understanding how to promote, advertise or link my blog to others I haven’t really learned how to do any of that. Purple Law Lady at Fibromodem nominated me for the Sunshine Blog Award – given to “bloggers who positively and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere”. She wrote me a message commentating how she follows my blog and does appreciate that it is rare for fellas to identify themselves as having fibro. I am frequently outnumbered in support groups etc. but I can honestly say it is nice to have a name for all the symptoms that I’m struggling with for a long time now. As for Fibromodem, her enthusiasm and passion for raising awareness of fibro are amazing. I don’t know where she gets her energy from but I wish you could bottle it! 🙂

I’ve always written this blog as a therapeutic tool for myself so if anyone else reads it, it is a bonus. I love getting comments because it takes a lot for anyone to take the time to reply to a post. I really appreciate the nomination from Purple Law Lady and I am hoping to use this as an opportunity to increase the numbers reading my blog and also to hear from others with fibro. I will certainly be trying to read more blogs and commenting as much as I can on other people’s efforts.

So here goes, I’ll try to follow the rules and set up the links etc. but if I make any mistakes fibrofog and my inability to concentrate is getting the blame! 🙂

Here are the rules:

1.  If you are nominated, you must blog a post linking back to the person/blog that nominated you.

Think I’ve done that above

2. You must answer some questions, nominate ten fellow bloggers and link their blogs to the post,

Answering the questions is no problem but I’m not sure I’ve even read 10 other bloggers but I’ll certainly try to find other fibro fighters and link to them

3. You should comment on your nominees’ blogs to let them know you’ve nominated them.

So, here are the questions:

1. Who is your favourite philosopher?

I wouldn’t have a favourite philosopher but I do like the thought that ‘whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as  it should’

2. What is your favourite number?

9 – I know I always talk about football but that was the number I always tried to wear

3. What is your favourite animal?

I’m not really an animal person and I’m scared of dogs I don’t know but my sisters dog is a beautiful dog so probably him

4. What are your Facebook and Twitter urls?

5. What is your favourite time of the day?

Bed time!

6. What was your favourite vacation?

Crete just after my Leaving Cert exams. Sunshine, good times and not a care in the world

7. What is your favourite physical activity?

Swimming because it’s about the only time I’m not in pain

8. What is your favourite non-alcoholic drink?

Coffee, I’ve given up a lot because of fibro and I probably shouldn’t drink ANY caffeine but I love good coffee

9. What is your favourite flower?

Can I pass??

10. What is your passion?

Sport – although that’s confined to watching these days

I’d love to add one more question for anyone who reads this:

11. If there is one thing that you would like to learn about fibro from a male perspective, what would that be? Leave me a comment or send me a message and I’ll answer as many questions (if any!) I get

10 Blogger Nominees – Yes I can count so I’ll add to this list as I go

1. http://fibromale.wordpress.com/ 

2. courageous little me 

3. trials and tribulations 

4. http://infinitesadnessorhope.wordpress.com/

5. mind body and soul rehab…..the journal

6. commeunefolle

Eat Less and Move More

They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. They say we should eat 3 balanced meals per day. They say we should drink 2 litres of pure water each day. They say we should eat 5 portions of fruit/vegetables every day. They say we should restrict our caffeine and alcohol intake. ‘They’ are a talkative shower aren’t they?

As we grow up we come across various guidelines and suggestions regarding nutrition and our parents/guardians try to provide us with a balanced diet when we are too young to make the correct decisions for ourselves. Most people, I imagine, would be aware that they should drink 2 litres/8 glasses of water each day and eat 5 portions of fruit and vegetables each day. Knowing what we should do and actually doing it are two very different things though and various obstacles like money, convenience and laziness all combine to prevent us maintaining a healthy diet.

In another lifetime I was a fitness instructor. I put together training programmes for people with lots of different goals. Some wanted to tone up, some wanted to train specific muscle groups for specific sports, some wanted to bench press bigger and bigger weights but the vast majority of people I came into contact with wanted to lose weight.

Eat less and move around more’ is a very facetious way of approaching the process of losing weight. It’s more complex than that but it does include two very important aspects. Training more can be one way to lose weight but just as important is establishing a consistent, healthy diet and this needs willpower, discipline etc. For people with fibro/arthritis this becomes even more important as every kilo we are overweight adds four times as much force through our muscles and joints.

There is no specific diet for those of us with fibro to follow. Adding in or cutting out foods and supplements will not have the same effect for everyone across the board. As with every aspect of fibro it is a very individual and personal experience. Simple blood tests that can be requested through your GP will establish if you have any deficiencies that would benefit from supplementation. With regard to a healthy diet there are few things that have worked for me and they may help you at some point.

Water water everywhere and not a drop to drink’. Drinking two litres of pure water a day will help to keep you hydrated and also help to flush toxins from your body. Not all of us drink enough water and dehydration can impact on concentration and performance, something those of us with fibro already struggle with. Not only will drinking two litres of water a day help with hydration, in order to drink that amount, it can replace the amount of caffeine based and fizzy drinks we consume, which is not a bad thing either.

Food is a much more complex issue. While I’ll share with you what works for me, I’m not medically trained and so any dietary changes being considered should be discussed with your GP or a dietician. As far as I’m aware dietician is the protected term while anyone can call themselves a nutritionist but I’m open to correction on that.

Before I developed my fibro I was a really active person. I worked in a job requiring shift work and being on my feet for 40 hours a week, I played 5-a-side football and went jogging, I did a Pilates class once a week and kept as fit as I could. Now? Well I … I lead a strolling group once a week, I mmm…. I stretch as often as my body allows and I ….. Sometimes can’t walk 50 metres unaided. Basically I’m at the opposite end of the fitness spectrum.

Therefore because I can’t simply ‘move more’ to keep fit, I’ve needed to take a closer look at my diet and calorie intake. If I eat more than I need for my limited activity, then it will not be burned off and I will put on weight. In fact for the first 8 months after my diagnosis I did just that and ended up 3 stone (19kg) heavier. Once I realised this, I altered my diet, maintained my limited movement and I’ve lost the weight and am back to a healthy weight.

Carbohydrates provide us with slow burning energy but if we don’t use that up, we store the excess and gain weight. Now I don’t eat pasta, potatoes, rice, or white bread at home. I eat wholegrain brown bread for lunch and that’s about it. Protein is vital to grow and repair muscles. Fibromyalgia is all about pain and inflammation in our muscles. Therefore I feel it is important to have lots of protein in my diet from eggs, cheese, lean meat etc. Sugary foods or highly processed foods and sauces in large amounts aren’t great for anybody but again it becomes even more important for those of us with fibro.   

I have not cut anything completely out of my diet but I definitely have cut down on portion sizes and try to keep to everything in moderation. By being really strict with my diet at home I can still enjoy eating whatever I want when I’m out in a restaurant or someone else’s home. By not having processed foods, sauces, dressings at home, I’m not tempted by them and can then enjoy a pepper sauce with my steak or some dressing on a salad on the rare occasions I go out for dinner. I’ve also noticed that by being stricter at home, I’m often not even tempted to eat chips, potatoes, pasta, sauces etc. when I am out now.  

As I say our day-to-day eating habits are very personal and I understand that what works for me isn’t necessarily going to work for anyone else. However, with the probability that restaurants will have to put calorie counts on their menus, our daily calorie intake will come under more intense scrutiny. I’m merely suggesting that by checking your diet now and seeing if it can be improved, you may help yourself get a balanced diet and enjoy the good knock-on effects that would have on your fibro symptoms.

Below would be a typical week of food for me at home which allows me to indulge in richer foods when I go out to eat. It may sound boring but it keeps my diet balanced and I am even trying obscure vegetables and fish I wouldn’t have tried before;

Breakfast: I only ever eat porridge and 2 pieces of fruit

Lunch: Wholegrain brown bread with fish/eggs/cheese and at least 2 different salad vegetables

Dinner: Lean meat or fish with at least 2 different vegetables. I don’t use any processed sauces and I very rarely eat pasta, potatoes or rice.  

I don’t drink alcohol at home anymore and I only drink decaffeinated tea and coffee at home. This allows me to have caffeine when I’m out and the odd pint now and again. I still eat biscuits and bars at home but that also would be much less than before.

Inspirational Teenagers

My name is fibrofella and it’s been two weeks since my last post. I hope you all understand that I’ve had very good reason for being unable to arrange and order my thoughts into something that resembles a publishable blog post in recent times. You see for two weeks now my mind has felt like mush and been taking over by fibro fog. After the essential chores of washing, eating, dressing and existing were completed I’ve had nothing else to give.

Writing has always been very therapeutic for me but for the last ten days I’ve struggled to sit in front of the computer never mind write more than a sentence or two. My concentration levels have been rock bottom. It takes energy to give of oneself and express oneself in a coherent way and I would sooner say nothing on days like that. When that feeling continues over an extended period of time publishing a post becomes just another item on a never to be completed to-do list.

Last weekend my already low energy levels were exhausted completely by spending a weekend away with a group of teenagers with Juvenile Arthritis. They show strength, courage and determination on a daily basis and this weekend was a way for them to meet others in a similar situation, try their hands at something different and just have fun for a change. They have missed so much in their short lives because of their arthritis, it was important for them to have as much fun as possible and get a sense of achievement by completing outdoor adventure type exercises.

There are far too many stories and great experiences from last weekend to re-tell now but suffice to say that we, as leaders, enjoyed the weekend just as much as the teenagers themselves. Every single one of them challenged themselves and succeeded in at least one new thing over the weekend while also learning about their JA and picking up tips from their peers. It was truly inspiring to watch how they mingled and grew together as a group. In showing their courage and determination I felt inspired to look at my fibro in a new way and see where I could improve my own situation.

The weekend as a whole was a tiring, exhausting, long, pain and stiffness inducing experience but, definitely, it was one of the best weekends I’ve had in the last few years. The leaders, as a group, were inspired by these teenagers and as much as we taught them about their potential and ability to give themselves a positive future, they taught us through their courage and sense of adventure that we can still have fun despite the, at times, awfulness of what we are living with and succeeding against each and every day.

My mind has been like mush for a couple of weeks now and I’ve been in more pain in these two weeks than at probably any other point in the last few years. Having spent the weekend in the company of those teenagers and the other leaders however, very little of that seems to matter today. It’s not easy to change an ingrained mind-set and see positives where before-hand there were only negatives.

I would just like to thank each and every one of those teenagers for the inspiration they provided me with last weekend.

Despite the continuing struggle this week has been, I’ve been trying to note all my minor accomplishments rather than focusing on the negatives. If that is the only thing I take from last weekend, well that’s just fine with me. Fibromyalgia is a tough cross to bear but it doesn’t give me the right to moan and give out any more than those teenagers with JA or indeed anyone that struggles day-to-day with a chronic illness.

Consistently seeing the positives and not getting too upset by negative events won’t happen overnight but I’m determined to challenge myself and continue to fight my fibro. This determination has only become stronger through spending time in the company of those inspirational teenagers.

I can’t wait for the next weekend away with another group of teenagers but I hope it’s not for a long while yet. In spite of how good the weekend was and the lessons I learned my body still needs a bit longer to recover both mentally and physically, I must be getting old or something!