Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The 5 Pointed Star Of Health

I am on an eternal quest to get to bed on time. In the last month or so I have been popping out of bed between 7:30 and 8 o' clock in the morning so if I don't get my sleep on the back-end I just don't get it! I need 9 solid hours to feel good. I have been through every stage of sleep deprivation and insomnia us Fibrates go through and have fought long and hard to get to the point where my sleep disturbances are minimized and my sleep quality solid. As a night-owl my entire life who could sleep HAPPILY until 10am or later every morning, this is a huge adjustment. What winds up happening is I spend all day feeling like crap and all headachy and manicky and sore throaty and eating bad to satiate those "comfort" feelings my brain's tiredness is calling out for. But I just can't seem to get my act together! I am a busy bee and leave all my chores until my hypocritical-self is shooing my husband off to bed so he does not become sleep deprived. Oh, and I spend way more time on the computer late night than I should. Its just that I have so much fun with y'all!  But the irony is not lost on him, and I hear about it frequently. In fact, last night as I was crawling into bed at 1:30 I saw him glance at the clock and knew I was gonna get it. I devised a clever little scheme in my head...I will tell him he saw the time wrong and it really was 11:30! So when he wakes me up at 4:30 this morning to kiss me goodbye honey-I'm-off-to-work-for-the-day he calls me out. I sleepily mumble my prefabricated hyperbole and he laughs at me and tells me to stop lying to him in my sleep! So much for that one... But as my sleep suffers my diet choices do to, and before you know it I am spiraling into a self-induced flare!

I have come to believe health is a carefully balanced 5-pointed star. It is comprised of a harmony between diet, exercise, stress management, hormonal balance and sleep (thank you Suzanne Somers!). When 1 goes out the others topple over trying to compensate, and that un-equilibrium over long periods of time causes chaos and breeds illness.

DIET: What we put into our bodies directly effects our health and well being. The typical American diet is full of chemicals, preservatives, processed, fake and refined foods. Fruits, vegetables, lean protein & dairy, good fat and whole grains will serve to boost our immune system and keep us not only feeling but looking great. Consuming food that is unprocessed and unrefined by man, the way God made it, and actually cooking it ourselves is extremely beneficial to our health. And a colossal pain in the wazoo, I know, but WE ARE WORTH IT! Start by slowly paying attention to what you are eating. That simple action alone can be eye opening.

EXERCISE: When your doctor is not helping you manage your Fibromyalgia symptoms and tells you to lose weight and exercise more you want to shoot them. I know this first-hand. How am I supposed to exercise when I can barely move? But re-frame your expectations and start slow. Exercise is so much more than an exhaustive trip to the gym! A shuffle to the end of the block will turn into a trip around the block with persistence. Slow and gentle stretching will loosen up those tight and constricted muscles. I have a link on the right to a fabulous book called Yoga For Fibromyalgia that has adapted poses to compensate for our condition. Be gentle with yourself and start slow but remember, use it or lose it baby! 

STRESS MANAGEMENT: By the time Fibromyalgia has consumed us stress levels are through the roof. It becomes a matter of desperate pure survival and there is nothing more stressful than that! Living in a constant state of fight or flight was most likely a huge contributor in getting us here. But if we ever wish to recover from debilitating Fibromyalgia we have to put stress in its proper perspective, learn how to love and value ourselves again. Laugh often and live at a reasonable pace that honors our commitment to respect our bodies as a temple of health, not feeling guilty or undeserving when we find ourselves enjoying what we are doing. Work through and release emotional pain and anger and unforgiveness. You know, all those seemingly frivolous things us Fibrates scoff at because we are a total mess, in constant and pervasive pain and barely hanging on by a ratty un-manicured finger nail. But remember you are worth investing in. You are worth saving!

HORMONAL BALANCE: As we age and develop illnesses hormones go nuts. A knowledgeable doctor is the only place you can even begin to straighten it out. But we can do our part by following the other 4 points so the wonderful machine that is our body can begin to repair itself.

SLEEP: I have saved the best for last. Sleep is by far the most important. I know if I did not sleep I would still be at my sickest, and so many out there cannot sleep! That is the time the machine is turned off and in "repair" mode. Sleep is when we make Growth Hormone. Sleep is when our subconscious filters through our conscious and empties out all the information processed during the day. SLEEP IS ESSENTIAL to restoring a quality of life and getting off the merry-go-round of never ending sickness. If there are 2 things your doctor MUST do for you it is help you manage your pain and sleep. Otherwise you will continue to exist in the downward spiral, deeper and deeper into the Rabbit hole... Hold them accountable. Remember you are the patient and are paying them. Don't be afraid to look for a new doctor if yours is not working with you.

Does Fibromyalgia ever go away? Some say yes, others say no. I personally don't know. But what I do know is that with determination, perserverance, laughter and BALANCE a quality of life can come back that may not be like it was before but is still pretty darn desirable.

Thanks for joining,


  1. Leah, that post is excellent. I only wish I had written it, LOL! I also am a night owl and have to make myself get to bed before midnight when I can do it, because getting up by 8:30 makes my day SO much better. When I sleep in because I've gone to bed so late, the next day is all off-kilter and low energy. Thanks for reminding me to GET TO BED.