Lifestyle

See you in 2018

Dear all,

Apologies for my major lack of posting on here for some weeks now. However it is with good reason….!

With a lot of hard work and determination I have recently been successful in a new job which now see me working hard to establish myself in that role. Which is leaving very little time for blogging at the moment.

However, I am really keen not to let the blog fall completely off my agenda as I so enjoy writing and sharing my fibro experiences with you all.

So for now, what with the new job, working out what the hell I’m doing, and the festive season I’ve decided to press the pause button for now, and restart in January when I should have a little more time and energy!

So I guess this is a ‘see you soon’ but definitely not goodbye and I look forward to sharing my second year with fibro with you all.

Lastly, thank you to everyone who has supported me in this last year, you are all amazing and I definitely couldn’t have done it without you!

Big hugs and love to you all!

Sarah xxxx

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Fibromyalgia and Me

Fibromyalgia and Me – Exercise

How have you found exercise since having fibromyalgia?

For me, in all honesty, it was initially terrible, but equally it could have been much MUCH worse. I think it all depends on where you have come from, what exercise you did before, and how much you compare your current self to your new self.

My fibromyalgia onset was pretty quick, in fact, just a few months before becoming too unwell to work I had just completed my 6th running race in 6 months. I was taking part in a personal challenge to complete 12 races in 12 months for charity, in memory of my younger brother who passed away from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and would have been 24 last year. It still pains me to this day that I was never able to complete the challenge, but in the first 6 months of 2016 I ran two 10K races, one 10 mile race, two half marathons, and one full marathon.

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From June onwards it all went a bit/very downhill, I severely injured my achilles tendon which took AAAAAAAAAGGGGGGEEEESSSS to heal, and then I rapidly developed symptoms of Fibromyalgia. Come November I was off work sick barely able to move. You can visit this post for more about my journey towards diagnosis.

It took me a long while to pluck up the courage to exercise again, and a lot of input from my physiotherapist. At first I was incredibly frustrated, and even attempted to go for a run one day (which didn’t end well), but over time I learnt to forgive my broken body and to just let it recover somewhat. I also needed to give myself time to work out exactly what it was I needed to do just to be able to get through my day and function like a normal human being which took me about 4 months (and damn lot of hard work) following diagnosis. Returning to work was also far more important than gaining medals.

One thing I made sure I always did when trying to work all of this out, was to just keep moving. However slowly I moved, I always moved forwards. Initially it was just doing the school runs, then it progressed to the after school clubs. I then moved onto more gentle exercises, mostly stretching and physiotherapy, which felt wonderful for my broken body. Eventually when my symptoms were a little more ‘controlled’ I started going out for longer walks, and before long I was able to go out and walk a good 4 miles. I’d be wrecked that evening and possibly the next day but I did it and that sense of achievement was almost as satisfying as crossing the finishing line of a race (although what a feeling that is!).

Another (and possibly more important) factor is learning not to compare. At diagnosis I was constantly yearning for that woman who could just go out and run 10 miles and actually feel good afterwards. I missed the way my body used to feel and the way my clothes fit. I missed the glory of picking up a medals after months of training and doing it all in memory of my brother, raising worthwhile money for charity.

Today, I no longer compare. I no longer yearn. I do however still remain optimistic that I WILL run again, but only when I am ready, and only what I can manage.

What I am now able to do is get on with my day and cover most distance by foot. I cover a distance of at least 6 miles evenly across my day and it actually makes me feel better. In fact if I don’t cover this distance my evenings are absolutely terrible. I feel proud that despite what is technically a disability, I am active and I am doing all I can to benefit all aspects of my long term health.

This doesn’t mean I am now going to sit back and be 100% content with this equilibrium. For those who know me, they will know that running is in my blood and I’m not sure that I will ever be fully content if I don’t ever run again. It a big goal, but I don’t feel it completely unrealistic. Just one year ago, doing the school run alone was hell on earth, and it now doesn’t even cross my mind that it will be difficult, most days.

So what’s next? For me I am looking to work on my strength and flexibility, so I am looking to seriously get into yoga. I’d like to spend a few months working on doing some daily yoga, at home, to increase my core stability, and my overall strength. Why? Well, as I think you have gathered by now, I really want to run again, and building up this strength and power will help with that, not to mention the stretching element will benefit my joint pain immensely.

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This is where I need your help. I am looking for a seriously good at home yoga workout. This can be on DVD or on You Tube, or wherever you know there is a really good programme for beginners. I really do not have the time or the energy to go after work, and so the mornings are key to fitting this into my routine. Recommendations are highly appreciated.

I would also really love to hear from you about what exercise works for you and your chronic illness. Are there any runners out there with fibromyalgia? If so I would really love to hear from you. Anyone recommend anything else that works well as exercise with fibromyalgia? Please do get in touch by either leaving a comment below or visiting one on my social media platforms. I am on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

Toodle Pip!

Sleep Hygiene

The Fibromyalgia Sleep Chronicles – Using a daylight alarm clock

I’ve been finding my fibromyalgia more difficult to manage since the seasons have changed. The switch from warm to cold, and from long days to short days is playing havoc in many ways for me. The cold triggers my pain, the less vitamin D triggers my fatigue and pain, and the dark mornings make it feel almost impossible to wake up (despite being awake for large portions of the night).

The one thing I learnt from last year is that if my sleep goes off, then everything goes off and for me it seems to all pin on how my mornings go. If I spring out of bed at a good time, full of energy, then my morning is less stressful and I carry that through to the rest of my day. I make better food choices  and I also sleep much better the next night as I don’t have as many anxieties floating around in my head, I have less pain, and I go to bed feeling content with my day.

If I keep on pressing the snooze button, and roll out of bed groggy and foggy, my mornings do not go well at all, and that horrible feeling of not having a good morning, being snappy with my kids, and not having the energy for my daily walk before work all hang around me like a bad smell. I feel tired all day, too tired to do the things that I know help my fibromyalgia. I often forget to take lunch to work and either don’t eat at all or make poor choices. I then get home, feel terrible, and don’t sleep very well because of the rubbish day I had. My pain increases keeping me awake too.

One thing that I know for a fact helps me to wake up is light. In the summer this is easy as the natural light provided by early sunrises are invigorating and natures way of waking anyone up naturally (see this post for information about sleep cycles). In the darker months there is nothing that gives off natural light so we have to find something else to help us.

Introducing…… the daylight alarm clock!


I’d been toying with buying one for so long but couldn’t bear the expense, but luckily, when talking about it with a friend from work, and it turned out she had one that she wasn’t using, so it’s now my new toy. The one she has leant me is a Philips Lumie.

I was excited but sceptical. Would it really work or would it just annoy me? There was only one way to find out and that was to try it!

I won’t bore you too much with the how it works bit, but in a nutshell you set the alarm for time you want to be awake and it starts to light up the room slowly in the 30 minutes prior to the time you have set. It starts off as a very dim red/amber light and builds up to a blue light (see this post all about the benefits of blue light), to a brightness of your choosing. You can also choose for a nice sound to be played as you wake up, such as wind, sea or birds. The aim is for the light to naturally bring you out of a sleep cycle, instead of being dragged out of deep sleep by your alarm clock, and so avoiding sleep inertia, which is basically that feeling you get when you have been rudely awoken by someone or something and you basically feel punch drunk.

So, I set it up for maximum brightness in the morning and birds. Turns out maximum brightness is a bit hardcore, even for someone who needs light to wake up, and I was waking up about 20 minutes before I wanted to (20 minutes is precious), and so over the last week I have worked out my ideal level to wake up at 6am is 3/4 of the maximum setting. The birds are nice too.

Waking up is definitely more gentle, no more alarm blaring in me ear and waking me up with a jolt, and that feels nice. I am still a bit sleepy when I wake up but I think that is because I’ve been a little naughty and not done all of my sleep hygiene as well as I could have rather than the light not working, so this week I am working on getting that right before I pass judgement.

Once I’m awake things are looking better. I generally get up, open the curtains (even though it is dark outside), make myself some lemon and ginger and just allow myself more time to wake up properly before I get on with my morning. My mornings are now back to being under control, and I’m managing to be more productive with more energy than I had a couple of weeks ago. My morning walks are back, I’m remembering my lunch, and I’m not rushing to the school gates anymore!

Is it as good as a bright summers morning? No. Is it better than waking up to an alarm clock and being dragged from deep sleep part of my sleep cycle? Most definitely! Most importantly, do I feel better when I wake up, is my fibromyalgia more controlled and am I sleeping better? Yes, yes, and yes!

Nothing is going to substitute the light we get on those long summer days, but this is a good compromise and I would strongly encourage you to try it if you suffer like I do in the mornings!

Do you use a daylight alarm clock? what do you think? Is there anyone it hasn’t worked for?

Don’t forget you can find me on social media by clicking the icons to the right of this article if you are on desktop or the bottom if you are on your phone/tablet.

Toodle Pip!

 

 

Naturopathic Nutrition

Fibromyalgia and Diet – My new way of sharing

Happy new week to you all!

I’ve been wracking my brains after lasts weeks Fibromyalgia and Diet post to think of a new way of sharing the food that I eat to make it as useful as possible. It’s taken me until yesterday to work this out but I am going to try keeping a photo food dairy to share with you once per week. The aim of this diary is to share not only what I eat but whether I prepared the food myself or brought it, to share the brands I love and where I eat my food (bear with me on that last point it will make sense). My  hope it that I will be able to demonstrate that whether you are out home, at work, on a day trip or commuting, where there is a will there is a way. You can change your diet to benefit your fibromyalgia. I am also hoping it will help everyone to see that I do eat all three of my meals and not just breakfast (which I seem to snap the most pictures of).

Now, as I only thought of this yesterday, I only have yesterdays diary to share with you today, but next week will be a full week. I also need to stress that as it is a food diary, snapping where I eat my food as well as what I eat, not all of the pictures will be Instagram worthy, but they will be real…..

So without further ado, here is yesterdays food diary!

Sunday – BREAKFAST – Cocoa Porridge with berries and nut butter LUNCH – Red Thai Chicken and Veg Soup and Sea Salt Potato Crisps from Pret A Manger DINNER – Chicken Roast Dinner

I hope I’m heading in the right direction by sharing the practicalities of eating well with fibromyalgia…… I’m also thinking of putting recipes to a vote, so people can choose each week which recipe I should share on the blog the following week 🙂 Would my readers like that? Let me know in the comments section below.

For now, toodle pip and happy eating!

You can find me over on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram, where I share articles that I have found helpful, things that make me happy, and of course, food, food, food.

Recipes

Recipe – Gluten and dairy free, berry nice chocolate chip granola!

It’s National Chocolate Week! So it would be wrong if I didn’t post a recipe that had something chocolatey in it right? Right. However, as I am still low sugar, I wanted to make something that tasted naughty but actually isn’t too sugary. So I have come up with this granola recipe to tickle your taste buds in the mornings. Of course it is gluten and dairy free, and also suitable for vegans 🙂

When I think of chocolate these days, I obviously think of dark chocolate, and when I was thinking of what goes well with dark chocolate I thought ‘What goes better with dark chocolate than cherries?’ and the answer of course was not much! Maybe orange, but it’s too close to call!

Then I instantly thought of almonds and suddenly I had the idea of cherry, almond and dark chocolate chip granola, but I couldn’t find enough cherries to my liking that wouldn’t cost me an arm and a leg so it turned into cherries, cranberries and blueberries. I also can’t bear to not put pecans in my granola, so chucked them in too, and some pumpkin seeds for a bit of colour.

What I was left with was a rather lovely little granola recipe that I am just dying to share with you all, so here goes!

Gluten and dairy free, berry nice chocolate chip granola

Ingredients – Makes 850g – 1kg

  • 100ml maple syrup (or you can use honey/agave syrup)
  • 4 tbsp coconut oil
  • 250g gluten free oats
  • 100g pecans
  • 100g almonds
  • 50g pumpkin seeds
  • 200g mixed berries, I went with cherries, cranberries and blueberries
  • 100g dark chocolate chips (dairy free of course!) – you could replace with a few cacao nibs if you like!

Method

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Preheat the oven the to gas mark 4 (180 degrees). Pop the maple syrup and coconut oil into a small saucepan and heat over a gentle heat until oil has melted and the oil and syrup are combined.
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Meanwhile mix the oats, nuts and seeds together in a large mixing bowl. I choose to leave my nuts whole, and I like it this way, plus chopping them also hurts my hands because of my fibromyalgia, but if you like your chopped then go ahead! Pour the melted oil and maple syrup over the mixture and give it a good stir until all the mix is well coated with the oil and syrup.
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Line a baking sheet with some baking parchment and spread the granola mixture onto the tray. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes, removing to turn the mixture over every five minutes or so, this way the bottom won’t burn!
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Leave to cool completely on the tray. When you first take the granola out of the oven it will still be soft, but as it cools it goes all nice and crunchy. Once completely cool, place into a large mixing bowl and mix in your berries and chocolate chips so that all of the ingredients are evenly distributed. Store in an airtight container and enjoy!

Enjoy! I personally love to eat my granola with some thick coconut yoghurt, and if I’m feeling really fancy I might chuck some fruit compote on too, but you could also enjoy with some nice cold non dairy milk. Or maybe even sprinkle over some porridge (imagine the dark chocolate going all melty, yum!)

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I hope you have enjoyed this recipe, do leave your comments down below should you so wish 🙂 or pop over and say hello on social media. You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. also don’t forget to check out my other recipes here!

Toodle Pip!

Sleep Hygiene

The Fibromyalgia Sleep Chronicles #10 – Whats on my bedside table?

As this series draws to an end (I don’t think I’ve missed too much out), I thought it would be fun to move it forwards with a once per month round up of whats on my bedside table. What’s on your bedside is really important when it comes to sleeping (check out this post as to why!) Think book recommendations, things that will help you to sleep, and anything else that I happen to find delight in. Simple really, and I’m going to dive on in by sharing with you what is currently on my bedside table. These are all things that help me with my fibromyalgia, in ways that aren’t always obvious but still work!


Candle – Sweet orchid and coconut candle from Sainbury’s, cheap and cheerful at £4 but it lasts for ages, and smells divine. I like a good sized candle on my bedside table to provide and gentle and relaxing reading light.

Tea – Currently drinking Heath and Heather Sleep tea, with spearmint, chamomile, rosehip and nettles ,amongst other lovely herbs. A beautifully relaxing cuppa before bed.

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Magazine – The Simple Things. Really lovely magazine promoting mindfulness, gratitude and full of stories from awesomely inspirational people!


Book – Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel – Sequel to the mazing Wolf Hall, this second book looking at the downfall of Anne Boleyn from Thomas Cromwell’s point of view, and a great view into life at the court of Henry VIII. Not everyones cup of tea but I love it! Winner of the Man Booker Prize 2012 and the Costa Book of the year 2012.


Book – Little book of Lykke by Meik Wiking, sequel to the Little Book of Hygge, a wonderful little companion book all about finding happiness from the simple things in life.


Whats on you’re bedside table at the moment? I am always very much up for recommendations! Remember, to keep it calm, relaxed and inspirational!

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Toodle Pip!