Fibromyalgia and Me

Fibromyalgia and Me – Home Sweet Home

Evening followers and friends,

I hope you have had a good day. Friday is almost here! I was incredibly glad to come home today after initially going many miles in the wrong direction on the wrong train and then getting wet in the rain!

Following on from last weeks blog post introducing me and my fibromyalgia, I promised to get the nitty gritty of how I thrive with The F Word. All opinions and thoughts in these posts are my own and as you will know, I choose to keep this blog a positive space, full of proactive advice of how fibromyalgia can be addressed naturopathically. However, I also feel that sharing the reality of living with a chronic illness is important in raising awareness.

That being said, I do still want to keep the blog as positive as possible, so instead of just moaning about my fibromyalgia, I thought it would be useful to talk about what has changed so that it doesn’t completely ruin my life. At work today we had the most inspiring woman come and speak to us about leadership, and she spoke about viewing obstacles as opportunities. While this is incredibly helpful to me in my role at work it sprung to mind that this is exactly the way I approach my fibromyalgia, and I am going to use this framework to describe to you how my life has changed with fibromyalgia, and how I feel it has actually changed for the better. Every cloud has a silver lining and all that jazz.

I thought I would start with focusing on how it has affected my home life, with those people who are nearest and dearest to me. I can’t list everything but I thought it would be useful to share what are probably the most common problems with fibromyalgia, and without action could become the most distressing.

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My crazy little family, and yes, Edith is picking her nose.
I am blessed enough to have been married for 11.5 years to Matthew. Each day I give thanks for the man that asked me to marry him one rainy June evening in Guildford. We have amazing twin girls Edith and Emily, aged almost 7 (we are reminded every day). We live in Greater London and have done for 13 years. Both Matthew and I originate from Portsmouth (South Coast of the UK for those overseas readers), and so ALL of our closest family members are still there, so we have no family nearby.

Obstacle #1 – We have learnt the hard way that all work and no recovery is really not healthy for anybody and we had the balance all wrong. We were constantly working opposite shifts, leaving each other alone to parent and do all of the things that being an adult encompasses. We were often chasing rainbows and always looking for what was next and looking for more, instead of embracing the moment and being content with what we already had. This was incredibly draining for both of us and on refection probably expedited the onset of my fibromyalgia, but I think a lot of families are like this. The rapid onset of my fibromyalgia left me in incredible pain, hardly able to stay awake yet not be able to sleep (not sure how that works), and very distressed.

The opportunity – Something had to give, and once I considered going back to work, it first meant a change in working hours for us both. There was no way we could go back to the ways things were without either destroying me or putting pressure on our family relationships. While this is coming at a financial sacrifice, I firmly believe that money does not buy you happiness, but balance in life does. We have both been lucky enough to have had our offers of how we can offer our best to our employers accepted, which means that although we are both work more ‘days’ per week we are now working less hours per day. We are now able to divide up the house and family responsibilities more manageably, and have more time together as a family each day. There is now no day that will go by where I will not see my husband or children because of work (before I would often go at least a couple of days without seeing them). We are less tired when we are together which ultimately means that the time we do spend together is of better quality and everyone is in a better mood. Our mental health has improved immensely. The girls know what to expect from their day and kids love routine. For my fibromyalgia this means that on the whole my symptoms are much more manageable too.

I have also discovered the art of mindfulness and gratitude because of fibromyalgia. I am now seeing clearer than ever and am honestly the most content I have ever been in my life despite being in constant pain and feeling almost always tired. By giving thanks for what I already have, I naturally want less. By wanting less, I no longer feel that horrible feeling of discontent, that I am not good enough. I no longer feel like I am failing as a mother, or a wife, and as a result my mood is lifted and a good mood gives me momentum to continue with the good habits that are best for my fibromyalgia.

Obstacle #2 – Long gone are the days where we could stay up late together and watch our favourite TV programmes or a film. I need to stay away from screens and blue light for a good 90 minutes before I sleep.

The opportunity – Due to the change in what I can or can’t manage, even simple things like watching TV, we have been able to reacquaint ourselves with old passions. We are now reading more and actually spend more time talking. We listen to more of our favourite podcasts together, and are discovering new ones to listen to. We are actually getting to bed a decent hour and sleeping better as a result which directly impacts our moods the next day. Just because you can no longer do one thing doesnt mean you can’t have fun in other ways.

Obstacle #3 – We now need to be more mindful of what we do together, and as a family on our ‘rest’ days, in order for me to stay well and to maintain the strength in our family unit that we have worked so hard to achieve. At present long day trips out are a struggle for me and often it isn’t until the day that I know whether or not I am capable of going out on that long anticipated trip. This can lead to frustration and disappointment for everyone.

The opportunity – We no longer tell the girls when we are ‘thinking’ about doing things. This isn’t because we don’t want them to get excited, but because we don’t want them to be disappointed. Matt and I will often talk about what we could do at the weekend but this is dependant on how we are all feeling on the day, and we decide when the time comes. What is great about this is that the girls now feel less entitled to do things outside of the home for fun and more thankful. If we wake up and everyone is having a good feeling about the day we suddenly spring a surprise on them and their excitement is infectious. It also feels a little more spontaneous which adds to the excitement factor. Matt and I now have a better understanding and respect for each other and that despite plans, sometimes one or both parties may simply not feel like  doing what we have planned. This has also led to placing less pressure on each other to ‘perform’ as such, which leads to a better relationship. I would also say we now know each other better than ever.

Obstacle #4 – Household chores are more draining for me now, so I pretty much have to schedule them into my day instead squeezing them in when I have time. Sometimes, rest has to be prioritised over the hoovering and this can lead to a messy house, which then makes my brain feel cluttered.

The opportunity – With our new working hours I have been able to allocate a time of my day (god that sounds boring) where I can stay on top of the chores around the house. This is done in balance with rest time and taking time to do the things I enjoy. Routine is incredibly helpful in managing fibromyalgia, and I know that the time of the day I allocate is just enough to get all the little jobs done without rushing. As a result, particularly over this last week, the house is tidier and cleaner, but without the feeling that it has been hard work. I spend less time looking for things and more time with my family. I no longer stress about the house being messy because it simply isn’t that bad. I also don’t have to worry about when things are going to get done because I know they will get done, when the time is right.

It is possible to still lead a happy and fulfilling life with fibromyalgia, and I would say that the first place that changes have to be made is in the home. The home should be the place you feel safest, and most content, so it makes sense to get this right before you move onto anything else. If you safe space is a place where you can manage your fibromyalgia well, then you can begin to build the other areas of life around this, knowing that you can always come into this space when the going gets tough.

Please come and say hello to my on social media 🙂 and let my know what opportunities fibromyalgia has presented to you.

This post along with many more inspirational posts than mine can be found at The Fibro Blogger Directory

Toodle pip!

 

Recipes

Recipe – Gluten and Dairy Free Coconut Victoria Sponge

I love cake. I mean, I really love cake. But after going gluten and dairy free I lost my baking mojo. I had convinced myself that nothing would taste the same ever again and that I would only be disappointed. Boy I was wrong!

This Gluten and Dairy Free Coconut Victoria Sponge really helped me recover from my baking grief. It was easy to make, and represented everything I love in a cake. The sponge was light and rose well, it had lashings of buttercream, and it tasted oh so sweet.

Gluten and Dairy Free Coconut Victoria Sponge

So I just had to share it with you all on here. I hasten to add that although I have gone dairy free I have not gone egg free and opted to make this cake using eggs, but as this is a very wet mix already it can be easily veganised by using an egg replacer.

So here it is!

Gluten and Dairy Free Coconut Victoria Sponge

Ingredients – Serves 8 greedy cake lovers or 10 sensible people.

For the cake

  • 175g dairy free margarine – I used Pure Margarine
  • 175g golden caster sugar
  • 3 eggs (or the equivalent of egg replacer for a vegan cake)
  • 2 tbsp coconut cream
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 175g gluten free self raising flour
  • 1/4 tsp xanthan gum
  • 50g dessicated coconut

For the filling and topping

  • 300g icing sugar
  • 50g dairy free margarine from the fridge
  • 1.5 tbsp coconut cream
  • Raspberry jam

Method

  1. Pre heat the oven to gas 4/180 degrees/fan oven 160 degrees. Line the bases and grease the sides of 2 x 8inch sandwich tins.
  2. Cream the margarine and sugar together until light, pale and fluffy.
  3. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well, and scraping down the sides of the bowl when mixing.
  4. Beat in the coconut cream.
  5. Add the baking powder, flour, xanthan gum and desiccated coconut to the bowl and fold in very gently with a large metal spoon, working hard to maintain as much air in the mixture as possible.
  6. Divide the mixture between the two tins and bake for 25 minutes until light and golden. Test that the cake is done by gentle pressing the centre of the cake, it should spring back up nicely. Leave to cool for a few minutes in the tins and then gently turn out onto a cooling rack.
  7. While the cakes are cooling make the buttercream by placing the icing sugar, cold margarine and coconut cream in a bowl and beating with a whisk until light and fluffy. You may find that you icing is a little runny at first, but place it into the fridge for 30 minutes and it will firm up enough to not fall off your cake! If you find that your icing is too stiff then simply add a little more coconut cream, and if too runny, a little more icing sugar.
  8. Make sure your cakes have COMPLETELY cooled. When you are sure they are cooled, spread one half of the icing over one cake, and raspberry jam to your liking on the other cake. Sandwich the cakes together and top the cake with the remaining buttercream. If you are feeling fancy you can sprinkle some extra desiccated coconut on top of your cake too….!

Hopefully your cake will look a little like this. I quite like the icing running out the. middle!

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The finished product, look at all that cream 🙂

I hope you enjoyed this recipe! Please do let me know what you would like to see me try to bake and recipe share in the comments section below, and also what you think of the cake if you make it!

Hope to see you on social media, come and give me a high five when you are on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Toodle Pip!

Sleep Hygiene

The Fibromyalgia Sleep Chronicles #5 – Wakey Wakey Rise and Shine

Good evening and welcome back to this weeks instalment of the Fibromyalgia Sleep Chronicles. This week we will be looking at the benefits of a constant wake time, and how you should decide what that wake time should be.


The first active step I took in improving my sleep was to decide on what time I should get up every morning. Before making this decision both my sleep and wake times were all over the place and my body had pretty much forgotten how to sleep properly (it also forgot last night), and when you are dealing with fibromyalgia symptoms, sleep is key. Without even a hint of decent sleep, my days are full of pain, tiredness, brain fog and anxiety. With sleep, the ‘normal’ Sarah makes more of an appearance, which is the case on most days. When I have bad days, my worst of which usually follow a bad night in the sack, I’m pretty much walking through mud and thinking about going back to bed all day. My brain forgets how to connect with my mouth, and my pain drives me to distraction. OK when you are at home, absolutely not OK when you are at work.

So why choose a constant wake up time, and how do you decide what time it should be?

Our bodies love, and actually crave a constant wake up time. If you cast your mind back to when we spoke about circadian rhythms in this post, you will remember that our bodies need to find their rhythms and a constant wake up time is a good anchor point for getting your circadian hormones in sync. By waking and getting up into the daylight (see this post) at the same time every day (and yes that includes weekends) you are telling your body that it is time to get up and time to start your day. Over time your body will naturally begin to suppress your sleepy hormones while you sleep in preparation for your wake up time, which should mean that when you wake up you aren’t quite as groggy as you have been accustomed to, most likely because you have been woken up mid sleep cycle (you can find out more about sleep cycles here). Initially you will more than likely need an alarm to wake you up, but after time you will probably find that you will naturally wake up close to when your alarm is due to go off (although I would still set an alarm just in case!).

Without a constant waking time our bodies become confused, they don’t know when they should be sleeping and when they should be awake, and this is one of the best ways to lend you body a helping hand. Once you are getting up at the same time each day you should notice that you pretty much start to feel tired at the same time each day due to your body secreting all of the right hormones to send you the cues that you should start thinking about sleep. But how do you decide what time is the best time for you to get up?

Firstly, take a look at this post to find out what type of person you are. Are you a morning person or are you an evening person? You should try to factor this in to your wake up time where there is flexibility to, as it is probably not much good setting a time that is very early in the morning if you are more of an evening person. However, employment may dictate your wake up time in which case, short of looking for a new job that starts later, you may just need to suck it up. However, you may find that you become more of a morning person over time.

Secondly, you should take a look at an average week for your lifestyle, do you work? Do you have children that you need to get up an ready for school? The best advice is to pick the earliest possible time you need to be up and stick to it. This time should ideally be 90 minutes to 2 hours before you need to be at work if you do work, or before you have to be mentally on the ball for anything else. I’ll give you an example –

The first thing I have to do in the mornings is get my children up for school. They usually get up at around 7am. Knowing that there is no hope in hell of having a shower and fixing my mug once they are up (or it would be a massive rush which kind of goes against the grain of controlling fibromyalgia), I know that I need to get up before that point. I start work at 10am on weekdays and 8am on weekends. I have therefore made my wake up time 6.15am. On a weekday this gives me enough time to get myself up and accept the fact that morning has come (I am not a morning person) before my little larks are awake full of the joys of spring, and by the time they do I am usually over my morning sulk. On a weekend this is plenty of time to get myself up and out the door to make the journey to work, be there with a little time to spare and not feel stressed before I even get to work because I have been rushing.

Honestly, doing this has been one of the biggest things in turning my sleep around, with some frustrating exceptions. As I’ve always said, my sleep isn’t perfect but it is a million times better than it was before I started paying more attention to my sleep hygiene. Also, this is a nice gentle way of making a change without the use of medication which is important to me.

For those of you that are new to these posts I would encourage you to ready the first four posts before embarking on making this change –

The fibromyalgia sleep chronicles – Time to (try to) sleep

The Fibromyalgia Sleep Chronicles #2 – What is normal sleep?

The Fibromyalgia Sleep Chronicles #3 – The effect of blue light on sleep

The Fibromyalgia Sleep Chronicles #4 – I am not a morning person

Lastly I would like to add that this advice is not just aimed at fibromyalgia warriors, but anybody who make be struggling with sleep disturbances.

Came and say hello over on social media by using the links at the bottom of this page 🙂

This post along with many more inspirational posts than mine can be found at The Fibro Blogger Directory

Toodle Pip!

 

Naturopathic Nutrition

Fibromyalgia and Diet – Week 11

Hi guys!

So today I turned another year older but feel about ten years older than last year! Its been a lovely weekend and day spent with my favourite humans and I’m thankful for this birthday and all the greetings that come with it.

It been an OK week on the fibromyalgia front. My evenings have been a bit on the tired and painful side but I’m still sleeping relatively ok. Not waking up particularly refreshed in the mornings though. What I’m most thankful for is that my best cognitive hours are when I’m at work, and thats not to say I’m that rubbish for the rest of the time, but at least I am able to do a job I love, and to do it well enough.

Last Friday was Fibromyalgia Awareness Day, and what a day it was. So much activity on social media and lots of visits to the blog which is always rewarding when you spend time typing up these little nuggets of information for people 🙂 you can find the start of me new series of posts, Fibromyalgia and Me here.

It been a bit quiet on the cooking front, due juggling work and family commitments, as well as the boy starting a new job, so we’ve been going for quick and easy meals, with a bit of the comfort factor in them given the unseasonably cool weather. What I hope this shows however is that even without much effort you can still create tasty homemade food that meets your dietary needs. Heres the highlights!

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You probably all know by now my love for breakfast. It was a cloudy morning on this particular morning and the strawberries reminded me of sunshine 🙂 almond milk porridge with banana, strawberries, and chia seeds.
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This is an adapted version of my smoothie recipe here, I simply replaced the peanut butter with strawberries and raspberries for breakfast in a hurry.
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I refused to apologise on Instagram and I refuse to apologise here. Comfort food was craved so comfort food it was! Gluten free sausages with dairy free mash and beans.
Gluten and Dairy Free Spaghetti Bolognese
Last weeks featured recipe, spaghetti bolognese. Both gluten and dairy free, you can find the recipe here.
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Coconut Victoria sponge – Oh my, what a lovely cake this was. My first attempt at a gluten and dairy free sponge and what a lovely things it was. Still working on the dairy free frosting, but even though it started off runny it soon firmed up and still tasted amazing. Hoping to have the recipe for this up later in the week.

So thats it for this week. I hope you have all had a great week. As ever I would love it if you came and said hello over on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. I promise I’m friendly!

Toodle pip!

Fibromyalgia and Me

Fibromyalgia and Me – This is me

With fibromyalgia awareness day this week, tomorrow in fact, I’ve been trying my hardest to work out what to do away from my usual blog posts to raise more awareness. At present my blog is aimed at those who already suffer from fibromyalgia and some of the gentle, naturopathic things we can all try in an attempt to keep the fibromyalgia under control. Some of this information may be useful to others but it doesn’t really get under the skin of what fibromyalgia can do to a person. I realised today that apart from my initial posts around diagnosis, see here and here I haven’t really done too much about how fibromyalgia affects me, as a wife, mother, worker, friend, keen socialiser, and human being.

So I thought I would start a series of posts about how fibromyalgia has affected my life in order to raise awareness, paying particular attention to the different aspects of life that fibromyalgia can invade as part of its wicked plan to knock us warriors off our feet. My aim with this series of posts is not to simply talk about myself, as although I am ready to share openly when people ask I’m not one to just rabble on about myself all the time, but to raise awareness into just how crippling and down right annoying fibromyalgia can be. This invisible illness is so unpredictable, and I don’t think anyone can ever have it truly under control but it can be managed. I would so love the world to understand, empathise, and be aware of just what figromyalgia is. Over time I am also hoping to use this space to share your stories, and highlight the truly evolving nature that fibromyalgia has for each individual affecting us all so differently. We also manage things very differently and although I am treating mine naturopathically there are warriors out there who have to use medication and have other chronic illnesses alongside fibromyalgia.

The aspects of my life I am hoping to cover include, but not limited to, family life, friendship, mental health, exercise, and work. For this week I thought I would share a little more about the me before and after fibromyalgia made an appearance and in the following weeks I’ll get more into the nitty gritty of it all, as well as talking about some things that help me to manage these aspects of my life as a fibro warrior. Obviously I can’t write about everything but I will write about the things that I think make me who I am. So here goes…….

My name is Sarah and I was born in Portsmouth, UK, in 1983. I have been blessed to have two brothers, Paul and Graham, and 4 step siblings through parents remarrying. I grew up in a working class background, and although I won’t dwell on it my childhood wasn’t the most stable (only through fault of one person who doesn’t deserve to be named let alone make an appearance in this positive space). I am still thankful for many things from that time of my life. I went to a state school and had a happy school life with friends who I am still in contact with today.

img_1582At 18 I met my husband and at 21 spread my wings and moved to London. I had just recently qualified as a midwife and was desperate to move to an exciting new place and to escape the hum drum of white working class life. I wanted to be surrounded by equality, acceptance and cultural differences. I began working at a marvellous busy central London Hospital and carried out many midwifery roles there. I am still part of this amazing team today in a Midwifery Sister position with incredible colleagues and surrounded by amazing women going through a life changing journey every day.

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At 22 I married my beau, and we have been married for 11 and 1/2 happy years. After a long battle with IVF we found ourselves expecting twins, Edith and Emily, who were born in 2010. They make me proud (and frustrate me) every day.

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In 2012, we sadly lost my younger brother to a chronic life limiting condition at the age of 19. I can hand on heart say that this is the most difficult experience I have ever had to journey through. Bereavement is exhausting.

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I am a keen runner and have completed more races than I care to remember, along with my husband, and these races include four London Marathons. My last marathon was in April 2016 and my last race in June 2016.

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I love to bake, cook, sew, knit, garden, read, walk, eat, socialise and generally be out in the daylight.

In 2016 I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia after months of being unwell. Many people take years to be diagnosed but I am forever thankful to the support of my hospital colleagues without which I wouldn’t have been seen and assessed super quickly so that I could grow and move ahead with my life. Second to losing my brother, this is the most difficult journey I have ever had to experience, as prior to this I had always been healthy with no complaints except the odd niggle.

Fast forward to today. I still love to do all of the things above, but cannot do them as often as I want, if at all. I still work as a midwife but my days have to be very prescriptive and protected from risk to allow me to continue this work. I am obviously still a mother, wife, and friend, but find my tolerance levels lowered and I’m generally more antisocial, not through choice but through necessity. I do my best to save my grumpiness for close family and myself. I’m good at smiling. 

Today I have a desire to share more than I have ever shared in my life. I want to learn. I want to love. And I want to live. I want to share this journey with you all, as the things I have learnt throughout this journey have almost served as an awakeneing. Anybody can benefit from what I have learnt and am still learning, whether you have a chronic ill was or not. I want to reach out to the chronic illness community and get to know you all. I am more content today than I have ever been in my life, and that doesn’t mean that each day isn’t a struggle, believe me it is, but with the right mindset and support I am able to manage this to the best of my abilities. Am I well? No. Will I ever get well? Probably not. Am I happy? Most definitely. 

So this is me. Please pop along and say hello either in the comments section below, on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. I would love to get to know you and for us to go through this journey together, to learn from each other and to find peace and happiness with the hand we have been dealt in life.

This post can also be found along with many other inspiring blog posts on Fibro Bloggers Directory.

Recipes

Recipe – Gluten and Dairy Free Classic Spaghetti Bolognese

As you may have guessed by now, I’m a simple home cooking kind of mother and wife. I enjoy cooking a good recipe that all of the family can enjoy, regardless of my gluten and dairy intolerances. The food I cook needs to have minimal prep time and either be cooked quickly or be able to be left to cook while I get on with other things. This is also important in getting the balance right between time doing active tasks and resting in order to manage my fibromyalgia. I’m not able to spend all my time in the kitchen cooking up marvellous culinary creations.

That being said, even if it is ready quickly or slow cooked my food does have to be tasty. A popular meal in our house is spaghetti bolognese and with a good quality gluten free pasta we can all enjoy this classic dish. The good thing with this recipe is that it can be easily doubled and made ahead of time to be reheated if you are cooking for a crowd. I personally like to cook a little too much so that we can have leftovers another day. As ever I recommend using whole and organic ingredients but if you can’t manage that at least get free range, organic beef.

Gluten and Dairy Free Spaghetti Bolognese

Classic Gluten and Dairy Free Spaghetti Bolognese

Ingredients – Serves 4 – 6

  • 500g good quality gluten free spaghetti
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, finely grated
  • 3 tablespoons good quality olive oil
  • 500g free range organic minced beef
  • A generous knob of dairy free margarine
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed or finely chopped
  • 600ml tomato passata
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 600ml vegetable or chicken stock
  • Sea salt and black pepper

Method

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pan on a high heat, I use a stock pot as is plenty big enough. Add the minced beef, breaking up with a wooden spoon if needed. Leave to cook for a few minutes before turning, and don’t worry if a few bits get caught on the bottom of the pan, this all adds to the taste. Turn the beef over and repeat until good and brown all over (not just beige), most of the oil should have been reabsorbed by this point.
  2. Removed the beef from the pan using a slotted spoon and set aside. Melt the dairy free margarine in the same pan, scraping any bits of meat that have got stuck off the bottom, and turn the heat to low. Add the carrots and onion, cover with a lid and sweat for about 10 minutes until really softened and the onions are translucent.
  3. Add the garlic to the pan and cook, covered with the lid, for another couple of minutes.
  4. Add the passata and bay leaves and stir well until combined. Returned the meat to the pan and add the stock. Season well, stir again, and cover with the lid. Simmer on a low heat for at least an hour, preferably two hours if you have time, stirring occasionally. The bolognese will be ready when the sauce has thickened and is no longer ‘watery’. The pictures will give you a good idea of how it should look. When it has cooked give it a quick taste to check it is seasoned to your liking.
  5. When you think the sauce is pretty much ready you can cook your pasta as per pack instructions.
  6. Drain the pasta once cooked and divide amongst the plates. Pile the ragu sauce on top and garnish with some parsley if you are feeling fancy. For those who are not dairy intolerant grate some parmesan over the top.

Gluten and Dairy Free Spaghetti BologneseIMG_1404

Such an easy dish to make and I promise, the 1-2 hours of simmering really is worth it. It gives it a taste you will never get from a jar of pasta sauce. If you give this recipe a go please to let me know what you think in the comments section below.

Hope you all have a great evening and I’ll see you very soon, perhaps even on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.

Toodle Pip!

 

Sleep Hygiene

The Fibromyalgia Sleep Chronicles #4 – I am not a morning person

There are two types of people, those who wake up in the morning full of the joys of spring and ready to face their day, but ask them to do anything past 6pm and you’ll be told where to go. Then there are those who HATE mornings, take two hours to get going but once they get past lunchtime they achieve more than a lot of people can in a whole day, manage to go out after work, crawl into bed very late at night and still get enough sleep.


It doesn’t matter how much sleep you get, you are either a morning person or you aren’t. I AM NOT A MORNING PERSON. Not in the slightest, never have been, likely never will be, and I will always hate the alarm clock, but why does it even matter? Until I read this book, I wasn’t even sure.

It useful, but not necessarily crucial, to know what type of person you are. Are you a Lark or an Owl? Knowing which group of people you fall into (your chronotype) can help you in planning your days, your sleep routine and help you to be more productive than you have ever been.

Modern society often means that we are on the go pretty much from the time our alarms go off to the time we flop into our beds, but imagine how great you would feel about yourself if you worked in tune with you body and as a result become more productive and achieved more in less time? How many times have you sat at your computer staring blankly at the screen, or tried to exercise and felt that you could have done better but you either couldn’t concentrate or felt too tired? My bet is too many.

If you are a lark (and I will repeat, this is not me), then you should be focusing on the tasks that require that little more effort in the morning and early afternoon and saving those mundane easier tasks for later in the day. For example, if you work in an job that requires you to give presentations, make important decisions, or motivating others, then where you can you could schedule these tasks for the mornings, and chances are you will keep your colleagues more interested as they will also most likely be more receptive at this time. Or if you are somebody who has a choice in shift pattern you could try and work shifts that are earlier in the day rather than shifts that finish at midnight. You will also most likely benefit from going for an early morning workout before you go to work.

Larks also need to make peace with the fact that they probably won’t enjoy late evening social events or parties as much as they enjoy an early evening tipple or going home and relaxing in a bath with a good book. It doesn’t make you anti social, or boring, it makes you human. Larks usually need to go to bed earlier to be getting enough sleep (as they are awake earlier), and so if you are a morning person consider what time you are going to bed. It’s a simple equation of the earlier you get up, the earlier you will probably need to go to sleep if you are going to remain healthy of both body and mind.

I’m sure no explanation is needed for if you are an owl….. Owls typically find it difficult to wake up full of the joys of spring in the morning and will often be grumpy when they do get up. This may go on for a couple of hours. They will more than likely need an alarm to wake them up. This is most definitely me, and has become more pronounced since having Fibromyalgia. As an owl it makes sense to do things opposite to a lark where my life allows. It also makes sense for me to be awake sometime before an important appointment and even for a little while before I am responsible for the little larks in my life. My morning generally goes better if I am awake and have had a drink about half an hour before my children get up. That way the worst of the grogginess and grumpiness has passed, and I’m able to be a better mother to them without the need to snap and nag them quite so much. Daylight is also a very useful tool for me in starting my day (see my post on the effect of blue light here for more information)

I’ve been lucky enough to negotiate a later start time at work, and as result by the time I get there I am pretty much ready to hit the ground running (other symptoms permitting of course!). Also by being able to get up at 6.30am instead of 4.45am I am able to go to bed later and make more of my evening, fitting in exercise and blog writing at this time when I am more likely to do a better job. By doing the important tasks in my life later in the day rather than first thing in the morning, I generally get more done in my time at work (a huge benefit to my employer) and with my spare time (a huge benefit to me and my family). This has been great for my mood and levels of self esteem, which are equally as important as physical health. Without these wonderful feelings my fibromyalgia would be much more difficult to manage.

Of course, there will be some of you who don’t fit into these two categories, you’ll fall somewhere in between, whereby you can pretty much function well all day long and get up with no problem for your day. You lucky lucky people…..

If you are still unsure what bird you are then take this questionnaire and find out!

We may not all be in a position to start work when we know we are going to be at our best. Modern society isn’t yet, nor likely in the near future, able to accommodate everyones individual body clocks, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t manipulate your day to suit you most days. It takes a bit of practice, and a bit of planning, but once your boss sees the benefit of this manipulation they will be more than happy to let you continue.

So what has been the point of learning all of this. Well I have learnt that by embracing my body clock, I am able to make small changes for large gains. I feel better about what I am achieving with my day and this in turn reduces my stress and anxiety levels, which helps me to sleep better. I am be able to exercise more effectively, which again helps me sleep. I am be able to work out just when the right time is for me to go to bed which …….. well you can tell where I am going with this. I am also able to use this approach when managing my fibromyalgia symptoms, which are typically worse first thing in the morning and last thing at night (with the exception of flares).

Sleeping well is as much about what we do with our days as what we do under the duvet. So take a step back and look at your day. Be kind to yourself. Love yourself. Larks and Owls are both beautiful birds, embrace your own unique beauty, preen those feathers and fly.

So which chronotype are you? What do you do to get more out of your day or what changes could you make? Let me know in the comments section.

For more ways to treat and embrace your fibromyalgia or chronic illness, the flow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

This post along with many other inspiring fibro blog posts can be found on the Fibro Bloggers Directory.

Toodle Pip!