steps leading to a health breakthrough

I promised in this post that I wouldn’t bore you with a bunch of back story.

I’m going to have to bore you with a little bit here, or this post (and my excitement) won’t make much sense.

Apologies.

For the female population, every 28 days or so an event occurs which (depending on the female) ranges from annoying inconvenience to utter torture and misery. We’re all adults here, so no biology lesson needed, but if the topic does make you squeamish or uncomfortable you have permission to bail now.

I can’t say I’ve ever been blessed with light, easy periods. But I can pinpoint the change from what was normal for me to what couldn’t be considered “normal” for anyone. It happened right after giving birth to my second child. My periods descended into something resembling a personal hell (of course she’s worth it).

Migraines that lasted for days. Flow so heavy I couldn’t stand up (I joked that it was biblical, like in Genesis 31 when Rachel told Laban that she couldn’t stand before him). Massive clots. And while my “before” periods lasted for five days, almost like clockwork, these lasted for anywhere from seven days to two weeks (or longer).

You can see where all this might interfere with my ability to live my life.

A couple of years ago, I started using a natural progesterone cream. Forget being worth its weight in gold–this stuff is diamonds or platinum or something. Not only did it help relieve my postpartum depression, it lessened the agony of menstruation. I also started using an evening primrose oil supplement and drinking a daily cup of red raspberry leaf tea (that stuff is nasty, but it works!). And I added this essential oil blend. Now I only had one or two days of heavy, I-can’t-get-off-the-couch flow. The total duration also went down to seven or eight days instead of ten or more.

Now for the good news: I am finishing up a period now. I’ve had the headache like always. I’ve had some cramping. BUT. No clots. No massively heavy flow–not even for a day or two.

I’m amazed. And relieved. And excited. And I’ve been trying to figure out what finally flipped that last switch.

I think I’ve got it. I did recently add Vitamin D, Coenzyme Q10,  and a Vitamin B complex to my supplement routine, but I’m not sure that any of those would have much effect on my menstrual cycle. Maybe they did though. And I’m certain the water and yoga was beneficial. But I was also drinking green smoothies the first couple of days of my period this time. I think that the high-octane nutrition must have played an important part. It certainly couldn’t hurt, right?

I think I have my next health goal, don’t you? Clearly I need more green smoothies in my life! 🙂

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weekend web love

As promised, here are some tidbits from around the web that I found interesting or useful. 🙂

Are You Sitting Down? Why You Shouldn’t Be  No one’s surprised that we sit too much in our culture. Between computer work and reading and watching TV, we spend a whole lot of time on our backsides. But I found the tales of lowered tables and sitting on the floor more often for meals fascinating. True confession: I make it about five minutes on the floor before my legs start falling asleep. I’m a wimp in that department. Maybe some of the ideas in this blog post would help with that. If nothing else, picnics on the living room floor would make for some fun family time!

Top 10 Migraine Triggers, According to Study   I have shared this on Facebook, so friends and family reading this may have already seen it there. But I’m hurting right now because of monthly hormones (trigger #5 on this list), so it’s on my mind again. Migraine resources often point to food triggers, but those don’t make an appearance on this list. A fellow migraineur and I decided that most of us who suffer figure out our food triggers pretty quickly–and avoid them. Most of the triggers on this list are ones you can’t control (weather changes, for example). They’re what’s left after you’ve eliminated all of the avoidable triggers.

Homemade Pumpkin Spice Creamer.  I drink my coffee black. No cream, no sweetener–just pure liquid love. But this looks incredibly yummy. A lovely treat.

Is Yoga Exercise Beneficial During Menopause?  I’m not actually experiencing menopause, but my hormones are on the crazy and out-of-whack end of the spectrum, so I still found this encouraging.

Yoga Helps War Veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder  I’m for anything to help our vets.

I may not have this many links every week, but hopefully there’s something here for everyone!

keep on keepin’ on

Fall seven times; get up eight.

–Chinese proverb

I am apparently not a weekend warrior. I managed yoga on Sunday but not Saturday. Water consumption dropped to pre-experiment levels both days.

Monday and Tuesday weren’t much better.

But I’m back on track with both now. I’m striving for consistency rather than perfection, and I firmly believe that simply getting back up and carrying on after a stumble is far more important for long-term success than striving to never fall at all (an unrealistic option, to say the least). There will be setbacks. We need to deal with them and keep going.

 So here’s to getting back up each time. As long as we’re doing that, we’re still making progress and moving forward. Eventually we’ll reach the goal.

P.S. I’m going to start a new “feature” here called Weekend Web Links or something similar (title is still a work in progress. I have a couple of days). The idea is to post on Saturday articles or blog posts I’ve found of interest during the week. Some may be inspiring. Some may be informative. Some may be confrontational. I may not agree with everything I share. I like things that make me think, even I don’t end up agreeing.

I’m looking forward to it. Maybe something will catch your eye and start some conversations.

good enough is good enough

Yesterday was a bit crazy. My younger daughter was sick, so off to the doctor I went with her and our toddler-aged baby-sitting charge. As I suspected, it was an ear infection. Thankfully, my husband made the pharmacy trip for the medicine (I discovered a long time ago that waiting at the pharmacy for a prescription to be filled with a child who feels miserable is to be avoided whenever possible. It doesn’t matter that it’s more convenient to stop on the way home from the doctor or that you’ll get the medicine more quickly that way. It’s not worth it).

Then we had a visit with my parents scheduled. Little Miss wanted to go, ear infections aren’t really contagious (although the preceding cold, sinus infection, or upper respiratory infection obviously are–but we’d ALL had that!), and she can rest as well at her grandparents’ as she can at home. So off we went.

So with a day that was definitely outside the realm of normal, how did I do?

I got my eight cups of water in. And I did one yoga pose.

Yeah, I know. One.

Not a whole practice. Just one.

I’m okay with it.

See, I’m after consistency right now more than perfection. I did something, and that’s better than doing nothing.It still helps with building the habit.

Small steps in the right direction are okay because you’re still moving forward. And sometimes good enough is good enough.

sequencing yoga poses

Yeah, I got bored using the same format for the title each time. Time to mix it up!

I have a few yoga DVDs, and I do like them. But real life with kids and school and obligations means that sometimes finding time to pop in a DVD is hard. And I still want to get a practice of some sort in.

Some people have enough yoga knowledge to come up with their own sequence of poses. I am not one of those people. I need some help!

So I’d like to introduce you to my favorite yoga book.

yoga to the rescue cover

Doesn’t it look fun? It makes me smile–and want to do yoga. (My girls love it too.)

The book is divided into categories: Sexy, Calm, Energy, Sanity, Cleanse, and a special section for the ladies called Ragtime. If you want poses that will strengthen and tone you, turn to the Sexy section. If you want a pick-me-up, try the Energy poses. If it’s “that time of the month,” the Ragtime segment is your friend.

The beginning of each section gives ideas for sequencing. Yesterday I did a sequence from “Calm.” Today I tried one of the practices from the “Energy” portion (I got a lot done today too!).

The author is fun and quirky. Here are a couple of sample pages:

inside book pic  2 inside book pic

Like I said, it makes me smile.

The directions are pretty clear and concise. It’s not as easy to do new poses from this as it would be a video or a live class, of course, but I really do love it and think it’s a great resource.

experiment 1, day 3

Owwwww….

It’s going well so far. I did 20 minutes of yoga on both days 1 and 2. I had eight cups of water the first day and seven cups yesterday.

I woke up with sore muscles this morning. Who says yoga isn’t a workout?

A hot shower helped some, and I’ll be sure to do some relaxing stretches during my yoga time today. I’m also going to see if drinking a bit more water helps (although honestly, I’m bad at drinking water–not sure how well I’ll do with that. Getting to seven or eight cups is huge. But I did have 2 cups this morning before the coffee instead of just one, so that’s a start, right? The yoga does seem to help with craving water more).

On a funny side note: I teach a weekly Latin class to homeschooled high schoolers on Tuesdays. Yesterday was a test day, so I had some down time while they were taking their tests. I pulled out my iPod to find a book to read.

I found one I didn’t even remember I had–a sort of yoga devotional for Christians! It was a short, easy read (I finished it before the students finished their tests). It gave some ideas for incorporating meditation on Scripture or on certain attributes of God during your yoga practice. I tend to just do the stretches and sequences, but it’s an interesting idea I might try.

the first experiment, day 1

So I wrote a post giving lots of back story–the health issues I have that I’m trying to address, the history of those, what I’ve done so far, etc.

I deleted it. You’re welcome.

You don’t care about a bunch of history. And I’d rather just start moving forward from here than spend a whole lot of time explaining (and dwelling on) the past.

So let’s just begin in media res, shall we?

Supposedly it takes 21 days to make a habit. And trying to form too many habits at once doesn’t tend to work all that well (at least not for me). So I’m just going to pick one or two habits to work on for three weeks. Then another. And another. It will take awhile, but hopefully they’ll “stick” that way.

As the tagline suggests, some habits will be for my physical health, some for spiritual, and some for emotional/mental health.

The first two habits I’m tackling are drinking water and doing daily yoga. I’m pleased to report that on this first day I’ve already done Sara Ivanhoe’s “Daily Dozen” poses from Basic Yoga for Dummies. And although it’s only about 9:30 a.m. as I write this, I’ve already drunk three cups of water. Of course, the first day is the easiest–all that just-starting-out excitement. We’ll see how it’s going around Day 11 or Day 17.

Why did I pick physical habits to start with? Why not something spiritual? After all, I’m a Christian. I believe that we have a spirit, soul, and a body. And the spirit and soul are what’s eternal. Certainly spiritual health is more important than physical health in the grand scheme of things, so why not begin there?

Well, the reality is that right now we are living in earthly bodies. And while those bodies may not last forever, it’s pretty hard to focus on much of anything else when one’s body feels pretty crappy much of the time in the here and now. I’m not ignoring spiritual or mental health at the moment (some of my current habits for those areas would fall into that pesky back story category), and later habits will address those areas as well. But for now, I’m starting with the physical. And I do believe that will help the mental and spiritual in the long run.

What do you think? Would you rather address spiritual and emotional health before physical? Does order matter to you?

we’ll start at the very beginning…

I can’t remember when I got the book, or where, or even why. I do know it was prior to having children. So at a minimum, it was ten years ago. I’d wager eleven or twelve though.

The book was called New Choices in Natural Healing: Over 1,800 of the Best Self-Help Remedies from the World of Alternative Medicine. And I won’t lie; I found some of the suggestions just plain weird. But I was new to this whole idea of natural remedies, so I read it all anyway.

The first part of the book explained various schools of thought in alternative medicine (Ayuveda, herbs, reflexology, etc.). The second part listed dozens of conditions and gave therapies to try from several of the different branches of natural medicine.

Looking back, I must have bought the book hoping it would help my migraines. I don’t recall anything in it making too much of a difference there. I did successfully use its suggestions for other, more minor ailments over the years, and I still pick it up to thumb through once in a while.

Interestingly, some of the info in the book that didn’t register or seem worth trying way back then has sneaked its way into my regular routines. I’ve discovered a love of yoga, even though I skipped those sections back when I first read it. The migraine section mentioned magnesium, and that made a tremendous difference when I finally started taking it daily. The aromatherapy stuff seemed silly to me at the time, but I now use a variety of essential oils (including a headache blend my sister-in-law found).

Sometimes information just comes along at the wrong time, and we’re not receptive to it until later.

I think I might just reread this book again. I might find some formerly “weird” parts that aren’t so out there anymore.

Are there any areas of health where you’ve changed your mind? Or at least opened your mind to a remedy that just seemed like nonsense when you first encountered it?

learning as I go

The blogosphere is a busy place. No matter the topic, someone out there is blogging about it. Niches are dominated by experts who’ve built their platforms by sharing their knowledge. And we all clamor for more and more of their advice and insight.

I am not an expert. Apologies if you thought I might be.

What I am is a student. I don’t attend school, but I’m always learning. I read books, blogs, articles. I attend webinars. I ask questions. I consider what might make sense for me and my circumstances. And I try things out.

Through all this, I’ve discovered some things that have made profound impact on my health. I’ve come a long way in the last couple of years. But I still have things to learn and a ways to go before I call myself “healthy.”

This space gives me a chance to chronicle what works–and what doesn’t. It keeps me accountable (I plan to post whether I’ve followed through on a particular thing or not. But having to post regardless makes it more likely that I will follow through).

And, assuming anyone actually ends up reading this, I look forward to having others join the conversation–sharing what works and doesn’t for them and their situations. I figure all we non-experts can learn a lot from each other.

So…if anyone does happen to be reading and feel like joining the conversation, who are some of your favorite experts on the web?