Health…and how I’m working to keep it

13 Feb

I have been more healthy this winter, have had more energy and have felt better, than I have in years.  I have had many people ask me what I’ve been doing and how I’ve done it.
Allow me to start w/a little background info…my immune system is terrible.  Always has been.  As a child, I had innumerable ear infections, burst ear drums, bouts with strep throat, stomach viruses, etc.  If someone across the room from me coughs or sneezes, I’m sick.   When I was 17, I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which was later titled as Total Adrenal Failure.  This meant that I had no reserves to battle illness, provide energy, etc.  I was tired all the time, didn’t sleep well, had a hard time getting up in the mornings and constantly battling illness.  For me, being sick didn’t just mean a cough or a cold.  It meant sick.  Often times a simple cold would turn into bronchitis, or even pneumonia.  I dealt (and still deal)  with people thinking I was a hypochondriac, lazy, and starving for attention.  Which is comical to me, b/c it’s not like it’s an enjoyable way to get attention.  Like, yeah, let me lay around and “pretend” to be tired and sick all the time.  Let me feel like a crappy mom and wife b/c I “can’t” get up early in the morning and sometimes have to rest.  Let me endure people thinking poorly of me, just so I don’t have to do anything and can get some attention.  Cuz that’s fun.

I have tried everything, from conventional to un-conventional ways of healing.  Doctors, to chiropractors, to naturopaths.  Vitamins, to supplements, to hormones, to nasty protein drinks.  Here’s what has worked for me.
*Note: I am in no way stating this as medical advice, or suggesting that you forego what your medical doctor has prescribed.  I am merely sharing my journey.

*Water: I have always been susceptible to dehydration; therefore, I drink.  A lot.  Of water, that is.  And when I say a lot, I mean a lot.  If I have a beverage other than water, say coffee or iced tea, I drink a glass of water before I have anything else. I drink probably at least 80-100 oz/day.   I keep a cup next to my bed and generally drink 1/2 to a full glass overnight.  Yes, sometimes this means I have to get up and go to the bathroom, but I generally am up anyway, and my body has gotten used to the water consumption, so it’s really not that big of a deal.  Which leads me to my next point….

*Sleep:I have long struggled with sleep.  I am a very light sleeper, which makes life interesting, when I sleep next to a very hard sleeper, who does everything imaginable in his sleep. 🙂  Because of the extensive damage to my adrenal glands, my body does not sufficiently produce/utilize cortisol or melatonin.  I am awake numerous times during the night, and if I have to get up, I’m up.  Which means, once I’m fully awake, from, say, having to get up with my son who’s had a night terror, I’m totally awake.  It will take me a good 1/2 hr to a full hour to get back to sleep.  I truly cannot remember the last time I woke up feeling totally rested and refreshed.  It just doesn’t happen for me.  I don’t like to take sleep aids, as they leave me feeling “hung over” the next morning, and make it even harder to get out of bed.  I have found that melatonin works, giving me some good sleep for about 3hrs, but I don’t like to take it on a consistent basis.  I also have never been able to stay up late, without really paying for it in the next day or two.  If I’m up past 11pm, I either wind up sick, or completely drained for -3 days.  Just the way my body works.  All that said, I have come to this conclusion: I have to be adamant about going to bed and getting up at the same time.  Every day.  In other words, I have a bedtime.  And a get-up time.  Also, with the changes I have made, I generally am sleeping  a lot better.

Exercise: About 2 yrs. ago, I decided it was time to make a change.  I needed to lose some weight, and get back in shape.  Through watching calories, eating better and exercise, I was able to drop almost 30 lbs., and it is a practice that I continue even at my goal weight.  I just feel better when I work out.  Sometimes it takes quite a bit of motivation to do it on a daily basis, but I feel so much better when I do.  I try to vary my workouts so that I don’t get bored.  Right now, I am loving the beautiful weather and am trying to get outside for some power walks as often as possible.  I run on the treadmill when it’s not nice outside, and my other absolute favorite is Pilates.  I’ve also done Wii Fit, dance workouts, Taebo, etc.  I alternate between cardio/aerobic and pilates, working out, generally, 5 days/wk.

Healthy Eating: This is one I’ve shared many times in my previous posts, but I can’t emphasize it enough.  It is probably the single best contributor to my overall health.  I would say that we ate pretty well in the first place, often cooking from scratch, avoiding overly processed foods, etc.  But I still had a sugar/white flour fetish, indulged in some packaged foods, sodas, and desserts.  Now, I focus on whole, natural, un-processed foods.  I make and drink my own kefir and kombucha, which have many wonderful health benefits and make drastic changes in my energy levels.  I talked about kefir about here: research-and-reality-part-1
I am trying to avoid any refined flours or sugars, admitting that I still “splurge” every now and again.  Let me say, though, that when I do decide to give in, I can tell a real difference in my energy levels.  Sugar is one of the main culprits for attacking the immune system, and you can read more about that, here: sugar-honey-honey.  Lots of fresh fruits, lots of veggies, and good proteins.  Makes a world of difference.

Natural remedies: Late this fall, my dear friend and I juiced some elderberries.  I, in turn, made some homemade elderberry syrup, and I swear by this stuff.  When I start feeling run down or someone around me is sick, I take 1-3T/day as a preventative measure.  When you are feeling ill, you can bump it up to 1T/hr.  As an added benefit, it is simple to make, tastes delicious, and my son has been known to request some just b/c he likes it.  Here’s what I do:
*Bring 2-3 C elderberry juice to a boil, and let it simmer until reduced by half.  Stir in a cinnamon stick, some ginger and cayenne (to your own liking) and simmer a bit longer.  Stir in 1 C honey, until dissolved.  That’s it.  Should be the consistency of “runny” syrup.  Keep it in the fridge.  If you can’t get the juice and want to make it, there are many places online that you can order the dried berries from, and lots of recipes for doing it that way.  Juicing your own and doing it this way, though, is much more economical.*
~I also take at least 1,000mg of vitamin C a day, bumping that up as well, if I start to feel run down or someone else in the family is sick.  I also take Echinacea as a preventative measure, increasing as needed if someone in the family is ill.
~I used to struggle a lot with headaches, and was taking Tylenol probably a few days/wk.  This increased this Fall, when I suffered a fairly severe concussion (which is another story in and of itself).  I then came to the knowledge that I was having a headache for a reason, and the Tylenol only covers up that reason, dulling the pain, but not solving the issue.  So, now when I have a headache, I stop and try to reason why.  Nine times out of ten, it’s because I haven’t had enough water.  I drink a glass or two, and the headache is gone.  Genius.  I’ve also found that I have a lot fewer headaches now in the first place, when I am careful of how I eat.

So that’s pretty much it, in a nutshell.  If any of you have any questions, I’d love to talk w/you.  Drop me a note! 🙂

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2 responses to “Health…and how I’m working to keep it

  1. MommaSherwood Suzanne Sherwood

    February 14, 2012 at 9:52 am

    You & your blog are a blessings to me! Thanks!


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