The Yoga Verdict

About a month ago, in “The Plan, update #4”, I made a big deal about wanting to change my workout routine and giving yoga a try. I’m rather ashamed to admit it, but after publishing that post, I kind of ignored it. Ok, I seriously ignored it. The DVD arrived, I popped it in the player and bored myself to tears in about 5 minutes. So, I turned it off and didn’t give it a second glance until today. I could take the easy way out, say that the DVD was just too boring for me to suffer through and that it was a waste of money, but that’s not true. Yes, I was bored by the slow pace of the exercises, but that’s because at the time, I was looking for something more vigorous. I moved onto Jillian Michaels’ Thirty Day Shred and found it infinitely more satisfying.

The problem is, being in the middle of a nasty fibro flare makes Jillian considerably more difficult. I’m still trying to stick to my routine, but I’m finding it harder and harder to recover. When I woke up this morning, I was so stiff I could barely move. I started having flashbacks to The Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy and the scarecrow meet the tin man… If I had thought that spraying myself with WD-40 would have helped, I’d have done it in a heartbeat. Which brings me back to the previously discarded yoga DVD.

One of the most important things that I have learned since starting my get healthy plan is that once I get moving, I feel better. My mood improves and the pain doesn’t seem as a bad. The hard part, of course, is getting myself to move in the first place. Let’s be serious here, when we’re in pain, the last thing we want to do is move. Unless of course that movement results in a comfy pillow and some chocolate. Thankfully, I have a new carrot dangling in front of my face: a little bit of movement = guaranteed relief. With that in mind, I finished my morning cup of tea (green tea!) and faced Ms. Barbara Benagh once again.

I started out with her 20 minute Sun Salutations routine, and let me say right now, this time it was not boring. The slow, gentle pace was exactly what my muscles needed. By the end of the routine, I was feeling energized and <gasp!> limber. It actually took effort not to start squealing like a four-year old who’s just been let loose in Candyland. No, I’m not exaggerating. 🙂 As a matter of fact, I felt so awesome that I decided to try a second twenty minute routine, Strength & Balance. Both routines challenged my strength, flexibility and endurance, but gently. I didn’t feel rushed and throughout the routines, the instructor offers helpful (non patronizing!) advice on how to modify the poses if you need to.

At this point, I feel positively amazing. Part of that is because I’m just proud of myself for doing it and even more proud that I was able to follow both routines the whole way through, something I wouldn’t have been able to do a few months ago. The cherry on top is that I physically feel better; my muscles are limber again and while they are still a bit sore, it’s at a much more manageable level.

Of course, as with any new exercise, the real test is still to come: how will I feel tomorrow and will I be able to get the same results consistently? I certainly hope so, but I’ll keep updating as I go along.

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Earl Grey, hot.

Yep, that’s a Star Trek reference and no, I’m not a Trekkie. It just happens that my parents watched a lot of Star Trek when I was a child and it seems to have affected my brain. As a kid, I’d always wondered what “Earl Grey, hot” actually was. A strange thing to fixate on, I know, but my parents mostly drank coffee. Growing up in the South, the only kind of tea I was familiar with was “sweet tea”, so I was curious about the drink Captain Picard was so very fond of. Once I actually tasted it, I was hooked; I’ve been exploring teas ever since.

My tea cabinet, no kidding.

My tea cabinet, no kidding.

Why am I telling you all of this? Simple: because I loved tea before anyone called it a “super food”. I am not one of those people who will go out and buy something just because it’s suddenly become popular and in reality, calling something a “super food” is probably the most effective way to make sure I’ll never try it. I know that tea (especially green tea) has been getting a lot of attention lately for its many seemingly miraculous qualities. “According to research”, it can help prevent cancer and other diseases, lift your mood, help with weight loss, and even make you immune to the Zombie Virus. Ok, I may have made up that last one, but the rest are said to be true.

However, I’m not here to report on what everyone else is saying. I’m only telling you what I have personally found, and in my experience, drinking a hot cup of tea is a great (and tasty!) way to alleviate some of symptoms of fibromyalgia.

I did not scour the web for information on which teas to drink and then try them. I simply enjoy drinking tea and love to try different varieties, purely for the pleasure of it. It just so happens that while exploring the many different possibilities, I discovered that there are real, tangible benefits to some of them. I truly wish that I could tell you I’ve found a miracle tea that makes all of the pain and random symptoms of fibro go away, but if it’s out there, I haven’t found it. What I have found is that certain teas seem to make some of the symptoms more bearable.

One of my favorite “go to” teas is the Sleepytime blend by Celestial Seasonings. Seriously, this stuff does wonders for me; it’s the only thing besides toilet paper that I make sure to never run out of. I buy another box when I get down to the last four tea bags in the old box. If the zombie apocalypse happens, this is what I’ll be hoarding.

Anyway…

It’s a caffeine free blend of chamomile and spearmint with a hint of lemongrass, which makes it great for anytime of day (or night).  I find it to be incredibly soothing, just inhaling the aroma while it brews knocks my stress level down a notch. Since stress and anxiety have an immense impact on my pain level, anything that helps me keep calm is wonderful. This tea is also perfect for bouts of insomnia; chamomile has been used for centuries to “soothe the nerves” and help people sleep. You can buy plain chamomile tea, I’m sure it would be just as effective, I just don’t care for the flavor.

I absolutely adore a good cup of Earl Grey but, it’s really just “regular” (black) tea infused with bergamot and sometimes other flavors. I’ve tried many different flavors/varieties of black tea over the years and while I haven’t found it to be particularly useful for fibro symptoms, it does help with headaches. Add a bit of sugar (real sugar or honey, no fake stuff!!), to a hot cup of black tea (not decaf) and suddenly you have a drug free headache buster. It even helps with migraines, although I’ve never had a cup of tea make a migraine completely disappear.

There is a ton of research out there concerning green tea, but since I haven’t really consumed enough of it to notice any benefits, I’m not going to make any claims about it. What I can tell you is that if brewed correctly, it’s very good and it does have a lower caffeine content than black tea. I am, however, planning to try a few different varieties of green tea very soon, so if I notice anything amazing, I’ll definitely report back.

In the mean time, I think I’ll go check on my Sleepytime stash. 🙂

Sit back and listen.

I know this may come off sounding trite, but for me, relaxing really does help with the pain. Sometimes it just helps to find something to take my mind off of it, the pain doesn’t go away, but it is possible to set it aside for a little while. There are an infinite number of ways to relax, so rather than give you an insanely long list of suggestions, I’m just going to start with one that actually works for me.

One of the best ways I’ve found to relax is by listening to music, classical pieces seem to work best for me, so I’m going to share one of my favorites: Flugufrelsarinn (Sigur Ros) as played by the Kronos Quartet. I absolutely love this piece. Nearly every time I listen to it, I get lost in the beauty of it all. Seriously, turn it up, sit back, close your eyes and let the music just flow around you. Sadly, it’s only about 8 minutes long, but for me, it’s usually 8 minutes where I can ignore whatever pain I’m feeling and be free of it.

I’d love to hear what you think about this idea, and if it works for you, what are your favorite song choices?

How I Fight Fibro

I decided to try adding a new category to the blog, called “How to Fight Fibro”. Normally, I wouldn’t bother announcing a new category, let alone explaining it, but this one is a bit different.

Every fibro fighter is unique, and experiences the disease in their own way. That being said, perhaps I should rename the new category to “How I Fight Fibro”. I’m not going to fill this section with the random ramblings of the internet; this section is purely for things that I have personally tried and have found to work for me. Just because something makes me feel better doesn’t mean it will make anyone else feel better, but I’m hoping that my posts will help others or at the very least, maybe spark a new idea for someone else.

Just so you know, I am incredibly skeptical when it comes to trying new things; I have never been one to run out and try every latest new product or idea. It usually takes me awhile to warm up to the idea of new therapies and even longer to actually try them. So please, don’t expect me to post reviews of any “As Seen on TV” products or brand spanking new technologies purported to help ease fibro suffering.

I’m aware that to some, this new category may seem unnecessary, considering that this entire blog is basically meant to detail my experiences with fibromyalgia and how I’m coping with it. However, my main focus is on diet and exercise, something that many of you feel is out of your reach. I’ve gotten a LOT of comments both here and on the Facebook page sayings things like “I tried that, but it only made the pain worse”, or “I can’t even get out of bed, how am I supposed to exercise?”. This new category will not focus on exercise or any other form of physical torture, there may be the occasional mention of a specific stretch or movement that I’ve found to be helpful, but overall, it will be exercise and effort free. 🙂

Believe it or not, I truly do understand how hard the fibro can make it to even think a single clear thought, let alone attempt to get out of bed. I’ve only made it this far due to sheer stubbornness; there’s no “secret” to how I manage to force myself to work out when I feel like a flaming pile of doggy poo. I promise that if I ever stumble across something amazing, I’ll share it. If I could bottle my “sheer stubbornness”, I’d give it away for free (as long as you pay for the shipping costs!).

Anyway, I’ll be posting my first suggestion shortly, I hope it helps!

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