Mom Life

Wow. Where to even begin. It’s been a long freaking time since my last post, like three years. If I have any followers left, I’m sorry! Life happened. For real, I made a life, and now my own life is complicated and often difficult to navigate.

On top of fibromyalgia and keeping my own self alive, I now have a whole other person to manage. Thankfully, I have my amazing husband to help me balance things, but it’s still tough. Every day is a new lesson.

Keto is still our main way of life, but I’d be lying if I said we were anywhere near as strict about it as we were before I got pregnant. During the week, we’re pretty good about it, then the weekend comes and POOF! Chipotle and pizza just seem to appear 😬.

I’m honestly not sure where I’m even going with this, I just wanted to make a post to break the ice and get the words flowing again. Wish me luck!

Life on Keto

When I last posted, I was so full of hope that I’d be thin and svelte in no time flat. Sadly, that has not happened. We’re about halfway through our fifth month on this way of eating and I’m down just 17 pounds. However, I am down 2 jeans sizes (from a 14 to a 10!!!!), which is amazing and I can’t get over how awesome I feel overall. I’m actually sleeping through the night most nights, (epic freaking win!), and I even wake up feeling mostly refreshed. Considering that previously, I was lucky to wake up feeling even slightly refreshed, I’m counting this as a major success. I also haven’t had any major flare ups since we made this lifestyle change. This isn’t to say that I’m totally pain free, but my pain on average is way down and my trigger points haven’t made any appearances in MONTHS.

Another major success I’ve encountered is that the cravings I used to have for horrible food, (chocolate/sugar/all the carbohydrates), have basically disappeared. I still want chocolate, but my cravings are now for Lily bars, which have no added sugar; they’re sweetened with stevia and erythritol. I also get random cravings for bacon, but since that is 100% keto friendly, I am ok with this.

What am I eating to make me feel so awesome? I’ll show you, but before I do, I’d like to explain my approach to keto. Chances are, if you’ve ever heard anything about a ketogenic diet, it was explained in a way that makes it sound like a fat free for all. It is high fat, this much is true, but I’m not eating sticks of butter or pounds of bacon every day. I like to call our approach the “neurotic clean keto”. We don’t eat any grains, legumes, (except the occasional peanut), or added sugars at all, which means very little of what we eat is premade or processed. I am constantly reading ingredient labels for hidden evils. The whole point of the ketogenic way of eating is to keep carbs extremely low, 20g per day or less. The carbs that we do eat come exclusively from vegetables, (mostly green, with the odd carrot), dairy, nuts and seeds.

Most days, I’m at 10-15g of net carbohydrates. I choose to count net carbs, (total carbs – fiber = net), rather than total carbs so that I have more room for vegetables and avocados! I have found that this approach helps keep me “regular” and keeps me full so I don’t gorge on fat or go too far over my calorie budget. I know that a lot of people only worry about their macros, (fat, protein, and carbohydrates), but if I don’t count my calories, I will over eat. This helps me stay accountable!

Enough explanations, on to the food!! Breakfasts are usually simple affairs with some combination of bacon and eggs, with the occasional veggie add in. This first picture is a simple salad of cabbage, celery, kale and a teensy bit of shredded carrot, that I pan seared just until the veggies started to wilt with over easy eggs and bacon.

Next, is a bacon, egg, and cheese “sandwich” using two over-hard eggs as the bread. Quick, easy, and tasty!

We don’t always do fancy breakfasts, most days it’s just a couple of eggs and some bacon. Some days we get extra fancy and make waffles or bagels with almond flour! Sadly, I don’t have a picture of the waffles, but I’ll take one next time we make them!

Oh, and don’t forget the coffee! There is ALWAYS coffee with a splash of heavy cream. Mmm.

I’ve fallen out of the habit of eating lunch, mostly because I’m just not hungry. When I did eat lunch, it was super simple: some salami and cheese most days. Maybe some salted almonds and a cheese stick or guacamole and celery. These days, I’m happy with a ginger-vinegar tonic. (Sounds gross, I know, but I swear it’s delicious!!). It keeps me full for several hours and is a great way to sneak in some extra electrolytes.

I’m out of time for today, but I’ll cover dinners, (and desserts!), soon!!

Whole 30, Day 13

One more week down! This week was mostly leftovers, which made it super easy, but here’s a run down of what kept me going!
For breakfasts, we had smoothies! Yum. We tend to find something we like and use it until we’re sick of it, so all of our smoothies this week were the same: 

  • 90g (1 cup) frozen spinach or kale
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 70g (1/2 cup) frozen blueberries
  • 32g (2 tablespoons) almond butter
  • 1 scoop of collagen peptides
  • 6 oz coconut milk
  • 6 oz cold coffee

I use a kitchen scale for most of my measuring, which is why everything is in grams. I just find it easier to just sit the pitcher on the scale and dump everything in, plus no need to dirty extra utensils! (I am a fairly lazy creature, after all.) I didn’t really take any pictures of the smoothies because they’re not very pretty. The coffee makes it a dark, unappealing color, but damn if it doesn’t make all the difference in my morning! 

This week, I really tried to start cutting out the snacks, but the results were disastrous. I’m going to stick to small, compliant snacks and leave it alone. Being grumpy and tired is just no way to be. For snacks this week, (once I realized cutting them out was a lost cause), I had an orange in the morning, if I needed it and a handful of raw almonds and plain walnuts in the afternoon. This helped keep my energy steady and kept me from being such a sourpuss. 

So, lunch! I tried sweet potato toast! It sounds weird, but I was very impressed; it’s super simple and very yummy, so win-win!

Take a whole sweet potato and give it a good scrub. Dry it off and slice it (lengthwise) so you get long, 1/4″ slices and stick it right in the toaster!

I toasted mine for about 5 min, until they were tender but not mushy. Slather on some almond butter, sprinkle with some cinnamon and a teensy bit of sea salt and enjoy! 

On the days I didn’t have sweet potato toast, I just had the kale and potato soup from last week,(equally quick and easy, since it was already made). 

Last weekend, we made the Paleo Beef Stew with roasted beets, carrots and parsnips; those leftovers served as dinner for the week.

I did, however make fresh roasted veggies to go with it, since I’ve found that those don’t reheat very well. Roasted cauliflower is officially my new favorite side dish. It’s soooo good!! I figured it would be fairly bland and tasteless, but it’s definitely not. Properly roasted, cauliflower has its own amazing flavor. It’s not a strong flavor, it’s very mellow, a little sweet and almost cheesy. Seriously, you have to try it! 

The other dish we made over the weekend was the Carne Asada, which is definitely a favorite around here. 

We found the recipe back in July when we did the Whole 30 for the first time and we’ve been making flank steak like this ever since. We had some cole slaw and pan seared asparagus to go with it. I can’t wait to make it again with the roasted cauliflower! 

This weekend, we’re trying all new recipes, including a curried shepherd’s pie, cilantro lime chicken and a pulled pork vegetable stew, (which I started this morning and it smells amazing!). Stay tuned!

“16 Things People With Chronic Pain Wanna Tell You”

Thank you to Dianna Labrien for writing this article on!! I have simply reposted Dianna’s entire article, but the original article can be found here

It’s not just in our head. The pain is there and always would be even if there is no apparent reason for it. Our pain is real and will not just go away after we take some pills for a week or two. It would always be there and we have learned to live with it. Here are 16 more things we wish you knew about us!

1. We Don’t Make a Mountain out a of Molehill

You think you can imagine our pain? Now multiply that amount by 10. No matter how sympathetic you are, studies have proved that people tend to underestimate other people’s pain. Chronic pain by default is hard to imagine unless you have experienced it in your life. It’s invisible, but it is always there. We urge health care not out of hypochondria or the need for attention, but because of our severe physical state.

2. We Need to Balance Actions Carefully

We use the Spoon Theory: We have a limited amount of spoons each day we could use for different actions. Getting up, getting dressed, taking a shower, driving, walking, picking up the phone — each action requires us to use one of our precious spoons. On good days, we finish with a few spoons left, so we can do something fun. On bad days, we borrow spoons from the next day and need extra recovery afterwards. So if we suddenly cancel our plans with you or tell we can’t do it now — it’s just because we ran out of spoons today. Try to understand this.
3. We Struggle to Find a Good Doctor

Sadly, a lot of health care pros lack knowledge in pain management because it is rarely part of their training. We often visit numerous specialists before receiving a proper diagnosis and wait months to years to see a real pain specialist for treatment. Doctors often fall victim to the cognitive error of underestimating another’s pain and a small number of doctors are willing to take the legal risks involved in prescribing powerful pain pills.

Same goes with the nurses. Finding a good one who can really understand and help us relieve the pain is hard! Luckily, there are some online schools like Sacred Heart University that are training future nurse leaders to overcome these issues in the future and provide better care for patients.
While you may think it’s crazy, we’re willing to travel further to find a good nurse with this kind of training and rave about it when we find one.

4. We Are Not Lazy

Remember the limited amount of spoons we have? Now add the fact that it takes twice as much effort for us to complete even simple things. We try harder than other folks, yet we still manage to accomplish less.
5. We Try to Look Our Best
“But you don’t look sick” is one of the most common phrases you hear if you have invisible disease. Well yes, we try to look our best even on bad days when our body explodes from pain. We dress up carefully to cover up our bruises or swelling, take painkillers at the optimal time, and rest before going out. We would love to pass as normal as much as possible! Even if we feel pain, we would keep it to ourselves until the moment we step into our apartment and just collapse.
6. We Don’t Ignore You

Sometimes our pain occupies too much space in our brains and we simply cannot focus on anything else. Pain can be very distracting and mentally draining, so please forgive us when we can’t give all the attention to you.

7. We Know Our Illness Won’t Go Away

It’s always there. We can’t escape. And yes, we have researched all the possible options. If there was a cure, we would know about it!

8. We Are Not Drug Seekers

Sadly, we need to explain that both to the doctors and folks around. We don’t want drugs. We want anything to make the pain go away even for a little while. So yes, sometimes our treatment requires taking opioids or medical marijuana. We treat those just like any other remedy. And no, we are not particularly fond of the side effects either.
In fact, as the Cleveland Clinic explains: Addiction appears to be distinctly uncommon in patients without a prior history of addiction. Addiction is a psychological phenomenon that isn’t caused by chemical components of the drugs and typically requires a setting different from the one we have. We take our drugs under supervision and come back home to the loving family unlike the street-users.
9. We Don’t Always Know How to Manage Our Pain
Just because we have been dealing with it for ages doesn’t mean we always know how to tame it. Sometimes, we have very bad days when no previous routines help. We just close our eyes and wish those would pass faster.
10. We Get Super Active on Good Days

Physically feeling good is just about the most exciting feeling we can have! We can do our chores normally, go on a day trip, meet with a bunch of people at a time, and even think of running a marathon. On a good day we are super active and excited with everything, trying to get as much done as possible!
11. We Don’t Want You to Stop Inviting Us Out
No matter how many times we have said “no” we still want to be part of the gang and go out when we really can do it.
12. We Don’t Have a Job for a Reason
Again, we are not lazy. It’s just that we often lack spoons to work on the top of our other activities and daily chores. Besides, most employees refuse to take staff for a few hours per week and tolerate the fact that we can leave at the middle of the day if our pain gets unbearable.

On the bright side though, thanks to technology we can work from home in our own pace, doing various jobs online, selling stuff on eBay or Etsy, learn everything we need from self-help and nursing to design or coding online. If we don’t have a regular job, it doesn’t mean we can accomplish nothing in life. Multiple sclerosis did not stop Vanessa Heywood from creating an award-winning music company!

13. We Don’t Want Sympathy, We Want Acceptance
Instead of making that “I’m so sorry for you” sad face, treat us like equals. It’s not that you should completely ignore our condition, but show us you are ok with it and ready to make small adjustments for us.
14. We Don’t Want Your Medical Advice
Believe me, we have heard enough already and feel frustrated, as they don’t work. Thanks for the thought, but let’s just talk of something else. My disease does not define me. I know a lot of other interesting things, I would love to discuss with you instead.
15. We Need to Know You Are Here for Us
No matter how self-sufficient and independent we try to appear, sometimes we just need you to be here with us and hold our hand on a bad day.
16. We Appreciate You and Everything You Do for Us
You should never forget that. We are eternally grateful for supporting us and making us feel loved!

Featured photo credit: carianoff via

the semicolon project

Depression and anxiety are no strangers to me. I’ve found that they often go hand in hand with chronic illness, but it’s easy to forget that they can be crippling all on their own. I appreciate how open and honest this post is, we need more discussions like this, now more than ever.


FullSizeRender-1FullSizeRender Today I went to a tattoo artist, and for $60 I let a man with a giant Jesus-tattoo on his head ink a semi-colon onto my wrist where it will stay until the day I die. By now, enough people have started asking questions that it made sense for me to start talking, and talking about things that aren’t particularly easy.

We’ll start here: a semi-colon is a place in a sentence where the author has the decision to stop with a period, but chooses not to. A semi-colon is a reminder to pause and then keep going. 

In April I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. By the beginning of May I was popping anti-depressents every morning with a breakfast I could barely stomach. In June, I had to leave a job I’d wanted since I first set foot on this campus as an incoming freshmen because of my mental…

View original post 1,331 more words

What makes a peron “real”?

I need a moment to vent. 

I am sick and tired of seeing these “real women/men have…”, posts. Have we forgotten that there is beauty in diversity? Think for a moment how boring the world would be if we all looked exactly the same. Arguing over what we as individuals perceive as “beautiful” is as pointless as arguing over whether or not a person likes the flavor of strawberries. If you don’t like strawberries, fine! That just leaves more for me, I’m not going to sit here and tell you that you’re “wrong” for not liking strawberries or that simply by not liking strawberries you’re “shaming” those of us that do. 

I understand that the media has totally warped the public perception of beauty. Practically every image that we see on TV or in magazines has been photoshopped within an inch of its life. The people we see in advertisements, etc. are not “real” people; they are, at best, artistic interpretations of “real” people. This is a problem because it makes us criticize ourselves. We hold ourselves up to these “perfect” images and find ourselves lacking. We’re too fat, too thin, our teeth aren’t perfectly straight or we have too many freckles… The list is endless. My point is, out in the real world, no one can ever match up to these digitally enhanced images of “perfection”. No one. Not even the models that were in the original photograph. 

Imagine being that model: you go in for a photo shoot and it goes really well. Then the ad comes out and the pictures look nothing like you! They’ve taken 10lbs off of your frame, scrubbed away your laugh lines and your freckles, whitened your teeth… How must that feel to know that you, even with professional make up, hair and costumes weren’t good enough to make the final cut? 
The problem here is not with people as individuals, it’s with the media. So why is it that we attack each other? Instead of banding together to demand changes from the media, we sit at home and attack other individuals. Every single day I see posts on my Facebook feed about how some random person is “body shaming” one shape or another.
So what if Susie has been working really hard to lose weight? She isn’t doing it to offend you, she’s doing it for herself. She has every right to proclaim how thrilled she is to have finally reached her goal weight. Just because she makes a big deal about it does not mean that she is making an attempt to shame anyone else. Yet, here it is, plastered across my newsfeed because Katie got offended by Susie’s weight loss and felt the need to accuse Susie of “fat shaming”. Suddenly, total strangers are rallying against Susie and everyone is upset because she was proud of the changes she worked so hard to achieve and wanted to share her accomplishment. 
Why is this ok? Even if Susie is a celebrity of some sort, why are we attacking her? Did she say “only people who look like this are beautiful”? Even if she posted her before picture and made a comment about how awful she looked, that’s her personal opinion, about her own body. Having her own opinion makes her “real” in my book, no matter what shape or size she is; if she is happy with herself, who am I to tell her she’s wrong?
I whole heartedly agree that need to promote the idea that there is beauty in every shape, size and color, but attacking individual people because their personal view on beauty is not the way to do it. “Real” people have their own thoughts and their own feelings; have we forgotten that there is beauty in this as well? 

“I regret that workout”

Said no one, ever. 
You might regret your choice of exercise, but when all is said and done, you will never regret the workout itself. Believe me, I know that sometimes, it’s hard to get up and get moving. There’s always at least one day a week where I feel like I literally cannot do anything; if it’s not from pain, it’s from simply being exhausted. Those days suck and on those days the absolute last thing I want to do is any form of exercise, (even though I know that in the end I’ll feel better for it). 
Today was one of those days. It’s spring time, which means that the world outside looks like some kind of demented yellow snow globe. There is pollen EVERYWHERE and I am allergic to basically all of it. Thankfully, I’m not as bad off as some people, but it’s enough to make me sniffle, sneeze, cough, wheeze and generally miserable for at least a few weeks. Add that on top of the fibro issues and it can be a real mess, which is where I was earlier today. I didn’t sleep well because I was too busy blowing my nose, so as you can imagine, moving around was not high on my list of “wants” today. 
Somehow, I managed to convince myself to put my workout clothes on. I could have easily walked around the neighborhood, but I know myself well enough to know that if I stayed close to the house, I wouldn’t get very far before giving up. Instead, I forced myself into the car and drove up to a nearby park. Once I got there, it was far easier to put one foot in front of the other; what else was I going to do? 
No, it wasn’t my most stellar performance, but the important thing is that I made it happen. Yes, I did spend the first half of my walk cursing myself as an idiot for “dragging my sorry ass out into this pollen riddled hell hole”, (I was really grumpy), but as I finished the last leg of my route, I started to feel awesome. I checked my Fitbit and saw that I had made my step goal for the day and I actually cheered out loud. By the time I made it back to my pollen encrusted car, I felt fabulous and not just from exercise induced endorphins; I was proud of myself for doing it. What could have been a really cruddy day turned into a victory day; not because my situation changed, but because I chose to make it a victory. There is always a choice, you just have to remember to make it. 

Race day!! Shamrock 8k 2015

Over the weekend, I ran in the Shamrock 8k for the second time! I wish I could find a way to explain how much fun these events actually are without using scary words like “run” or “race”. It sounds intimidating, (and it can be), but once you’re there and actually moving, it’s a LOT of fun. There are people from all walks of life, every shape and size imaginable and they all share the same goal: crossing the finish line.  Everyone is excited, people are dressed up in crazy costumes and total strangers are cheering you on. Honestly, most of these races feel more like giant block parties where everyone just happens to be moving rather quickly. 

I always spend the first mile or two of a race questioning my sanity and cursing myself, (this time was no different!), but by the time I cross the finish line, I feel incredible. No matter how hard the run was or how much pain I’m in, at the end, I feel invincible simply because I did it. 

Once upon a time, a doctor told me that I could “probably have a mostly normal life”, and to be honest, he didn’t even seem to believe that when he was saying it. Before I had even turned 20, I was being told that I would spend the rest of my life in misery; that the best I could ever hope for was temporary relief and the possibility of a mostly normal life. Every time I went in to the doctor’s office, I had nurses and receptionists saying “but you’re so young!”, as though my entire life was already over. The worst part is, I believed them. I took their words as gospel and I believed that my life was going to be a living hell until the day I died. That would have been my reality, had I not realized one simple truth: the only one who could save me was myself. Disease or no, my happiness is and has always been in my own two hands. I realized that the only way to escape the hell I was living in was to fight. 
I choose to fight by putting one foot in front of the other. Every time I run in a race and cross that finish line, I win. It doesn’t matter that I will never be the fastest person there; the only thing that matters is that I fought my way through to the end. This time, my opponent was an 8k course along the Virginia Beach Boardwalk, my goal was to finish it in under 01:10:00. Last year, I completed this same race in 01:07:49; this year, I was a little bit slower, coming in at 01:08:09. I admit, I am a little bit bummed that I didn’t beat last year’s time, but that’s ok, there is always a next time! 

Call me crazy, but…

I want off the meds. All of them.

I was doing some research recently on one of the drugs I take to treat my fibro symptoms and it occurred to me that I’ve been on most of this stuff for so long that I don’t even remember what my original symptoms were. At this point, I am on 5 different drugs for the fibro; all of which have their own set of side effects.

When I was first diagnosed with fibromyalgia, my doctor only prescribed one medication, which I took at night, to help me sleep. Over the course of 10+ years, I’ve gone from simply having trouble sleeping to full blown insomnia at night and being completely exhausted during the day. (I have entertained the thought that maybe I’m actually a nocturnal creature trying to force myself to be diurnal, but I really don’t think that’s the problem.)

It’s like I’m caught in a vicious cycle:
– I can’t sleep. At night I take 2 different drugs to help me fall and stay asleep. Both of these medications list drowsiness, (duh), and other brain clogging issues as side effects.

– In the morning, I’m groggy. I literally can’t function until I take my 2 morning meds. Well, guess what? The morning meds both list “insomnia” as a side effect.

This is just a sample of the side effects I’m experiencing. Let’s not forget anxiety, depression and confusion… I can’t help but wonder how much of my “fibro fog” is being created by the medications I’m on.

My question is this: how do I know if I’m treating the fibromyalgia or just countering the side effects of the drugs with more drugs?

It seems to me that the only way to solve this conundrum is to go back to square one and see how I feel without any chemical interference. I admit that I find the idea utterly terrifying, however the list of side effects is even worse; not to mention that no one knows what this stuff does to you in the long run.

I haven’t decided yet how to go about getting off the meds, obviously, cold turkey is not only insane, but dangerous as well. I plan to discuss it with my doctor at my next visit, hopefully she will be willing to help. I have a sneaking suspicion that my idea is going to meet considerable resistance.

I don’t expect to be able to maintain a medication free lifestyle, I just want to see what actually needs to be treated. This isn’t going to be easy; it’s going to take a long time to get some of this stuff out of my system and re-learning how my body works without the chemicals is going to be tough, I know that. I also know that this is something I need to do in order to take control of my life.

Fibromyalgia sucks, and it is something that I have to live with, but I no longer believe that I have to live my life around it. Becoming active was just the first part of the battle; cutting through this drug induced haze is the next step. I know that there is a life outside of this illness and I won’t give up until I get there.

Another hurdle jumped!

Today is a very special day for me, not because it’s my birthday, (which it actually is), but because after several failed attempts, I have finally made it to week 7 of the Couch to 5k training program I’ve been using. I’ve still got two more weeks in the program, but this is the farthest I’ve ever managed to make it. So, to celebrate my birthday, I decided to do something that I once believed impossible: I went for a solid 25 minute jog.

I know that to those of you who have been reading my blog for awhile this doesn’t sound like anything new, but it is. I’ve been doing interval training on and off for about the last year, but until this point, my longest, no break jogging streak was about 20 minutes. An additional 5 minutes doesn’t sound like anything impressive, but believe me, it can feel like an eternity.

I admit, I am slow jogger. My pace seems so slow that I hate calling myself a “runner”, because it feels like a lie. At this point, I consider a good “run” if manage a 13 minute mile. Speed, to me, is not important. Yes, I could probably run an 11 minute mile, but that’s as far as I would get. If I slow down and pace myself, I can go so much farther. I would rather slow down and power walk 5 miles than kill myself running 1. Maybe this isn’t the best tactic for a zombie apocalypse, but I’m not worrying about that right now. Eventually, I’ll start pushing for more speed, but for now, endurance is my focus.

Why endurance? Because I need it to be able to push through the bad days. When I’m running at my slow pace, I’m not just training my body, I’m training my mind as well. It takes a lot of effort for me to hold back and conserve my energy for a long run. It only took me about 30 years, but I am finally learning self control and patience, which I am able to use in other aspects of my life.

If it really is all about the journey, I’d rather take the slower route. Here’s to another year of fighting!

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