7 Holistic Changes that Improve Pain Relief

Posted by on Sep 18, 2015 in Holistic Pain Relief | 0 comments

Photo credit: www.chuckgoodenough.com

© Chuck Goodenough | www.chuckgoodenough.com

I believe that creating holistic pain relief in your life is a series of small steps that together add up for big gains. Figuring out what works for you is like solving one of those complicated multi-dimensional puzzles with layers and tricky little secrets. BUT … today I am sharing a few of the tricky little secrets I have learned over that last several years with you. Let’s unlock that puzzle together!

  1. Getting more sleep:  Sleep can be elusive when you are living with chronic pain, but a good stretch of uninterrupted sleep is key to a better day. Sleep is the time when your body is naturally designed to heal, so it’s critical to improving pain relief. But what can you do when the pain keeps you awake? First step: reduce your caffeine intake during the entire day especially later afternoon and evening. Switch from regular to decaf to green tea to water to taper off gradually. Second key element: turn off the electronic devices at least 15-30 minutes before you climb into bed. Studies show that this light is particularly stimulating for your brain—just at the time you need your brain to slow down. Third option: consider dimming the lights throughout your house starting at dinnertime. This creates a ritual that allows your body to wind down naturally towards sleep.
  2. Reducing “comfort foods”:  Comfort foods don’t make you comfortable! Most of the foods we turn to for “comfort” have ingredients in them that promote inflammation and therefore pain. These include trans fats (partially hydrogenated oils), white sugar and similar sweeteners, wheat flour and gluten and dairy (for some of us). When you are feeling well and energetic, make the time to cultivate an appreciation for a new style of comfort foods. Switch fresh fruit for store bought cookies. Choose naturally salty foods like a few olives instead of handfuls of chips. Taking small steps to readjust your taste buds will help you make less inflammatory choices when you’re seeking “comfort foods.”
  3. Learning to say no:  Letting your schedule get overloaded helping other people can be a significant factor in chronic pain. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be a giving person. But be careful with your boundaries and your energy. If helping the same person (organization, club, team, etc.) all the time is creating a drain on your energy and pain in your body, you may want to take a pause on that practice while you address your own health. As a colleague reminded me recently, “No” is a complete sentence. You can also say, “Not now” instead of no. Remember that taking care of you is top priority if you want to help others in the future!
  4. Reducing highly processed foods:  these processed foods are on our grocery store aisles and restaurant menus. Did you know that most restaurants specifically design their menu items to layer fat, sugar and salt (often over and over) throughout? This makes the food practically irresistible, especially after the first bite. So when you feel like an entrée, appetizer or dessert is too wonderful to stop eating … maybe you should wonder what you’re taking into your body.
  5. Asking for help more often:  maybe you’re great at saying no, at making healthier food choices … but have you developed a “healing team?” During my experience of chronic pain, I have learned that various types of healing work help me in different ways that are all equally important. For example, having a massage therapist for soft tissue pain helps in a different way than the counselor who helps manage the emotional aspects of chronic pain. And sometimes we don’t need professionals—we just need to ask our friends or family members for a little extra assistance. In my house this has meant “letting” other people do the dishes after family dinners. I used to be afraid they wouldn’t be done “right,” now I treasure the break and enjoy a little playtime with the younger kids.
  6. Knowing when to use ice packs:  today’s practical tip—if you have pain and don’t know it’s origin or cause, it’s usually safer to use ice than heat for pain relief. Heat can increase inflammation in an area, and this may be the opposite of what your body needs even when it feels good. That said … trust your body’s reactions. If the ice makes a muscle spasm worse, you may be better off with some heat.
  7. Increasing hydration:  For most of us … it’s hot out there right now! Please be sure to drink enough water to counteract all that heat. Side effects of failing to hydrate properly include: headache, muscle aches, brain fog, fatigue, poor digestion, and more. Today is the day to start carrying around a bottle of water and drinking from it regularly. Your body will thank you!

Do you just wish you could find a set of realistic, holistic tools you can put in practice that will minimize your pain and maximize your energy? Download my free PDF report to learn 17 EASY WAYS TO START MINIMIZING PAIN TODAY!

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Home Cooking for Your Health

Posted by on Apr 29, 2013 in Cooking at Home, On My Soapbox, Wellness Ideas | 0 comments

I recently read an article in the New York Times where two of my favorite writers covered one of my favorite topics: cooking. Not a celebrity chef cooking but US cooking in our homes.

Here’s one of my favorite quotes from the article … “[Michael Pollan] says: “Cooking is probably the most important thing you can do to improve your diet. What matters most is not any particular nutrient, or even any particular food: it’s the act of cooking itself. People who cook eat a healthier diet without giving it a thought. It’s the collapse of home cooking that led directly to the obesity epidemic.”

In my house the main cook is my husband. His grandfather was a chef / short order cook /restaurant owner. He learned to cook because that’s how the division of labor worked when he was growing up. He was bad at waking everyone up in the morning, so his sister took over those duties. And he took over her duties in the kitchen. And thus … he loves to cook. Early in our marriage I did some regular cooking, but after a year or two we discovered that everyone was happier when he cooked most of the time. I know I am super lucky! Not only does Cris like to cook … he makes delicious, interesting meals!

Cris especially loves to cook for a crowd!

Cris especially loves to cook for a crowd!

Given this situation, I especially thought it was interesting when the article quotes Pollan saying, “We need to complete that uncomfortable conversation about the division of domestic labor, which the food industry deftly exploited to sell us processed food,” he says. “But if we’re going to rebuild a culture of cooking, it can’t mean returning women to the kitchen. We all need to go back to the kitchen.”

Although Cris and I are invested in being healthy, we don’t count calories or obsessively exercise. And most of our health-indicating blood tests come back in the “healthy” range most of the time. We believe it’s because we rarely eat food just from boxes or drive-up windows. In fact, I’d estimate that 90% of our food is home-cooked.

Contrast this lifestyle with some folks I know. For example, I have a massage client who has never used her stove in the 7 years since she bought it. One day I was talking to the friend who helps us keep our house clean (super grateful for her help too!) about how much work it can be to clean our kitchen. I happened to ask her if this was pretty common among her clients. She said that as many of her clients don’t cook as do cook. Wow!

One of my favorite wellness authors, Marc David, says this in his Eater’s Agreement:

“I recognize that at its deepest level eating is an affirmation of life. Each time I eat I agree somewhere inside to continue life on earth. I acknowledge that this choice to eat is a fundamental act of love and nourishment, a true celebration of my existence.”

Don’t you love that idea? Our fridge has an important sticker on it … too important for the car bumper. It says, “Love People. Cook Them Tasty Food.” Even if you are just cooking for yourself today, aren’t you worth that love??

 

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Now Offering Reflexology!

Posted by on Feb 17, 2013 in Massage Topics, Wellness Ideas | 0 comments

I am thrilled to announce that our fantastic massage therapist Lorelei Nissly is offering Reflexology treatments! She has been practicing reflexology for some time, and we are officially adding it to our menu of services as of this week.

Reflexology is a therapeutic foot massage that helps rejuvenate your mental, emotional and physical well being. It improves health by stimulating the circulatory and nervous systems. All of the reflex points in our feet connect, via nerves and meridians to particular organs and body areas, promoting healing, releasing tension and increasing stress resilience. Foot reflexology will leave you feeling peaceful, relaxed, and like you’re walking on clouds.

You may book a separate reflexology session or add it on to your massage treatment. Give us a shout to try it!

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Fabulous GF Cornbread

Posted by on Feb 3, 2013 in Cooking at Home, Gluten Free, Recipes | 0 comments

If you were considering going gluten free, what would be the hardest food item to give up? My guess is that at least 50% of us would say bread! Tasty gluten-free bread is the Holy Grail of the GF eater. Either the bread crumbles before it reaches your mouth, or it is just to bland to even swallow. My strategy has been to find non-bread items to replace the outsides of my sandwiches with – for example, a GF wrap or tortilla. It keeps my disappointment level to a minimum. But there are some days when nothing but a bite or three of bread will satisfy!

A client of mine shared this terrific recipe with me. She is vegan and also eats mostly gluten free. I have to say this is probably the best gluten free bread I have tasted. Of course, you can’t make a sandwich with it … but it tastes and feels EXACTLY like cornbread made with white flour. The recipe is modified from one in Jane Brody’s Good Food Gourmet.

Here's the 8 x 8 pan version.

Here’s the 8 x 8 pan version.

 

 GF Cornbread

1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup millet flour (or 1/2 cup millet flour and 1/2 cup sorghum flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
3 tablespoons oil (can replace with 3 tablespoons apple sauce)
1/4 cup honey or maple syrup
1 cup buttermilk (or non-dairy milk of your choice)
1 egg (for vegan, replace with 2 tablespoons ground flax and 2 tablespoons water)

Mix dry ingredients gently. Add wet ingredients and mix thoroughly. Pour into a greased 8 x 8 inch pan.

If using oil: Bake at 425° for 20 minutes or until golden brown and tester comes out clean.
If using apple sauce: Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until golden brown and tester comes out clean.

Can be used to make corn muffins (makes about 11). Bake muffins at same temperatures for a few minutes less or until golden brown and tester comes out clean.

And these are the finished muffins!

And these are the finished muffins!

Let me know what you think when you try the recipe!

 

Looking for support in going Gluten Free? The best way to determine what program is right for you is scheduling a FREE 45-minute initial health and wellness consultation. Simply call or email me today to get started!

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My Gluten Free Story … So Far …

Posted by on Jan 29, 2013 in Gluten Free, On My Soapbox, Wellness Ideas | 0 comments

Lots and lots of people are out there in the blogosphere and health world talking about eating gluten free. I’ve been listening to them for years—have you? Well, I finally joined onto that bandwagon. Here’s a little bit about why I did, and more importantly what it did for me.

Every time someone brought up eating gluten free, my  response was the same. “Maybe someday I’ll change but I’m not ready right now.” Honestly that’s just a nice way of saying … give me a good enough reason and I’ll consider if it would be worth it to me. I love bread and all things wheat, so being gluten free sounded like a small bit of hell right here on earth. But just in case, I eliminated processed breakfast cereals and limited my bread consumption … okay but I still had the occasional pizza or subs or cookies or cakes. I definitely found that the more healthy, clean, unprocessed choices I made, the better I felt. But gluten-free … nope, I wasn’t ready yet.

Well, about 3 months ago things started to shift. As you know, my primary health coaching focus is working with people who live with pain and inflammation. Since that’s my everyday world as well, I spend a lot of time researching this type of information. When I read a great book hoping to gain some insight for a newly diabetic family member, the connections really started to click. What? A book about diabetes talked about gluten? Yup – and inflammation … and the connection between the two. And I found an article that seemed credible covering the connection between autoimmunity and gluten. And I read another book about the connection between thyroid issues, autoimmunity and gluten too. More reading and more credible, scientific connections ensued. And I decided to it was time to give gluten-free living a try.

Making pizza with a cauliflower crust ... no gluten here!

Making pizza with a cauliflower crust … no gluten here!

Know what really flipped the final switch? Well I just happened to stand on the scale one morning. The previous evening I’d had two small pieces of pizza and a few baked, breaded shrimps. Shocker – the scale showed I had gained four pounds overnight. Nothing else in my food the day before was inflammatory. But four pounds of water/inflammation packed on just from a “moderate” serving of wheat-based stuff. You should know that I’m not super worried about my weight – it’s healthy and I’m fitting in my clothes. That’s another reason why four pounds overnight just seemed crazy.

So with all of this information, I figured maybe there is some truth to the connection between gluten and inflammation. And I thought to myself, “let’s give it 4 to 6 weeks and see how I feel. If there’s no change, I’ll just go back to gluten.” And how long did it take to see and feel a difference? Not 4 to 6 weeks but 4 to 6 DAYS! Truthfully, I am still finding things that have changed … and it has been about 10 weeks now. Here’s what I noticed:

  • Flexibility (what I noticed first … and as a massage therapist this change is very helpful … plus it’s easier to get on the floor and play with the grandkids)
  • Major reduction in morning stiffness, especially in my hands (again, so helpful when I have early morning clients)
  • Strength or more muscle soreness (I think keeping my muscles strong will ultimately benefit my joints, so this is important to me too)
  • Major changes in how clothing waistlines fit (small weight change too, plus every single piece of clothing is looser & all muffin tops are gone)
  • Less swollen feet at night (I stand for up to 8 hours each day, so this comfort level change is huge)
  • Less wildly uncontrollable hunger (I used to say my stomach was really a headless monster but not anymore …)
  • Less irritability, especially around hunger (this is huge because I have been attributing irritability to hormone changes … maybe not so much)
  • Calmer emotions even in times of great stress (so I’m in the sandwich generation and a small business owner … need to be calmer every day)
  • Less brain fog – not “losing words” or my train of thought at all (super helpful and makes me feel a lot less crazy)
  • Changes in muscle definition and general tissue quality (now you can see my muscles, plus they feel looser and less tense to both me and my massage therapist)

I can’t say for sure that going gluten-free will help you with these issues. (But I would wish good changes of any type for you!) I can’t say for sure that I will always experience being gluten-free as a positive force in my life. But I am hopeful … and that makes all the difference each morning when my feet hit the floor. Don’t be surprised if you see a few gluten-free recipes peaking up here, and some more conversation about the benefits. After all, sharing information is what I’m all about!

Looking for support in going Gluten Free? The best way to determine what program is right for you is scheduling a FREE 45-minute initial health and wellness consultation. Simply call or email me today to get started!

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