Category Archives: The Positive Pear Articles
Avocado known by many interesting names, including the alligator pear, butter pear and vegetable butter. Avocados have amazing anti-inflammatory properties that fall into five basic categories. Which are omega-3 fatty acids, phytosterols, carotenoid antioxidants, non-carotenoid antioxidants and polyhydroxylated fatty alcohols, also known as PSAs. The anti-inflammatory properties of the avocado make it beneficial in helping to prevent rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Having such amazing anti-inflammatory benefits also make it a great anti-aging food, as well as a nutrient dense, natural anti-inflammatory for conditions which contribute to chronic inflammation such as Ankylosing Spondylitis.
Avocados are also packed full of dietary fats to provide maximum absorption of necessary fat-soluable phytonutrients. These phytonutrients, which are also known as carotenoids, include lutein, alpha-carotene, beta carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin. By adding 150 grams of fresh avocado to your salad or eating avocado with similar foods increases absorption between 200-400%. Remember to peal NOT slice to get more of the green dark green flesh that lies just beneath the skin.
Here’s another fun TPP recipe using super yum avocados. Serve as an appetizer, side dish, or if you LOVE avocados as I do, then enjoy as a meal.
2 tablespoons Red Onions, finely chopped
1/4 tablespoons seedless Cucumber, peeled & diced
1/4 cup Grape Tomatoes, diced
3 tablespoons Green Bell Pepper, diced
3 tablespoons Kalamata Olives
1 Garlic Clove, finely minced
1 teaspoon Anaheim Pepper, seeded & finely chopped (optional)
1/2 cup freshly squeezed Lime Juice (to prevent browning & for topping)
2 Avocados, peeled, halved, pitted and rubbed with lime juice
1/4 cup of fresh Cilantro, or Parsley finely chopped (for topping)
1 Head Romaine Lettuce leaves, washed
Combine chopped red onion, cucumber, diced grape tomatoes, bell pepper, kalamata olives, garlic, Anaheim pepper and lime juice. Rub avocado with the remaining lime juice. Top avocado halves with the mixed ingredients, squeeze an ample amount of lime juice on each, then sprinkle with fresh cilantro (or) parsley and for nice added flavor add freshly ground lemon pepper. Place filled avocado halves on your romaine lettuce lined bowl or plate and serve.
An autoimmune disease & chronic inflammatory condition such as Ankylosing Spondylitis has its fair share of symptoms, so it’s incredibly discouraging to discover that AS sufferers are also susceptible to a multitude of other conditions. When you add incredibly strong medications to this equation, the potential for developing other chronic conditions increases considerably. These are some of the other chronic conditions that Ankylosing Spondylitis patients who are taking Remicade, Humira, Enbrel, Fenofibrate, Polaramine, Oxycontin, Novorapid, Percocet, Levemir and Naprosyn most often developed while on the above meds:
Acute Pancreatitis (Inflammation of Pancreas)
Type 2 diabetes mellitus (NIDDM/Adult Onset Diabetes)
Diabetes mellitus (DM Covers many forms of Diabetes)
Peripheral vascular disorder (PVD)
Gastrooesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)
Autoimmune thyroiditis (Inflammation of the Thyroid)
Gastritis prophylaxis (Disease of the Stomach/Inflammation of Mucus Membrane)
When you open the informational packet which is usually enclosed with your meds, you read of the many potential side effects and most often discount the risks for experiencing them (or) side effects such as these aren’t included because many who develop these additional conditions feel that they are unique and independent of their meds, disease or condition, so connections aren’t made and often not reported. These connections are also not made frequently by doctors. However, many AS patients who are on these medications have these conditions. This should be enough to point your doctor in the right direction, if you are experiencing related symptoms.
There really is no win/win when it comes to medications there are either numerous side effects or after becoming quite dependent upon them they simply cease to work, because as the body metabolizes these substances, it also builds up a tolerance. However, knowing of these additional risks prior to taking medications is incredibly helpful, because it arms patients with the knowledge they need to better care for themselves. For example knowing that you are at a higher risk for diabetes might motivate you to exercise daily and eat healthier foods. Such as eliminating simple carbs, sugars and starches. This knowledge might also motivate others who are in the position do so, to manage their disease without the use of the harsh medications, while also embracing the importance of a “whole body” approach. I was fortunate enough to have several years of experience with natural, more healthier options to manage my AS and my exposure to Naprosyn was limited, but that does not mean that I’ve come away completely unscathed, because often the side effects from these medications are irreversible. I discontinued Diclofenac (a form of Naprosyn) after experiencing Gastritis prophylaxis, as a result of H. Phylori, a stomach infection. Accompanied by my frustration with dropping 30 lbs, a year with severe stomach pain, no diagnoses and the fact that several specialists had no clue as to why I was so sick. Well, it was quite easy for me to connect my new, debilitating symptoms to the medication. I also have additional symptoms to manage now, that I did not have prior to taking this medicine for several years.
I respect the extensive knowledge and medical training of my Rheumatologist, and completely understand that his recommendations were “medically” based and as a result I was convinced like perhaps many AS sufferers, that it was impossible to manage this disease without meds. However, I’m living proof that this is in fact not true at all. If we’re willing to step outside the “medicine box” we can find many natural solutions. Of course needs & results will vary from person to person, but I’ve done quite well with a healthy eating regimen (low-carb, low-starch, no-dairy, no-gluten), regular exercise and by controlling both my pain and inflammation with natural Cox 2 Inhibitors. Patients need to know that they have options, prior to subjecting their bodies to these numerous side effects, and this is precisely what motivated me to launch The Positive Pear.
Happy October! Summer is my absolute favorite time of year, but nothing compares to New England Fall foliage. The colorful leaves are nothing short of amazing and “may be even more attractive than the many beautiful flowers of Spring.” I hope you’re also enjoying all of the beauty that Fall has to offer. Here on the East Coast the weather is changing, the mornings, days and evenings are cooler forcing us to break out the Fall gear, including cute scarves and fashionable boots. This is also the time of year that we tend to gravitate toward heavier foods. Since we’re in the midst of a change in season, I thought it was a good time dust off the keyboard to discuss how we can adapt our healthy eating regimen to include foods that are currently in season. All of this made me think of carbohydrates and the excessive consumption that traditionally takes place over the next few months. Carbs can become a real issue for many during this time of year because as the temps drop and the holidays draw closer, many tend to turn to high calorie, high carbohydrate, comfort foods, such as breads, pizzas, pastas, baked goods and additional sugars. These types of foods can not only lead to excessive weight gain, but also the potential for exasperating symptoms of many chronic conditions such as asthma, eczema, diabetes, chronic pain & inflammatory conditions such as Ankylosing Spondylitis, chronic pain conditions such as Fibromyalgia and the numerous symptoms relating to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, among other conditions.
I believe it’s fairly common knowledge even among the healthiest of people, that an overindulgence in carbohydrates and processed foods can lead to health problems, so naturally this becomes more of a concern among the many people who battle chronic illnesses. We are the group who should pay extra special attention to what we eat, how our bodies process these types of foods and how they affect our symptoms. Many people don’t want the burden of adjusting their diets. After all, food not only provides sustenance, it’s a way of celebrating life, entertaining with family and friends and its also a means for socializing, so it’s no secret that eating your favorite foods offers a fair amount of enjoyment and emotional satisfaction, which is where the idea of “comfort food” stems. However many who live with debilitating and painful conditions do not have this luxury. We must be careful to avoid buying into the brain washing that many of us have fallen victim to at some point in our lives, and that’s the idea that medication is a “magic bullet” and it is all that we’ll ever need to fight our symptoms and keep ourselves healthy. If you are on medication your body is already working hard enough to break down and distribute this foreign substance, so its best to eat healing foods that will help strengthen your body, rather than filling your stomach with foods which force the body to work harder. All while taking the place of vital nutrients, that you are quite possibly loosing due to malabsorption issues associated with your chronic invisible illness. ”Food is very powerful. Consuming the right foods can be incredibly healing to our bodies, but eating too much of the wrong types of food can easily lead to our premature, yet slow and even painful demise.” If you are a healthy person be grateful and don’t take it for granted, because it could all change in an instant. It’s been my job for so many years to educate people about food, healthy eating, the prevention of aging related diseases and most recently how to manage the symptoms of many chronic invisible illnesses naturally and holistically, so I direct this post to those who would like to take control of their health, by taking control of their diets, as apart of a “whole body” approach to living a healthy lifestyle.
Dangers of Overindulging in Simple Carbs, High Glycemic & High Starch Foods:
All carbohydrates are not bad. In fact, the quality of carbohydrates is actually what matters most. Carbohydrates are divided into two categories, simple carbs and complex carbs. Complex carbs are best and when eating simple carbs it must be done so in moderation, because overindulgence can wreak havoc on the body. Simple carbs consist of high glycemic foods which increase serum levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) a marker of systemic inflammation, which would naturally effect chronic inflammatory conditions such Ankylosing Spondylitis & other forms of autoimmune arthritis. These high glycemic foods also increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and if you are obese or even simply overweight due to excessive simple carb consumption, you’re increasing these risk factors even more. Complex carbs or lower dietary glycemic foods provide more of a sustained blood glucose level and lower insulin demands on the pancreas. The pancreas aids in digestion and controls blood sugar. If the pancreas and adrenal glands are constantly overworked due to consistent high glucose levels, this can not only contribute to adrenal fatigue & chronic fatigue in a healthy person, but it will without question exacerbate the symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, also known as Chronic Fatigue & Immune Dysfunction Syndrome (CFS/CFIDS/ME) along with other conditions which cause fatigue, such as the many forms of autoimmune arthritis. This can also lead to digestive disorders such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, while worsening symptoms of irritable Bowel Disease. Poor diet combined with regular medication usage significantly increase these risks. Good carbs or low-glycemic index foods delay the return of hunger, decrease subsequent food intake, and increases the sense of feeling full and as a result helps one to control their weight. Focusing on healing, whole foods and a diet which contains lower dietary glycemic foods and minimal amounts of sugar/starches will help to minimize symptoms of many chronic invisible illnesses, as well as preventable diseases such as Hypoglycemia, adult-onset Diabetes, Cardiovascular disease, Obesity, Gallbladder disease to mention a few.
Steps Toward Success:
• Decreaes your consumption of starchy high-glycemic index foods like potatoes, white rice, and white bread
• Decrease your consumption of sugary foods like cookies, cakes, candy, and soft-drinks
•Increase your consumption of whole foods, real food in lieu of fast foods and eat balanced amouts of lean protein if you eat meat
Some Good Traditional Complex Carbs/Low-Gylcemic Index Foods for Healthy People:
whole grains, nuts, legumes, fruits, and non-starchy vegetables (no rice, corn, potatoes etc.)
• Try Sprouted Ezekiel Bread in place of white bread
• Try zucchini strands in place of pasta
• Add lots of low-starch, nutrient dense, organic vegetables in place of large amounts of starchy high-glycemic index foods, such as: Romaine Lettuce, Radishes, Avocado, Sprouts, Napa Cabbage, Kale, Spinach, Chard, Bok Choy, Snow Pea Pods, Green Beans, Leeks, Cauliflower, Broccoli, Asparagus, Summer squash, Red, Green & Yellow Bell Peppers, Artichokes, etc.
• Make good use of fresh herbs, flavorful ingredients & seasonings such as: Lemon, Lime, Garlic, Ginger, Onions, Cilantro, Parsley, Basil, Thyme, Scallions, Organic Balsamic Vinegar, Brown Mustard, Fresh Salsa. etc.
• Drink water, coconut water, fresh fruit smoothies, freshly squeezed juices and herbal teas in place of soft drinks and other high calorie drinks
• Eat fresh & dehydrated fruit such as; oranges, plums, berries, pears, apples, grapes etc., in place of cakes, cookies, ice cream and candy. You must still be mindful of eating sweets in moderation, just because it’s healthy doesn’t mean it’s ok to in excess. Remember balance is key.
• Eat healthy snacks dried or roasted seaweed snacks, almonds, seeds, chia, raw caco, dried mulberries, etc.
• Cook at home, prepare meals in advance and get creative! By eating at home you are automatically reducing your daily sodium consumption and daily calorie intake.
“Eating this way will not fill me up” When taking on this lifestyle change, take baby steps. Start by reducing, then replacing NOT immediately eliminating. For example reduce the number of meals each day that contain simple carbs, if you have a high carb breakfast do no repeat this for lunch & dinner. When you get to the “replacement” stage, you could replace your white bread with Ezekiel bread (made from sprouted grains), replace butter with Organic Cold Pressed Olive Oil, replace pasta with zucchini strands and make your own salad dressings from scratch. Start your day with fruit and eat several small meals each day. Eat several small meals and be sure that you do not reduce your calorie intake below 1200 calories a day, 1500 if you’re very active. Yes, you’ll count calories for a few days, but you’ll eventually have the feel for how much food you’ll need to consume to stay full and remain healthy. At dinner make sure your plate has far more veggies than meat and when eating meat, make sure its lean and antibiotic free. If you have Ankylosing Spondylitis or FIbro & CFS which can react adversely carbohydrates, you might need to also reduce intake of even certain types of complex carbs such as grains, thus gravitating toward more of a low-starch eating regimen. Give it time, both your mind and body will adjust. Also exercise and drink lots of water. Get plenty of rest and supplement when needed. In addition, when you’re eating whole foods, you’ll find that you’ll have less cravings, because you’re body’s nutrient requirements are actually being met.
“Eating this way will not cure my disease so why bother?” Diets, foods and drinks don’t cure disease, especially autoimmune diseases, but when eating the right foods you can prevent the onset of certain types of disease especially those that are age related. In addition, eating healthier can also help to reduce certain symptoms of many chronic conditions.
“In order to eat low-carb or low-starch, I have to eat excessive amounts of meat.” No, not at all and in fact most Americans eat far more protein than their bodies truly need. Protein consumption will vary from person to person based upon their weight and level of daily activity. A 130 lb woman who engages in moderate daily exercise would require only 88 grams of protein daily and that’s divided over several meals. A 160 lb man who exercises regularly, including strength training would require only 108 grams of protein daily. Someone who does not engage in regular exercise would have less protein demands.
low-carb and low-starch are the basis of many fad “diets” however, that does not invalidate the effectiveness of this way of eating. That’s because there are many conditions that benefit from a reduction of simple carbs and even some complex carbs. I do not endorse or promote fad “diets” or a book written by some guru. I do however recommend a lifestyle change to my clients based on their specific needs. Diets fail, but lifestyle changes that include a healthy eating regimen, exercise and whole body wellness are incredibly effective with the ability to last indefinitely. Feel free to use this post a guide and whatever dietary changes you decide to make, be sure that its healthy and that you’re taking in the proper amounts of daily calories, also that you’re getting all of your required vitamins and minerals. Balance out your healthy eating regimen with exercise and most importantly maintain a positive mental attitude!
Here’s to living Chronically, happy, healthy fit & fab!!
“The Human Spirit Needs Places Where Nature Has not Been Rearranged By the Hand of Man” ~Unknown~
Yay, warm weather is here, as we’re quickly approach the official first day of Summer. Like many of you, I long for this time of year when I can spend time outdoors and I also look forward to taking advantage of the many opportunities to reconnect with nature. This longing for fun in the sun and fresh air is not only rejuvenating both physically and mentally, the great outdoors also offers us incredible healing benefits. Scientists have discovered that by spending time outside we increase our exposure to phytoncides which naturally reduce stress. People who take walks in the park where they encounter many plants and trees, versus walks in the city where they are surrounded by buildings and cement sidewalks, had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, as well as a lower pulse rate, and lower blood pressure readings. In several other studies, specifically one that took place in April 2007, showed an increase in white blood cells within a group of 12 healthy men ranging in ages 37-55 , who took two-hour walks in a forest over a two-day period. In January 2008, a group of women who also participated in a very similar experiment entitled ”forest bathing” had an increase in white blood cells and a reduction in anti-cancer proteins, which lasted up to one week due to their exposure of phytoncides which are found in forest air.
The beach is another place to go for wonderful healing benefits. Salt water is high in minerals such as potassium, magnesium, calcium and bromide which not only accelerates the healing of cuts, it also helps to fight infections, reduces inflammation of joints and relieves muscle pain and soreness. Salt water also stimulates blood circulation, increases moisture retention, detoxifies and promotes cellular regeneration. As a result it offers beautifying and anti-aging benefits, for both the inner and outer body. Regular beach time & salt water swimming also offers healing benefits for skin disorders such as eczema, psoriasis and acne. In summary, spending quality time in nature, offers us incredible physical and psychological benefits, such as recovery from stress, increased relaxation, decreased mental fatigue, better performance, restored mental clarity, increased immune function for improved heath, healing and an increased overall sense of well-being.
Best Places to Enjoy Nature
3) Local Parks
4) National Parks
6) Camp Sites
A Few Outdoor Nature Activities for Summer:
6) Paddle Boarding
9) Outdoor Meditation & Relaxation
10) Outdoor Yoga & Fitness Classes
Want to feel better mentally, physically and emotionally? Increase the amount of time that you spend outdoors surrounded by nature!
This is a fun time of year because it’s not only easier for people to make healthier food choices, it’s easy to find fun, healthy foods. Have you checked out your local farmers markets and food co-ops? If not, this is a great time to locate those nearest in preparation for your summer food shopping. A fun, easy and very healthy food to begin with is “fruit” it’s sweet, delicious and easy on the digestive system. Which is good for those who battle digestive issues such as IBS and IBDs. We’re less likely to crave comfort foods this time of year, so consuming more fruit is a great way to begin our day and a great way to wrap it up, by eating nice healthy fruit filled desserts. Fruit has incredible healing benefits, offering enzymes, healthy carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, amino acids and cancer fighting tannins & flavonoids. For us Ankylosing Spondylitis & Autoimmune Arthritis Sufferers, fruit also offers amazing anti-inflammatory properties, while reducing pain and swelling. According to the Article: Inflammation and Foods That Fight via Arthritis Today, it is very important to consume a variety of colorful, fresh fruits and vegetables routinely for best results. This is one of many steps toward achieving and maintaining a healthy “holistic” lifestyle. By eating fruit we reduce inflammation, pain and swelling, while increasing energy levels and wellness. We also reduce the likelihood of developing age-related and degenerative diseases such as certain types of cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s. We also enjoy the added benefit of improving skin appearance, our moods and mental sharpness. Some of my favorite anti-inflammatory & low-glycemic fruits are: berries, cherries, apples, pineapple, grapefruit, kiwi, plums & of course pears. What is your favorite fruit? Enjoy your summer even more by adding healthy, delicious fruit to your diet!
“A peaceful person has an outer beauty that exudes grace, contentment and love” True peace does not give way to anxiety or stress even in the most challenging of situations. A peaceful person tends to be less self-centered and more dedicated to the service of others, resulting in an amazing beauty, tremendous kindness and an overwhelming love that is always felt by others.” They never waiver in their convictions and are always truthful, loyal, consistent, loving, dedicated and kind, in spite of life’s difficulties and challenges.
I respect, honor and admire these wonderful people and I feel so honored and so blessed to have many of these beautiful & incredibly peaceful people in my life. All of whom I love and cherish. I dedicate this post to you, both my mother and father in law Chuck & Jo, my daughter Britney, my sister-n-law Mary, my best friend Diane, best friend forever more Shelley, my sister & best friend Janelle and my friends in health Jasmin, Kathy, Nurit, Karen & Aqsa. This post is also dedicated to the many beautiful and very peaceful people who read this blog. Peace light & love to you!
I honor the place in you in which the entire universe dwells.
I honor the place in you which is of love, of integrity, of light, of wisdom and of peace.
I honor the place in you,
and when you are in that place in you,
and I am in that place in me,
we are one.
As a Holistic Health Advocate, stress is one of the leading topics that I cover with my clients. As a Health, Wellness & Fitness Professional, Speaker and Presenter, I’m also asked to speak on and write about related topics and stress of course is one that I’m asked to cover. It’s also a topic that I reference quite frequently in many posts via my blog “The Positive Pear.” Most recently I was asked to cover this very topic in which I entitled “Live, Love & Laugh Stress Awareness & Management” it also happened to be “Stress Awareness Month.” Here are a few highlights from that discussion…. People often discount the adverse effects of stress and its negative impact on our mind, body and emotions. Stress is directly linked to the six leading causes of death which are, heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, cirrhosis of the liver, accidents and suicide. Stress management is incredibly important for everyone and especially for those of us who are living with and battling chronic invisible illness & autoimmune disease, because not only are we more susceptible to stress, but having frequent bouts of stress can trigger many symptoms of our conditions. Long term exposure to high levels of stress can even cause a healthy body to remain in constant “fight or flight” mode with an inability to properly regulate the production of stress hormones. The continued release of these hormones can lead to impaired immunity. Which can lead to chronic conditions like adrenal fatigue, thyroid imbalance and several aging related diseases. Symptoms of stress often include, allergies, fatigue, chronic headaches, unexplained weight gain, obesity, diabetes, hypertension, insomnia, digestive issues, depression, memory impairment, heart disease, strokes, and certain types of autoimmune disease.
Avoid ineffective fall back methods:
It is important to recognize your stressors and to take the appropriate action which would be either to avoid, alter, adapt or accept situations in which we’ve been exposed. Avoid resorting to methods which only temporarily reduce stress while creating other problems, such as drinking, pills, drugs, smoking, overeating, sleeping too much, zoning out, running away/becoming overly busy, procrastinating, withdrawing from friends, family and activities in addition to lashing out.
More Effective Ways of Managing Stress:
Remember that everyone encounters stress, working professionals, business owners, new parents, stay at home moms & dads, single people, married couples, teens & even children. The earlier in life that we learn to recognize the symptoms of stress and how to manage & cope the better. It is also very important to adapt effective coping mechanisms and to utilize these techniques regularly: First and foremost, know your limits and recognize when you’re exceeding them. learn to say “no” when appropriate. There is an example with the use of “spoons” and how it relates to the energy level of those of us who are battling chronic invisible illness. We’re only allocated so many per day and if we use too many, then we’re depleted and we run the risk of not being able to accomplish things that are incredibly important. We’re then forced to pick and choose our activities based on the number of spoons we have each day. This example can apply to everyone whether they’re chronically ill or incredibly healthy , ecause we all encounter stress and we can encounter it regularly. Simply put, do not take on more responsibly than you can handle. Be mindful of your association, support systems and friends and choose wisely. Avoiding negative, confrontational and toxic people who cause you stress.
Take Control of Your Life: Utilize proper time management skills, plan ahead, stay organized, prioritize and choose methods which help you to avoid stressors.
Check in Emotionally: Voice your feelings by speaking up for yourself or talking it out with a friend or family member. Work on developing or utilizing effective communication skills, rather than holding things inside and allowing them build up. This might also require becoming more assertive. Also be willing to compromise in situations and make personal adjustments if needed.
Change Your Way of Thinking: By changing your perspective you’re more apt to seeing the bigger picture, instead of seeing only the many individual problems that you may encounter. Adjust expectations that you have of yourself and others by making sure you have a realistic view of life. This is especially important if you are a perfectionist (like me). In doing so you’re less likely to set yourself up for disappointment and failure.
Acceptance is Crucial: Accept yourself for who you are, where you are and what you have to offer. Accept things which you can not control, such as the behavior of other people and focus on things that you can control such as your reactions. Accept the fact that we live in an imperfect world, with imperfect people and allow them to make mistakes by forgiving them and letting go of anger and resentment, which will free you from negativity.
Adjust Your Attitude by Focusing on the Positive! How we think has a profound impact on our emotional and physical well-being thus affecting our ability to manage stress. Look at bad experiences as life’s learning opportunities. Do not remain here in this bad place even if you’re at fault. Simply make the appropriate adjustments, pick up the pieces and move on. When things are out of control, take a moment to think about all of those things that are going right in your life and all of the things that you are truly appreciative. Focusing on even the smallest of gifts, talents and accomplishments can help us to keep things in proper perspective.
Lastly but certainly not least, Live, Love, Laugh and enjoy life and all that it has to offer! Nurture and pamper yourself, get a message, exercise regularly, take a yoga class, practice meditation and relaxation techniques. Take a long hot bath, with scented lavender candles and relaxing music. Curl up with a good book and a cup of chamomile tea, write in your journal, or on your blog, surround yourself with nature by taking advantage of a good walk, a long hike, a bike ride, or by working in the garden. Always remember that balance in life is crucial and that we can all benefit from having a little more fun, relaxation, laughter and enjoyment.
Since 1992 April has been Stress Awareness Month
Additional tips on managing stress via “The Positive Pear” Natural Stress Management Technique, Deep Breathing Technique to Reduce Stress, Relaxation is Good for the Mind, Body & Soul, Is There A Prescription for Yoga In Your Future?
I’m a health, wellness and fitness professional & blogger. I also live with a form of autoimmune arthritis known as Ankylosing Spondylitis, as well as Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome & Immune Dysfunction Syndrome. I blog about how to navigate the symptoms of these conditions naturally and holistically, while also maintaining a positive mental attitude. I created The Positive Pear as a resource, where it’s my philosophy that we can be “Chroncially happy, healthy, fit & fab” in spite of living with Invisible Chronic Illness.
“Being Positive when Living with a Chronic Illness” has it’s own meaning for everyone. To many who are sick it’s a way of trivializing their suffering and to a small minority it’s this wonderful, peaceful state of mind that requires being completely oblivious to the realities of life. What does it mean to you? Being positive does not come at the risk of ignoring the realities of life, while pretending to be happy. It’s really about being as positive as possible in light of the circumstance, and that gives us the motivation and the ability to enjoy all that we can. I am an eternal optimist, I will always see the class have full and I will always find the positive side to any situation, but I am also a realist. Naturally “being positive” does involve” some degree of happy thoughts and smiling faces but that’s certainly not all. Being positive is a state of mind accompanied by appropriate action. Which if taken at the appropriate time will take us in the direction that we need to go.
I started the “The Positive Pear because I saw the need to encourage a positive mental attitude among people who suffer from invisible chronic illness, and more specifically auto-immune arthritis and aside from saying “be positive” I wanted to define exactly that meant to people who are battling chronic health conditions. While also providing effective tools, to help with achieving this goal. Those who live with chronic illness do not need permission or help with negativity. It’s a natural state of mind that we can easily gravitate towards, when we’re suffering. However people do need permission, encouragement and direction in terms of how to being positive. Sufferers need to know that it’s ok to smile, be happy and enjoy life without the risk of trivializing their own suffering. They need to know that it is not a requirement to appear downtrodden to be taken seriously.
“The seed of suffering in you may be strong, but don’t wait until you have no more suffering before allowing yourself to be happy.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh~
When I was asked by Tiffany Westrich, founder/CEO of the International Autoimmune Arthritis Movement (IAAM) & WAAD Event Coordinator, to host a the chat ”Being Positive when Living with a Chronic Illness” I was honored and very excited to have the opportunity to discuss a subject that I enjoy immensely. I also knew that I had my work cut out for me, because this is not an easy subject to tackle with people who are in pain. I thought I’d start by addressing a few misconceptions relating to being positive and living with invisible chronic illness by counteracting these misconceptions with a few truths.
Misconception #1) In order to appear positive I need to smile, be fake and pretend to be happy all of the time:
Ok, let’s be real here, whose happy, or feels like smiling all of the time & who benefits from “fake” positivisty?? Absolutely no one. Though I’m often happy and I do happen to smile a lot, there are days when I simply do not have it in me. Some days you will not have it in you and that’s perfectly acceptable. We have to look at life realistically and accept ourselves for who are, where we are in our lives and how we truly feel. We are wonderful people who happen to be afflicted with a chronic illness. We have both good days and bad days and sometimes we feel wonderful and there are many times when we do not. Self Acceptance is important one of the very first steps to being positive. If we have unreasonable expectations of ourselves, then it becomes very difficult for us to be happy and when we’re unhappy we can not be positive.
Misconception #2) I can’t complain, nor can I speak openly and honestly about how my chronic illness affects me:
This is a very common misconception. I think the mistake that many of us make is not establishing the proper support systems. We attempt to talk about chronic illness and our symptoms with people who do not understand and have no way of knowing what we’re going through, so they can not provide the proper encouragement that we need. As a result they inadvertently trivialize our suffering. If we can not find people within our families or within our communities, we have wonderful online communities filled with people who can understand what we’re experiencing. Sometimes you need to complain, other times you need to cry and it’s during these times that you truly need someone who will be there for you without judgement. We also want to make sure that within our support systems that we have people who are truly supportive. If needed, we have the right to remove toxic, negative people from our lives. Remember “Once You Remove Negative People Positive Ones Appear” & Be Positive & Surround Yourself with Positive People. If you haven’t already, begin the process of establishing a good support system.
Misconception #3) Being positive means I must ignore the bad things that happen in life:
Another common misconception. As we roll with the ebb and flow of life it isn’t hard to miss that bad things sometimes happen. Additionally, misunderstandings, disagreements and conflict also happen just like eating, sleeping and breathing. However, how we handle the bad things that we encounter is what truly matters. We must keep in mind our physical challenges and the impact that stress has on our symptoms and we’ll need to approach situation accordingly. It is important to deal with whatever comes our way. If we’re upset, sad or even angry. It is important to acknowledge how we’re truly feeling, why we’re having such feelings and the best way of coping with these feelings. Seek resolution, by addressing issues if and when needed, or by ignoring them if appropriate. Most importantly being prepared to move on once an issue is resolved. Harboring anger resentment or ill feelings do not benefit us. Being positive does not come at the risk of ignoring one’s own feelings even the bad things in life. However, we can not remain in this “bad” place. We deal with our rough patch, pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and forge ahead! During these challenging times, I like to refer to a poem entitled “Don’t Quit” “When things go wrong, as they sometimes will” read it & refer to it, because it serves as a nice reminder.
“People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh~
If “being positive” is none of misconceptions that we’ve discussed, then what is it? Being positive while fighting chronic illness means having a positive mental attitude, inner and outer strength, peace, contentment, wellness and ultimately happiness. After all, in spite of battling chronic invisible illness we also deserve happiness. Be willing to let go of some of the self limiting belief systems and open yourself up to other possibilities. What are the best ways in which we can achieve a positive way of thinking? I’ve separated these methods into (4) categories. Giving us the opportunity to briefly discuss the impact that adapting these methods will have on our frame of mind, health, well-being and over all attitude.
1) Brain Food: “All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become.” ~Buddha~ What we feed our minds is just an important as what we feed our bodies. Feeding our brains positivity and encouragement while help us to feel both positive and encouraged. This is why you’ll find beautiful picture with inspirational messages in many of the posts on “The Positive Pear”. I think we need constant reminders, because we have the distraction of our symptoms to contend with. We also want to surround ourselves with positive people who can reinforce the type of thinking that we like to have. Just as we’d surround ourselves with successful people, if we were striving for success. Also having reasonable expectation of ourselves, while accepting ourselves for who we truly are and where we are in our in our lives. May is Mental Health month and a reminder to those of us who suffer from physical conditions. We must be mindful of the impact that our conditions have on our mental and emotional health as well. Keeping an eye out for symptoms of depression, stress and anxiety. Educating ourselves about our conditions, all of it’s symptoms and the appropriate treatment and all treatment alternatives not just medications.
2) Healthy Nutrition: Our bodies are working to hard to function as they should, in spite of having compromised immune systems and numerous symptoms. It is important to feed our bodies whole food nutrition and “real food” (chemical-free) focusing on anti-inflammatory foods such as fruit and vegetables, drinking ample water and eat healthy protein. While reducing simple carbohydrates such as: cakes, cookies, pizza, pasta excessive amounts of sugar and completely avoiding processed foods. When eating carbohydrates make sure they are complex carbohydrates, such as those found in fruit, vegetables and whole grains. A good rule of thumb, when “eating for healing” is that if you can’t grow it, then you probably shouldn’t eat it. Though that only roughly covers it:) Have you considered juicing? It’s a wonderful way of getting massive amounts of anti-inflammatory greens into our system without reeking havoc on the digestion system. (check out TPP’s Organic Juicing section) Additionally we want to limit our chemical exposure such as insecticides and pesticides, by buying organic whenever possible and keeping a good fruit & organic/chemical free fruit/veggie cleaner on hand. We also want to avoid GMO foods where the DNA of the food has been altered to grow these precise chemicals within the foods themselves. What we feed our bodies is incredibly important when battling invisible chronic illness, because we use food as fuel and what we put into our bodies can exacerbate or symptoms. We want good fuel, because we want to feel good as often as possible.
3) Exercise: Exercise is crucial to all, especially those of us who suffer from chronic illness. Staying fit can even help us to manage certain symptoms, such as depression, stiffness and chronic pain. What are some exercises that are helpful? For Autoimmune Arthritis Sufferers, strength training is incredibly important, because strong muscles relieve stress on the joints. Yoga is a wonderful way of maintaining flexibility, detoxifying the body, and fighting depression. Dance-Fitness such as Zumba, Salsa, Hip Hop Cardio, Hula Hopping are typically low-impact, incredibly fun and a wonderful way to sneak in weekly cardiovascular exercise without feeling like you’re working out. Also Swimming, Pool Aerobics, Biking, Hiking & lastly Walking which is something that everyone can do and it’s something that you can incorporate into a weekly fitness routine. Exercise reduces stress, allows us to maintain our mobility and it also releases endorphin’s which helps to regulate the pain centers in the brain.
4) Symptom Management: Using a well-balanced approach to managing our disease and chronic conditions is incredibly helpful. Eating well, getting proper amounts of rest and reducing your stress levels are incredibly important in reducing symptoms such as flares. Using healing methods such as exercise, yoga and meditation, natural and alternative therapies such as acupuncture, massage, TENS, MENS, chiropractic treatment (for those without musculoskeletal conditions) herbal supplements, food based supplements such as protein powders which are high in amino acids can be a great way to supplement current treatment methods. Though this falls more under “brain food” educating yourself about your medications and all potential side effects and making changes if needed is also helpful for symptom management. Is your condition something that can be managed naturally and holistically? Consider it as an option and if not, further consider adding a few of these alternative therapies & unique healing elements to your overall care.
Brain Food, Exercise, Healthy Nutrition, Symptom Management are (4) of the key areas to helping us in working toward balance. Being balanced is crucial to achieving and maintaining a positive mental attitude and our positive mental attitude allows us to maintain our hopeful outlook on life. Thank you for taking the time to read this post on how to “Be Positive When Living with a Chronic Illness” and thank to those of you who also joined us for the WADD “World Autoimmune Arthritis Day” Live Chat hosted by The Positive Pear. It is without question, very possible to live “Chronically Happy, Healthy, Fit & Fab” in spite of battling chronic invisible illness.
“I am still determined to be cheerful and happy in whatever situation I may be, for I’ve learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends on our dispositions and not on our circumstances.” First Lady ~Martha Washignton~
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We are inundated with negativity. Negativity has not only become the norm but also an epidemic and the media supplies a steady flood of it quite regularly. We all experience the negative effects of things that impact our lives or the world around us. The economy, gas prices, food prices, world hunger, famine, war, sickness, chronic illness, disasters, human trafficking, child slavery, crime, murder, stress, anxiety. When we look at it as a whole it appears that our world in turmoil and as a result people are angry and sometimes full or rage. Good manners, customer service and appreciation are quickly becoming things of the past. It’s becoming less about people and relationships and more about going through the motions. Common business transactions have become just that. People no longer take pride in their jobs, or concern themselves with a job well done. They take your money without even making eye contact or saying thank you. Many have a blatant disregard for common courtesy and could care less about pleasantries. There are aggressive drivers and road rage. Parents bringing harm to children, so their own children can get ahead. People are hurting and they’re feeling guarded. Many are suffering either physically or emotionally. In a world where we once had a strong sense of pride, people lack of self-worth, have low self-esteem and have no hope. One person feels badly about themselves and they attempt to drag others down with them, so the negativity spreads. When we continuously encounter rude behavior, confrontation, judgement and negativity, we can easily become desensitized. We can easily slip into a frame of mind where we can begin to feel defensive wanting to match the negativity around us and to what avail? Should we remain in this cycle of negativity or do we become the change that we’d like to see in the world around us? We can not change other people and their ways of thinking, but we can change our attitudes toward the negativity that we encounter. It helps when we are able to focus on what’s right in our own lives and on the many ways that we can “be positive” and on the many ways in which we can remain positive. In spite of the awful things that are going on around us. Being positive does not come at this risk of ignoring the realities of life, or our own personal struggles. Taking on this positive frame of mind is actually a way of giving ourselves hope. Allowing us the opportunity to find enjoyment in life and perhaps sharing some of that joy with others, so be positive, remain hopeful….stay positive! It’s your right to be free & you deserve to be happy!!
Our lives can sometimes be a reflection of our attitude, actions and the choices we’ve made. We are all too familiar with the term “Karma” and how it relates to the type of energy that we put out into the world and much like a boomerang, that positive and/or negative energy can return to us. Knowing this encourages many to live a life that includes being kind to others, while others in spite of knowing this, still choose to be harmful at every turn. A good person recognizes the powerful forces of Karma, but their lives accurately reflect what is truly in their hearts, even without the existence of these universal principles. There are of course exceptions to the rule, because we know that are times when good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to good people. This is proof that not everything in life is a direct reflection of cause and effect, or action and reaction. These are examples of things in life that we simply can not control, but we can control the type of energy that we choose to exude and pass onto others. We can also choose the type of energy in which we surround ourselves through our association, by perhaps selecting people with a higher sense of consciousness, rather than allowing some to simply fall into our lives by default. When choosing to add people to our support systems, we want to make sure that these individuals are in fact supportive, loving, kind, selfless and above all, positive in their thoughts and deeds. I also think that these individuals poses inner peace, greater awareness, intellectual & moral enlightenment, profound knowledge and a strong sense of personal growth. These are the types of people who are full of and surrounded by positive energy, rather than a cloud of drama. They have positive attitudes which allows them to cope rationally with just about anything that comes their way. These individuals are not victims in life, they get angry but they choose not harbor resentment and as a result, you’ll never see them engaging in competitive, vindictive or spiteful behavior. They live & love by the high standards of their personal code and they enjoy all that life has to offer. Yes, they get knocked down, but they easily recognize that there is an ebb and flow to life, so they recover in tact and often better and stronger than they ever were. We all desire a life that is full of love and we all truly want to be loved by all around us. We have the power of choice to make this happen and we can take one major step toward living this loving and very fulfilling life by being positive, and surrounding ourselves with positive people. Sending peace, light & love to you wonderful, healthy people who read this blog. In addition, positive healing energy to all of the beautiful people who are fighting the difficult battle of living with Invisible Chronic Illness.