Yoga & Meditation: Complementary Therapies for Chronic Pain & Inflammation

thepositivepear_meditation_yoga.pngOn November 11, 2016 at 11:11am, so 11-11-16 at 11:11am this blog will be four years old! All I can think is WOW!  In spite of my long hiatus from posting any updates, this blog continues to be a wonderful resources for “Spondys & Spoonies,” I still receive emails and FB messages from people thanking me for information that I’ve shared here, which is so very touching, quite amazing and extremely rewarding.  Anyone who continues to follow the blog, or checks back periodically to read posts, can probably gather that I’m a big advocate for holistic health and I’ve shared on a variety of topics relating to complementary therapies and alternative treatments and one of my absolute favorite posts, were those where I shared information on the wonderful benefits of yoga and meditation for Ankylosing Spondylitis, Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I posted in those days as a lover of yoga and an avid practitioner, now I have the wonderful privilege of sharing information from the perspective of not only someone who practices yoga, but also as someone who teaches both yoga & meditation. Since starting this blog, I’ve become a Registered Yoga Teacher & Meditation Teacher. Though I’ve been in the Health, Wellness & Fitness industry for a very long time and have always helped people achieve their health, wellness and fitness goals in one capacity or another, I’m very excited to travel this new path. I’m even more excited to have the opportunity to work with “Spondys & Spoonies” in person as I help them to incorporate yoga & meditation as a means of helping to manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life. This a huge milestone towards the vision that I had for this project when starting it fours years ago.

I referred to yoga & meditation as complementary therapies, which speaks to the traction that yoga is gaining in the health industry, as providers incorporate “yoga as a therapy” into their practices.  While acupuncture, chiropractic treatment and nutritional counseling are some of the more common “complementary” therapies, yoga is quickly joining the ranks. Especially when considering the fact that Rehab Hospitals and clinics that provide occupational therapy, commonly incorporate Iyengar yoga into their patients health care regimens, as a means of helping them to build strength through proper alignment.  This is because yoga poses are isometric movements, which make it much easier for patients to achieve, in spite of inflamed tissues.  As opposed to the repetitive movements used in traditional physical therapy, that tend to exacerbate inflammation.  Iyengar and true Hatha yoga not only encourages proper alignment, but builds strength from holding the poses a lot longer than you would in a Vinyasa yoga and the use of breath helps patients to endure the temporary discomfort.  Incorporating yoga helps patients to achieve alignment awareness, which makes it easier for them practice the postures at home, thus contributing to a more successful recovery. 

Cancer Centers have been incorporating yoga into their cancer treatment programs for more than 10 years. Studies have shown that yoga helps to reduce anxiety, depression, fatigue and stress for some patients. Combined with meditation, the results have been improvements in sleep quality and a boost in patient mood and overall well-being.

Some medical centers are also incorporating yoga, along with other complementary therapies into their primary care. Doctors are actually referring patients to the on staff clinical yoga specialists, who works with patients to help develop a yoga sequence specifically for their particular ailment. This is exactly what I envisioned two years ago when posting an article on how yoga and alternative therapies were beginning to show up as elective courses at many medical schools across the country. This is so much better than a prescription for yoga that I spoke about in that post, because doctors and yoga therapists are now collaborating in medical centers to develop comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach to healing. As someone living with chronic pain, who advocates for holistic health and appreciates the value of yoga as a practitioner and teacher, seeing western medicine incorporating so many aspects of eastern medicine and philosophy makes me very happy.

A Little Exercise Motivation

EXERCISE MOTIVATION:

Exercise offers amazing healing benefits. A good workout improves our mental attitude, strengthens our cardiovascular systems, reduces stress, improves our overall quality of life and helps to slow down the effects of aging. Sometimes the last thing we want to do when we’re in pain pain, tired or overwhelmed is to MOVE, but we have to keep going! On non-flare, non-pain days be sure to MOVE & keep moving!!!

More on Exercise & the types of exercise that work well for Spondys & Spoonies

Cause Sometimes You Just Feel Tired

NEVER Loose Hope & NEVER GIVE UP!!!

“Cause sometimes you just feel tired.
You feel weak and when you feel weak you feel like you wanna just give up. But you gotta search within you, you gotta find that inner strength and just pull that sh** out of you and get that motivation to not give up and not be a quitter, no matter how bad you wanna just fall flat on your face and collapse.” ~Eminem~

Comfort Foods Fall/Winter & Holidays: Importance of Good Carbs

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.)

Some Good Low-Starch, Non-GMO, Whole Food, Real Food & SuperFood Options & Substitutes for those with AS, CFS, Fibro & IBS:

• 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.

MythBusters:

“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!!

Today is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome & Fibromyalgia Awareness Day…

Today is both Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFIDS/CFS/ME/MCS) Awareness Day. The purpose of awareness days is to educate, draw attention, dispel myths and to offer support to those who battle these conditions each day of their lives. The Positive Pear provides information on these conditions as well as, methods for living with & coping with these invisible chronic illness positively, naturally & holistically. Sending many healing hugs & amazing positive energy to all who are battling these chronic conditions. Remember it is possible to live Chronically, Healthy, Happy, Fit & Fab!!