Let me start off by saying that I know this is a huge debate in the Fibromyalgia community.  I am sharing the following information because more and more, lately, I have been involved in discussions on the subject and I have read Facebook posts about Fibromyalgia.  I have 2 people in my life, that are very dear to me, that are inflicted with this ailment, so I know, firsthand, how tragic it can seem (be).  Below, is a story about a wonderful woman that I worked with over a 6 month period, to help her manage her pain and get her life back.
While managing a gym in Phoenix, AZ, I had the opportunity to help a lot of women with different physical issues, but the one lady that stands out the most, and the one that I feel I was able to help the most, was a 48 year old named *Linda.  Linda had Fibromyalgia.   She came to me in a wheelchair and in constant pain.  We sat in my office and she cried while telling me that she was in so much pain that she couldn’t see how in the world she was ever going to be able to work out.  But, her doctor had told her that she needed to move in order to help her condition (this woman lucked out in the doc dept., because most of them are more apt to just prescribe drugs and call it a day, just my opinion).  I told her that I would make her my personal responsibility, and that I would do everything in my power to get her out of that wheelchair, if she was willing to put in the work necessary.  She smiled for the first time and told me that her life was in my hands.  We hugged, cried a little more, got her signed up for a gym membership, and made an appt. to get her started the next day.  I told her to bring a bathing suit and towel, because we would be starting in the pool.  She wasn’t happy about that, but I assured her that it was the best place to start.  So, she agreed and I walked her outside to meet her husband.  Below, I’m going to briefly outline the training I put her through over a 6 month period.  And I can tell you, with much joy to this day, that at the end of the 6 months, Linda was happier than she’d been in years and her pain had been reduced by at least 80% and she was not only out of her wheelchair, she was stronger than she’d ever been and was at the point of regularly participating in weight lifting and all cardio equipment in the gym.
1.  For the first few weeks, I put Linda through a series of body movements in the pool.  The goal was just to get everything moving.  Without gravity, she was able to freely move all parts of her body.  Now, understand, that at first, she was in pain while doing this.  After being immobile for quite a while, her whole body was very stiff.  So, the first step was to just move.
2.  For the next month, we focused on water exercises, walking in the pool, kicks, arm circles, underwater ab crunches, pushups against the pool wall, leg lifts, squats, etc.  Again, at first this hurt, because now I was asking her to not just move, but to start utilizing her muscles to improve muscle tone and to bear a little weight while moving, albeit in the pool.
3.  We continued in the pool, but added very light weight lifting in the gym.  We started with only about 5 minutes.  Each time she came in, we’d pick 2 muscle groups, for instance chest and back, or biceps and shoulders.  I had her lift the smallest dumbbells at first, sometimes as little as one pound, because our objective was to get her used to “gravity” movements.  At first, this was excruciating.  But, after the first few sessions, her body understood what she was doing and it adjusted (as it does at each step of the process).
4.  After the first 3 months, I slowly added a little weight-bearing cardio, we started on the treadmill and eventually moved to the stairclimber. (Today, I would recommend starting with the elliptical machine, but back in the early 90’s, no such machine existed yet, at least in my world).  When starting the cardio portion, we went as little as 3 minutes and slowly increased, until she could do 20 minutes at a very easy pace.  Then, we’d increase the intensity, while backing the time up, and then slowly increase the time again.
Now, I will stress, that for the entire 6 month period, I always started Linda out in the pool.  The reason for this was to get her body primed and ready the the work out on the gym floor.  People with fibromyalgia need to take their time preparing their body for training, if you jump right into weights or cardio without getting everything moving in the pool first, pain may happen.  But, you have to judge for yourself, what you’re ready for.  Linda was an extreme case, like I said, she came to me in a wheelchair.  At the end of the 6 months, she was off 90% of her medications, only taking a pill very rarely when needed.  Her doctor was ecstatic.
Obviously, I am not a doctor, but I can tell you from experience that if you get yourself or the person that you love moving, it will be the best gift ever.   Working thru the initial pain is crucial.  I promise, that every day that you/they work out, you/they will feel better, in mind and body.  Remember,  never work out 2 days in a row, though.  The body will need a recovery day after every workout.  Eventually, 2 days in a row will be feasible, but I wouldn’t recommend it for at least 4 months.
The last thing I will include for you are some websites to check out for info. on Fibromyalgia.  Check them out, share the info with whoever may need it, along with the above story, and get moving!  Back in the 90’s, while working with Linda, Google didn’t exist yet.  Oh, how easy it is, these days, to find a plethora of information, thank goodness!  I also included a website about diet restrictions when dealing with Fibromyalgia.  the research is ongoing on this subject, as well, but I think the more information given, the better.
Also, I would strongly advise speaking to your doctor before starting any form of work out program.  Print out the articles I’ve provided, tell him/her my story, get them onboard to help you through this process.  And good luck!
Best Wishes,

How come I never get sick?

November 8, 2010

Well, I believe the answer is……because I have chosen a Vegan lifestyle.  It’s the time of year where everyone around us seems to have either a cold or the flu.  But, not my family!  Which, to me, is a small miracle.  Before we switched to Veganism, my kids were sniffling constantly.  It seemed that every other week, another illness was introduced into our household.  My daughter has Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, and part of her treatment plan is to take Methotrexate once per week.  This drug suppresses her immune system (it’s the same drug used in cancer treatment), and makes her very prone to catching every bug that goes around.  But, much to my surprise (and relief), since changing her diet 14 months ago, it seems that the removal of all animal protein somehow keeps her healthy.  Strange, huh?

This post came about while watching a Dr. Oz episode on my DVR.  The show revolved around the cold and flu, the difference between the two, treatments, and prevention.  So, I just thought I’d share my experience.

Have a great rest of your day!!

For the last several days I’ve been browsing the web, looking for a delicious pumpkin soup to make.  Several sounded pretty yummy, but not exactly what I was looking for.  So yesterday, I decided to make up my own recipe.  And, I have to say, it turned out better than I could have imagined.  My whole family loved it!  Even my picky eater made it disappear rather quickly.  So, below is the recipe.

Mexican Pumpkin Soup

1 Large Yellow Onion

6 Cloves of Garlic

1 Package of Vegan Chorizo

2 cups of pureed pumpkin (or one large can of Libby’s pumpkin)

1 can chili beans

1 can diced tomatoes

1 jalapeno, chopped fine

4 cups vegetable broth (water will work fine, too)

5 medium potatoes, chopped in 1/2 inch cubes

1/2 tsp turmeric

1 tsp parsley

1 tsp oregano

salt to taste (I used just a dash)

In a large pot, sautee onions in a little vegetable broth.  After onions are clear, add the garlic and simmer for a few minutes.  Add the chorizo, turn heat up to medium, and cook through, stirring occasionally.  Add the rest of the ingredients, stir well.  Turn up the heat, stir often.  When it comes to a boil, turn down to low and let simmer for 30-45 minutes, until potatoes are tender.


My First Blog Entry

October 28, 2010

I’ve been considering starting a blog for several months and I’m really not sure what took me so long to get here.  So, here goes…..

I want to start this journey with a little bio about my dad.  I think in order to understand who I am, it’s important to go back to where I came from.  My dad was amazing, he was a teacher and coach and a friend to everyone he met.  He loved, he laughed and he played hard.  I have so many memories of him throughout my early childhood and most of them bring a smile to my face and tears to my eyes (I’ll explain the tears later).

I grew up in a little town, Philippi, WV.  My dad lived there his whole life and grew up to be the Head Football Coach at the high school (he also coached the basketball team and refereed games).  I remember being in awe of him at times, watching him coach, and feeling so proud.  He took his job seriously and thrived on working with his team and helping them to get better at the sport every day.  He would often bring home the projector and invite the team to our house to watch film on either the team they would be playing the following week, or to critique their performance of the previous game.  I loved being there for that, it was cool!

A few months ago, when I watched “The Blind Side”, I cried during a lot of the movie.  I think a big part of my tearful reaction had to do with the flashbacks I kept having in my head.  You see, my mom and dad took in one of the football players for a time, due to his poor living conditions at home.  We welcomed him into our family and helped him succeed in school as he played football on my dad’s team.  I loved that time, and I loved the new member of our family.  He remained close to my heart and years later, when I went off to college, he was actually the assistant football coach there.  We had the chance to reconnect and I was thrilled that he’d be around if I needed him.  We’d spend hours in his little room, talking about my dad and remembering all the good times of the past.  I learned at a young age, that helping others is the best thing in the world.

I feel like I could write an entire book about my dad, how I hated his spittoon sitting next to his recliner, how he’d let me have sips of his beer while watching football on Sundays, about how safe I felt with him around, knowing that he would never let anything bad happen to me, how he let me grade tests for him at night and he never cared how many smiley faces I put on the good ones, and how much I loved his hugs.  But, not today.  Now, I will share the event that changed my life forever.

It was the summer of 1983, I was 12 years old and recovering from a broken ankle.  We traveled to New Jersey to visit my mom’s parents, my grandparents, during the summer.  We always looked forward to the trip and had lots of fun.  This particular trip ended in horrible tragedy.  We had a barbecue one day and invited over cousins and friends.  the party lasted into the evening and my dad decided to go running before it got too dark.  So, he suited up and was off.  He usually was gone no longer than an hour, but this evening he didn’t come back.  My cousins waited as long as they could for him to return, so they could say goodbye, but finally decided to call it a night.  So, they drove off in their minivan.  Five minutes later, they came back to the house and asked my mom to come with them.  Immediately, I sensed something was terribly wrong.  I asked to come along, and was given a stern, “No”, as they ran off.  Being the stubborn child I was, I limped down to the street and watched the van drive off and decided to follow.  At the end of my grandparents’ street I saw him, my daddy, lying by the side of the road, barely conscious, moaning our names as best he could, delirious.  There was so much blood.  My mom saw me and ordered me to return home, the scene too horrible for me to handle.  I wanted so badly to cross the road and go to him, to hug him, to tell him I loved him.  I was so afraid and so confused.  I chose to follow orders, and returned to the house and waited, and cried, and screamed, and prayed.

My cousin returned to the house to let us know that Mom had ridden to the hospital in the ambulance with my dad.  More waiting.  And then the phone rang, my heart stopped.  My grandmother answered the phone, spoke to my mom, and she started crying.  She hung up the phone and told my brother and me that Mom would be home very soon and would let us know what was going on.  About half an hour later, I heard my mom say the words, “I’m sorry, but your dad didn’t make it, he’s gone.”  I broke in two at that moment, and I can honestly say that the next week of my life I can’t recall.  I think the pain is just too much.

I found out that my dad had been hit by a drunk driver while running.  The idiot hit my dad with the front of his car, dad ended up on the hood, and then was thrown off the car by the side of the road.  (On a side note, he was found, arrested, tried, and convicted.  He spent a grand total of one year in prison).

Fast forward, to returning back home to Philippi, to talk of funerals and death.  I have brief memories of my friends coming over to comfort me, and of family and my mom and dad’s friends bringing over more food than we could eat in a year.  The entire town was in shock, but all I cared about was the fact that I would never see my daddy again.  Then came the viewing.  I was all dressed up in a sun dress, it was white, pink, blue, and yellow checkered pattern with spaghetti straps that tied over my shoulders (not sure why I remember that).  All I can recall of this time is stepping through the door where my father’s casket was at the end of a long red carpet.  I started to walk forward and then lost consciousness.  I couldn’t do it, I couldn’t handle seeing him lying there, gone to me forever.

I still miss him.  It’s been 27 years and there are times when I revisit that time in my life and the tears still fall.  I often wonder how my life would be different had he been apart of it for a longer period of time.  He is so much a part of my heart and my soul.