The Connection between Green and Celiac Awareness

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Our Body: Is it just one big garden?

It’s funny how time flies and things can change in just a year. Last year around this time, I found myself really starting to struggle with celiac disease. I opened my new business a week after my diagnosis and didn’t really have time to process it or deal with the emotions that come along with a life changing event. I ate the same things over and over because they didn’t upset my stomach and I didn’t have time to find new things to try. The the business started to slow and I didn’t have to spend as much time up there. I’ll admit the slowing of the business probably contributed to my summer depression, just as much as celiac disease.

When I moved into my boyfriend (now husband’s) home 7 years ago, I couldn’t wait to start planting flowers. Ever year I wanted to try a new plant, dig up a new section of our yard and have a beautiful place to call our home. It started with roses. I built this huge rose garden in our yard. At one point, I think I had 17 rose bushes throughout our yard. They were gorgeous… until the beetles came. I did everything I could to try to contain them from eating my flowers but there were too many of them. I found myself outside each night trying to save my precious flowers from these creatures. I tried everything but eventually the beetles won.

I kept only a few roses that I thought I could save but ended up moving on to different plants with better tolerance.

Turns out I made the right decision. I have gorgeous hydrangeas in my backyard that keep growing bigger and better with each year. They love where they are and despite my neglect last summer, they are coming back this year!

My grandmother loved her roses and she had a few in our backyard growing up. I loved them. The very first plant I bought for our backyard was a peace rose and the last rose in my garden is the same rose-bush. Last year was the first year I didn’t tend to it and I’m not sure if it’s going to come back this year. Which makes me sad but also makes me think about our bodies and the cycles of life.

While I was outside pulling weeds, trimming my lavender and cleaning up our flower beds. I looked down at my hand for some reason when I pulled some grass growing under my flowers and noticed my celiac awareness bracelet is also green just like the foliage around me. Spring brings out all the new growth on flowers and trees and of course it got me thinking!

Green is the perfect color for celiac awareness. I’m not sure who thought of it, but it actually is the perfect and symbolic color for our bodies. Isn’t our body just one big perennial garden? Think about it….

Each year our bodies change depending on how well we are nurtured. Gluten are those little beetles that kept coming back to destroy a little bit of my body year after year. It wasn’t until I realized what was causing my perennial garden harm, made adjustments that all the other flowers started to blossom. Once I removed gluten, my mental health improved, my hair and nails are stronger and thicker, my stomach is healing and a million other improvements have been made.

Last year I struggled tremendously with depression throughout the summer. I remember laying on the couch and looking at the beautiful sun shining wondering why I just couldn’t get up and tend to my garden. Looking back, I realize I was actually talking about myself.

I’m excited to finally feel better and breathe the fresh spring air again. I’m thrilled to feel the joy of tending to my flowers and taking care of my home. It’s taken me a long time to get here. A celiac diagnosis or even having to go gluten-free is a major life change. I can’t emphasize this enough that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. You won’t figure it out right away but that’s okay. Sometimes trial and error makes the learning more painful but quicker. I can tell you after a gluten poisoning attack, I’m quick to learn that lesson for the future!

Think of your body as a perennial garden. It needs watered, pruned, fertilized, fed and sun to make the perfect condition for beautiful growth. The same is true for the human body. The more time you spend now taking care of your body, the easier it will be as we get older.

 

The Importance of Taking Time for Yourself

I’ll admit, I’m a workaholic. Often times I find myself working off and on for 12-14 hours straight. I love being busy, creating projects, working on new stuff and finding new opportunities. It’s my nature, it’s in my blood. Despite owning Bexa Body Fitness, my world has been turned upside down by celiac disease and creating Pretty Little Celiac.

But, I will also admit that I know when I need a break or when it’s time to just take a moment and breathe.

Today is one of those days. I’m writing this post and then I’m spending time by myself today. Taking my beloved chocolate lab, Coach, to the park for a walk, run the stairs and some fresh air is always on the top of my list. I need some serenity and some peacefulness after an insanely busy few weeks.

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Coach

When I worked for children services, I found myself running my mental state into the ground just to get things done and be more efficient, only to realize it made me less efficient. I made more mistakes on paperwork and found myself working in circles. That’s when I started picking up on my body’s signals for needing time to take a break.

Whether it’s just spending time with yourself or getting out there to do something fun, it’s essential to clear your mind for new things to enter. Everyone lives a busy life but if you don’t stop to smell the flowers, you won’t even  notice them after a while.

Today I’m stopping to smell the flowers and taking a break. I just know this little mini break will make me stronger for all the exciting projects I have coming up in the next couple of weeks. Don’t ever feel guilty about taking time for yourself. It’s very similar to being on a place when they tell you to place your oxygen mask on first and then help others around you! If you aren’t healthy and well, you can’t help anyone else. This situation applies to everyday living as well. In order to be your best for yourself and others, you have to feel your best. Being run down, exhausted and mentally unstable makes you unable to help others. So, make yourself strong! Take a few hours or days to yourself to recover! It. Will. Be. Okay.

Hopefully, this little mini post can help inspire you to do the same! And, until tomorrow – I’m off to spend some time alone!

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How to bust a rut and re-energize your life in 5 simple steps!!!

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This is day 3 of our girls vacation to San Antonio. I don’t want to curse it but it’s been so far so good! I did eat a Cliff bar at the airport that had malt in it and I didn’t realize but it actually didn’t do anything to me so I guess I can say I lucked out on that one.

Yesterday we went to eat at Canyon Cafe. It was really good. I ordered tilapia tacos and they came with a slaw, black beans, rice and a wonderful sauce. I caved and ate corn. They tasted great and I didn’t have any stomach aches what so ever. I’m starting to wonder if my weight gain and the problems I was having was from the endometriosis and not corn. I actually feel amazing these past few days. I even went running in this beautiful Texas weather. (Ok full disclosure it was a run/jog for 3.5 miles but it felt great!)

I’m not sure if it’s the beautiful weather, the fact that I’m on vacation or that I’m healing but I’m high on life right now and loving it.

When’s the last time you had an “Ah-Ha moment” where life just felt great?

Sometimes I think we get caught up in the routine of gluten blah blah, celiac whatever and fail to stop and look around to see how lucky we are that we can go through all these things and hopefully end up on top. It’s wonderful to know I’m getting this gluten-free gig to be pretty manageable, can go on vacation without stressing out and am on my way to getting my health and fitness back.

Do you feel like you are in a rut or you can’t catch a break? I’ve been thinking about ways to bust the rut back in Ohio, especially with this crappy weather and here’s what I’ve come up with!

1. Limit TV watching. Whenever I travel, I very rarely watch television. I might be on the computer doing work but I’m not laying on the couch watching TV. I’m going to really try to focus on watching TV only a few times a week to bust out of that horrible rut.

2. Get back into working out now that I feel so much better. For me I know exactly what I need to do to get back into my routine at the gym. This laparoscopy was the best thing I could have done because I feel on top of the world. Are you new to fitness or looking for a new routine?

3. Plan some more trips. I know they can be expensive but they don’t have to be. Plan some time with your family, loved ones or friends and just take an overnight adventure somewhere. I love traveling and have been several places in the last few months. I find that they energize me and make me much more efficient after I get back. Take a tour of a new city or find a beautiful bed and breakfast for a romantic getaway. Sometimes we forget how important it is to sit back and relax.

4. Shut down your cell phone. Mine is always glued to my hand!! How do you think I can keep in contact with all of your beautiful PLC’s?? Between social media, games and email, I find myself constantly looking at the screen. When you are with your family, shut it down and spend time with them. Maybe even open a book!

5. Find a new hobby or renew your love or an old one. I might start swimming laps again or pick up cooking (to add recipes to this blog of course. With all the free time from electronics, I will have plenty of time for all these things.

How do you shut it down and re-energize yourself? 

Living and Coping with Chronic Illness: Staying Positive is Key!

Today is day 3 of recovery from my laparascopy procedure. I’m still in quite a bit of pain, nauseous if I get up to move around  and have a huge swollen belly. My body hasn’t stopped itching since I had the procedure despite taking a shower and rinsing all the antibiotic gel stuff off. But overall, I think I’m healing more and more each day. I feel much more aware today despite being very sore still.

The laparascopy confirmed an endometriosis diagnosis and I also have an inflamed bladder, whcih I will need to go to a urologist specialist to have it cheked out. I will go back to the doctor  in a couple of weeks to follow up and see where we go from here.

I wanted to write this post after a negative comment I read on a forum while researching chronic disease. It was a comment about a certain chronic disease being “fake” just to collect disability money and live off the system, which I found highly offensive. I never personally had someone say this to me (partially because I would chew them out) but I know other friends have heard similar things. I have however heard the following on numerous occasions:

Yes, I know there is “something wrong with me.”

Yes, I know that this “isn’t normal.”

Yes, I am “sick of being sick.”

N0, I am “not pregnant.”

No, I am “not falling apart.”

I do not need a constant reminder from people about what I am going through. You want to know what I need? More of the supporting, loving and encouraging people in my life that have been there through it all, never question my illness or treatment and make me feel sane during a very emotionally charged time. If you are not one of these people, please don’t expect to hear from me that much.

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Sometimes I think I need another business card for my issues or a line on my resume for my special needs.  It’s very hard for some people to imagine that this could happen to someone all at once or that the treatment is difficult and slow. It’s even more difficult for people to believe it happens to young people like me who are in their early 30′s. That usually takes the direction into a conversation of how much worse it’s going to be when I get “older.”

Living with a chronic illness is difficult enough, we don’t need people in our lives challenging how we feel, minimizing our pain and treating us differently for suffering. I never thought in a million years I would spend an entire year trying to find answers. I didn’t expect to spend a whole year dramatically changing my entire lifestyle.

A chronic disease is something that lasts longer than 3 months and affects numerous parts of your life. Right now I’m living with celiac disease, endometriosis, arthritis, latex sensitivity and hypothyroidism. My body is completely out of whack. This is challenging enough as it is, I don’t need inconsiderate jerks to remind me.

Alright, we know this is an issue and if you are reading my blog, I know you totally understand where I’m coming from with this point. So, how can we help ourselves through this?

1. Slowly back away from people in your life that aren’t supportive. The negativity is draining you emotionally and is impeding your recovery from illness. In order to get through it all, you have to be mentally and physically tough. It will be hard to say good bye at first but I can promise it will be worth it in the long run. Replace those negative nelly’s with people who genuinely care, love and support you unconditionally. This includes a clean sweep on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter etc.

2. Don’t debate people over the issue. There is no point. If they don’t or can’t understand what you are going through, they aren’t going to change their mind after you “educate” them on the disease. It isn’t worth your time or energy.

3. Focus on yourself for a while. It’s ok to miss the parties, happy hour’s and other social events. They will be much more fun once you can get out there healthy and enjoy the time with friends.

4. Follow doctors orders. I struggle with this. I want to be superwoman and heal quick to keep moving at a fast pace. I actually thought I would be able to drive to Pittsburgh to speak today at the Celiac Awareness Tour 3 days after my surgery. Primarily it’s because I am nuts. Sitting in a car for 3.5 hours there and back would have been torture for me. But I thought I would be fine after 1-2 days post operation. Lesson learned on this one!

5. Some of you might get mad at me for saying this but don’t use your illness as an excuse to get out of things all the time. That’s when people get mad at you and when they start thinking your condition isn’t “real” or whatever else they think. Just be honest and truthful with people and they will be much more accepting of your empty seat at the dinner table.

Do you suffer from this? 

How do you stay strong in the presence of non-believers?

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Want to be happy? Today is the day to start making changes.

Yesterday I had a very bad day.

Today I’m having a decent day. (I wrote this comment prior to 3/4 of this blog post being deleted when I hit publish while sitting at the book store)

Tomorrow will be a great day. (I wrote this comment before my car got hit by a semi the following day, it was not a great day)

As I sit (Thursday) in Barnes & Noble today reflecting on the sequence of events recently and planning to over come this set back, I realize that not everyone responds to stress the same nor do they keep coming back time after time again after frequent set backs.

The last 2 years have been the most challenging years of my life. I’ve always been a fighter. I’ve always used set backs to come back stronger, more determined and eager to succeed. I’m just one of those people whose drive, dedication and determination supersedes any amount of pity parties. (although I do have my fair share of pity parties)

Not every project is going to work. Not every relationship will survive. Not every business will be profitable. The only thing that you can control in this world is your response to the disappointments or negative events. It took me a while to learn how to adequately cope with them and it’s really individualized per person.

I’ve been mad at myself for not reading labels and been glutened! I’ve been mad at myself for purposely “trying” to be able to eat a little bit of gluten once in a while to satisfy my cravings. I’ve been mad at restaurants for making me ill for days. But I will never give up on this journey. I’ve realized it’s a constant battle of trial and error, there really is no quick fix for this tremendous lifestyle change.

My grandfather never tolerated “cry babies” and at a young age I learned to tough it out. Not because he was a hard ass or anything, he just had the military and engineer mentality that in order to succeed, you need to learn to learn from your mistakes and move on. You can’t change events that already occured, all you can do is plan for the future. The resilient people use set backs as fuel for their fire. They take those experiences and turn them into educational moments, striving to overcome the obstacles and be more prepared for the future. Needless to say I’m not always the most sympathetic person in the world but I do have a really big, generous heart.

I struggle with tolerating whiners, cry babies and people who constantly blame others for their misfortunes. Everyone in the entire world struggles. Life can’t always be rainbows and butterflies. We need the rain and storms to develop ourselves into strong, beautiful creatures. What’s the point of getting all worked up over things you can’t control.

I’m finishing this post on Saturday night because on Thursday when I started it, almost the whole post was deleted after the internet at Barnes and Noble went out. This has pretty much been one of my most challenging and difficult weeks in a long time. Just to give you a quick summary – This week I made very difficult business decisions that affected people’s lives I really care about, my sister was in a car accident, a family member got a flat tire and we spent almost 3 hours with him one night until 1am after having a very long day, somehow I gained 5 pounds, the internet wiped out my blog post, I’m struggling to get all my old information off my old computer, some unexpected financial set backs happened and my car was hit by a semi truck with me in it yesterday.

Each and every one of these events was a learning experience. If this were 4 or 5 years ago, all of these events combined would have set me into a tail spin. But as I’ve gotten older and finally have my health in order, it certainly makes it easier to think on the fly and bounce back. When my car was it yesterday, it was blatantly the truck drivers fault but the officer said the intersection was “tough” so he was going to make it a no fault accident. As much as I wanted to cry and fight with the officer, I just let it go. There was nothing I could do at that point to change his mind so why should I get myself all worked up about it. My car is my baby, I’ve only had it for 6 months. BUT it’s just that… a car… it can be fixed. I am grateful to be alive and can’t even believe all I really have is a back ache from tensing up as he hit me from the driver’s side. Do I want to pay $500 for my insurance? No, but that’s just what has to be done. What’s the point of running around crying and moaning about it? Will that fix my car? Will that make the cost go away?

Nope.

So you hate your job? Find a way to enjoy your job or find a new one. It’s not that simple you say? Well, then live your life miserable and know that people don’t want to hear about it.

People are afraid of change. They are afraid of new things. They are assume things will be a certain way without any experience otherwise.

I live my life to make me happy. If you live your life to make other people happy, you will NEVER be happy. Those people suck the life and the happiness out of you because they are also people unhappy on the inside. Misery is contagious. Negativity is contagious. But, so is positivity!

To genuinely be happy, you have to love yourself. To love yourself, you have to make difficult decisions in your best interest for it to happen. I lived my life for too long with people draining my energy, stealing my mojo, bringing me into their negativity and overall making me unhappy.

I’ve cut ties with friends. I’ve cut ties with family members. I quit my job. I made my relationship with my husband better and stronger. I’ve made difficult business decisions creating enemies I never thought I would have. But you know what, through all of this temporary, situational drama – I’m incredibly happy. We still have financial struggles, I still deal with sadness and anxiety, my business isn’t exactly where I want it to be but I AM HAPPY.

Making these decisions aren’t easy. Cutting people out of your life isn’t easy. But it sure feels wonderful to be happy.

What changes can you make in your life to bring a little happiness into it?

Have you made difficult decisions? Please leave a comment below!

That’s It… I’m Done… Time for a Change… Who’s With Me?

For those of  you who also read my bio, you know that I am a fitness expert as well as a gluten free/celiac blogger! Well, the celiac diagnosis has taken a toll on my health, not to mention the hypothyroid problems that came along with the gluten allergy.

I love working out. I really do. Admittedly, I haven’t been adhering to my own standards and beliefs because honestly I just haven’t wanted to. I spent the last 8 months trying to figure things out, frustrate myself and run myself in circles just with the celiac disease – let alone work out.

Yesterday, I ran the Hell Run 5k with my husband and today – I hurt. My knees throb, my back aches, my shoulders are sore and my core is tender. When I ran the Mud Ninja in July, I felt fine. What happened to this fit girl in the picture above? This is what I frequently say to myself almost every day when I look in the mirror. Sure, you might not notice anything in the photos but I feel the difference.

I feel weak.

I feel vulnerable.

So I decided today will be my last day feeling weak and vulnerable. Starting tomorrow, I’m taking control of my health. I’m taking control of my fitness. I’m taking control of my diet.

October 1, 2012 is the day I take control.

I saw online that October is Celiac Sprue Awareness Month, but so is May so I’m not entirely sure which one is correct. But, I think its a great place to get started. I’ve purchased all my “whole” foods. No more snacky snacks. No more processed junk. Just good, whole foods.

Steak, fish, rice, potatoes, green beans, sweet potatoes, tuna, spinach and berries. That’s it for the next few weeks. I’ve got my coolers out, my containers ready and my food prepped. Preparation is key. I know how to do all of this – I just need to stick with it!

Back to my workout regimen of 5 days per week. It feels good for me to be in the gym. I need to sweat and pump iron

I’m incredibly busy the next 10 weeks and I absolutely have to make time for myself.

No excuses. Hold me to it!

Who wants to commit to an October change with me? Post your October resolutions below and let’s get this party started!!!

I’m going to promise Coach I will take him to the park at least 3-4 days per week so he can get exercise too!