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Improve Fibromyalgia Now: How I Learnt the Tools to Halve My Fibromyalgia Symptoms

What is the best way that exists to improve fibromyalgia? In this post, I share the best information that exists right now. I am keeping an eye on the research being done by Dr Jarred Younger and the Neuroinflammation, Pain and Fatigue Laboratory and I encourage you to as well. They are at the forefront of the research on fibromyalgia.

I believe that everybody can improve their quality of life. Whether you are suffering from chronic pain, chronic fatigue, insomnia, myofascial pain syndrome, fibromyalgia – I believe there are steps we can take to improve our symptoms. I am not sure about complete recovery, yet, but I have personally halved my pain and fatigue levels. I have also dramatically improved my sleep – I no longer spend hours trying to get to sleep, sleep in one hour blocks or spend hours awake in pain in the night. It is just far and away better than before.

improve fibromyalgia now

How did I achieve this?

By following the advice of the authors in the following two books. And by working away at lots of little steps every single day.

I also believe if we gave these books to people as soon as they were diagnosed and their doctors were willing to work with them through them, then they would not decline as far and would begin to improve sooner.

Affiliate notice: Some of these links are affiliate links and I will make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

The FibroManual by Dr Liptan

This book was written by a doctor who has fibromyalgia herself and has dedicated her career to treating it. In a recent interview I saw with her, she said she believes herself to be around 80% better to what she was (following her own advice) and even works full time as a practicing doctor in addition to a lot of advocacy work and blogging etc. She also believes we may have the tools for complete recovery available in the next ten years!

This book is also designed to take the back portion to see your doctor and help them treat you. Especially the sleep section.

From Fatigued to Fantastic by Dr Teitelbaum

Another doctor who has fibromyalgia and who has dedicated his career to helping patients with it. A holistic protocol that begins with sleep. If you Google his name, you will find a multitude of resources, including videos and interviews and an entire website.

Both of these books are multi-pronged attacks and deal with more than just band aids for pain and fatigue.

Even if you only found one nugget in these books, you would improve your quality of life. These books are packed full of useful things to enact.

If you are able to follow instructions and try things yourself – then you will surely see results.

Dr Liptan also gives further detail about nutritional changes in The Fibro Food Formula book – so check that out!

All of these areas take time and trial and error. If you want to DIY it, write out a big list of goals or things to try from these books and slowly working through it

If you want support, then you can get some coaching (with me or another health coach). They can help you break it down into manageable chunks.

My Hypothesis

I believe if I was handed one or both of these books at the beginning (and had a doctor who would help me with their parts) then I wouldn’t have gotten so sick and it wouldn’t have taken so long to get better. The cascade of physiological flow on effects wouldn’t have occurred.

To Do List

  • Read one or both of these books
  • Write out the main list of areas (sleep, pain, nutrition etc.)
  • Fill in ideas to try under each area, including what you need to ask your doctor for help with
  • Work on each part slowly
  • If you can, engage a coach to help you with this work – it’s complex and there’s a lot to it
  • You might like to look at my Fibromyalgia Framework Series for a quick start DIY guide
improve fibromyalgia now

Do you think you can improve your quality of life? Have you done it? Followed one of these books, or another protocol? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Do you agree with my hypothesis? That we can improve fibromyalgia now by following one or both of these two books?

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Ways to Make Money with Fibromyalgia

When you are fighting a chronic illness, especially one which limits your energy levels, it makes working in an office or physical job difficult. We still need ways to make money even with fibromyalgia. These are not “make a quick buck” ideas, these are “build a micro-business, it takes time and effort” ideas.

ways to make money with fibromyalgia

Affiliate notice: Some of these links are affiliate links. If you make a purchase using these links, I will make a commission at no extra cost to you. It all helps me to keep making these resources. For more information see here.

Ways to Make Money with Fibromyalgia

Etsy Store

I created an Etsy store to share the templates I had created and used for myself in my own journey – things like My Wellness Planner Kit and My Sleep Workbook. I share a lot of detail about it in this post, My Etsy Diaries. It took a lot of time – I created and fine tuned the templates, created the copy for the listing, researched keywords, created the images and then had to promote them on social media. This has created a small but constant stream of income. If you were focusing solely on it, dedicated to researching best practices and good keywords etc. then you could likely make much more.

Here is an article with a run down for creating and selling printables.

my wellness planner kit

Online VA

One thing I haven’t done but had in the back of my mind for a long time was to be an online virtual assistant. You can choose your hours, work in the comfort of your own home and take on the type of work that interests you. It is time consuming to actually find the work and then do the work and take care of the background administration for your own company. It is the easiest way to make a full income if you can work enough hours. Here is an introductory video about it:

You could specialise in:

  • Working with small business owners
  • Helping bloggers
  • Pinterest VA
  • Social media manager
  • Bookkeeping
  • Website support
  • Transcription services
  • Ghostwriting
  • and more!

Blogging

This blog has been around for several years now, when I started, I never imagined that I could make any income from it. As it has grown and people have told me how much they love it, I have had to look for ways to make some of my income from it to enable me to keep dedicating time to it. I did everything one thing at a time. Even creating blog posts is done step by step. So it is definitely a long-term plan.

I dabbled with a free site for a long time, but now I am finally settled with a host I like I am playing massive catch up. Starting with a host from the beginning and setting it up right is actually a time and energy saver. I recommend GreenGeeks – I chose a three year subscription and got a very good price. In this blog post I share how I create posts step by step and some resources for getting started blogging.

As part of the blog I have the opportunity to do affiliate marketing. This means I can promote products and services I like and receive a portion of the cost. Like when I told you about MSM supplement for pain in this post. If you decide to try it and use my link, I make a tiny commission. Eventually it all adds up. The important thing here is that I would have written the post anyway, the potential to make a little bit of income is secondary.

Some people have made very successful blogs and make a good living from them, but that takes investment and a lot of energy. It is also usually in other niches (subject areas) because nobody goes into the chronic illness niche to make lots of money.

Online courses

Do you have a good understanding of something? Perhaps your previous profession gave you some tools you can teach other people. I have lived, researched and actively worked to fight fibromyalgia – so I have created courses to help you do that too. My courses and books and coaching are shortcuts for you so it doesn’t take as long for you to figure it out. Do you have a subject like this?

I chose Teachable to host my courses. I did a lot of research around the key players in online course software and chose this one after careful deliberation and a play with a couple of the other options. It has been easy to set up and use.

Teaching /Live Services

Do you have something to teach or a service to perform in real life? Or live, virtually? I am doing this with yoga – if you are curious about yoga or coaching or a blend with me, click here. You could do it with:

  • English lessons (can be done virtually or in person)
  • Reiki
  • Massage therapy
  • Nail technician
  • Personal training (exercise)
  • the list is endless!

The idea is for using your skills (or honing new ones) in a way that provides flexibility around your needs. Do you need to work early in the day? Have long breaks between clients/sessions? Do you come alive later in the day? Can you do a few hours over six days, or a couple of fuller days?

Write Books

One or two books doesn’t make that much money, but I didn’t write my books for that. It was a life dream to write a book. I had no idea I could achieve it while living with fibromyalgia and with two small children. With the help of my brother, I did it. My Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia book is still one of the only books written on the subject so it was necessary. I wrote my books very slowly as at the time of writing them I couldn’t sit at the computer for very long at all. They do bring in a small amount of income every month (I don’t receive it every month, Amazon holds onto the money until it reaches $100 and then they deposit into my bank account and then my bank takes $15 processing fee).

If you were able to write multiple books and focus on really marketing them – telling people they exist, then you could make much more.

Coaching

Are you an expert in something? Or do you have a passion for helping others to achieve their goals? Life coaching training gave me the framework to take my expertise to my clients. It is a process to support clients to achieve their goals.

Research around coaching for fibromyalgia is in its infancy but the initial findings are that it is enormously beneficial. This article discusses the benefits on patients receiving coaching for fibromyalgia. At the conclusion of the study it refers to, 12 months results included that Revised Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire scores improved by 35%. Illnesses interference in function was reduced by 44%.

I became a coach because it was a natural extension of the work I have been doing in my blog, books, courses and Facebook groups. I wish that there had been a coach capable of helping me back when I was beginning my journey fighting fibromyalgia. My purpose is to save people the time and energy I had to invest in order to learn what I needed to learn to start improving my quality of life.

Coaching is about more than the initial training, however you choose to train, it is ongoing professional development. I am constantly learning about treating fibromyalgia.

If you want to look into training for yourself, in an energy friendly manner (and you are good at self-motivation) check out Transformation Academy. If you are able to take on several clients this is a good way to make an income. You do need to be able to get the clients, work with them and do all of the background administration that comes with it. By doing coaching virtually you eliminate the travel time and energy usually associated with work and you can also do the sessions using audio only so that you can relax (I use my heat pack).

Writing articles

Freelance writer and teacher Elna Cain is a great resource for getting started in this field. She has a free introductory course. Writing articles for online businesses in a great way to make super flexible income. You do have to watch out for places that will pay appropriately for your content or you will end up writing yourself into the ground just to make a decent income. I have only written a few because I haven’t had the time to focus on finding the places to pitch to that pay well.

You Tube

I have been making videos for years, mostly as a way to add to the blog posts. In all this time I have not hit the metrics required to monetize the content, so I don’t personally make money this way. If you are prepared to focus and work at it, you can make some money this way. Gillian Perkins is a great resource for learning about using YouTube to generate income:

E commerce store

This is kind of like an Etsy store except that you host it on your own website and then drive all of your own traffic there. If you create your own products, this is a great way to do it. You can also host affiliate products in your store. It is just another way to present affiliate products to your audience. If you genuinely like the products you are recommending it is a great way to make income while serving your audience (reducing the time it takes to find a good product for a particular solution).

fibro framework book

I hope that something here has peaked your interest if you were wanting to start making money in a more flexible way, despite fibromyalgia. Is there something you do that isn’t listed here?

an income with fibromyalgia
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Coloring as Meditation and for Relaxation

There has been a lot of interest in adult coloring and meditation for the general population as well as for those of us with chronic illness. Coloring as meditation and for relaxation is a really accessible, practical way to incorporate mindfulness into your day.

how to color for relaxation and meditation - paint by numbers

What are some good reasons to use coloring as meditation?

  1. It is a practical way to incorporate mindfulness into your day and mindfulness has many benefits. If you are curious about those benefits see my free mindfulness workshop.
  2. You can use it to connect with your children – you can color side by side. Modelling mindfulness is the key way to help children reap the benefits of mindfulness. It is also a fantastic way to play with your children if you have limited energy.
  3. As a low energy hobby – following on from the above point, whether you have children or not, it can be difficult to incorporate hobbies when you have chronic pain and fatigue. Coloring is a great way to be able to continue to have hobbies without costing all of your spoons.
  4. Relaxation – when we are in higher levels of pain it can be difficult to relax, it is a gentle way to distract ourselves without resorting to “the box” (though TV has its place).
  5. Ease anxiety – this article shares a piece of research from 2005 where coloring mandalas helped to ease anxiety

If you love the idea of adding mindfulness to your life, head on over to see my free Mindfulness for the Chronic Life workshop which takes you through the benefits and some of the ways to incorporate it into your life. If you want to read more about managing chronic illness see:

What Works for Me Now: Fighting Fibromyalgia
Inexpensive Items I use to Fight Fibromyalgia
Natural Remedies for Fibromyalgia

What if you don’t feel creative? Paint by Numbers option

If you like the idea of simultaneously reaping the above benefits, taking an easier option and creating something you can display in your home – then Paint by Numbers might be for you. Affiliate notice: Some of these links are affiliate links, if you make a purchase using them, I will make a commission at no extra cost to you.

Winnie’s Picks is a premium paint by numbers for adults website that has a heap of different options to choose from. The kits include the linen canvas with the image you choose, the acrylic paint set with matching numbers for the image, a set of four brushes and the complete instructions. You can be a beginner and still get it right.

Giveaway! Try your own coloring project

Winnie’s Picks are going to give one lucky winner from my audience their very own paint by numbers set!

  1. This is open internationally (and includes postage)
  2. The winner can choose one paint by numbers of our catalog (custom canvases included)
  3. The giveaway will be open for two weeks.
  4. Simply enter to win below.
  5. I will contact the winner and send your details to the team at Winnie’s Picks.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Or you can head on over to purchase your own Paint by Numbers kit. It would make a really cool gift. Below is my pack – it was so exciting to receive everything I needed to get started! This is going on my Christmas gift list.

Does it look a little scary to you? It isn’t! We are so used to one step at a time in our journey fighting fibromyalgia and this is what we do with our paint by numbers canvas – do a little at a time. It is a great idea to have a place you can leave it out so that it is easy for you to come back to.

my paint by numbers kit to color for relaxation
It was so fun to receive my kit!

I would love to see your creations – come on over to Melissa (you) vs Chronic Pain, Fatigue, Fibromyalgia Facebook group and share your work. Let us know below, do you have a creative practice?

paint by numbers - coloring for relaxation
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21 Simple Healthy Living Tips for Fibromyalgia, Chronic Pain and Fatigue

Being a healthy human being is a prerequisite for helping to manage chronic pain and fatigue.

Simple healthy living tips are top of the to-do list. Because you cannot throw medicines or any other tools at chronic pain and fatigue if you are not addressing your “normal human needs”.

21 simple healthy living tips

Affiliate notice: Please note that some of my links are affiliate links. If you make a purchase using one of these links I will make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Here are some simple things you can do right now:

A lot of these 21 things lead to more information. If you are curious about even more, you might like to join our newsletter list and gain access to You vs Fibromyalgia free micro course and my free resources page here…

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5 Ways I Use Mindfulness Every Single Day

As a person who has practiced mindfulness in one way or another for several years, offers mindfulness as part of my coaching programmes and has a course dedicated to mindfulness and meditation for chronic pain and fatigue, I thought it was time to share how I use it myself every single day.

Initially I began using meditation as a gateway to profound rest which I could not achieve any other way. But as I have learnt more and practiced more it has begun to be so much more. It transcends the boundaries of a “treatment” for chronic pain, fatigue and insomnia. It helps me in every part of my life.

Affiliate notice: Some of my links may be affiliate links. If you make a purchase using my link, I will make a commission at no extra cost to you.

Five ways I use mindfulness every single day

Here are five ways I use mindfulness every single day

Breathing

I breath to relax, to help me get off to sleep, to avoid or reduce the stress response. You can use the simple 4-2-6 recipe for the simplest stress reduction technique. See my YouTube video below on this breathing.

Mindful Parenting

When my son seems to be getting overwhelmed, or he wakes with a bad dream and panics or when his behaviour is getting over the top we take mindful breaths together. I also use it to try to regulate my response to the frustrations that arise when parenting three very busy boys.

Meditation

Every day after lunch I meditate. It is how I have coped with the intense sleep deprivation of my third baby – who is the worse of the three with sleeping. Yoga Nidra refreshes me, restores me and gives me profound rest I haven’t found any other way. It has been key in reducing my central nervous system over activation of a period of many years. It is a key part of my six month coaching programme.

Mindful Curiosity

A good way to manage chronic illness is to be mindfully curious. Pay attention to what may be causing certain results – like increased pain and fatigue. To also be mindful during movement so we don’t add to our body’s physical burden. Be aware of our emotional and spiritual components too – we are a whole person, not just a physical being. Taking a mindful pause to really listen to others can be so useful in maintaining healthy relationships.

Body Scan Relaxation

I take body scan relaxations when I am first going to sleep and when I am trying to get back to sleep in the night. By paying attention to each part of my body in turn and then inviting it to relax, I tune into my body. I remember it is part of me, even when I’d rather distance myself from the parts with the most pain. My neck is the part I spend the most time visualising. It is much more productive to spend time checking in with your body than stressing that you are not yet asleep. Even if you don’t fall asleep (and I always do) then you will have achieved rest, which is far better than getting frustrated about insomnia and/or pain.

As you can see mindfulness encompasses a range of things. It is truly a cornerstone of my wellness plan. I really hope you can see the benefits of incorporating it into your personal plan for wellness.

You are welcome to check out my free workshop Mindfulness for the Chronic Lifesimply sign up here.

central sensitivity and meditation
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Things to Consider Pre Pregnancy with Fibromyalgia, Chronic Pain, Chronic Fatigue

Considering pregnancy with fibromyalgia, chronic pain, chronic fatigue or any chronic illness is a big deal. There are a host of considerations. If I had thought too intensely about it prior to having my first I am sure I would have gotten myself into a tizzy. Why? Because there was no information available. Even once I was pregnant there was so little information around and even my doctors didn’t know much about it.

After years of researching and sharing my experience and writing about pregnancy with fibromyalgia, chronic pain, chronic fatigue, I have developed a list of things to consider prior to becoming pregnant.

things to consider pre pregnancy with fibromyalgia

In this post I will share a few, but the list is long. You can grab the entire list by purchasing the updated edition of Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia book and emailing your proof of purchase to melissa[at]melissavsfibromyalgia.com or enrolling in Pregnancy and Chronic Pain, Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia. For this month (August 2019) only the entire revamped course is available for just $59 (down from $99). Where the book shares my experience and research, the course turns that knowledge around and helps you to make your plans for managing during pregnancy with fibromyalgia, chronic pain, chronic fatigue.

Top Considerations Pre Pregnancy with Fibromyalgia, Chronic Pain, Chronic Fatigue

Affiliate notice: Please note that some of my links may be affiliate links and if you make a purchase using those links I may make a commission at no extra cost to you.

Arm yourself with knowledge


Take Pregnancy and Chronic Pain, Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia micro course for an introduction about pregnancy and fibromyalgia (available in my free resources page, simply sign up to the newsletter and receive access)
Read Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia book
Consider taking the Pregnancy and Chronic Pain, Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia course
Learn about pregnancy in general
 Look into delivery and recovery
Read about the early weeks (fourth trimester)

Wean off and stop any medications that are categorically unsafe

This is an area I encourage you to become a self-advocate. Do some research and be involved in the decision making process with your doctor – ensure you are being factored into the cost vs benefit equation. This is a really important one to address. I have seen women who have been forced to go cold turkey off medications during their first trimester and it is not fun.

A top piece of advice for any person approaching a doctor no matter their stage in life? A well researched/thought out decision is harder to ignore than a general plea for help. Arm yourself with knowledge, do your cost vs benefit analysis and then ask the doctor to partner with you. They may disagree but you have created a starting point for a good discussion.

Have an honest discussion with your significant other about:


How you will manage during pregnancy and the first year
What you will do in the event that you cannot continue to work
What will happen if there are times when you are too ill to look after the baby
Agree how you will approach breastfeeding

Nourish yourself well


Drink water
Minimize dehydrating drinks such as tea and coffee (the research suggests these are fine in moderation during pregnancy, but it is good to minimize from the hydration perspective)
Aim for eight servings of fruit and vegetables a day, aim for an array of colours
Include protein and healthy fats at each meal
If you need, consult a medical professional or nutritionist
Start taking a pregnancy multivitamin

Come and join the supportive community in the Pregnancy and Parenting with Chronic Pain, Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia Facebook group. Having social support is magical. It truly made a huge difference for me between my first and second pregnancies. Just having people who got it to bounce ideas off was a relief.

Pregnancy with fibromyalgia, chronic pain, chronic fatigue, doesn’t have to be a scary idea. Just know that with preparation, understanding and support you can do it.

I would love to hear from you: What kind of things are you concerned with if you are considering pregnancy with chronic illness? What kinds of things do you wish someone told you if you are already pregnant or had a baby with chronic illness? Tell us in the comments below!

Don’t forget that you can grab the entire list by purchasing the updated edition of Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia book and emailing your proof of purchase to melissa[at]melissavsfibromyalgia.com or enrolling in Pregnancy and Chronic Pain, Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia. For this month (August 2019) only the entire revamped course is available for just $59 (down from $99)

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Preparing for the Postpartum Period with Chronic Pain, Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia

All areas around bearing children with chronic pain, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia are sorely lacking in readily available knowledge. The postpartum period is a mystery to all women, but when there is a chronic illness in the mix it is vital to be prepared. In the Pregnancy and Parenting with Chronic Pain, Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia Facebook group (which you are welcome to join if you are a female considering children, are pregnant or have children) we talk through all of the areas regularly.

Recently though, I realised I hadn’t addressed the postpartum period here on the blog. Mostly because I have no idea how much of my experience was unique to the chronic illness and how much was “normal” to all postpartum periods.

Preparing for the postpartum period with chronic pain, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia: the top five tips

If you have seen the Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia eCourse you will know that as part of that we make plans for coping during delivery and those early weeks and the Postpartum Checklist I have created will now be available as a special bonus for enrolling in the course. Also, for the month of August, while we promote the latest edition of Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia book (updated to reflect my third journey) purchasers can email me proof of purchase and receive the checklist free too. Look out for my next post which will discuss things to consider prior to trying to conceive which will include another handy checklist that will also come with it.

So what are my top five things to consider for the postpartum period as a mama who has done this three times?

Arm yourself with knowledge

The first step is always to arm yourself with knowledge. You need to know what to expect during a “normal” postpartum period and what might occur as a mama with fibromyalgia, chronic pain, chronic fatigue.
 As a good start you can check out my Pregnancy Resources page.
 Learn about breastfeeding, expressing, formula feeding and mix feeding so you are prepared for whatever happens. Take advantage of your midwife or doctor’s experience but disregard what doesn’t work for you. Take the knowledge that you can mix feed in so it doesn’t feel like all or nothing if breastfeeding is a kick in the pants.

Have your natural pain relief mechanisms down

Not only crafted a list, but actually use them so often that they are second nature to reach for. In the pregnancy and nursing period, the more natural options the better. This is not to say medicine doesn’t have a place, but natural options are vital. See this post for My Top Five Natural Pain Relief Mechanisms.

Research and discuss medicinal options with your doctor/medical team

Be prepared before you have had the baby and realise that your are having a massive flare up or the after pains are mean. Have your medicines pre vetted for the breastfeeding (if you are) and ensure that nothing you have been given interacts with the other. The Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia course has a list of advanced pain relief options including lots of places to go for more information, but www.drugs.com is a good place to start. I always encourage people to do some information gathering themselves so they can make an informed decision with their doctors.

Consider what and how you will tell the delivery team about your illness

In my first delivery/postpartum no one really knew what fibromyalgia was and I didn’t know what or how to tell them. For my second and third I knew better. I was able to advocate for myself much more strongly. Although my pelvis issues needed more advocating than the chronic pain and fatigue. Consider making a list with a brief description of your illness, how it might impact you in your labour/postpartum period, what medicines you are on, what you cannot tolerate and if there are any special considerations.

Compile a list of handy items that will help you

Things like urine alkiliser, warm socks, nursing bras, bottle spray with witch hazel for a sore botty, open button pyjamas, heat pack, your pillow and your pre approved medicines and natural pain relief options. All those things that will make you comfortable as a postpartum person and as a person with chronic pain and fatigue.

Free checklist with new edition of book or freshly updated course

For the rest of the items on the checklist be sure to grab your copy of Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia book updated edition and then email me proof of purchase to melissa[at]melissavsfibromyalgia.com or enroll in Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia eCourse.

Or come and join the newsletter list and access it along with all of the other free resources in the exclusive members resources page!!

In Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia book I share my research and personal journey through three pregnancies, deliveries and postpartum periods. In Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia eCourse I help you prepare for the best pregnancy, delivery and postpartum periods possible despite chronic pain and fatigue. It is practical, easy to understand, with heaps of resources and made by a mama who has done it all three times herself.

“This course gave me the confidence to know I will cope and I will get through it.” – A Fibro Parent

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4 Healthy Eating Choices You Can Make Now with Chronic Pain, Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia

Nutrition is important for optimal health. What “healthy eating” means exactly varies from person to person. I have been researching food as a gateway to good health recently and while I haven’t settled on a massive lifestyle change such as paleo or plant-based etc I have formulated the below four key healthy eating choices you can start enacting right now.

Affiliate notice: Some of my links are affiliate links. If you make a purchase using my link I will make a commission at no extra cost to you.

four healthy eating habits you can start right now

Here’s the video about it

I still don’t believe in making food a battleground or making massive changes without a lot of preparation, but these things I have managed while nursing with three children five and under and chronic pain and fatigue.

So here are my eating healthy eating changes you can make right now:

  1. Lots of fruit and vegetables.
    I am aiming for eight servings a day with most from a colourful array of vegetables.
    What are my secret weapons? Soups and smoothies. I have used my Nutribullet to make many types of smoothies with a mix of vegetables, fruits, healthy fats and dairy free milk. I also make my dairy free milk using it! You can get your own Nutribullet here, I’m obsessed with mine!

2. Hydration – in the book Quench: Beat Fatigue, Drop Weight, and Heal Your Body Through the New Science of Hydration they suggest many conditions are caused by dehydration. I am aiming for more hydrating drinks and less caffeine.
How? My first drink is water with some lemon. Then I’ll have my coffee with a piece of toast.  At morning tea I have a coffee with fluffy milk and some cinnamon. Then the rest of the day I only drink water.

3. Less grains – there’s a lot of discussion around grain. Having done a gluten-free trial a few years ago I know I am not allergic or intolerant but I am keen to reduce my reliance on grain based carbohydrates. By prioritising vegetables and fruits I have managed to de-prioritize grains. When I have them they are wholegrain and well soaked.

4. Avoid what you are intolerant to
If you suspect something doesn’t agree with you, avoid it for 30 days then add back in. Eliminating lactose has helped me a lot. If you suspect there are many issues in your diet and these four things are not helping then you might consider doing the Whole30 elimination diet or a similar idea. They remove the most common intolerances and then you add them back in one at a time to challenge them. This way you can eat what works for you.

Checking your intolerances

You can also check for intolerances with testing. IntoleranceLab provides Food Sensitivity Testing and is a quick start way to identify your intolerances. You just send them a sample of your hair. I have not used this lab personally because I am in New Zealand, but I have done intolerance testing using my hair and it was surprising what came up. I vaguely knew at the time that dairy was not good for me and that bananas were difficult to tolerate – and my test confirmed it. Simple!

So these are my four tips you can work on right now. I am actually finding subtle benefit from my changes. I am less bloated and uncomfortable and I am noticing that I am experiencing less reactive hypoglycemia (physical reaction to hunger such as dizziness and being hangry.) I am also able to eat slightly less often than I used to, which is a relief as I am over figuring out what to eat all the time!

What would your tips be? What have you worked on and found made a difference?


Want some help with your journey?

Come and join the conversation at Melissa (you) vs Chronic Pain, Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia Facebook group.

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What Works for Me Now: Fighting Chronic Pain, Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia

Several years ago I first shared my list “what works for me: nine things to fight fibromyalgia”. It included:

  • Reduced work hours
  • Supplementation
  • Physiotherapy
  • Sleep
  • Reduced activity levels
  • Meditation
  • Exercise
  • Pain management techniques
  • Hope

So what would I keep in this list? What would I add?

What works for me fighting chronic pain, chronic fatigue and insomnia

My current understanding is that there are six key areas to fight chronic pain, chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia:

  1. Knowledge and taking control for ourselves
  2. Sleep
  3. Perpetuating factors
  4. Central nervous system
  5. Fatigue and pacing
  6. Pain relief

What works for me right now?

Find the video here

Sleep

Sleep is the biggest component of my journey. I will discuss this more under Low Dose Naltrexone, below, but it is HUGE. See also my giant insomnia post for more.

Pain Management

Aside from sleep and physiotherapy I do a lot of stretching, self-trigger point work, yoga, meditation, essential oils, heat and more. I am employing more natural remedies than medicinal.

Low Dose Naltrexone – is now number one on my list. This one covers sleep and pain management . It helps me sleep in more than one hour blocks, which has been the biggest part of my puzzle. Now, when I sleep only six or seven hours (due to the baby) but a few hours in a row, I feel infinitely better than I ever did on my eight or nine broken hours. As a result I experience less pain, less anxiety, less brain fog. More health and a much better quality of life.

Physiotherapy – this is still crucial, more specifically the insertion of dry needles into trigger points and left for 15 minutes to rest to encourage blood flow and relaxation followed by stretching and mobilizations. I only have to go every three weeks at the moment, which is a big win as I pay privately for every treatment. Learn more about myofascial pain syndrome and trigger points here.

Pacing

A combination of reduced work hours and reduced activity levels. Both are key. Reduced work hours is the first thing that jump started my journey to wellness and is still part of managing my energy envelope.

Perpetuating Factors/Normal Human Needs

For me, this means managing the myofascial pain syndrome and the fibromyalgia. Most of my six key ways hit multiple symptoms. Aside from managing my posture, avoiding triggers and sleeping as best as I can, these two are important:

Nourishment – I am learning about the importance of nutrition right now. I haven’t yet finalised my template for eating going forward but all of my research seems to suggest the number one thing we can do is prioritize vegetables and fruits. Then I am prioritizing healthy fats (olive oil, coconut oil etc) and good quality protein. This leads to a lower consumption of grains. As an offshoot, supplementation, is key. I am using magnesium and 5HTP to sleep (after finally getting off amitriptyline after years which precluded 5HTP). I also supplement with MSM as our soils are generally deficient in sulphur and this seems to help me. I am preferring whole foods over supplements – I am taking moringa powder or hemp powder for naturally occuring vitamins and minerals.

Gentle exercise – this is still key but I am able to do more than I was previously. I can now do 30 minute walks without pain hangovers. My exercise of choice includes yoga, walking and Pilates.

Central nervous system

Meditation – this has only become more integral to my daily life. I have meditated daily for more than five years now. I use it for rest (I can’t nap), for pain relief (or a break from it when it is bad) and stress relief. The benefits I have reaped since my initial post are so many that I am a mindfulness and meditation cheerleader. You can sign up for my free workshop Mindfulness for the Chronic Life here.

So these are the key things that are working for me now.

I know it is complex. It has taken me years and a lot of research and personal trial and error to figure out. I have provided many links in this post to help you in your research.

If you would like to learn more about how to get a jump start on your journey then you can join You vs Fibromyalgia free micro course and my newsletter list (which will give you access to a heap of other free resources including printable templates, reports, micro courses, workshops and more).

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Learning Options for Chronic Pain, Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia

Do you miss learning? Or want to up-skill but don’t have any spoons leftover after life to go to class? Online learning options might be the way to go.

flexible learning options for those with chronic illnesses

I have found online learning options to be excellent for filling that gap as a mama with chronic illness. I’m not expected anywhere at any specific time. I can access lectures while wearing the fussy baby in the wrap. And while I am tired from the baby waking regularly in the night, since I have experienced the improvement in my symptoms from low dose naltrexone, I can’t bear not to indulge my love of learning.

Affiliate notice: Some of my links are affiliate links, if you make a purchase using my link I will make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Benefits of online learning for those with chronic illness

  • You can lie or sit however you need (in bed with your heat pack?)
  • You don’t have to leave the house at a specified time
  • You don’t have to do the work at a specified time
  • You can do as little or as much as you can fit in (around energy, children, etc)
  • You can use your phone, laptop, tablet or computer – whatever works best for you
  • Keep your brain active
  • Up-skill yourself no matter your current employment status
  • You can learn a hobby you have been curious about

Online courses are the most useful when you do the work and can demonstrate what you’ve learned. So if you want to put it on your CV, be prepared to talk about how it helped you and relate it to your work.

How to get the most out of online learning

  • Complete all of the work offered, the reading, the quizzes, the videos, the extras
  • Ensure you understand it all
  • Participate in forums provided
  • Practice what you have learnt
  • Ensure you understand what you have learnt and how it can help you in your career (if you intend to use it on your CV)

laptop cup studying

Below I share some learning platforms I have come used.

Lynda

When I was off work while pregnant due to severe pelvis issues last year I did a course on SEO (search engine optimisation) through Lynda.com. I had free access to this as my public library has a bulk membership which was awesome. The app was easy to use and there is a great selection of both longer and shorter courses. As a bonus it shows the certificate of completion on LinkedIn. There were no assignments but I practiced everything on my blog.

Udemy

Earlier this year I completed a life coach certification through Udemy. I paid just $11.99 USD (down from $200!) for my course in the January sale and it is a fairly comprehensive one. After this one I moved on to mindfulness certification and group coaching. Once I had completed my courses I received my certificate. I also joined the networking group associated with my course provider (The Transformation Academy) to learn even more. I also practiced my new skills as I went. I have loved every minute of the training, the practicing and then using my skills in this blog. It will also be useful when I go back to part time work. The beauty and tricky part of Udemy is that the courses are run by different people and are not necessarily vetted by Udemy. I highly recommend the Transformation Academy though.

Alison

Their About page says, “We believe that free education, more than anything, has the power to break through boundaries and transform lives.” And living with chronic illness is definitely a barrier to further learning.

I have just found Alison and have my eye on a few of their free courses for some future up-skilling. With options for 2-3 hour certificates or pathways for diplomas there is a lot to search through. Subjects range from touch typing to French to graphic design to project management.

FutureLearn

You can choose the premium (paid) option and gain access to all courses for as long as you need, or you can enroll in courses and complete them within a designated time frame without paying (but you won’t receive a completion certificate). You can choose short courses up to online degrees.

Subject ideas you may like to explore as a start

  • Nutrition
  • Health
  • Literature
  • Marketing
  • Writing
  • Coaching
  • pretty much anything you like!

Have you embarked upon any online learning? Do you have one you recommend?


If you are curious about up-skilling yourself for your fight to be well you might like to look into my learning options. To learn from the comfort of your bed, couch, or comfortable chair with your phone, tablet or computer. Take my shortcut – all my years of research, personal learning, trial and error to make your plans.

Fibromyalgia 101 Workshop Free – your free introduction to what fibromyalgia is, who gets it and how you might be able to treat it.

Mindfulness for the Chronic Life Workshop Free – your free introduction to mindfulness and how it can help us manage our chronics (chronic pain, fatigue, insomnia, anxiety)