This is a topic I’ve been avoiding for quite some time. I really don’t want to be that whiny person who’s always complaining, so I sometimes gloss over the downside of dealing with all this craziness. But as I talk with other people who are going through similar issues, it becomes more and more evident that communication is very important between those experiencing chronic illness and those who know them and play support roles in their lives. There's a social aspect of chronic illness that isn't often discussed, but I'm going to break my silence on the matter. So please, bear with me. Here goes...
As I'm finishing up reading my latest nutrition book (a really good one, by the way, which I’ll be sharing with you all soon) and learning about all these complex nutritional principles, beliefs and theories, I can’t help but think about my dad.
My dad was the ultimate health nut. He’d spent years struggling with his own health demons, so when he began to learn about the role of nutrition in achieving good health, he was extremely passionate about sharing it with everyone he knew. He could go on for hours, talking about the importance of eating natural foods, consuming raw dairy instead of pasteurized, replenishing the “friendly” bacteria in our guts (that one really threw us for a loop) and in his later years, explaining the horrific consequences of improper cattle raising (I can’t tell you how often I was lectured about Mad Cow Disease!).
Living with chronic pain is no joke. I’ve suffered with various types of pain throughout my life: from debilitating migraines since I was a child to excruciating abdominal pain as a result of my Crohn’s condition, as well as head-to-toe total body/joint/muscle pain as a result of adverse reactions to medication. I’ve been incapacitated for weeks — and even months — at a time, so if you can find me some good pain relief, I’m your new best friend.
Medication is rarely the best solution. Over-the-counter pain medication is only a temporary fix — that is, if it even helps in the first place — and often leads to undesirable side effects. In fact, I can no longer even touch aspirin or ibuprofen because of it’s probability of triggering stomach/intestinal bleeding (yes, this actually happens; it’s not just a legal disclaimer in the fine print). And acetaminophen is controversial because it can lead to liver damage (not to mention it doesn’t do a whole lot for me anyway). In more extreme cases, narcotic pain medication may be prescribed but let me tell you, in my experience: if I’m in a lot of pain, it might help “take the edge off,” but it certainly doesn’t take it away, not to mention it’s potentially addictive and dangerous if used incorrectly. So when I find something that provides pain relief the natural way, it’s like hitting the feel-good jackpot. Here are a few remedies that have helped me along the way:
Not too long ago, my hair was in need of some major help. It was starting to feel unusually dry and unruly; even my stylist noticed that my normally healthy hair needed a pick-me-up. My hair needed repair stat, and I knew it was time to try something new.
It was perfect timing because I’d been wanting to look for a good sulfate-free shampoo (it had been “on my list” for several months). I’d been hearing about the nature of sulfates for quite some time and these days, there are so many sulfate-free options out there that there was no excuse not to try it. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) are common (and relatively cheap) ingredients used in conventional shampoos. They're the thing that gives shampoo it’s ability to lather, which — let’s face it — makes most of us feel like we’re truly getting our hair squeaky clean. The problem is “squeaky clean” can equate to damaged and dry, and sometimes even skin/scalp irritation. SLS and SLES are detergents and surfactants, making them extremely (and unnecessarily) harsh on our lovely locks. Turns out, there are safer ways to get our hair clean and after some research, I decided to try products from Surface hair care.
And boy, I’m glad I did. I noticed an almost immediate difference. Since I started using the products, my hair feels softer and a great deal of moisture has been restored. The products I’m using are:
It took me quite a while to get this recipe right, but these nut-free Paleo cinnamon chocolate chip cookies were totally worth the wait.
Do you ever feel like sometimes you’re just having “one of those days?” Maybe it feels like all of a sudden everything’s come crashing down; or perhaps it’s just that you’ve had to face yet another disappointment in life. You don’t want to be in that negative place, but your head is spinning, your thoughts are going a mile a minute and you’re just trying to make sense of it all. You’re not sure exactly what you’re feeling, but you know you’re feeling something, and you have a compelling need to figure out what it is.
Sometimes I just need to clear my head and for me, music is one of the best ways to do that. I think most people would agree that music is an incredibly powerful form of therapy. Whether it transports us to a place far, far away or jolts us into the reality of where we are right at that moment, a good song can put it all in perspective and make us feel like everything’s going to be okay. Sometimes a song will remind me where I’ve been, where I am now and where I should be going. Sometimes it will bring me to a place of great clarity, profound realization, or sometimes it will simply remind me that I just need to get over it.
When I think about my visit to Tennessee several years ago, three things come to mind: the music (both present and past), the whiskey (or bourbon, to be more specific) and the biscuits (yes, biscuits get a category all their own).