Protecting yourself from the flu!

 

My husband came home last night and said, “Everyone at work is out with the flu.” I quickly suggested he take that zinc and those multi-vitamins I had just purchased for him, and (maybe for the first time) he didn’t blow me off. Side note: It’s hard to be married to a health coach. Good thing I can cook. 😉

This flu season is predicted to be one of the worst in recent history, and that is pretty scary especially for those of us with a whacked out immune system. Here is what I am doing to protect myself and my family. 

Disclaimer: I am a health coach and not a doctor, a dietician, or a nutritionist.   I make no claims to any specialized medical training, nor do I provide health care, medical or nutrition therapy services; or to diagnose, treat or cure any disease, condition or other physical or mental ailment of the human body.

1. Wash your hands! I know this is super fundamental, but I see people in public bathrooms. I know that at least some of us are not washing our hands as often as we should. Wash your hands before you eat, after you come in from being out, and after touching stuff like money, handrails, and elevator buttons.  In other words, if one potentially sick person touched it, wash your hands! 

2. Stay away from sugar. Sugar is just horrible for us. It creates inflammation and harms beneficial gut bacteria which leads to immune system problems. If you must have something for that sweet tooth buy yourself some richly colored fruit so you get the fructose you’re craving and the vitamins you need. Note: Fruit juice doesn’t count!

3. Get that sleep. We need at least 7 hours of sleep each night, but most of us get about 5. We have to get the sleep we need so our body can do its job of protecting us.  If you need to be scared straight on this topic, I found this interview with sleep scientist Michael Walker to be very effective. 

4. Eat the rainbow. Load up your plate with veggies of all colors! Vegetables are full of vitamins, nutrients, and fiber our body needs to nourish our cells and feed our good gut bacteria. 

5. Take your supplements. I’d rather get my nutrition through food because I know that work better for my body, but there are somethings that I can’t get through our food.  This looks different for all of us, but for me, this means making sure I get my vitamin D, omega-3, and gut healing probiotic every day, without fail.  Note: People with very active autoimmune symptoms should not be taking loads of immune-boosting vitamins like echinacea. If you aren’t sure what you should be taking, talk to your openminded nurse practitioner or doctor to see what they recommend for you. 

7. Eat all those probiotics! If it isn’t clear by now our gut health is super important. SEVENTY (70%) percent of our immune system is located in our gut. If you have lupus or another autoimmune diagnosis you have to address your gut health.

During this flu season, I’m making sure I give my gut everything it needs (and avoiding what it doesn’t) to make sure my immune system is given the best chance to protect me. I’ve written about eating your probiotics here, but for a shorter version, I’ll just tell you that I am loading up on miso,  tempeh, homemade sauerkraut, and these Bubbies pickles that I can’t seem to replicate.

So far, staying vigilant about these things has kept the flu at bay, and I’m hoping and praying that it will stay away. However, if it does happen, I am confident that my little family and I will be in good enough shape to weather the storm. 

May the flu pass you by!

Public Service Announcement: Stay home if you are sick. I know that’s hard. I know that kids have to be places and sometimes work is unforgiving about days off, but you have to get the rest you need to protect yourself. And you have to keep your germs to yourself. You flu could literally kill someone with a weak or whacky immune system. Stay home in bed and binge watch The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel because it’s brilliant.

Keep the inflammation at bay this holiday season

Santa holding candy at the Austin Texas Trail of Lights

This Saturday was my first party of the season and it got me thinking how the holidays are really a minefield for those of us trying to keep inflammation at bay. From loads of sugar we push on each other to the stress of making it a perfect holiday, the season can leave us worse for wear. But it doesn’t have to be that way. There are simple steps we can take to protect ourselves and keep the inflammation at bay.

1. Have a plan. Whether it’s your companies holiday party or Christmas dinner with your in-laws decide beforehand what you will and won’t be eating and drinking.  Have a plan to eat one good piece of pie or only indulge in one nice cocktail. Deciding beforehand will give you the power to say no overindulging on the things that make you feel ill.

2. Bring a dish you love that is nutrient rich. If the environment is right and you can or are asked to bring a dish make sure you provide yourself with a really healthy and delicious option. I love braised kale because of its silly simple, delicious, and can be dressed up in all sorts of ways with nuts and berries. Bonus points if you use bone broth!

3. Be a mindful eater. Often times the reason we eat things that make us feel bad is that we aren’t aware of what we are eating. We load our plate up and shovel it all down fast. No matter what your plate looks like make sure to get into a relaxed state before eating (my go-to is deep breathing!), and then chewing thoroughly, pausing between bites. Notice the taste, the smell, the texture. Doing these things (all year round) will ensure that you are digesting properly and giving your brain room to send you the “all full” queue we miss when shoveling in food.

4. Manage stressThe holidays can be stressful which can rob of us of our joy and seriously do a number on our free will. When we are stressed our body is driven towards those types of foods that cause inflammation, like sugary sweets and highly refined carbs. Finding a way to manage your stress, especially when everything else is against you, will keep you in the driver’s seat. You can check out my FREE stress management course here through the end of December.

Holidays are supposed to be a pressure release from the mundane but often they feel like a powder keg. But you can change that. You are in charge and you can create a space to enjoy and nourish yourself.

Happy Healthy Holidays!

Carrie

PS I have recently partnered with a haircare line that uses cruelty-free non-toxic ingredients that WORK!  I know, I was surprised too. If you are interested, check out my Facebook Live announcing my new venture and/or contact me.

I am absolutely aware of the irony

Setting the intention to thend to your health is often the only dividing line between feeling good and feeling horrible.

Tonight I was getting in bed, more or less on time, when I realized that I hadn’t prepared Day 2 of my awareness exercise for some of my newsletter subscribers.  Yes, I’m well aware of the irony.

Today I allowed myself to scroll endlessly through repeating headlines on our latest mass murder. Yes, I think, speak, and write extensively about stress management, and I am well aware of the irony.

This morning, it took me two hours to get anything done because I created no boundaries and let others pull me around. Yes, I preach self-care, and I am well aware of the irony.

Some days I do everything I know to do to keep my inflammation down and my mood up and other days…well I am absolutely aware of the irony.

Tomorrow I will try again. It will be a bit harder to get going because I won’t have all the sleep I need, but instead of allowing it to handicap me I will use it as a reminder to be more mindful. I will look at what my priorities are and let all that other stuff go.  I will do this because I will make a choice to do this. Sometimes that’s the only dividing line between feeling good and feeling like crap.

What choice are you going to make today?

 

 

Beware the magic bullet

If you’ve been aware of the wellness world for any amount of time, you have probably seen a good share of “superfoods,” “miracle detox,” and “all natural cures.”  You have probably heard some amazing claims made about this supplement, that combination of everyday ingredients, those weird berries, and all the fragrant oils. Each and every one of them is meant to heal the body from a wide range of what ails ya, from extra weight to cancer.  I’m not going to lie; I’ve certainly tried my fair share. At one point my medicine cabinet was a wasteland of “miracles.”

And who can blame me?  It’s so seductive to think that I can just do this one thing and all my problems will just disappear. Especially when I’m sick and feel horrible and scared. But it’s a false promise because that’s just not how we work.

Nevertheless, the promises keep rolling in, and people keep throwing their money at these cure-alls and feeling like failures when the promised benefits don’t come about.  The hilarious and gold-medal cursers over at the Thug Kitchen have a perfect name these phenomena, “cult of wellness magic.” (Don’t click through if cursing offends you.)

You might be thinking, “Carrie, aren’t you being a bit cynical?” To that I answer a resounding, “Heck yes, I am!” And I would urge you to be cynical, too. If anyone tries to sell you a remedy for your pain with the promise that it’s as simple as taking a pill or including an expensive powder in your smoothie, they aren’t about your well-being. They are about your money.  Any remedy that doesn’t jibe with science, doesn’t view you as a whole person, and/or takes a one-size-fits-all approach should not pass your smell test.

This does not mean that I don’t think you can find healing. Obviously, I do or I wouldn’t have become a health coach. But I also know from the healing I have gained and from the transformation in my clients’ lives that healing occurs when you are intentional about all aspects of your life — from what you put on and in your body to how you use your energy to how you speak about yourself.  And yes, SOME  superfoods, supplements, and oils may play a role in all that, but they aren’t the whole shebang…not even close to it.

You are better off increasing the number of vegetables you eat in a day than drinking a liter of the newest health drink. Getting a full night sleep every night will do more for weight control than that weird new detox. And making it a daily practice to work on your stress will do more for your long-term health than that expensive supplement.

So the next time you start to find yourself seduced by some new wellness magic, turn off your screen, march into your kitchen, and whip up some veggies. There are no magic bullets but you are more powerful than you know. You are more than capable to do the work needed to make the change happen.

Fear and failure because Lupus sucks

House Lupus

Last week I did some things I know don’t work for me. On Friday I ate gluten; it was an emergency situation. But the gluten I ate on Saturday had nothing to do with “have to” and everything to do with “want to” and “I already screwed up so…”  Health coaches are humans too. That wasn’t great, but I did what I do when I get glutened and dealt with the achy joints, the digestive issues, and fatigue.

But then I did something really dumb. While I was healing, I spent a few hours out in the sun. The sun and I, like many of you with Lupus, have a really awful relationship. Meaning it knocks me on my butt quickly because I am photosensitive, even while I’m in remission.

So here I am, having been in remission for a few years now, quickly seeing things deteriorate. I was angry at myself, and I felt like such a failure. But mostly I was scared because I didn’t know what was going to happen and I didn’t know how bad it was going to get. But you probably already know that fear comes along with our diagnosis. In fact, I think that’s one of the things that unite us but that we don’t talk about it.

Fear

We don’t talk about our fear because we don’t want to speak them into existence. But when we don’t talk about things, we repress them. And that’s super bad because we just sink all this fear into our body where it lives and grows and then comes out as stress, anxiety, or even anger. From purely a health perspective, that’s horrible because it is only going to feed the inflammation in your body.

So what we do is find the right people to hear us — to hear our fears. But NOT ALL YOUR FRIENDS are the right people. In this short video, Brene Brown spells out which friends we share our hearts with because not everyone deserves our vulnerability. For me, I knew I could share my heart with my partner and my friend with her own autoimmune diagnosis. They both just met me with empathy and, “I’m sorry; that sucks.” And for me, that’s just what I needed to hear and how I needed to be heard.

Failure

I failed. I knew better, and I didn’t do what I should have. Failure derails so many of us because it taps into that inner liar that tells us that we aren’t good enough, strong enough, or worthy of finding healing. I see it all the time, and it breaks my heart. But I get it. Instead of listening to that liar, we need to start practicing radical self-love. This is where we view ourselves and speak to ourselves the way we would a loved one.

When someone we care about makes a mistake we don’t think “Nice run, but you screwed that up so you might as well stop trying.” Heck no! But we do it to ourselves all the time. ALL.THE.TIME.

Be compassionate and understanding, and then hitch up your pants and get back on the wagon.

Cooling the inflammation

Once I rallied myself, I went to work mitigating the effects of my blunder. First I made sure I got plenty of sleep. I did gentle yoga because that has been shown to fight inflammation, I took Epsom salt baths. I practiced my breathing exercises and upped my Omega 3s. I ate only those foods I had prepared and only foods that I knew would cool inflammation.  I tried to take it easy as best I could, but mostly I just gave myself a break.  In short, I gave myself the space and the care I needed to cool the inflammation and prevent a flare.

We all mess up but we also all have the choice between throwing in the towel or acting from a place of compassion and self-love. Let’s make choices that heal.