Monday, March 30, 2015

Is sitting the new smoking?

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The first I heard of this was last week, when a friend of mine told me about a sign he saw in a subway station in London. Makes you want to get up and go do something, doesn't it?

We've known this for years - that moving your body is good for you. I feel it when I work out. I see it when I don't. I especially notice it in my aging, sedentary family members. This article from Forbes, Is Sitting the New Smoking? is a good one. They cover more than just sitting - check it out when you have the chance, and feel free to check out the snippets below:

“Losing four hours of sleep is comparable to drinking a six-pack of beer ,” says Tom Rath, Author of the New York Times bestselling book, Eat Move Sleep. “I don’t want to be in a serious meeting with a person who drank six beers or lost four hours of sleep. I don’t want my child’s teacher to be that person. I don’t want my doctor to be that person. Still, we don’t view the two scenarios (beer drinking and not sleeping) as equal. In fact, our culture views a person who needs sleep, as a person with a weakness. In fact, in the business world, many professionals take pride in burning the midnight oil. 

"Our culture has spent a lot of time talking about how not to be sick—don’t smoke, and don’t eat junk food. We also talk a lot about how healthy habits prevent disease. But most people don’t talk about how healthy habits improve you—your energy, your focus, your mood, and your performance. 

[It] might be hard to digest if you spend your day in a chair. And, for those of you who have a ‘butts in chairs equals productivity’ mindset, Rath also mentioned that walking could increase energy levels by 150 percent. “Inactivity is dangerous, he said, “Ifact, some research shows inactivity now kills more people than smoking .” 

Here's another article on moving, titled Rise up against the Sitting Disease, from Reader's Digest, offering quick solutions to moving daily. A lot of these, I like. Some aren't feasible with aching joints, but the one I really appreciate is this:

Neaten up daily. Don’t wait until the weekend to clean your home; spend some time every day tidying up. Dusting, doing laundry, vacuuming, and washing windows can all use up about as many calories as taking a spin on a bicycle. An extra hour of cleanup per week burns enough calories to trim four or five pounds in a year.
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I like this because we personally try to do this in our house every day. Not necessarily the heavy duty cleaning like windows or bathrooms, but we do pick up every single evening. When I do it, I get a jolt physically - by lifting, sorting, organizing, and putting away. But equally as important, I see the mental benefits of keeping the house neat and tidy. It's good for the kids. It's good for me. It makes our home a nice, comfortable, environment to be in. It makes me more productive. It makes me feel more productive. It puts us at ease. It encourages conversation. It allows for creativity. It makes us happier, healthier people.

Clean and decluttered is essential in the Gorman household. In fact, one of my next reads will no doubt be the book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo. It gives me chills just thinking about it!

So, want to give cleaning up a go in your house, or maybe you're already decluttered for Spring?! Let me know your secrets, if so!

Friday, March 27, 2015

The newest pillfold on the block - The Pillfold Center Point™

I'm excited to introduce a new Pillfold design  -- the Pillfold Center Pointnow available at www.pillfold.com.

The geometric design is a new look for the pillfolds, and the sea green color is a great variation on one of my favorites. There's no hiding my love of all things blue!




Here you can see the rest of the blues in the Pillfold collection. I call them my Sea of Blue!



And here's the new Center Point compared to the Montego. You can see how the Center Point  has more green, while the Montego boasts more blue. Both are variations on teal - which is always a refreshing hue! 


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Thanking that I'm not Planking anymore!

At the end of last year, (November 7th, to be exact), I blogged about an exercise challenge that I'd heard about from one of my retailers. It was called the 30-Day Plank Challenge, and you can read about it here.  I was excited to try it - it was supposed to work wonders on the abs, and I'm always looking for better ways to strengthen my core (primarily because I don't do much strength training to begin with.)

Johnny, Dee, Bee and I decided we could do it together, the girls planning to opt out if and when Barbies or Legos needed more attention than their abdomen muscles.

So we began. We followed the plan, starting with a 20-second position hold, and increasing incrementally over the course of the first couple of weeks. After we got to about 60 seconds, I became uncomfortable. Like, really uncomfortable.

I have scar tissue in my lungs from past pleural effusion, and every once in awhile, I can feel it when I'm blow drying my hair (because my arms up over my head), or when I'm cold. Well - turns out - I can also feel it when I'm planking.

I tried shifting my weight, so that the pain would subside. It worked for a few seconds, but then my back would start to ache. I'd shift my weight forward, to alleviate that pain, and I could get about 20 more seconds, but then the pain would return. I really worked at it - shifting, alternating arm positions, even trying with shoes and without - but anything over about 90-100 seconds was agony. I just didn't feel good doing it. And so I stopped.

Yes, I liked the feel of my abs tightening for the first 30-45 seconds before the pain started in. But once I was in pain (like the unpleasant, straining kind of pain, not the feel-good-working-your-muscles kind of pain), I just wasn't enjoying myself. And I have no interest in engaging in an exercise that isn't enjoyable.

So after about 11-14 days, I aborted mission. While Johnny continued the 30 day challenge, I resumed my tried-and-true push up regimen, doing two-three sets of 10 push ups every few days. It was SO much more enjoyable, and I still felt the burn on my abs, which is welcomed. I'm able to move the position of my arms to tax different muscles in my arms, all without pain and suffering.

I'm sure some experts would say that I just needed to give the planking more time. Or that the pain was because my core wasn't strong enough, and I needed to keep strengthening. But I say that exercise shouldn't hurt. Burn, yes. Hurt, no. I want to look forward to my exercise workouts. I want to feel challenged, but I also want to feel good doing it.

When I run on the treadmill, I push myself. But it doesn't hurt. It just taxes.

When I'm doing push ups, I challenge myself to do 12 reps instead of 10. But I feel powerful doing it, not powerless.

The few times I've tried yoga, the feeling of defeat is just as bad as the pain I experienced. My joints ache. My hands hurt. I'm not having fun, and I'm frustrated because I can't do a move without hurting. It makes me feel like I'm failing - and that's silly. My joints are delicate, and I should treat them so. I don't need to be reminded of that fact when I'm trying to do something good for my body!  So even though there are some die-hard fans out there who can sound pretty convincing, yoga just isn't for me right now. And I'm okay with that. 

Now, I do agree that form, incorrect positioning, and muscle weakness can play a part in pain.

I specifically remember my first year in college, when I started jogging. I'd never really run before, so my knees ached in the beginning. I remember telling my much more athletic minded roommates about it, and they said that it was probably because my leg muscles weren't strong enough to support my knees yet. They told me to rest a day, and then to resume. I did, and they were right. My knees did stop hurting...once my quads in particular strengthened. (Please keep in mind - this is not medical advice, just a conversation among college students trying to burn off some midnight pizza!) It's always wise to consult a professional to determine what you may or may not be doing incorrectly, if you want to continue an exercise.

Thus, I encourage you to use solid judgment when embarking upon any exercise regimen. Of course, always consult your doctor before doing so, but just as importantly, listen to your body. If your body hurts, it's telling you it's not having fun. And it's always better to have fun!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Versatile Blogger Award Nomination - Thank you, Hannah, at Floraful!

Thanks so much for the nomination for the Versatile Blogger Award, Floraful! I appreciate the shout out, and am so glad to join you in the world of health blogging. Keep on posting!

Spending my time wisely

Yesterday, I'd set aside 30-45 minutes after my nap to write today's blog post.

But instead of writing, I chose to spend that time talking to my mom and dad on the phone. They found out earlier in the day that my mom has a pulmonary embolism, or blood clot in her lung, on top of everything else she's been through.  So for her sake, and for mine, I decided a good old fashioned chat with my parents would be time better spent.

And boy, did it feel like the right decision.

There will always be time to write a post, run an errand, or cross something off my list. But there's never a better time than the present to call someone you love, and tell them how much they mean to you.

Feel free to jump on the band wagon. Instead of doing something that you need to do today, maybe you can reach out to someone who needs you, instead.

From my experience yesterday, you might just need it, too!


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Surgery, Strep, and Stroke. Busy week for the ladies in my life!

This past week has been a busy one.

Last Friday, Bernadette, my 4-year old, went in for a much anticipated surgery to remove her adenoids. It was an outpatient procedure, and while mom and dad were a little nervous, Bernie was as happy as could be. She was really looking forward to "getting her nosey fixed". She's had a congested schnozz since the day she was born, and since the ENT told us a few weeks ago that her nasal passage was almost 100% blocked, we knew this was the right procedure to do.

Good news is that the surgery was a complete success! She was sick for about a day with the anesthesia, but she was in good spirits, and breathing so much better, she didn't seem to mind. After the sickness ended, she's been good as new. I can't believe how quickly kids can recover!

Here are some pics from our big event:









And while Bernie was recuperating nicely over the weekend, poor sister Deirdre came down with a fever, strep throat, and an ear infection. What timing! We'd planned on nursing Bernie back to health over the past few days, but it's been Deirdre who's been in need. We just showered both girls with TLC, and everyone is almost back to 100%.

Except, that is, for one little lady. And that's my mom.

The day before Bernie's surgery, my mom was admitted to the hospital. Turns out she had a stroke, with evidence of two additional strokes in the recent past. Her doctors also determined that she has meningitis and encephalitis. She had a case of shingles about 5 weeks ago, and has been struggling since. Now we know why!

She's off for intense therapy (OT, PT, etc.) at a rehabilitation clinic for about two weeks. They're confident that she'll be speaking, walking, and feeling significantly better at the end of her stay. We sure hope she is!

So that's it for me this week. I'll be continuing to care for the ladies in my life (either in person or by sending love and kisses over the phone to my momma), but will be back next week ready to blog. Can't wait!

Friday, March 13, 2015

New happenings at ChronicBabe.com. Check out what great things Jenni Prokopy's up to now!

While the online chronic illness blogging community is growing every day, there will always be a few standouts, and Jenni Prokopy over at ChronicBabe is one of them!
ChronicBabe

I've mentioned Jenni before - she and her website, ChronicBabe, have created an online community that has helped countless women live happier, healthier lives, with a chronic illness in tow. That's why I'm happy to share Jenni's new endeavor with you - she's helped so many fellow chronic illness sufferers, now it's time to help her! 

Image result for chronic babe 101She's started a Kickstarter Campaign to raise funds to for her new ChronicBabe 101 book - a comprehensive guide about crafting an incredible life in spite of illness. 

Here's the website where you can find out more about ChronicBabe 101 and the KickStarter project, and here's the ChronicBabe website. Take a few moments and see what exciting new things Jenni has in mind. She and her website never disappoint! 

Monday, March 9, 2015

Lupus book for young adults "Fabulupus" now available at www.pillfold.com!

 

I'm excited to announce that the newest lupus book on the market, Fabulupus: How to be Young, Successful, and Fabulous (with Lupus), can now be found on my website!

Thanks to the authors for allowing me to make copies of their book available to you. You can read more about the book in my previous post here, or you can check it out on my website here. 

You can also peruse the Fabulupus website if you'd like to learn more.

In honor of the unveiling of this new book on the site, I'd like to extend a 10% discount toward any purchase of a copy of Fabulupus, when purchased with another item from www.pillfold.com.

Simply add a copy of Fabulupus to your cart here, add any other item from the website here, and be sure to enter the discount code "FABULOUS" during checkout. You'll save 10%, and your goodies will be to you within days. You'll even be able to crack open your brand new copy of Fabulupus by the weekend.

What a great way to usher in the Spring season...which is almost upon us!

As always, thanks so much for your business and happy shopping!

Friday, March 6, 2015

War on household items: putting my lupus joints at ease.

Why is this bottle of jelly my new nemesis?


 


Because it's so hard to use! This squeezable bottle of jelly and I had it out earlier this week, when it took every ounce of strength I had to squeeze out enough jelly for one sandwich. It seems the suction causes unbelievable resistance, which prevents the jelly from coming directly out when the bottle is squeezed. I could barely muster up the strength in both hands to force the jelly to make its way out of the bottle and onto the bread. And my joints weren't even aching this week!

This doesn't mean I'm going to give up on Welch's. Our family is evenly divided between Welch's grape, and Bonne Mama's Strawberry Preserves. But I will not make the mistake of buying Welch's squeezable bottle again. It's only jars and knives for this arthritis-friendly family from now on.

But just so that we don't dwell on the negative here, let me point out the multitude of arthritis-friendly packaging that is available today. I find that shopping around for the easiest-to-maneuver packaging makes a big difference. Generally speaking, I think squeezable options tend to make things easier, but as mentioned, the above seems to be an exception.

Here are some of my favorites:

I think this


is easier to use than this



And both of the above are still better than using this:







I also think these




are a lot easier to handle than using something like this


primarily because the plastic ziploc containers are so much lighter. Glass is always heavier, and where my joints are concerned, heavier is never better.

I also like this



over this
Image result for bar of soap

because it can be hard for me to wrap my arthritic hands around a bar of soap.

It's not just time and energy that's saved when it comes to choosing easy-to-use household items. When my joints don't mesh well with packaging, I'm held back from daily tasks. And that makes me feel weak, dependent, and not very self-sufficient. And who doesn't want to feel self-sufficient when you're brushing your teeth!

Now - for one last example, because I've always thought these were so difficult to use:





and because I think these are easier to use

Image result for round zipper pulls


than these,
Image result for ykk zipper pulls

I created these:




(You knew that was coming!)

Any packaging of household items that make your daily tasks easier? Feel free to comment or email, and have a great weekend!





Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Empowering words to get me through Lent. Easter Sunday, here I come!

Wednesday, February 18th marked the the beginning of Lent, which is the forty day period before Easter. During the Lenten season, it's customary to make some small sacrifice in order to prepare youself for Easter. Typically, people choose to give something up, like a bad habit, or they take on a good habit, like volunteering.

I am no stranger to the Lenten resolution. Over the past 35 years or so, I've given up everything from M&M's or ice cream, to not being scared of the dark. I've taken on charity projects, worked on my temper, or added a weekday mass to my schedule. But there's one Lenten resolution that I tend to recycle the most, and that's my time management skills. Season after season, I often pick something new to work on, and then I add, as an afterthought, "...and let me work on not being late."

It's not that I'm the latest person that every lived. It's just that I'm almost always late when I do just about anything. And a few minutes of lateness every single day can be draining...on myself, but mostly on other people.

So this year, I'm trying something new. I'm going to make my time management resolution a priority, not an add-on. And I'm not going to "give up being late." I'm going to work on being ten minutes early.

Pure semantics, but I'm hoping it will work. I figure it's better to focus on the positive side of the equation, rather than the negative one. Working toward something has to be more motivating than trying to fight against something else, right? My theory is that striving for a behavior will be more empowering than striking one.

Empowerment can be a very powerful tool when it comes to working with others, and even in dealing with lupus. Take my afternoon nap, for instance.

As many of you know, I have no problem talking about my daily afternoon nap. Most of my friends and family know I take one, and that I choose to plan my daily activities around it. So if I'm with anyone else who knows me between the hours of 1-5 pm, my nap is up for discussion. And I'm fine with that. In fact, I appreciate it.

But my favorite way of talking about it is by being asked. I love when someone says, "So Sara, what time are you going to take your nap today?" or "What's your plan for fitting in your nap?"

Simple. Succinct. Empowering.  I own my nap, I should decide when to take it. It's so much better to be asked than to be told. When someone says to me, "Sara, you should take your nap at X time" or "You need to get to bed", it makes me cringe. I feel insulted, and in no way empowered. It's as though I'm being accused of not taking ownership of my nap, and that can feel demeaning.

**Note: The above rule (of preferring to be asked and not told) is ONLY applicable if I'm being the responsible, mature lupite that I strive to be, and if I'm visibly choosing an appropriate nap time and length. If I'm misbehaving, and ignoring my nap time, then by all means, I may need to be reminded, hassled, or personally escorted to bed. And I have to warn you, if you're still in the phase of stubbornness, obstinence, or flat out denial, then the latter method most likely applies to you, too!

The rule of empowerment is true in practically any conversation I have, in fact. During the year we renovated our house, my husband and I were in constant phone contact with our contractor. We traded off on making the daily calls, and I remember how much more effective it was when I'd ask Johnny, "Did the contractor ever get back to you?" instead of "Did you remember to call the contractor?

There's that accusatory tone again in the latter, which probably made Johnny cringe, too. I'd rather empower him by letting him own the call, rather than accusing him of not making it.

Choose your words wisely, and you can empower someone to do just about anything. Hopefully, you've been empowered to empower someone else today!