Author Marlena Lewis Writes About Life Struggles And Lyme Disease

Marlena Lewis
  • 7
    Shares

Author Marlena Lewis Writes New Book

Marlena Lewis, a small town author from Selma, Alabama, writes about her life struggles and her diagnosis of Lyme Disease in her book entitled, Don’t Give Up,

Marlena was a vibrant and energetic young lady, full of adventure, when she decided to join the military at age 21.

She flourished in her career, and 15 years later she was diagnosed with Lyme disease. Not only did this, as well as other dramatic circumstances, change her life, but she felt as though her dreams were ruined.

Through her faith and trust in God she overcame it all and writes this testimony to share with the world her hope, determination and faith! Her story is truly encouraging and a must read!

Her book is available at the links below:

My Thoughts On Marlena’s Book

Marlena’s book is going to impact so many people for good! Knowing her struggles with Lyme disease, and living with Lyme disease myself, I couldn’t wait to read about her experiences. She was so kind to send me a signed copy of her book.

Marlena is genuine and kind and her story is so moving and powerful.It was a great reminder to me that with God all things are possible!

I truly hope you are able to read it.

The Takeaway

If you’d like to learn more about Lyme disease you may want to check out:

Have you lived through a difficult experience or illness? Please share below in the comment section. I love hearing from you!


  • 7
    Shares
Continue Reading

5 Good Reasons To Drink Coffee Every Day For Better Health

  • 13
    Shares

By contributing author– Rudy Caretti (biography below)

“So, you love coffee? You are not the only one. Fortunately, an everyday dose of coffee in the right quantity is attributed to various health benefits.

5 Reasons To Drink Coffee Every Day

1. Coffee helps you perform better during workouts.

You may already know, but most supplements taken by athletes contain coffee extracts such as caffeine. There is a scientific reason behind this. Caffeine has several effects on the human system that causes one to do better during physical activity. When taken 30 minutes before any physical activity, black coffee promotes the release of endorphins. These hormones are responsible for our happy moods and adrenaline. These two hormones cause the body to respond positively to any training, leading to better results.

Besides, caffeine alters the way the nervous system responds to pain. This causes the body to endure more strenuous reasons to drink coffeesituations. In this case, your muscles will tolerate longer sessions of intensive endurance- and strength-building exercises.

In a nutshell, caffeine can propel one to train harder, thus improving their results. No wonder scientific research has found coffee can improve athletic performance by about 11-12%.

2. It is loaded with minerals and antioxidants.

The red berry is one food substance packed with many essential nutrients. If you prepare your cup rightly, you are sure to ingest these into your body.

Also, some of the nutrients obtained by drinking coffee include:

  • potassium
  • magnesium
  • niacin
  • riboflavin
  • pantothenic acid

Coffee also contains more antioxidants than a single serving of fruits and vegetables combined.

3. Coffee can keep diseases at bay.

Research shows coffee can help keep dangerous diseases away. Some of these diseases have claimed the lives of many people. Others do not have any known cure. Luckily, one can lower their chances of contracting such ailments by drinking coffee. Some of the said ailments are listed below.

  • Parkinson’s disease: According to Mayo Clinic, “Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement. It develops gradually.” A 2002 report published in the Annals of Neurology showed those who drank java daily lowered their chances of suffering from Parkinson’s by 32% and 60%. This finding was unique to those who enjoyed caffeinated coffee only.
  • Diabetes II: A study by Harvard School of Public Health researchers looked at information collected over 4 years on people with diabetes II and some without. The study was divided into 3 sections. The researchers were interested in finding the relationship between type 2 diabetes and the kind of diet the study subjects were eating. The results showed that among the 7,269 subjects, the people who took at least one cup of coffee each day for those 4 years decreased their chances of developing diabetes II by 11%.
  • Cardiovascular diseases: Contrary to the popular belief that caffeine in coffee can lead to high blood pressure and consequently endanger your heart, research has shown the effect is dismal. Regular intake will not only cause the blood pressure risk to disappear, but also lower your chance of developing heart disease by 20%. This finding was upheld by a Korean study published in 2014. The study found that taking coffee in moderate amounts reduces one’s disposition to coronary artery calcium (CAC). CAC is a key indicator of possible cardiovascular disease.

With the burden of such ailments off your shoulders, you are likely to lead a long, healthy and happier life. No wonder, another benefit you could be enjoying by simply sipping your cup of Joe is the possibility to live longer.

4. It makes your skin and hair blossom.

As mentioned earlier, coffee is packed with many antioxidants and minerals which could help keep your skin healthier and glowing. When the body is getting rid of various toxins successfully, one part that is likely to blemish is your skin. Also, the vitamins and minerals cause your hair to grow faster. Also, did you know you can treat your hair with a cool brew of a strong pot of coffee to make it shiny, stronger and healthier?

reasons to drink coffee5. Coffee improves your mental health.

Good mental health is a result of a combination of several factors. However, the most important one is happiness. Most benefits of coffee discussed above work together to make you a happier person. In this regard, you are likely to enjoy better mental health. There are other ways, however, coffee could be good for your mental well-being.

Based on a 2011 Harvard study, people who enjoyed at least 4 cups of coffee daily lowered the risk of falling into depression by 20%. Depression is one of the many mental disorders that can deprive one the joy of leading a fulfilling life.

The Takeaway

In conclusion, coffee is a delicious beverage many of us enjoy each and every day. There are many reasons to drink coffee including health benefits for our skin, hair, mental health and disease prevention.

For more about coffee, you might like you check out: reasons to drink coffee


Author, Rudy Caretti, has more than 15 years of experience in the coffee industry, a passion that started in Italy within the family business and brought him to found Gimoka Coffee UK and G Coffee Pod with a group of friends, who share the same passion.

Since he roasted his first batch of coffee seeds as a teenager, he was fascinated by the many ways it can be processed to get the many distinctive flavors we all love.

As a coffee connoisseur, Rudy has always been aware of the vital role coffee plays in people’s social life. And he is especially active through the company’s social media and blog. He loves sharing his knowledge with readers around the world, writing and posting articles that range from the coffee brewing techniques to raising awareness of the importance of responsible production to help protect the rights of farmers and protect the environment.

Facebook | Twitter | Google+


  • 13
    Shares
Continue Reading

Top 20 Best Healthy Snacks

healthy snacks
  • 50
    Shares

Who can deny that snacking is an American tradition (at least in my family it is)? What we graze on during the day has a big impact on our health.

Do you have a favorite snack food? Chips, Oreos, Cheetos or Twinkies perhaps? No judgement here. My snack choices haven’t always been perfect either.

Just some food for thought….

As you probably guessed, the best snacks are those packed with nutrients and protein, which fuels the body until the next meal. These snacks are full of flavor, and dare I say, even fun to eat!

I used to teach preschoolers, what can I say? 🙂

20 Healthy Snacks

  1. Nut Butter

    Peanut butter, peanut butter, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways….but, I digress.

    Seriously, who can resist the creamy, nutty confection that is peanut butter?! And don’t forget the lesser known nut butters: hazelnut, cashew, almond and walnut.

    According to the Harvard School of Public Health Nutrition Source, several large studies over the past few years “have shown a consistent 30 to 50 percent lower risk of heart attack, sudden cardiac death or cardiovascular disease associated with eating nuts several times a week.”

    Plus, 2 tablespoons of peanut butter has 7 grams of protein and 180 mg of potassium. Just make sure to check out the ingredient list and avoid added sweeteners and trans fats, especially “partially hydrogenated oil”. Also, don’t bother buying the “low-fat” nut butters. Manufactures of these products simply replace the fat with sugar.

  2. Cottage Cheese

    Once considered a “diet food”,  cottage cheese is now a fan favorite of weight lifters, other athletes, and health foodies alike. This is no surprise considering the whopping 28 grams of casein protein in each cup of cottage cheese.

    A summer favorite of mine is eating a sliced tomato, straight from the garden, topped with cottage cheese and plenty of Himalayan Pink Sea Salt. Sounds weird, tastes great! You also might like to try cottage cheese with fresh pineapple. Delish!

  3. Berries

    healthy snacks
    Berries are a low-sugar, antioxidant-rich snack.

    Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, cranberries, gooseberries and elderberries just to name a few…They are colorful, juicy, sometimes sweet, and full of vitamins and antioxidants (1).

    Enjoy a cup of berries with a splash of cream for a decadent treat.

  4. Whey Protein Shake

    Whey protein can help you gain muscle, lose fat, and increase strength (2). I sometimes drink one as a meal replacement and I’m amazed how long it satisfies my hunger. You might like to try My Favorite Peanut Butter Protein Shake.

    Most people tolerate regular whey protein concentrate, but if you have digestive symptoms you might find that isolate or hydrolysate is better suited for you.

  5. Hard-Boiled Eggs

    Eggs are incredibly nutritious (3). Like, the perfect food. They are high in protein, healthy fats and amino acids.

    They’re also high in cholesterol, but despite what you may have heard in the past, eating high-cholesterol foods does not increase cholesterol for the majority of people (4).

  6. Plain Greek Yogurt

    It’s creamy and rich in protein and probiotics. It can also cut the appetite and help with weight loss (5).

    You may want to add berries, other chopped fruit or nuts to raise the vitamin and fiber content.

  7. Cheese

    Cheese has many vitamins and minerals, including calcium, zinc and vitamin K2. Eating it can help prevent osteoporosis and heart disease (6). And the fat in cheese can help you feel full longer, preventing cravings and helping you make it to the next meal.

  8. Jerky

    Jerky is meat, such as veal, beef, turkey or venison which is dried and cut into strips. It is low in carbohydrates and high in protein.

    The healthiest kind is made at home. But the kind you see at the grocery store has all sorts of added preservatives and sugar so please keep this in mind.

  9. Dark Chocolate

    healthy snacks
    Dark chocolate is full of antioxidants and makes the perfect snack.

    Are you surprised chocolate made it to this list of healthy snacks? Pretty cool, huh?

    Studies have shown that dark chocolate eaters have a lower risk of heart disease (7). Eating chocolate can also improve brain function.

    Choose dark chocolate with a 70-85% cocoa content (minimum). Any less and you’re looking at a lot of sugar.

  10. Deli Rollups

    Simply take a slice of meat, such as turkey and a slice of cheese. Roll it up, and voila! Another favorite is spreading cream cheese on the turkey and wrap it around a dill pickle. You can slice it first, or simply eat it like this.

  11. Canned Tuna

    Another high-protein snack, tuna is a great choice if you’re on the go. Just be sure your office buddies are cool with the smell if you decide to pop open a can in the afternoon.

  12. Veggies And Hummus

    If you’ve never tried hummus I encourage you to give it a try. Some might say it’s an acquired taste, but I’ve loved it from my first taste and make my own from home.

    I throw some white beans, garlic, lemon juice, cumin and olive oil in the blender and it makes the most delicious hummus in no time.

    Here’s a similar recipe you might like to try:  Super Easy Hummus

  13. Protein Bar

    Homemade ones are the best, in my humble opinion. But if you like to have prepackaged ones on hand I recommend you try the Luna, Kind and Quest ones.

  14. Kefir Smoothie

    Kefir (pronounced like “Kiefer Sutherland” the actor in 24, love that show) is full of tummy-loving probiotics and protein.

    On its own, kefir is tart (and perhaps a little “gloppy”), and many prefer to drink it in a smoothie.

    I love this handy Mix-And-Match Kefir Smoothie Chart for creating tasty smoothies, chock full of delicious flavor and nutrition.

    (You can read more on probiotics in What Are Probiotics And Where Can I Find Them? and 7 Reasons To Take Probiotics)

  15. Seeds

    Pumpkin, sunflower, hemp, flax and chia seeds give you quick, long-lasting energy and satiety. They can be eaten by themselves or in smoothies, oatmeal or granola. One serving of pumpkin seeds (pepitas) has 7 grams of protein.

  16. Bean And Cheese Mini Quesadilla

    Smash 1/3 cup of black beans and spread it on a small tortilla. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese and 2 tablespoons of salsa. Warm in a skillet or pop it in the microwave for a few seconds just until the cheese melts.

    This is a tasty mini-meal/snack that stays with you.

  17. Milk (2% Or Whole)

    Milk is a great source of high-quality protein, as well as vitamin D, calcium and B12. It is linked to higher bone density in humans (8).

    Do not, I repeat, do not worry about the fat in whole milk. As long as you drink a serving size you’ll be fine. The fat keeps you satisfied longer. More importantly, growing research shows a myriad of health benefits of consuming full-fat food versus low-fat (10).

    According to Dr. Mercola, “Accumulating research is showing, however, that this switch to low-fat has not only caused rates of chronic disease to skyrocket; it’s also been making people fat.”

    Please keep in mind, some people are allergic to the sugar in milk, lactose. If you’re lactose-intolerant you’ll want to stay away from milk and other dairy products. There are dairy-free milks on the market, such a coconut, soy and cashew milk which should be fine for you to drink.

  18. 4-Ingredient Peanut Butter Energy Bites

    Liv over at Healthy-Liv.com posted this easy recipe for these incredibly yummy energy bites.

    I just made them for my family to enjoy. But let me warn you, it’s hard to eat just one!

  19. Frozen Grapes

    The perfect sweet treat!

    The anthocyanins and resveratrol in grapes reduce inflammation and lower your risk for disease (9)

  20. Homemade Guacamole And Tortilla Chips

    My personal favorite. 😉 I can eat an entire bowl of freshly made guacamole all by myself…it’s that’s good! (Not that I’m recommending you do this, just keepin’ it real.)

    Here’s my favorite recipe:

Quick And Easy Guacamole

Quick And Easy Guacamole

Ingredients

  • 3 to 4 medium avocados
  • 1/4 to 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 to 2 firm tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • sea salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Cut the avocados open lengthwise. Remove the pit with a large knife. Scoop out the flesh into a bowl.
  2. Mash the avocado flesh with a fork, to your liking.
  3. Chop and stir the other ingredients.
  4. Enjoy the guacamole right away.
  5. Store in the fridge, tightly covered with plastic wrap to help prevent browning (if you have any leftover)
http://www.lorigeurin.com/top-20-best-healthy-snacks/

The Takeaway

There are so many delicious snacks to choose from. And the best ones are those that help you become the healthiest, strongest version of yourself.

What are your favorite healthy snacks? Please share below in the comments.

Also, you may want to check out this video below for more great healthy snacking ideas.


  • 50
    Shares
Continue Reading

22 Essential Tips To Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

avoid holiday weight gain
  • 21
    Shares

Many people experience weight gain during the holidays.

With colder weather, comfy sweaters and family gatherings it’s easy to pack on a few pounds.

Please tell me I’m not alone here.

But you can still enjoy the holidays and avoid holiday weight gain by following these essential tips.

22 Tips To Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

1. Eat a protein-rich snack before you go out.

If you arrive at a holiday party famished you’re likely to overeat. Avoid mindless snacking by choosing a healthy snack, such as the one of the following:

  • Greek yogurt and berries
  • a handful of healthy fat-rich nuts, such as almonds, pecans, cashews, or walnuts
  • an apple with peanut butter, or other nut butter
  • a protein shake, like My Favorite Peanut Butter Protein Shake
  • hard-boiled eggs
  • string cheese
  • jerky
  • hummus and veggies

2. Stay active.

Many families enjoy sitting around and watching parades, Christmas music specials or ballgames during the holidays.

While there’s certainly nothing wrong with these traditions, all this inactivity can lead to weight gain. This is especially true if we’re also eating too much rich food (1)

Rather than lounging around all day, consider:

  • taking a family walk, either outside or inside a mall
  • going ice skating
  • building a snowman with your kids
  • going sledding

These activities will burn calories while giving you the opportunity to bond with loved ones.

3. Pay attention to portion sizes

With all the delicious foods prepared during the holidays, it can be tempting to overeat.

But, people who eat larger portion sizes tend to gain weight more than those who don’t (2).

Makes sense, right?

Read food labels to discern correct portion sizes. Use measuring cups and spoons to measure your food.

4. Get adequate sleep.

Did you know that not getting enough sleep can lead to weight gain and a slowed metabolism (3, 4)?

When we don’t sleep enough we tend to eat more and exercise less. Our hunger hormone levels increase and this raises calorie intake.

5. Don’t hang out by the food at a party.

If you linger by the delicious dishes and desserts, the temptation to indulge is greater.

But if you step away from the food and focus more on talking to people you’ll save calories, and you just might have more fun. 😉

I’m reminded of the phrase, “Out of sight, out of mind”.

The same thought applies to your pantry at home. Throw out the junk food so it’s not there tempting you to eat it.

avoid holiday weight gain
Shake it off! Reduce holiday stress.

6. Keep stress under control.

The holidays are stressful sometimes.

There are people to see, presents to buy and wrap and recipes to make.

But it’s important to keep our stress levels under control.

When we are chronically stressed, our levels of cortisone go up. This can cause us to eat more and gain weight (5).

Focus on activities that reduce stress, such as exercise and deep breathing techniques.

I found an app that helps you focus on reducing stress. It’s called Calm.

7.  Prep a healthy dish to share.

Bringing a healthy dish to holiday gatherings can give you something healthy to eat even if everything else is rich or sugar-laden. This can help you keep your healthy eating goals in check.

It also gives others the opportunity to try a delicious and healthful recipe!

8. Use a smaller plate.

Using large plates often leads us to consume more calories. If not kept in check, this can lead to weight gain (6).

Using a small plate helps you control portion sizes and reduce overeating.

9. Avoid processed food.

This includes most foods packages, boxes or bags of food.

Processed foods are often stripped of nutrients. And most have added unhealthy fats, sugar and preservatives.

10. Keep a food diary.

Write down everything you eat, or use an app to help you.

If you’re like me, I often underestimate how much I eat in a day.  Keeping a food diary helps me stay on track with my goals and be more aware of what I’m putting in my mouth.

My favorite app is MyFitnessPal. You might like to try it.

11. Weigh yourself weekly.

Okay, so there are conflicting viewpoints when it comes to weighing yourself. Some people weigh a few times a week. Some never.

It’s good to keep in mind that weight fluctuations are normal day-to-day.

But, many people find it helps them stay accountable and makes them more aware of their progress if they weigh weekly (7).

12. Watch your beverage and alcohol intake.

Soda, juice, alcohol and other beverages are full of empty calories and sugar. These factors contribute to weight gain (8).

The best thing to drink?

You guessed it….water!

13. Take smaller bites and chew your food thoroughly.

Eliminate distractions, such as electronics, and eat mindfully, savoring each delicious bite (9).

14. Keep a consistent workout routine.

Stick to your regular fitness routine as much as possible. Consistent training produces better results.

And that leads me to tip, #15.

15. Stay positive even if you get off track.

Don’t beat yourself up or stress about it. Simply restart your commitment a healthy life and get back on track.

Simply focus on your health and fitness goals and keep moving forward with your plan.

It might help to use Motivational Quotes And Power Phrases.

16. Drink a glass of water before meals and snacks.

Sometimes we think we’re hungry when our body just needs water. Drinking water fills us up and helps prevent overeating (10).

17. Leave a few bites of food on your plate.

Are you a member of the “clean plate club”?

It’s okay to admit it, I used to think I had to clean my plate too.

Try leaving a few bites of food on your plate. You probably won’t even miss them and the calories you’ve saved add up and can help prevent weight gain.

18. Eat loads of veggies.

Filling up on plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits can help prevent obesity (11). They’re filled with vital nutrients and vitamins as well as healthy fiber.

19. Lift weights.

Building muscle is one of the best ways to increase your metabolism and burn more calories.

A great way to build muscle is by doing a kettlebell workout.

You may want to check out 20 Reasons To Try A Kettlebell Workout to learn more.

20. Fill up on fiber.

Eating more fiber fills you up faster which can prevent you from eating as much and gaining weight (12).

Fiber-rich foods include:

  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • nuts
  • seeds
  • legumes
  • whole grains.

21. Buddy up.

Find a friend who has similar health goals and give each other accountability.

Having someone to work out or swap health recipes can help you stay on track.

22. Avoid sugar and simple carbs.

Eating too much sugar is a common cause of weight gain and obesity (13).

When you come face to face with the desserts this holiday season, focus on selecting only your favorites and leaving the rest.

This will save you from sugar overload and help keep your blood sugar in a manageable range.

The Takeaway

What are ways you try to stay healthy during the holidays?

Please leave your comments below. I’d love to hear from you!

If you enjoyed this, you may want to read:


  • 21
    Shares
Continue Reading

7 Tips For Coping With Chronic Illness

coping with chronic illness
  • 39
    Shares

This article was originally published on GriefLossHope.com, a website dedicated to sharing stories of grief and loss and giving hope and encouragement to help others who are going through similar situations.

Having a chronic illness can impact your life in countless ways. The life you knew before your illness may seem like a distant memory, especially when you’re dealing with many symptoms and concerns.

You could in constant pain and unable to get a good night’s sleep. You might have to quit your job and suffer financial problems.

Your appearance may change. Or you may look the same, making it even harder to explain your illness to the outside world. Your interpersonal relationships can change, when suddenly your spouse or loved one takes on the roll of caregiver.

All of these changes can cause stress and strong feelings of anxiety, fear and anger. Many people feel a lack of control and uncertainty about the future.

According to the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics a chronic disease lasts more than 3 months, cannot be prevented by a vaccine or cured by medicine, and does not disappear.

I have learned first hand what it’s like to have a chronic illness, beginning in the spring of 2012.

My Journey From Health To Chronic Illness

Before the illness I was healthy and active, a wife to my wonderful husband, mom to four amazing kids, teaching Special Education full-time at a local public school.

But, then I was bit by 2 tiny ticks and everything changed.

I initially became so sick with a mind-numbing headache and crippling nausea that I was in bed several days trying to recover. I was so weak I could barely walk. My coloring was pale and ashen. It felt like the worst case of the flu I’d ever experienced. I was so out of it that I don’t remember much from those few days.

Unexplained Symptoms

When I had recovered enough to go to the doctor I asked him about Lyme disease. At this time I didn’t know much about it, other than it was a tick-borne illness.

The doctor asked if I’d traveled to the northeastern United States, but the furthest I’d been that direction was North Carolina. He then told me, “You can’t get Lyme disease in Missouri”. He said I had “tick fever”.

Tests were not ordered. Prescriptions were not written.

The doctor told me it would take time, but I would feel better eventually.

But in the months between the tick bites and my eventual Lyme disease diagnosis (18 months later) I felt like I had the flu nearly every day.

As a teacher, I was around children all day. Inevitably, I came into contact with many germs on a daily basis.

I was exposed to many illnesses over the years due to having four children of our own. And I didn’t remember getting sick so often. In fact, my resistance to illness had always been strong.

So I initially thought perhaps I was getting sick a lot due to exposure to all the germs I came into contact with . I usually just pushed through my illness knowing my family and students were depending on me. I figured I’d improve with time.

But, as the weeks and months passed, I began to experience other concerning symptoms I couldn’t ignore. An unrelenting pain began coursing throughout my entire body. The pain was so strong and constant I couldn’t sleep.

I felt exhausted all the time, had trouble breathing, and experienced frequent, intense migraines.

Lethargy and extreme weakness became the norm.

I developed a heart murmur and had frequent heart palpitations, even while lying in bed.

Memory Problems And More

And I started forgetting things and stumbling for the words I wanted to say. The brain fog was so great at times it was starting to worry me.

I was driving one morning and came upon a traffic light feeling confused. As I sat at the intersection a few seconds, I struggled to remember whether the green or red light meant to stop or go. The driver behind me showed frustration with my indecision. He started honking for me to go.

Also, I recall getting lost a few times when I was driving.  And I started calling our children by the wrong names.

I wondered if I was getting Alzheimer’s.

During these 18 months leading up to my diagnosis I went to multiple doctors including several specialists. They gave me a variety of tests and innumerable blood work all in an effort to figure out what was wrong with me.

I was placed in a Holter monitor for 36 hours to test for heart problems.

My doctor ordered months of Physical Therapy due to muscle weakness and wasting. I had lost 20 pounds in a short time for no apparent reason.

My doctor and Physical Therapist expressed concerns about Multiple Sclerosis. Thankfully, I was tested and MS was ruled out.

Searching For Answerscoping with chronic illness

I was diagnosed eventually with multiple chronic and autoimmune conditions including:

  • Sjogren’s syndrome
  • Myofascial pain syndrome
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Mixed Connective Tissue Disease
  • Tularemia (another tick-borne illness)

I had multiple allergic reactions to a variety of foods, ran a fever nearly every day and would get hives and strange rashes on my face, neck and torso (where the tick bites occurred).

I developed mild dyslexia for a time and had difficulty reading numbers. As an avid reader I developed a great frustration when reading text.

Around the same time I started having twitching and tremors in my hands, arms, legs and abdomen.

I recall one time when I had been bedridden for several days, running a high fever and missing several days of work.

I could barely walk anymore without extreme effort and felt as though I was dying.

And I didn’t understand why all of this was happening. I had always been so healthy before the tick bites.

I wanted to find out the root cause of my illness. But each time I went to the doctor, it seemed like they only wanted to treat my myriad of symptoms. It was incredibly frustrating.

But I knew everything had to be related to the tick bites. And I persisted in sharing this with my doctors until they listened and gave me the recommended tests.

Psychological Stages Of Chronic Pain And Illness

According to Jennifer Martin, PsyD, there are Seven Psychological Stages of Chronic Pain and Illness:

  • Denial
  • Pleading, Bargaining and Desperation
  • Anger
  • Anxiety and Depression
  • Loss of Self and Confusion
  • Re-evaluation of Life, Roles and Goals
  • Acceptance

I found myself going through these stages, sometimes between two or three at a time.

Questioning God

At this point I started losing hope in ever finding out what was wrong with me.  And I began questioning God.

I asked Him, “God, if you truly love me then why is this happening to me and my family?” I felt confused, angry and forgotten.

I’m humbled to admit I reached this low point in my life journey. I never would have predicted that I’d one day question the very existence of the God I’d believed in and loved as long as I could remember.

Nevertheless, it’s part of my story, and I want to be real. 

Facing my health crisis tested my limits. And I was confronted with my mortality.

I now believe that God was testing my faith throughout my illness. Sometimes I kept my eyes on Him, and sometimes I was stubborn and went my own way.

Isn’t it amazing how we can learn so much from the past, but when we’re living in the moment it isn’t always that clear? (At least this has been my experience)

He Was With Me All Along

Lately God has shown me how He was there for me, even when I was living through the most painful days.

I see now how He has been with me every step of the way, when I was crying out to Him for help and healing — and even when it seemed like God was being silent.

As God reveals Himself to me I see now that part of my story is a renewed faith in Him and hope for His plans for my future.

 I love, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them (or what you’re going through), for the LORD your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you (emphasis mine)” (Deuteronomy 31:6).

I’m thankful He promised “He will never leave you nor forsake you”. I love what Jon Bloom says about our human perceptions:

And when we feel forsaken by God we are not forsaken (Hebrews 13:5). We are simply called to trust the promise more than the perception.

coping with chronic illnessIn the midst of the trials, and despite His faithfulness to me and our family, I still felt alone much of the time. I learned this is common for people confronting chronic pain or illness.

I believe God was and is saying to me , “Take up your cross and follow me…(no matter what) (emphasis mine)” (Matthew 16:24).

I may be a slow learner, but I’m so thankful for His grace and patience with me through it all. And I’m looking forward to what He’s going to do in the coming years. He continues to bring beauty from ashes.

My illness has taught me to take time to slow down (although this is still a challenge). I’m learning to refocus my priorities. For me, this includes prayer and having real, meaningful conversations with the people I love.

I hope you will learn from my mistakes and be encouraged in whatever challenges you experience in life.

coping with chronic illnessTips For Coping With Chronic Illness

1. Educate Yourself

Read, study and learn as much as you can about your condition or disease. While doctors are highly trained professionals, please conduct your own research before believing everything you hear.

I’m pleased with the team of doctors managing my medical care and treatment. If you aren’t happy with the level of care you receive consider getting a second opinion or switching doctors.

Before I have an appointment I make a list of questions to ask the doctor. This helps me be more efficient, prioritizing my essential questions first to make sure they’re addressed.

Also, consider using the internet to research. Sometimes the internet gets a bad reputation for providing hokey information. But, if you search medically reputable websites, I’ve found you can learn so much useful information.

I’m a bit of a research nerd, so this process is actually fun for me. If you’re not sure what sites can be trusted, you may want to ask your doctor for recommendations.

2. Express Gratitude

Say “thank you” to your loved ones, friends, and family. Being chronically ill isn’t easy for them either, especially if they are taking on more responsibility.

My dear husband has helped take our children to multiple practices and events. This is in addition to his full-time job as a High School Principal.  It is  difficult for him to see me sick. But he cares for me throughout my most difficult days. I’m forever grateful to him for his love and support.

In addition to expressing gratitude to others, I recommend keeping a Gratitude Journal. I try to jot down one or two things I’m thankful for.

Sometimes I’ll write down a favorite verse, Motivational Quote or Power Phrase. I can come back later and read what I’ve written for encouragement and reflection.

3. Do Not Let Your Illness Define You

You can take charge and manage your disease instead of letting it define you. In the midst of chronic illness, do not lose your identity.

Face your fears. Take one day at a time.

Don’t give into the temptation to have a pity party.

Instead, reframe your negative thoughts.

Think of a way to help someone else, even if you are bedridden. Maybe you could text or call an old friend or loved one who is facing their own crisis. Strive to be an encouragement to others.

Keep moving forward.

4. Give Yourself Grace

A wise friend gave me this advice when I was in the throes of my Lyme battle. I was trying to keep up with my duties as a wife, mom, daughter and friend.

But it was not possible for me to maintain the level of busyness I’d been accustomed to my entire life.

I had to learn to give myself grace. When feelings of guilt would creep in (because I was not able to do many of the things I did when I was healthy) I had to remind myself of this. I had to find a new normal.

Releasing myself from the pressure of being a do-it-all wife and mom allowed me to focus on what was really important.

5. Make Healthy Choices

Follow a healthy diet. Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.

If necessary, lose weight. (17 Ways To Lose Weight Faster can help you get started.)

Get fresh air and soak up the sun to increase vitamin D production. Exercise, if possible, to keep your body strong and flexible.

coping with chronic illnessConsider using essential oils as a natural treatment for pain and insomnia.

Learn how coconut oil, apple cider vinegar and other natural ingredients can help improve your health.

Look into intermittent fasting and find out if it might help you with symptoms.

6. Be An Advocate For Your Health

This is one of the most essential things I’ve learned. When I was going through the most serious, painful time of my illness no one could tell me what was going on.

The doctors and specialists prescribed multiple prescriptions (many of which I never took). One suggested watching a video about walking. They told me to get a massage, get more rest, eat a gluten-free diet etc.

They meant well, but their suggestions didn’t address the root cause of my illness.

Thankfully, (albeit 18 months later) I tested positive for Lyme disease and other tick-borne illness co-infections.

This was a turning point in my illness.

We felt relieved to have an explanation why my body was deteriorating. Even though no one wants to hear they have a chronic illness, we finally knew what we were dealing with. And that helped bring peace to the situation.

7. Seek Support

Building a support system is vital. Talking with supportive family and close friends can help. You might consider joining a support group or message board where people who have the same condition share experiences and hopes for the future.

I have a few friends who have Lyme disease. We communicate via Facebook, email and talking on the phone. We share our progress and treatments that have helped and encourage each other.

If you’d like to learn more about my story you may want to read:

Also, you may like to read about The Spoon Theory in Chronic Illness: What’s A Spoonie Anyway?

Can you relate to any of the Psychological Stages Of Chronic Illness And Pain?

Do you have more tips for dealing with chronic pain and illness? Please leave your comments below. I love hearing from you!


  • 39
    Shares
Continue Reading

20 Reasons To Try A Kettlebell Workout

kettlebell
  • 57
    Shares

Are you a part of the kettlebell revolution?

Yep, it’s a real thing.

Although it may seem like a fitness fad, it’s been around for years and has research-backed benefits for strength, balance and flexibility.

Kettlebells look like cannonballs with a handle on top.

They are made of cast iron or vinyl-coated and filled with sand, concrete, or gravel.

Kettlebell training focuses on whole-body functional training, not just the isolated muscle movements you get with weightlifting. No one is knocking weight training here at all, because it is beneficial too.

But if you want to see amazing strength gains and you’re short on time,  you may just want to try a kettlebell workout for yourself.

It’s my new favorite!

20 Reasons To Try A Kettlebell Workout

1. It’s Functional Strength Training

Training your body this way can help you do everyday activities.

2. Doesn’t Take Up Much Space

Kettlebells are compact and portable.

Compared to a weight bench and a set of free weights, they take up minimal room. You can stick them in the closet when they’re not being used.

3. Improved Posture

Did you know having poor posture can actually steal your body’s energy?

When your posture is out of alignment it stresses your body by trying to keep it upright. This can cause back pain.

When using a kettlebell focus on your hips, core and shoulder movements to correct your posture.

4. Great For Busy People

They give an intense workout in much less time than most others. Some people see incredible results with as little as 10 to 20 minutes twice a week!

Although many of us are busy, most people can carve out 10 minutes in a 24-hour day.

5. They’re For Everyone

Anyone can do it.

Whether you’re a muscled-up weightlifter or a 50-year-old couch potato (no judgement here), you can learn the proper form and train with kettlebells.

(Please check out the instructional video at the end of this article for help with your form.)

kettlebell
Kettlebells are filled with a variety of materials and come in different weights.

6. Increased Strength

The strength gains are quite impressive! (1)

And because it gives you a whole-body workout your entire body gets stronger.

This can help you do everyday tasks such as housework, yard work and lifting boxes. Being strong can also protect against injury.

7. Fat Loss And Calorie Burn

By increasing muscle mass, your body will burn more fat, even when it is at rest.

Some say you can burn up to 20 calories or more per minute training with kettlebells.

8. Combines Strength, Cardio And Flexibility For A Full-Body Workout

The strength and cardio gains are real! And the fluid full range of motion movements increase flexibility.

This is one of the best quick workouts you can do for your health!

9. It’s Fun!

If you’re like me, you get bored doing the same workouts all the time. But, I’ve never been bored with my kettlebell.

There are so many different types of workouts you can do.

10. Saves Money

I spent around $40 for my vinyl-coated kettlebell. You can easily find them on Amazon and in sporting good stores.

Compared to a gym membership or purchasing a weight bench and dumbbells, they’re much more cost-effective.

11. Ladies Won’t Bulk Up

Some of you girls might be concerned if you do any form of weight training you’ll end up looking like the Hulk. I used to have this same concern.

Fortunately, kettlebelling (my made up word) builds long, lean muscles, not bulky ones. 😉 So, never fear, your kettlebell is here! (You get the point.)

12. Easy On Your Joints

The ballistic physics at work when you perform different kettlebell movements actually protect your joints from injury. They encourage natural movements.

13. Simplicity

If you’re into simplicity and minimalism the kettlebell is perfect for you!

With just one simple movement, such as the swing, you can experience amazing strength and cardio improvements.

14. Great For Core Strength

When you do kettlebell movements correctly your core stays engaged. This results in a stronger, shredded core.

15. Engages The Entire Body

When you lift weights isolated muscles are used. But with kettlebells your entire body is activated and involved.

16. Can Help With Lower Back Pain

This is a big one for many people who suffer with low back pain.

Your back was not intended to compensate for weak hips and glutes. When it does your back hurts.

By strengthening your core (not to mention all the other muscles in the body) kettleballing engages the hips and glutes. This trains the body how to correctly lift objects and do everyday tasks more efficiently.

17. Relieves Body Pain And Stiffness

Kettleballing is my go to when I’m dealing with chronic pain. If you have ongoing pain you might try it and see if it helps you too.

18. Boosts Weight Loss

Because so many muscles are involved you can get a serious calorie burn.

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin‚ La Crosse have studied how many calories are burned during a workout. They equate it to running a 6-minute mile!

19. Improves Balance

A recent study conducted by ACE Fitness experts found that training with kettlebells significantly improved balance. (1)

20. Superior Results

kettlebell
INFOGRAPHIC: 20 Reasons To Try A Kettlebell Workout

Because training with kettlebells involves the entire body, results are impressive. It’s a fierce cardio-respiratory workout which involves all the major muscle groups.

People often see faster gains doing a kettlebell workout twice weekly than doing just about anything else.

Kettlebell Weight?

Depending on who you talk to, here are some general recommendations:

  • For men, start with a 16-kg (35lb) kettlebell
  • For women, start with an 8-kg (18 lb.) kettlebell.

Please keep in mind that everyone is different. These weights are merely suggestions, but if you are already strong and fit you may want to start with more weight.

Alternatively, if you are chronically ill or have recovered from an illness or injury you might need to start with less weight. Use your judgement.

Special Considerations

If you haven’t exercised in a while you may want to consult with your physician before training with kettlebells.

Please watch the instructional videos below to learn proper form and prevent injuries.

kettlebellThe Takeaway

Kettlebell workouts offer an intense workout and incredible results for the entire body. They increase overall body strength, burn calories and deliver impressive cardiovascular improvements.

Have you tried working out with a kettlebell? Please leave your comments and questions below. I love hearing from you!

Kettlebell Swing Tutorial

This short video shows how to do the basic swing move with proper form.

 

Beginners Kettlebell Workout

If you enjoyed this, (you health nut, you) you might like to check out:


  • 57
    Shares
Continue Reading

9 Surprising Benefits Of Lemon Water

benefits of lemon water
  • 45
    Shares

Lemons have some pretty amazing health benefits.

They contain Vitamin C, which is like a turbo-booster for the immune system. They are also high in fiber and antioxidants.

Lemon Water Nutrition Facts

benefits of lemon water
Drinking lemon water is refreshing and healthy.

One cup of fresh lemon juice in a glass of water has:

  • 61 calories
  • 6 grams sugar
  • 3 grams protein
  • 0 grams fat
  • 1 gram fiber (4 percent DV)
  • 112 milligrams vitamin C (a whopping 187 % DV)
  • 0.1 milligrams thiamine (5 percent DV)
  • 303 milligrams potassium (9 percent DV)
  • 31.7 micrograms folate (8 percent DV)
  • 0.1 milligrams vitamin B6 (6 percent DV)
  • 0.1 milligrams copper (4 percent DV)
  • 14.6 milligrams magnesium (4 percent DV)
  • 0.4 milligrams vitamin E (2 percent DV)

Health Benefits Of Lemon Water

1. Healthy Weight

Lemons contain a type of soluble fiber called pectin. Pectin is found in fruit and can help you feel full longer because it expands in your stomach.

Some animal studies show that plant compounds in lemon extracts may prevent weight gain (1).

2. Prevent Kidney Stones

Citric acid is a plant compound found in lemons which may help prevent kidney stones from forming (2).

3. Healthier Skin

The antioxidants in lemons fight damage caused by free radicals, which gives the skin an incredible glow from within. If you’ve ever used a vitamin C serum on your face, you know what I’m talking about.

The vitamin C also helps the body produce collagen, which helps smooth out wrinkles (3).

4. Protect Against Anemia

benefits of lemon water
9 Surprising Benefits Of Lemon Water Infographic

Anemia is often related to an iron deficiency. Drinking lemon water can help enhance the body’s ability to absorb iron from food (4).

If you have iron deficiency anemia, you may want to try drinking lemon water when eating iron-rich foods.

5. Improve Digestive Health

D-Limonene is a plant compound found in lemon peel. It is what gives lemons their delightful, fresh scent.

It also helps calm an upset stomach, and can relieve reflux and heartburn symptoms (5).

6. Reduce Risk Of Cancer

The d-limonene and hesperidin plant compounds found in lemons may help reduce the risk of many types of cancer (6, 7).

7.  Heart Health

The most common cause of death throughout the world is cardiovascular disease. This includes both strokes and heart attacks.

Did you know low vitamin C levels in the blood are a risk factor for stroke (7)?

But, consuming fruits high in vitamin C can help lower your risk of cardiovascular disease (8).

In addition, the fiber in citrus fruits was shown to decrease cholesterol levels (9).

8. Boosts The Immune System

The vitamin C found in lemons was shown to enhance the immune system (10).

9. Boosts Energy Level And Mood

Lemons are known as a natural energizer. Who (with the exception of a small child), couldn’t use more energy?

Vitamin B6 includes a group of vitamins which help convert food to energy (11).

Plus, lemon essential oil can ease stress and boost your mood (12). You can simply smell the oil or apply it to your neck, wrists or hands to experience the effects.

  • Please note, if you have sensitive skin you may want to dilute the oil (with olive, coconut, or another favorite carrier oil) to prevent irritation.

Drinking Lemon Water

Drinking lemon water is a simple way to enjoy the health benefits of lemons.

I typically add the juice of 1/2 to 1 lemon to a large glass of water. You can also add a bit of honey if you like.

You can drink lemon water lukewarm, or even cold if you prefer.

Special Considerations

Lemons are highly acidic and can eat away at the tooth enamel. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to help prevent this from happening.

  • Always dilute lemon juice by adding water.
  • Drink lemon water first thing in the morning, before you brush your teeth. The bacteria present on your teeth will help protect the enamel. (Sounds gross, but it works!)
  • Consider drinking it through a straw to lessen contact with teeth.
  • After drinking lemon water, rinse your teeth with baking soda.

Other Uses For Lemons

Lemons are great for cleaning and deodorizing your kitchen. And who doesn’t love that all-natural fresh, clean scent?

Or clean your tarnished silverware with a drop of lemon essential oil on a rag.

Whiten your teeth using a mixture of fresh-squeezed lemon juice, baking soda and coconut oil. Apply the mixture to your toothbrush or simply use a clean finger to apply to the teeth. Leave this on your teeth for 2 minutes, then rinse thoroughly.

(For more about natural teeth whitening you may want to read 81 Uses For Coconut Oil.)

benefits of lemon waterThe Takeaway

Considering all the health benefits of lemon water, is any wonder so many of us are using lemon essential oil or drinking lemon water?

Please let me know if you’ve noticed any of these benefits of lemon water. You can leave your comments below. I love hearing from you!

Also, if you liked this article, you may enjoy reading:

Finally, you may want to watch this brief video about more of the health benefits of drinking lemon water:


  • 45
    Shares
Continue Reading