Archive for October, 2013

This photo is of me taking in the spring sun shortly after being diagnosed with MS

This photo is of me taking in the spring sun shortly after being diagnosed with MS.

Part 1 (Diet)

When I first realized that the issues I was having with my body were far more serious then a pinched nerve I resorted to the good old internet.  There I discovered that I most likely had Multiple Sclerosis.  For some reason the only stories and blogs that I could find were extremely depressing.  Most were about ending up in a wheel chair or being bed ridden, or walking to the mailbox being a success.  For me that was devastating.  I am a go getter, extreme sports junky, triathlete, and will always try to be the best at whatever it is I am doing.  Towards the end of all my medical testing we pretty much knew that the answer was going to be MS.  This is when I started to change my attitude.  I had already faced some pretty big life challenges and put them in their place.  I lost my left eye in an accident when I was 20 and overcame any disability that came with that, I lost my parents in a plane crash when I was 23, found out I have 2 herniated discs in my back during my MRI’s, lost a few good friends along the way,  and just yesterday I had my 3rd knee surgery along with countless other injuries and hospital visits.  So this was just going to be another challenge in my life that I am going to have to put in it’s place.  I started to realize that I may end up in a wheel chair (and am lucky I haven’t already) from the activities I choose and have chosen to do.  I may die in a car accident tomorrow, or get diagnosed with an even worse disease.  You never know what life is going to throw at you.

So what has MS taught me?  More then I could have imagined.  Life before MS was good.  I went out a lot with my friends, stayed up late, had a great job that kept me busy as could be, lots of toys to occupy any free time that I had.  I had a stomach of steel and could eat and drink anything and feel great.  Life was good.  Or so I thought.

When I was diagnosed with MS I made the decision after much research that I was not going to take any medications unless absolutely necessary.  (Thank you Terry Wahls.  http://www.terrywahls.com)  I was going to fight this disease with diet and exercise.  That was my first approach and is still one of the most important models I follow, but it has led to so much more.  With the diet change (Paleo) my whole body has changed.  I have more energy, clearer skin, I think more clearly, my muscle tone is much more defined, almost all of my aches and pains are gone, my body heals itself remarkably fast.  (If you recall from a recent blog I had taken a bad fall on my mtn. bike and cut up my face pretty bad.  In just one week all of the scabs were gone with no scarring).

When my family first started the Paleo diet it was very hard to imagine never eating grains again.  No more bread, pancakes, muffins, cookies or pretty much anything that came prepackaged.  I would also be giving up dairy.  No cheese….You’ve got to be kidding me!!  Those were the big things to give up.  we also gave up any artificial colors, sweeteners, and preservatives.  Those weren’t too hard because I knew how bad they were for you already.  I didn’t know that they are in just about everything you bought.  I also chose to give up alcohol as a personal choice.  I will have a glass of wine every now and then but for the most part I don’t drink.  Now 6 months later I don’t miss any of the things listed above.  Instead I crave fresh foods.  I have learned to appreciate the amazing, pure, true taste that food Mother Nature has to offer and the benefits of clean eating.  The thought of putting butter on my vegetables or sauces on my foods is really kind of gross.  It is truly amazing how fast your body will react to foods (or fake foods rather) once you have a clean system.  As I said above “life before MS was good”.  That is what I thought.  I was fortunate to not have a weight problem and I was in good athletic shape and I felt good after meals.  Well now looking back I realize that I never did feel good.  I was just so used to feeling crappy that I thought that was normal.  It is amazing how good you can actually feel once you start taking care of yourself and giving your body what it needs (or rather removing what it doesn’t need).  My recovery from workouts is so much faster and my endurance is constantly improving.  (Within 2 months of starting the Paleo Lifestyle I dropped 1 minute per mile off of my run times).  Most importantly my MS symptoms have been minimal since that start of the Paleo Lifestyle.

The diet change has really made my family look for healthy foods.  Which you will learn are somewhat hard to find and do cost a little bit more money.  So our answer to that is to find ways to bring in the food ourselves.  We are fortunate enough to live on 14 acres so we are able to have our own chickens for eggs and we will be getting more for eating next spring.  We have built a large garden to grow as much food as we can.  We plan on getting a few cows for grass fed beef.  Currently we have 2 deep freezes and we buy large quantities of meets from local farms.  We go to the local farmers markets which gives us great foods and supports our local economy and gives us a sense of community.

I will end Part 1 with this.  MS has taught me the importance of healthy eating and taking care of your body, and I can honestly say that I am the healthiest I have ever been in my life right now.  But there is so much more to a healthy life then just diet, and having been diagnosed with MS has opened my mind and my families minds to so many things.  It is very exciting to discover new ways to improve your overall health and see how healthy and good you can feel.  I will elaborate more on those items next week.

Thanks for reading!!

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Sleep is one of the most important things that we need in our lives.  It’s right there with food and water, yet it is the easiest aspect to set aside and neglect.  Since I have been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis I am looking at many ways to improve my overall health.  Sleep is one of the most important issues that I have come across.  So what makes sleep so important other then the obvious reasons. Well lets start with what a lack of sleep can do.

A lack of sleep can contribute to weight gain, a diminished immune response, lack of concentration, irritability and depression.  That’s quite a few serious negative effects from ignoring something that feels so good to do.  How does a lack of sleep effect these topics listed above?  Lets go into that next.

A lack of sleep can contribute to weight gain: Chronic sleep deprivation may cause weight gain by affecting the way our bodies process and store carbohydrates, and by altering levels of hormones that affect our appetite.  Not to mention the lack of energy which will most likely lead to a decreased desire to be active.

A diminished Immune response: Your immune system is the key player in keeping your body healthy.  There are specific types of immune cells that peak during awake hours, as well as specific immune cells that peak during sleep hours.  Therefore it is important to allow both types to do their jobs.  This one is extra important to people like myself with an auto-immune disease (where something has gone haywire and your immune system is fighting the wrong things) to allow your body to heal.

Lack of concentration and irritability: This one is pretty self explanatory.  If you are tired you do not have the patience to deal with situations you might find unpleasant or irritable.  Also it is hard to focus or concentrate when your brain is telling you that you need to go to sleep.

Depression:  This one goes both ways.  A lack of sleep can lead to hormone disruptions, irritability, and moodiness that can affect your overall well being leading to a depressed feeling.  While on the other hand, once you suffer from depression a number of sleep disorders can arise such as insomnia.  Now we have gone full circle!

So what are some ways to get more or better quality sleep?

There are quite a few different tips and techniques.  You will need to first narrow down the reasons that you are not getting enough sleep.  Maybe you are having a hard time getting to sleep, or are waking in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep, or maybe your just not allowing yourself enough time to sleep. Whatever your reason here are a few tips that I have come across and a few that I use myself.

Clear your mind, try to forget all of the days problems.  There is nothing you can do about them lying in bed.  Put a note pad next your bed.  When you think of something that you need to do the next day write it down.  That way you won’t lay awake worrying about whether or not your going to remember to do that task tomorrow.

Get physically tired.  Do some exercise during the day.  It is not recommended to do this right before you go to sleep for it will actually stimulate your body.  If I do a hard workout during the day, I can hardly make it to my bedtime before I’m sleeping.

That brings me to the next one.  Have a schedule.  I know it seems childish to have a bedtime but this one has been a huge help to me. Along with having a bedtime, you should wake up at the same time every day.  This way you are making sure that you are getting the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep.

Less caffeine and alcohol.  Caffeine stays in your body for 4-8 hours.  So though you may not feel the effects of the caffeine it is still running through your body.  This goes for alcohol too.  Alcohol stays in your body for 4-5 hours after your last drink.  Once it has cleared your system it triggers your brain to become hyper-aroused and usually will wake you up.  This can last for several hours, thus the reason that so many people wake up around 3 in the morning and can’t get back to sleep.

Reset your internal clock.  As soon as you wake up (assuming that the sun is up) step outside and get some sunlight.  Sunlight drops melatonin levels (the hormone that prompts sleep).  This will wake you up sooner hopefully making you more ready for bed once your bedtime comes around.

Here are some of the things that I have found to really help me sleep better.  I start turning off the lights around 9pm to make my surroundings dark.  This triggers my body to get tired.  Next I drink a glass of Homemade Ginger tea with a scoop of Magnesium + Calcium in it.  Ginger tea helps calm the digestive system (along with a lot of other health benefits) and the Magnesium + Calcium work together to calm your body.  I use Natural Calm (http://naturalvitality.com/natural-calm/) for this.  Then I am in bed by 10pm.  If I’m not quite ready to sleep I either meditate or read a book or magazine (not an iPad/phone/or T.V.  These all emit a blue light spectrum that will keep your mind awake).  I also use a white noise app on my phone that is plugged in across the room.  I don’t have a clock in my room so if I wake up in the middle of the night I can’t see what time it is and stress about not being asleep at 2 AM.  And finally I wake up pretty close to the same time everyday.  I might hit snooze once or twice if I have no reason to get up but I’m almost always up within 30 minutes of the same time everyday.

Today’s blog was a little more informative then they usually are but this is an important topic that I think a lot of people will benefit from.  Hope it helps.

Thanks for reading and feel free to leave your own thought and methods of sleeping below or on our facebook page.

I have changed the name of my blog to: Wake up and Tri.  All post from Riant’s Words are now posted on this site. You can access it at https://wakeupandtri.wordpress.com

 

This past week has been somewhat of a battle for me.  We will start with last Sunday.  I took a trip down to Minneapolis with a couple of buddies to go mountain biking at a few different areas.  At the first location, only about 5 miles into our ride I took a pretty substantial digger on an elevated bridge.  The result…. Our trip was over.  I was very close to being knocked out and definitely had a concussion and was in a lot of pain.  Being that I was on an elevated bridge, (more like a 6″x6″ beam) when I put my hands down to break my fall there was nothing for my hands to hit.  Therefore I broke the fall with my jaw and shoulder.  On the ride home I was very concerned that I may have really hurt myself.  I couldn’t raise my arm and my jaw was huge.  (it looked like Quagmire’s jaw from Family Guy).  The next day (Monday) I went and got X-Rays to clear the air.  I was OK.  This was a good wake up call though.  As I mentioned above the ride home was a good time to do some thinking.  Am I going to be able to work this week?  I’m not going to be able to pick up my children,  I just ended my season, what if I am really hurt.  Maybe riding across obstacles isn’t worth it anymore. 

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Anyway, that was the start to my week.  Along with being in pain my MS has started to act up again.  My legs start to get the numb feeling which is what I experienced about a year ago when this all started.  It is very stressful because I don’t know if it is just an old symptom acting up again,  A new lesion forming and the disease is progressing and I am one day closer to a wheel chair (that is unfortunately one of the  depressing thoughts that I always have lingering somewhere in the back of my head),  Or is it just part of the MS that I have and this is what I have to deal with?  Usually when my legs start to get a strange feeling I go for a run and that seems to help make them feel better.  Unfortunately my left meniscus is torn and I have a surgery scheduled for the first week in November, so running is not an option.  My second remedy is to go for a long road bike ride both for the exercise and the peace of mind I get from being out on the road.  Well it has been raining for a week straight so that is not an option either.  My final option is to ride indoors on my trainer.  It gets my legs moving and helps a little bit but it is not as effective as the first two options.  So what do you do? I’ll tell you what you do!  You look around at your life and be thankful for all of the things that you do have going for you.  In my case, the positive thoughts for this week were.. I didn’t break my jaw or my shoulder, I’m not in a wheel chair, I’m able to walk, ride my bikes, and exercise, I have a wonderful home to hang out in with my wonderful family while the weather outside is not so nice.

Life is a battle everyday.  Some days are a lot harder then others.  But at the end of the day there is somebody that is always having a harder day.  Find all of the positives that you can.  Try to make other peoples days better.  That simple act alone can turn your whole day around!

Thanks for checking in.

Time to be stress free

Posted: October 6, 2013 in Health, Lifestyle
Tags: , , ,
Time to be stress free

Enjoying the Scenery on my ride.

The other day I went for a 30 mile road bike ride and it was absolutely the best day of the year for cycling.  It was about 70 degrees with a slight southern breeze of about 4 mph.  The sun was shining but in a way that you were just fine if you didn’t have sunglasses on.

I am always competing and rarely stop when I am on my bike.  Whether it be with myself, Strava, or training for an upcoming event.  But on this day (though I did get a K.O.M.) I made 3 stops along my ride to take in the beautiful scenery that Mother Nature has to offer this fall and even snapped a few photos.  The picture above is one of the lovely roads that I was lucky enough to enjoy.  This brings me to my topic today.  Living Stress Free                                                                                                                                                                              I have noticed a lot of articles lately about the importance of eliminating stress from your life.  The amount of harm that stress can do your body is quite remarkable, and in today’s fast paced life we are all living with loads of stress that we do not even notice.  We are always by a phone, checking emails, checking facebook or twitter.  In a rush to drive somewhere.  In a rush to get dinner whipped up as quickly as possible.  If your like me you are tied to your cell phone for work so you never feel as though you have a day off.  Here are a few things that i have started to implement into my day that have helped me stay calm and stress free. (at the least, less stressed!)

When I wake up on the morning I try to take a few minutes to myself before anyone else wakes up.  I will usually go to a room by myself and think about how fortunate I am that I am able to take in a new day.  That my MS is not winning.  That I was able to provide a safe home for my family to sleep in last night.  Your thoughts don’t have to be deep, meaningful, drawn out thoughts.  Just come up with a few simple things that you are thankful for and say them to yourself.  Then repeat them to yourself through out the day.

I find when you are a little worked up.  Say dealing with the children or sitting in traffic. Taking deep breaths in through your nose (as deep as you can) and then letting them out slowly really helps calm your body.  I do this throughout the day and reflect on my morning thoughts as I do this.  It helps bring you back to your calm, happy state.

My final thought has to do with the picture above.  I am really learning to slow down, take in the simple things in life.  Mother Nature has so many amazing, beautiful settings/moments every minute of every day that we pass right on by because we are in such a hurry.  So next time you are driving and the traffic is moving a little slow, look around and see what you can take in.  If your on a run or a ride, it’s OK and healthy to stop and look at your surroundings.  It won’t destroy your workout and your mental side of the workout will thank you.

I hope these thoughts help you in your journey to be stress free!!

I woke up this morning at 4:45 to my 2 year old daughter crawling into bed with my wife and I.  (That’s not the bad start to the day).  I ended up getting up at about 5:15 after being kicked for half an hour.  I decided that I would get up and enjoy the house to myself and listen to a new podcast that I had downloaded.  WRONG!!  Both of my children decided that they wanted to be awake with me and that I needed to entertain them.  So I did.  We made it to about 7 O’clock before we started to lose it.  I made them breakfast but that did not help.  They just kept getting crabbier and crabbier.  “Oh well”, I told myself.  “Don’t get too worked up”.

At about 8:30 I decided that I was going to go for a bike ride on my new Specialized Shiv Tri bike that I just purchased and just had fit.  WRONG!!  I made it to the end of the driveway, used my rear brakes and they locked up and wouldn’t release.  Uuugghhh!  Back to the garage to try and fix the problem.  Not gonna happen today.

So I gave up on that and decided to get something done today.  “I know… Let’s call direct T.V. and deal with them” I told myself.  As if that is going to lower my blood pressure.  Well I called them and accomplished nothing which has lead me to here.  I have been wanting to start a blog for a while now and decided that today is the day.

In my blogs I plan to talk about my life in all aspects.  My family. My battle with Multiple sclerosis. My diet (Paleo) and recipes that I find or create.  Exercise and Triathlon training, and my ongoing work towards happiness, less stress, and enjoying life.  I hope that what I write will inspire some people in their own lives and challenges.

In ending.  It’s not a bad day.  So I didn’t get to go for a bike ride, my new super expensive bike didn’t work, I accomplished nothing on the phone with Direct TV.  However, I woke up today with a loving wife, 2 beautiful children, a crazy lab, and another day of no MS symptoms!  I couldn’t be happier.