Endometriosis and Me: The Neverending Story

If you missed part 1 or part 2 of this series, check them out before spoiling the ending. (Disclaimer: you can’t spoil the end of a story that doesn’t have one).

I can’t tell you how incredibly beneficial it was taking almost 6 weeks off work. While I know that this is not plausible for everyone, it was necessary for where I was at: drowning in stress and controlled by pain where even the simplest tasks were overwhelming. I had a chance to experiment with ways of managing pain, to relax, restore and re-evaluate my priorities, and rediscovered some of the things that fell aside when all of my energy went into struggling to maintain functionality as a human. I have found that there are three main concerns when dealing with endo.

Finding a Support System

As with any mental or physical illness, the importance of supportive friends, family or a community is paramount to making it through in one piece. This became clear to me when I called my mom in November in tears, pouring everything out and immediately feeling a huge sense of relief. Dealing with endometriosis and its accomplices – chronic pain, depression, anxiety, low libido, weight gain, the list goes on – can be extremely isolating. I didn’t want to annoy people with constant discussion and I started to feel like a lot of it was in my head, I felt like this was just something I had to deal with so I should just shut up and do that. This is a terrible idea. It might feel like the right thing, but you NEED support. Whether you call up your folks or bestie for some commiserating ‘Fuck that sucks,’ or get your partner to fill your hot water bottle and make some tea, or reach out to your brother for some much-needed humour (“If you’re having ovary problems I feel bad for you son, I got 99 problems but that ain’t one. Ouchie”) – it’s all crucial to helping you get through this.

I think one of the best things to come out of the past two months was discovering The Endometriosis Network Canada and the monthly support group they host in Toronto. This is a gathering of women (and sometimes support people) who have either been diagnosed or are suspected to have endo. Not only is it a wealth of information on the best specialists, pain management techniques and resources available, but I sit in a room, once a month, with other women who understand exactly how I feel. And trust me, if you think my story sounds like hell – there is always someone who has it worse. From the woman who undergoes blood transfusions once a month due to the severe blood loss, to the one who had an 18cm endometrioma (!!!!) removed from her ovary, to the woman who discovered endo growth around her pericardium … I could go on and on. It’s thanks to this group that I was introduced to the incredible film Endo What?; I finally have a consultation with a surgeon, Dr. Alice Pham, at the

EndoMarch 2016 turned the CN Tower yellow in support of the 176 million women worldwide who deal with this condition. Photo credit: Nadine M. Woods, via The Endometriosis Network Facebook Page].

end of February and in a couple of weeks am attending a pelvic floor physiotherapy workshop offered for chronic pelvic pain sufferers. I made a pact with myself to never miss one. March is Endometriosis Awareness Month, and there is a worldwide march on the 25th to raise awareness. The Toronto chapter has decided to hold their march on May 7th this year after the frigid 2016 event, but I plan on getting involved in any way I can. Check out their website to see if there’s a march in your city, or what you can do to start one.

 

 

Pain Management

Probably the most prevalent aspect of endometriosis is figuring out the unique mixture of pain management methods that work best for you.

Mindfulness

For me, meditation, relaxation and body scans are all an important part of helping to ease the stress that triggers my endo symptoms, not to mention the relaxation can really penetrate and help you forget. Being mindful of triggers and learning how to breathe through it is huge. My immediate reaction to a bad bout of pain is almost always slow, deep breathing, (or swearing) just to muscle through it. There are so many incredible sources out there these days for mindfulness, meditation and relaxation, so if this is an area of interest anyone can create their own personal routine for optimal effectiveness.

Exercise

Shocking. But it’s another important way to get the body moving and ease the pain of inflammation. The level of intensity of exercise is, ironically, closely related to the level of pain – on a ‘normal’ pain day, going for a walk, doing some gentle yoga movements or having a mini dance party is about all I can stand. I’ve been told that swimming is an ideal low impact cardio activity for me, and will be giving that a shot soon (public pools, ew). Those with lower pain levels generally find that slightly higher intensity exercise like jogging, flow yoga, dancing – you name it – really helps to manage the pain.

Diet / Natural Remedies

Diet is a huge part of managing endo symptoms, and probably where I’m struggling the most. There are always different opinions out there, but the two main directions I’ve heard recommended for endo are the macrobiotic diet and/or a focus on anti-inflammatory foods. Everyone is different, and of course always consult your doctor, naturopathic doctor or friendly neighborhood dietitian before making drastic changes to your diet. I am dabbling in the change that I know is coming, including giving up dairy and gluten (insert army of sobbing emojis), but am resigning myself to waiting to see what Dr. Pham suggests. I’ve been packing foods with garlic, ginger and turmeric, trying to eat veggies at every meal and attempting to lower my consumption of sugar, alcohol, cheese and bread – so fucking hard and it doesn’t always work. Sometimes a good ol’ glass of vino is as relaxing as a body scan. We are our own worst enemies when it comes to shifting our diet, and it is not easy, but it’s up to us what we choose to do to minimize pain.

Medication

Of course, for myself and scores of other women, medication continues to to be one of the main methods of pain management. Anti-inflammatories like naproxen and toradol are common, and painkillers like low-dose morphine, oxycontin and percocets can be used depending on the frequency and severity of the pain. This is of course an incredibly big decision for many women, and should only be discussed with your doctor. For now, daily naproxen or toradol manages to keep my discomfort at a plateau, and for the truly bad days I have morphine to ease the pain and help me sleep.

There are a host of other methods of dealing with pain, including physiotherapy, laser therapy, osteopathy – you name it. The method of pain management is so different between endo sufferers that it becomes sort of a trial by error process, and is part of why connecting with others is so important: you learn an incredible amount about what methods are a crock of shit, and what really works for different symptoms. The above methods are very personal to my journey, I have gotten to this point after a long road and expect that it will continue shifting as I age and my body changes. If you have some other techniques for pain management, share them in the comments!

Doctors, Tests and Appointments – Oh My

In case you haven’t gathered by now, it can be incredibly frustrating dealing with endo or suspected endo, even in a saturated city like Toronto. It can take months for specialist appointments, and pelvic ultrasounds become old hat when you get them every 6-12 weeks. In my experience, it can take a lot of pushing to get testing done, or to be referred to a specialist, but if you are in a position where you suspect endometriosis – be your own advocate. Do your research, understand what it involves and know your symptoms. I’ve heard horror stories from women who constantly get told to ‘deal with it,’  or ‘this is normal.’ It’s not. Work towards creating a health care team that supports your best interests and will work for you.

 

I am now waiting on results of my latest ultrasound, which (painfully and tearfully) happened last week, and am going for a pelvic MRI in a couple of weeks to investigate any other possible causes for pain. I’ve seen one gynecologist, and didn’t like him one bit; I was going to just deal with it until I went to the support group and was told about Dr. Pham. I asked my GP for a referral and here we are – two months later and I’m going to see her. I am hopeful that surgery will be an option soon, although I know that I’ve already had it done and it still came back. I am afraid of being asked whether or not I plan on getting pregnant in the future, and hearing that it may not be possible. This is a huge concern that plagues women dealing with this, and it’s terrifying to think that your body may not be able to do what it was made to do. There is a host of fears and anxieties that accompany dealing with endometriosis, but educating yourself and pushing for the best possible care is the best way to move forward. I am both fearful and hopeful, and I know that my life will probably always involve dealing with chronic pain. It won’t be easy, but I’m slowly filling my toolbox with the things I need to beat this shit down.

Life after marriage, does it change your relationship?

heatherjustin-9942  On July 2, 2016, I finally said the words “I do.” Marriage these days- its tough. As common as the word marriage is in a relationship, the big D is likely the next most common – divorce. I feel like I live among a generation of people fearing marriage solely because they fear divorce. Not that anyone goes into a marriage expecting a divorce, but when 4 of 10 marriages in Canada end in divorce….you have to question if you could be part of that 40%. If statistics aren’t enough, what about all of those people who say how much marriage changed their relationship or that they wished they had of never gotten married or they would still be together today. Womp, womp. Depressing. This gets better.

Since my wedding day, I have been asked many times “have things changed in your relationship since you’ve gotten married?” Read “is your relationship worse now that you’re married?” And my answer is……not at all. In fact, it is literally the exact same as before the marriage. I am of course more poor now, but that is just a small post-wedding detail. Here is the thing, before we got married we had lived together so we knew all of the annoying things that each other did day-to-day. We bought a house together, therefore money, down-payments, mortgage payments, etc. were all open book items (I should also mention my husband is my accountant, so there truly are no financial secrets in my world), we went through the ups and downs of pregnancy because trust me there are many of each, and then we went through figuring out how each of us parented and how we could survive doing it together.

After all that, what about an official ceremony could possibly lead to our relationship somehow getting worse as of July 3? We have been through a lot of the hard stuff already. For the record, I am in no way encouraging people to start having children and buying houses before they get married to see if they would make good life partners to one another. But I am saying have those very tough conversations about those very topics. If one partner truly does not want children, do not hope that getting married is going to change that. If one partner has not disclosed anything about finances ever or is very vague, do not assume, by default, that they in good standing order.

Now, I know what you are thinking. This B**** has been married 6 months, what does she know?! All I’m sayin’ is that there is no way that ceremony will be the blame for any changes in our relationship because those are coming with or without the “I Do’s.”

H

The Endometriosis Strikes Back

(Click here in case you missed part 1 of my journey)

After over a decade of dealing with awful symptoms, finally finding out for certain that I had endometriosis (which I will refer to as ends from here on out) was both a relief – I finally had something to blame, and a concern – what did this mean for future me’s reproductive health?

Recovery was painful, but manageable. Painkillers and anti-inflammatories were my best friend. Slowly, as the months wore on, I was noticing less severe symptoms with my periods. Of course I still got cramps because nature is so kind to us women, but the stabbing, searing pain I used to experience had subsided. I could have sex without wincing in pain or needing to stop. I was maintaining my oral contraceptives to control my estrogen so the tricky little hormone didn’t feed more cysts and endo lesions. For the most part, I thought I was out of the woods! I kept very close tabs on any symptoms I did have, but for the most part it was almost four years before I really started to notice major symptoms again.

My life: being buried in endo.

In October 2015, now living in Toronto, I was due for a birth control renewal. The nurse I spoke with at the clinic was shocked that I had been on a combination (estrogen-progestin) pill for so long, given my history of migraines and social smoking (sorry Mum…) so they switched me to a progestin-only pill to lower my risk of blood clots and stroke. Phew. This type of pill is also apparently a good choice for women with endo because rather than halting ovulation, progestin causes the lining of the uterus (or endometrium, which is the devil responsible for my pain) to be so thin that a fertilized egg cannot attach. This seemed like a great way to stop any new growths from happening. Boy was I wrong – after 8 weeks of constant headaches, bleeding, exhaustion and mood swings I stopped taking it. My body was telling me no, and I listened. After 12 years of being on birth control, I finally decided to give my body a break … 

And give it a break I did. I did not see another period for 84 days. Talk about anxiety-inducing. And when she came back, she came back with a vengeance. All of the symptoms I was experiencing in my teens and early 20’s were back. Cramps were excruciating, sex was painful, my lower back ached constantly, and those familiar pains returned. I wanted to wait to see if this was consistent before talking to my family doc.  My period was so inconsistent (over a year later and I still don’t have a regular cycle) that the symptoms came and went, sometimes with my period sometimes without. I gained about 30 pounds in less than five months. My family doc suggested I go back on birth control, get an ultrasound and blood tests to check for PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome), but wanted me to see a gynecologist in Toronto to weigh my risks (blood clots, stroke) vs. benefits (managing endo pain) of returning to hormonal control. That was in June. My ultrasound showed “a shitload of little cysts” – how hip is my doctor? But the wait time to see someone? Eight months. All I could do was wait. My blood tests showed a majorly underactive thyroid, which could account for the weight gain and feelings of lethargy. Medication to regulate that, and lots of reading only to discover that thyroid issues are often found in women with endometriosis due to the severe hormonal imbalance.

My September ultrasound showed the cysts had grown, and my ovaries were both slightly enlarged. I had figured this due to my growing symptoms. Sex was becoming more sporadic; between the weight gain and the pain, I just couldn’t do it. So then we add the guilt, anxiety and depression that comes along with having a virtually nonexistent libido – let’s just say I am incredibly lucky to have such a loving and supportive partner. I couldn’t even practice yoga any more unless it was meditation or ultra-restorative; twisting gave me twinges, vigorous vinyasa was virtually impossible, and I felt completely disconnected from my body. It was rebelling, and I didn’t understand, I didn’t feel connected to it the way I had started to in the past few years. Depression started to take over and I was sick of being in pain and not feeling like myself. I didn’t feel like anyone understood; I didn’t look sick on the outside, but I was fighting a constant battle.

In November, I started feeling pain and pressure when peeing and pooping, to the point where I tried to avoid it, but I couldn’t because I had to do it constantly. One day it got so bad that I took myself to the ER because I was afraid to be home alone and couldn’t stand the pain. A long and painful day in itself, I found out I had a 4cm endometrioma on my right ovary, that was pressing on my bladder and bowels and causing the pain. There it was, the caution Dr. Graves had given me five years earlier: my endometriosis was back. I was given morphine and naproxen for pain and inflammation, and a referral to another gynecologist – since my referral from June STILL isn’t until March! I could barely function the next few weeks; morphine made me loopy, naproxen upset my stomach, the pain made me vomit. I was a terror to deal with, and all I wanted was for the pain to stop, to stop being a burden on everyone around me. I was so stressed out about my symptoms, about not being able to focus at work, which only aggravated the symptoms so my doctor suggested a medical leave to focus on managing the pain.

I have learned in the past month and a half that stress is a huge trigger for my endometriosis, and am learning how to manage living with chronic pain and stress. Everyone’s experience with endometriosis and other reproductive health issues are different, but they are all so important to forming a greater understanding of this little-known condition. Next week I’ll talk about different ways of managing symptoms, the importance of connecting with others experiencing endo, and the frustration of dealing with endless waits, doctors, and tests. Endometriosis my be a lifelong illness, but it doesn’t have to control your life.  

-Maia

Teachers & Parents

We are just about half way through the current school year, so it seems seems about time I put my teacher hat on and give some advice on the teacher/parent relationship. Here are 5 tips to help build a healthy, respectful relationship with your child’s’ teacher.

*Disclaimer- I am not a parent. But, I am a teacher. I have been teaching for over 5 years. I’m no senior expert but have been around the block enough to offer some advice. A few pearls if you will.*

  1. Start an open line of communication in September. Please do not wait until March to tell me your child is gluten free. Pop into the classroom in the fall at some point and touch base. You don’t have to stay for an hour, but a 5 minute, “hey, here is my number if there is an issue- please don’t hesitate to contact me, good luck this year!” is perfect. To hold up our end of the bargain, us teachers shouldn’t wait until March to tell parents about any issues with their students learning. Open and honest communication is key, even when it’s tough news to share.
  2. We spend a lot of time with you child and do love them! Believe it or not, teachers like children. Teachers are not out to get parents. Teachers aren’t trying to make your life miserable by giving homework or requesting a parent/teacher meeting. Teachers have the honour of being with your child for over 7 hours a day in many different settings (classroom, field trips, music, lunch, etc) and have a good understanding of your darling. Mutual respect for each other is key.
  3. Communication is key; but not every hour. It is hard for us to teach your child when we a stream of emails coming in! Teachers struggle to make enough time to teach all the curriculum, let alone having to send emails reassuring parents their child is wearing their ski pants.
  4. Keep expectations realistic. Both teachers and parents have been guilty of expecting things from the other party that are not always realistic. Teachers can get frustrated when parents do not read with their children at night, and parents can get frustrated with teachers when their child is learning at a different pace than they want. Keep it real. Parenting and teaching are hard, let’s both cut each other a break once in awhile.
  5. Believe! Kiddos are brilliant. They know exactly what, when and how to get the reaction they want. Both parents and teachers hear lots and lots about each other. That third beer you had after supper? He told me this morning when he came to school. That Mommy tells Daddy to exercise more? They tell me everything. And I know they tell you what happens in the classroom. It’s all rooted in truth, but the details can be misleading. Before you panic, call the teacher. Talk it out before you talk smack about me or the school at your workplace!

Simple truth; teachers need parents and parents need teachers. So instead of finding faults in each other, let’s realize we are both on the same team fighting for your child/my student.

 

Endo- huh? The Beginning of My Endometriosis Journey

Cramps. Heavy bleeding. Back pain. Mood swings.

How lucky are women that we get to experience these and other symptoms thanks to our lady parts. The problem with the varying symptoms that can accompany having a uterus – aside from creating our own personal hell – is that the same cluster of symptoms can mean a million different things.

The summer after grade 7, an excited and nervous little me got my first period; within 6 months my visits from Aunt Flo were accompanied by severe pain, numbing cramps and heavy bleeding that lasted two weeks at a time. I was anemic and taking iron supplements, popping Advil and Midol and going through super plus tampons like it was my job. I didn’t know that it wasn’t supposed to be this way, so I dealt for almost two more years before my doctor agreed to send me for an ultrasound when I first found out my teenage ovaries were peppered with cysts. I was put on the birth control pill to regulate my estrogen levels and reduce the size of the cysts. Slowly my periods started to regulate to relatively normal length, and although the pain was still severe once a month, the bleeding leveled out and I eventually went off my iron supplements.

For the next 6 or 7 years I continued to experience a roller coaster of symptoms: severe cramps, pelvic and back pain and nausea just became something I dealt with once a month and never thought too much about unless I was cuddled up with a hot water bottle and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s.

In my early 20’s I came across an article on endometriosis (endo), which described one of the most common, least diagnosed chronic illnesses in women. Endometrium is the tissue that lines the uterus, and in women with endo this endometrial tissue also grows outside the uterus on ovaries, Fallopian tubes, bowels, bladder, etc. When I looked at the list of symptoms, it dawned on me that I may be looking at the reason for my years of suffering.

The more research I did, the more I was convinced I had endo. I eventually (oh so nicely) badgered my family doctor into giving me a referral to a gynecologist. I was extremely fortunate with my referral to Dr. Gillian Graves at the IWK in Halifax. She confirmed what the article had said, that it can take on average 7 years to properly diagnose endo, and this can only be done surgically with an exploratory laparotomy. Endo doesn’t show up on ultrasounds or other imaging tests, and unfortunately there are not many doctors who are well versed in endo resulting in women’s complaints often being dismissed as ‘normal’. I knew the risks involved, but was confident that given my history and my symptoms I had endo and requested a laparotomy. Of course alleviating pain was a huge concern, but at 24 my biggest fear was to go on not knowing, leaving future me to deal with infertility issues and chronic pain. Dr. Graves was incredibly understanding, and agreed to do the surgery. I had so much anxiety leading up to the procedure; I was stuck between wanting her to find something so I didn’t feel crazy, and wanting it to be clear so I didn’t have to deal with whatever came next. The surgery went great, and it was confirmed that I had stage 1 endometriosis with lesions on my left ovary, bowel and behind my uterus. Dr. Graves lasered the lesions away and assured that since we caught it early my symptoms should ease, but that even radical surgery like a total hysterectomy is not a cure for endo- there isn’t one. Pain management is the life of a typical endo sufferer, whether through medication, exercise, diet, yoga or other natural remedies.

Endometriosis is still not widely understood, but there is so much more awareness and information out there now than there ever has been. The best thing you can do for your health is to know your body and be aware; educated ladies are healthy ladies!

Helpful Links:

http://endometriosisnetwork.com/

http://endometriosis.org/

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/endometriosis/home/ovc-20236421

 

30 Lessons We Learned By 30

We may not be full of wisdom, but we have learned a few ticks along the way. Allow us to share.

  1. Turns out, you need to change the filter in your dishwasher. It turns and  slides out and you can wash it with soap and a toothbrush.

    I forced Janna to post a picture because I didn’t believe her. When I did this (for the first time ever) I saw things I was not prepared to see!
  2. On that note, buying cheap dishwasher soap (don’t even get me started on the powder) is a waste of your dishes time, they will never be clean.
  3. Darks, colors, whites, towels, and gym gear need to be washed separately.
  4. Starting to pay into a retirement fund at some point in your 20’s is vital. Whether you are a ‘live in the moment type of person’ or a ‘what if I die tomorrow’ person, you can’t work until you’re 100, so tuck away some pennies on a regular basis.
  5. You need to understand interest rates. 21% on a credit card you know you will have a balance on month to month? Not for you. 2% interest on a mortgage, YES PLEASE! 6% on a car loan, oh hell no. Understand how much money you are paying to borrow more money.
  6. Traveling trumps things.
  7. Sometimes friends are too busy to call or email you, but if you are not too busy to call or email them, go ahead if it’s a friendship worth keeping. You will be equally happy it happened.
  8. Red wine is delicious despite not being cold.
  9. You need one pair of jeans that fit you so good you could be on their ad campaign.
  10. If you are not married or have kids in your 20’s, its more than okay.
  11. Being “ready” to have kids only happens in the movies 75% of the time. No one is ready, everyone is scared shitless that their entire life is going to change and that they won’t like it when it does. “Ready” means you have time and extra space in your heart to love another human.
  12. Not every single job has to be fulfilling to keep it or stay in it, but it should be part of a plan to get you closer to that job.
  13. Work to live. If you are involved in your office politics, you are not working to live. You’re working on adding extra stress to your life outside of work.
  14. Get your car fixed when something sounds wrong. Waiting leads to worse (read: more expensive) problems.
  15. Trust your intuition – if it feels wrong, it likely is.
  16. Getting cranky when there are airport delays/crying babies/lack of foot space, etc is not worth it. Travelling is always an adventure- for better or for worse. Airport employee do not want to be stuck overnight in Winnipeg any more than you do. Frustrating? Yes. Worth getting your panties in a knot? Not usually.
  17. Communication is the key. Talking about things trumps sticking your head in the sand and avoiding. It’s not always easy- but always worth it.
  18. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Make promises you can keep.
  19. Be empathetic. Put yourself in other people’s shoes and act appropriately.
  20. Pick up the phone and talk to your family members. You will miss them more than you know when they are gone.
  21. Know the value of Google- but don’t over google.
  22. Getting mail is a thrill. Send a card once in awhile.
  23. Listen more, talk less.
  24. You’re never too old to make a new friend, often that starts by looking up from your phone.
  25. Try new things. Interested in cooking, sewing? Take that cooking class!
  26. Know your worth and settle for nothing less than the best in a relationship.  Falling in love is supposed to be fun- not stressful. If you know in your heart you deserve better, move on. You are worth it. ( you hear that 20 year old me?… I caught on eventually)
  27. Invest in yourself. Exercise and eat well. Losing weight and changing your body doesn’t get easier after 30 let me tell ya.
  28. You do you. It truly does not matter what other people think.
  29. Getting a cute tattoo on the inside of your hip bone is precisely where a C-section incision goes (Learned that one the hard way). Consider an alternate cute location.
  30. You will always find greener grass if you are looking for it. All jobs will seem better, other partners will seem better, other lives will seem better if you are looking for a reason to believe yours is not. Invest time into your own grass and make it better if it needs to be.

We would love to hear some of your 20-year old lessons to add to our list!

J&H

Best biscuits!

Best Biscuits- and I do not throw that title around loosely.

Invited to a brunch tomorrow and don’t know what to bring? You’re welcome in advance. These biscuits take 8 minutes and can be made before the oven is heated up.

 5 ingredients. Does it get easier?

Add the dry ingredients. Start with 2 2/3 cups of flour. Add in the whipping cream (what new years resolutions!?) and mix with your hands. See how it feels. If it is mega wet, add a bit more flour. Don’t overmix !

Sprinkle some flour on the counter. Throw down the dough and flatten it as thin as you want. Again, don’t over work the dough. Use something to cut out the biscuits. If you don’t have a cookie cutter, I have used both a narrow glass or the rim of an empty tin can. Save a splash of whipping cream to brush on top of the biscuits before they go in the oven. 400 degrees for 10-12 mins.

 

They are delicious and best enjoyed the day of! (I mean they are by no means terrible the next day but something about a fresh biscuit !!)

10 Healthy Habits You NEED in 2017

Bla bla bla new year new you. I am going to go out on a limb here and say that the old you was likely not so bad. Good even. Instead of hoping for a new you, what about an enhanced you? A healthier version of your 2016 self. Here are 10 healthy habits that will help you actually achieve some of those resolutions that will last a lifetime. After all, its not what you eat or what you do between Christmas and New Years that is the issue here, its what you do between New Years and Christmas (Get it!? Stole that from an instructor at my gym today and I’m almost sure he stole it from someone else…brilliant none the less)!

  1. Eat 3 meals a day, everyday. Ask any single person who has ever lost weight AND maintained it (that eliminates all of you fad dieters and fasters out there) and they will tell you that regular meals was vital to their success.
  2. Snack ONLY if you are hungry. But I am hungry all the time you may say! Wrong. Thinking about food and actually being hungry are two very different things. Listen to your body and truly find out if it is hungry.
  3. Drink water. I will never, ever understand people drinking 2L of diet pepsi everyday. It may have diet in the name but its a poor strategy to try fill food cravings with a fake sugar garbage beverage. Add cucumber, lemon, or berries to spice it up or go for my personal favourite, grapefruit perrier or soda stream!
  4. Sleep. There is more than enough research to support that people who sleep well are healthier and happier people. Poor sleepers will gain an average of 6lbs per year! If you are a poor sleeper, discuss it with your doctor. Generally there is always a WHY and most often a fix for that why.
  5. Move. Move as much as you can as often as you can. If you can walk for 10 minutes at lunch then do it. If you have the luxury of time and can attend a fitness class before or after work, do that. Do whatever it is that you can as often as you can because it is 100% better than doing nothing. Movement does not need to be specifically for weight loss or those 6-pack abs. It is beneficial for sleep, mental health, blood pressure, blood sugars, cholesterol, and the list goes on and on and on.
  6. Deal with your stress. Figure out if having a few minutes to yourself to read, exercise, or take a long bath is enough to punch your stress in the face. If it goes deeper than that, talk to someone. Most workplaces have an employee assistance program (EAP) that offers free and confidential counselling to you and your family. Most health plans cover private social workers and therapists. Talk to you doctor. Talk to SOMEONE, ANYONE.
  7. Stop feeding your emotions. Do you run for a tub of Ben and Jerry’s each time your Mother calls? Well, sorry momma but we are not answering your calls anymore!
  8. No more stocking sweets in the house for ‘guests.’ Who the hell are these demanding, sweet-loving guests that are mysteriously dropping into your house unannounced?! I hear it all the time “I have to keep cookies and baked goods in the house for when company drops by.” Guess what I also hear…. “Every time I go visiting I am offered sweets and I feel rude saying no, so I eat them.” No one wants your cookies Barb, especially if they have raisins or some weird Jelly in them. People no longer visit people and think they are rich if they can provide cookies. Times are a changin’ and we need to change with them.
  9. Start a diary. This diary can be a food diary, a personal diary, a diary for gratitude, a diary to help let out some emotions. Writing is so good for the soul.
  10. Swear sometimes. Cause fuck it feels good.