An Asthmatic’s Accomplishment

This weekend we’re traveling…again.  But we always try to make it fun.  So we decided to go to Bushkills Falls in Pennsylvania.

We both love hiking and thought it would be a perfect thing to do before we check into our hotel room.  We had never been there before but my husband’s boss said “Go right, there’s less stairs.”  Well, as we’re always up for a challenge, we went left.

Here’s the map of the trails.  Number 3 is the Top of the Main Falls and is pretty much your starting point.  We took the red route.  let me tell you, lots of stairs going down.  But what I didn’t realize until later is that would mean a lot of stairs going up.  As we got to Number 7 – the View of the Lower Gorge – we decided to keep going along this route.  There was a sign that basically said to turn around if you weren’t an experienced hiker.  We consider ourselves fairly experienced so kept going.  This is when I realized I left my Pro Air at home.

Now, this might be an asthmatic’s worst nightmare.  And I’m not going to lie, I was little nervous.  But mind over matter, right?  And I wasn’t going to tell my husband.  I kept going.  There was a part on the Bridal Falls Trail that made me huff and puff a bit, but I went slow and paid attention to my breathing.  “In through the nose and out through the mouth.”  I even had to stop a few times and catch my breath, but I knew I could keep going.  I kept telling myself I could do it.  And if I didn’t keep going, I would have missed out on views like this:

Gorgeous, right?

So what’s the moral to my story?  Being out in nature can make you have a different mindset and having a different mindset can push you to a point that you think you may not have been able to get to.  Another piece of the puzzle is believing in yourself because this is half the battle when it comes to facing something tough.  Despite not having my inhaler with me, I knew there would be a way to counteract my fears and have a great day.

I don’t know how many stairs we climbed, but I know it was a lot.  And at the end of the day, I felt so proud of myself.  For a lot of reasons…

One – I was able to have a successful hike without having an asthma attack.  The focus on my breathing helped tremendously!

Two – I found I didn’t even need my Pro Air.  If you asked me to do a hike without my inhaler 10 year ago, I would have said “No way, Jose”.

Three – I’ve found a way of life where I don’t have to be dependent on medications.  By changing my diet and increasing my physical activity, I’ve been able to find a life where I can live independently.

Sounds easy, right?  Not so much.  It has taken a lot of learning (about myself and how food affects the body), time and patience and encouragement from the members of my tribe.  I’ve gone through a lot of ups and downs too.  But I didn’t, I wouldn’t be in the position I am now.  Ready and willing to take on life, head on!  So asthma-free living, I’m coming for ya, whether you’re ready for me or not.

So…What’s Up With the Salt?

Literally, what’s up with the salt?!  I’m not talking about table salt.  I’m talking about the pink stuff.  The Himalayan salt that everyone seems to be raving about lately.  I was curious so I recently went to experience it for myself.

I went to visit a dear friend (and true member of my tribe) this past weekend and we decided it might be fun to try out one of the salt caves nearby.  We chose Salt of the Earth, located in Woodburry, Connecticut, mainly because of a Groupon, but hey, it was close and looked cool.  Sadly, I do not have any pictures of the inside because they had a “no phone” policy.  However, I come with me on a journey while I tell you what it was like…

Walk inside and you immediately feel a sense of peace.  There is tranquil music playing, loads of Himalayan salt everywhere and a fish take at the front desk.  Even the bathrooms are gorgeous!  They have an ocean theme, which I love because salt water seems to heal everything for me.  The waiting room has dim lighting, comfortable oversized armchairs and for your feet, an infrared pad.

Let me tell you about this infrared heating pad. It was so amazing!  You take your shoes off, place your feet inside and feel warmth.  The pad emits invisible waves of energy that help the inner tissues, muscles and bones of the body.  I typically have very sore feet and using this bed for even a short period of time helped relax the muscles in my feet and legs.  I almost wanted to use it the entire time I was waiting for my treatment.  Infrared heath therapy also helps improve circulation and eases pain in joints.  After that experience, I’m definitely thinking about getting one!

 

Since we had a Groupon, we received the salt bed treatment.  It’s like a tube that you lay down in.  There is a sheet that is in between you and the salt.  The treatment lasts about 20 minutes and while you’re in the bed, there is a fan that blows salt all around you.  You are completely surrounded and it feels so cool.  While you’re lying down, you can put headphones on and listen to music that helps you get into a zone and meditate.  During the time I was in the tube, I shut my eyes and completely took in everything that was happening around me.  The salt was blowing, I listened to the music and let my mind wander.  Let me tell you, it was the best meditation session I’ve ever had.  When the session ended, I felt an inner sense of calm…and my lips tasted like I had been at the beach all day!  It is definitely something you have to experience yourself.

When we got home, I started to research the benefits of Himalayan salt. I always knew that a salt lamp will put negative ions out into the air and add a sense of balance to the area you have the lamp.  But what else does it do?

Himalayan salt improves respiration.  I can hear all my fellow asthmatics shouting “Woo-Hoo!” now!  The salt will help clear out sinus infections and can loosen mucus in the nasal cavities.  I can testify that the salt really does improve your breathing.  When I was done with my treatment, the congestion in my nose was almost completely gone.

The salt can also stimulate circulation.  Improving circulation can help the blood flow a bit more and will relax your muscles.  Dr. Oz even recommends mixing a bit with coconut oil and an essential oil and using it as a scrub in the shower.  It’s so soothing!

It purifies the air.  This I knew.  I have one in my bedroom and it helps me sleep so well.  The lamp I have attracts air pollutants and takes them out of the air.  The salt absorbs those pollutants so they don’t affect my health as much as they normally would.  Fantastic!

Himalayan salt affects you internally too.  It has more vitamins and minerals than other salts, like table salt or sea salt.  We use it in our cooking when a recipe calls for salt because we want better options.

Who knew it would lying in a salt bed would be so good?  Unfortunately I won’t have a chance to go back to Salt of the Earth, but I am definitely going to find a place when I got home.  Think of the possibilities!  I’ll be calling my girls to go with me!  Who wants to come?

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Proud Moments

Have you ever had a moment where you just were so proud of yourself you couldn’t believe it?  I’m not talking about a feeling of being proud of a family member or a friend.  I’m talking about being proud of YOU!  Maybe you had a moment during a school play when you remembered all your lines in the school play.  Or you had the courage to ask Sally Sweetheart to the Prom.  Or when you ran for 5 minutes straight without having any issues breathing.

Today, I had that moment.  I have been training for a 3.5 mile road race.  Every two days I go for a run.  I’ve started slow and each week I’ve increased my running time a little.  Now, let me preface this by saying this is a HUGE challenge for me.  Running has never been my favorite thing to do.  As an asthmatic, it’s scary.  For me.  I’ve always been afraid of running because I’ve always been afraid of losing my breath and having a panic attack or an asthma attack.  But when I was asked to join my employers team for the road race, I signed up.  Yup, HUGE challenge!

So today, I had my Proud Moment.  I look back to week 1 when I first started training and remembered how much my body ached.  Now, it’s week 4 and I’m amazed at my progress.  Instead of being afraid of running, I’m in love with it.  Being outside in the fresh air, music playing and just me and the road is an amazing thing.  It helps me clear my head, get in some exercise and give me another reason to believe in me.

I hope you find some inspiration in this asthmatic’s story.  My goal here is to inspire, motivate and encourage you to find a challenge to take on yourself and succeed.  And I leave you with one question.  What’s your Proud Moment?  Share with me below your latest success story, the challenges you faced and how you succeeded!

5Ks May Lead to Marathons

Back in 2013, I ran my first 5K.  While I’ve never been a runner, I decided to run a 5K that involved obstacles because that was more my speed.  Here’s a pic from that race:

Yup, totally looks like I’m conquering all, doesn’t it?!  This race was called Tuff Scrambler and it was done down on a farm, hence the hay bails.  The race was designed to bring out the competitive side in the runners.  If you know me at all, you know I’m a competitive person.  The course was definitely challenging but not over the top, which was good for my first race.  The race has obstacles that are all man-made, has trails through the woods and has more mud than you’ll see at the finest spa in NYC.

How you’re probably thinking, “Why the heck would you want your first 5K to be an obstacle course?”  You’re smart in thinking that because I honestly should have asked myself that too.  BUT…this was a step out of my comfort zone and it was just what I needed.  After signing up, I became excited and nervous at the same time.  I was in decent shape and just kept telling myself I could do it.  Race day came and guess what, I did it.  I was covered in mud, was soaking wet and had a huge smile on my face because I accomplished something I thought I would never be able to do.

Which leads me to my next venture…a true 5K.  A bunch of coworkers are doing a 5K road race in a few months and I know I’m not a runner.  But again came the call of a challenge.  I signed up to be a runner…yes, a runner.  And then immediately downloaded the C25K app.  For any of you that don’t know what that is, Google it.  If you’re inspired to run or at least begin, check it out.  This is a training app that gives coaching queues and helps you learn how to run a 5K.  It helps you pace yourself and learn how to control your breathing.  And as an asthmatic, this is just what I need.

I’m only done with Week 1 of the program, but in just a few months, I’ll be able to (or should be able to) run 3.5 miles without stopping.  Seeing that goal seems big to me, but I just keep telling myself I can do it.  it’s a goal and I will do what I can to reach that goal. Remember, baby steps lead to big changes in life.

Do you have a goal to run too?  Are you a runner now?  Comment below if you’re just starting out or what tips you can share for a newbie runner.   I’d love to hear about your experiences – both the good and the ugly.  Because who knows, your tips might lead to my next challenge…maybe a marathon…

Is Dairy Bugging You?

I ask that question because I’m curious.  It was bugging me.  I can’t really remember when, maybe 4 or 5 years ago, I started to pay attention to how food effected me.  The first thing I noticed was dairy.  It really bothered my stomach and caused a lot of breathing issues.  I started removing cow’s milk and paying attention to how my body reacted.  I found I could breathe easier, I didn’t feel as congested and I felt lighter.  I thought, “Hmm, this is interesting.  Let’s see where else I can go with this.”

Next, I tried removing gluten.  Well, mainly bread and pasta.  Again, I felt lighter, less bloated and more clear minded.  And trust me, I love pasta and bread.  For me, they were delicious but the repercussions were not good for me.  Well, removing the gluten actually helped me.  Simple, right?

This is why I developed a 6-week program called Eliminate to Feel Great.  It’s based on the elimination diet and just might be the tool you need to feel your best.  So what is this program all about?

As I said, it’s a 6-week program.  The program is dividd into two phases:

Phase 1 is the removal of certain foods that cause allergies and intolerances for many people.  Believe it or not, you might have a food intolerance and have no idea because you think the way you feel is normal.  Phase 1 lasts 3-weeks and during this phase, you remove foods like gluten and dairy, among others, from your diet completely.  You can do this in baby steps, but by the end of the 3-weeks all foods that can cause allergies or intolerances should be removed from the diet.  The reason for doing this is because removing these foods will let your system be cleared of the things that may cause the allergies and intolerances.

Phase 2 is the reintroduction phase.  Here, we add the foods back in one at a time.  You can start with any of the foods, but let’s take dairy.  If you haven’t had dairy for 3-weeks and then reintroduce it, your body may or may not react.  If it reactions, you can see how badly it reacts and decide if you want to keep it in your diet or completely remove it.  If you don’t have a reaction, you may feel comfortable keeping it in your diet.  Next, you would add in another food like gluten.  Now you could have a reaction this time.  Maybe it’s the gluten or maybe it’s the dairy and gluten together.  This is where the experimentation comes in.  You may want to remove the dairy again to see if it’s the combination of the two foods or if it’s the gluten.  The last 3-weeks of the program continues in this manner until all food groups are reintroduced.  Typically, it takes about a day or two for each food to cause reactions and you’ll be able to decide how you want to proceed.

During the entire 6-weeks, you’ll get support from me, and the other participants, and be given a progress journal to record your feelings with the foods you’re removing and reintroducing.  These feelings may not just be physical, but may be emotional too.  Each day, you’ll be able to interact with the myself and the other participants through comments and questions posted on the participant page.  And I will forewarn you, the 6-weeks may be very challenging.  But it’s the challenge that makes us better.  Are you ready to take on the challenge?  If so, contact me with questions you may have or head straight to the Available Programs page to gain access today!

My Story

Have you ever really thought about “your story”?  I hadn’t really given it much thought.  A few years ago, I was asked to share my story and I had to really think back.  It all started where everyone’s story begins…at birth.

I was born with asthma.  No one knew it initially, but a few years after I arrived, they found out.  I was sick and in the hospital just about every six months until age 4.  Maybe even a little later.  My  mom jokingly told the doctors to “keep me until they figured out what was wrong”.  Nice, right?!  But it worked.  Needless to say, they found out I had asthma.

Because I was sick all the time, I never wanted to eat.  I had absolutely no appetite and was SUPER skinny.  I mean, I looked like I was sickly.  I can remember a picture taken of me when I was around age seven.  I was on vacation with my family on Cape Cod, playing with my sister in the pool and wearing my two-piece bathing suit.  You could see my ribs.  It was not good.  I was scrawny.  Here’s a picture of my dad and I at our Father / Daughter Dance.  My face is very thin and I was very pale.

About a year later, things started to change.  My asthma started to get better and I discovered something so amazing, I thought I’d lose my mind.  I learned what food was.  Yes, I’m kidding.  My parents fed me, but I found my appetite.  I would eat anything and just about everything.  I LOVED food!  I remember on Sunday mornings after church, my family and I would go to a specific restaurant for breakfast.  Sadly, this restaurant is no longer in business and my parents jokingly blame my sister and I for that.  We could literally clean out the whole buffet if we wanted to.  I definitely found my appetite!

Thankfully despite this appetite, I was active.  I played soccer in the Fall and Winter and soccer and softball in the Spring and Summer.  If I wasn’t this active, I would have gained weight a lot faster than I did.  My parents were happy I had gained a few pounds, though.  Because I was so active, dinners were quick – pasta dinner, fast food, microwaveable meals.  If it was cheap and fast, my family probably had it.  Strangely, I remember having lots of orange soda too.  Odd.

My journey in sports continued through my Sophomore year of high school.  In my Junior year, I stopped being so active because I had to get a job.  I needed things, like a car, gas money, clothes, etc.  My jobs during this time kept me active – I was a janitor, an umpire, a cashier and bagger at a market.  I continued to have jobs like this in college, but that experience with food was much different.  Let’s just say, I won’t forget those steak and cheese subs at 11:30PM.  And adult beverages were everywhere.  It was not good for my waistline.  And being short didn’t help things.  Unfortunately, I didn’t notice my body was changing yet.

After college, my activity level continued, but I was only working.  At a normal check up with my doctor, she noticed a mole.  She did a biopsy and initially the test came back inconclusive.  The C-word popped up in our appointments.  I’m not going to lie, I was nervous.  All I said was “Let me have hair for my wedding”.  Because I only cared about looking good, not feeling good. I was 28 years old, I was the highest my weight has ever been, I was on medicine for high blood pressure and about to be put on medicine for high cholesterol.  Yet, I still didn’t notice something was wrong.

I finally started to notice on a trip to Las Vegas.  We went with friends, including a friend that had a baby shortly before and was already back to her pre-baby weight.  And then I realized, I would be the “fat girl next to the skinny girl at the pool”.  This is what I was telling myself.  Yes,  it was negative self-talk that got me started, but hey, at least I got started.  In a quick 90 days, I lost two dress sizes and 15lbs.  I had changed my eating habits, got myself exercising and off the medications.  Even my asthma was better.  I was feeling like I was on Cloud 9.  Fitness became my drug of choice.  I couldn’t stop and didn’t want to stop.  I ended up losing 25lbs since my journey started and more importantly, I learned what it was like to be HEALTHY!

This was a comparison from our wedding day to our second trip to Las Vegas.  I had changed a lot.  And even since then, I’ve continued to chance.  I have since put some weight back on, but have learned that life is about peaks and valleys and what we do with the challenges that we face.  My work schedule is different now and I have to find time to fit in the health activities that I love.  I make compromises to make it work for me.  Today, my mindset is healthier and I’m happier for the journey I’ve gone down.  Each one of us has a gift to give others and for me, I’ve found living a healthy life is my passion.  I want to help others find the same and if my story can inspire just one person, then I’ve done my job.

If you have read through to the end, that means you’re still here with me.  I hope I’ve helped inspire you in someway.  If I can help more, I’d love to.  Comment below or contact me to set up a time to chat.  Together, we can help you find the life you were meant to live.

**Product Review** – Honeywell Console Humidifier

You may or may not know, but I am a member of Influenster, a company that lets you try out products for FREE!  Amazing right?!  Well, recently I got to try out the Honeywell Console Humidifier.  I was so so excited when I learned I’d be trying this out because I live in New England and when the temperature changes, sometimes the air gets really dry.  As an asthmatic, the New England weather can be challenging too.  In the winter, I’m bundled up with double gloves, a hat and a scarf.  In the summer, I have to watch my breathing and go easy.

I received the humidifier and first and foremost, the box was HUGE!  I had no idea the product would be this big.  When I read through the booklet that came with it, I understood why.  It’s made for larger or multiple rooms.  It has two (2) tanks, one on the left and one on the right, dials on top to set the level of humidity you want and the fan speed.  The light indicators tell you when the room or rooms have reached the desired humidity level and when the water tanks are empty.  So far so good!

I tried this baby out in my bedroom since that’s where I am most of the time I’m home and the room is the width of the house so it’s pretty big.  I had to run it for an hour on high so the machine would get accumulated to the room.  While running this test, I found out my bedroom is already pretty humid.  This might explain why I have trouble sleeping sometimes.

Since I’ve been using this humidifier, I’ve been sleeping better, can breathe a little easier when I sleep and feel better in the mornings when I wake up.  Despite the cold air the humidifier blows, I have not had any issues.  I would definitely recommend this humidifier if you’re an asthmatic or someone that needs a little more restful sleep.

Do you have a humidifier?  Which one are you using and how has it helped you?  Leave a comment below.  I’d love to hear about your experience.