Just a walk…

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Bluebell Woods Photo by Nick

Now we are staying home, my one walk a day is more important that ever before.

I have to admit walking is something I hated, as a child. I remember having to go on walks and thinking, how much further, my legs will fall off in a minute!

So, what changed my opinion of walking?

I first started walking regularly before I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, about fifteen years ago. I’d been suffering with lower back pain and sciatica, which got progressively worse.  I was unable to work. My doctor said I need to go to physio first; to get the muscles and joints moving and when I’m mobile to start walking regularly.

At the time I thought it was really unhelpful advice as I could barely move, let alone walk anywhere!  But after a few painful physio sessions. I started with short bursts at first of 5 to 10 minutes, progressing to longer walks.  Now I do a regular walk every day and have not suffered from back pain so much; I also have more energy to do things.

I find my walk stimulating now; especially on a fine sunny day, it can really lift your mood.

Observing nature and seeing trees come into leaf as spring approaches is really refreshing.

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Bluebells Photo by Nick

I live near a park and I can vary my daily walks through wooded areas and quiet residential streets. I usually spend about 25-45 minutes on a walk and vary the terrain.

Being a fibromyalgia sufferer I notice any temperature drop as the weather changes, straight away. My joints feel stiff, I get more pain and all my symptoms get progressively worse. I still try to keep active if I can everyday by walking. I wear layers and thermals to keep warm.

I have a pair of waterproof walking boots; which are great to wear in heavy rain. I bought mine from a outdoor clothing and footwear shop in the winter sale. I’ve also invested in a waterproof jacket,  woolly hat, thermal gloves and socks.
I find it difficult keeping my hands and feet warm, when it is really cold. Research shows we loose most heat from our hands and feet; so it makes sense to keep these areas as warm as possible.

If you plan to begin walking and have not exercised recently it would be advisable to start slowly first. If your joints are very stiff it might help to try gentle exercises before you start to warm up the joints.

When you feel ready to start put on some comfortable shoes and suitable waterproof clothing for the weather.  Start off slowly with short bursts of 5 to 10 minutes and gradually build up from this.  You will find you get more confidence and can do longer distances.

For more information about walking and exercise have a look at the NHS Walking  guide. Check before setting out the latest update in your area, on staying safe during the Coronavirus pandemic.

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Trouble with #sleeping?…

two white and brown puppies

Photo by sergio souza on Pexels.com

A few simple changes can make a difference to your quality of sleep. I know this very well from first hand experience, having suffered from poor unrefreshing sleep for years.

After weeks of not sleeping the body’s functions become impaired making it extremely difficult to function in a normal way. (Whatever normal is for a fibromyalgia sufferer). 

“If you’re thinking, I don’t have fibromyalgia, it’s still worth giving these suggestions a try.”

“Insomnia, fatigue and pain are all part of life if you live with fibromyalgia.” The symptoms of fibromyalgia, such as fatigue and pain are all made worse with poor quality sleep.

Over time I’ve found some solutions that have helped me get a better nights sleep. Obviously, there’s no one size fits all with these suggestions. That said, it’s still worth giving them a go. Just being aware what might work is useful.

On occasions I still find I have some problems sleeping but I can solve these more effectively than previously.

Common problems experienced range from:

  • getting to sleep
  • staying asleep until morning
  • waking during the night
  • getting back to sleep after waking up

Have a look at the following suggestions for improving your sleep

  • Go for regular exercise every morning, for example a walk 

  • Check your bedroom temperature and lighting are beneficial for sleep 

  • Adjust your bed and pillows to make it as comfy as possible 

  • Invest in a electric blanket to warm the bed before you get in and help relax muscles 

  • Avoid smoking, over eating or drinking caffeine directly before bedtime 

My top tips for getting to sleep

  • Help your mind wind down for the day
  • Get into a regular sleep routine for adjusting your Circadian rhythm, try to get up at the same time every day
  • Turn off all devices that emit blue light an hour before bedtime
  • Read a relaxing book or listen to gentle music
  • Try a meditation, like yoga nidra or one for helping you to get to sleep 
  • Use ear plugs and a eye mask to block unwanted noise and light
  • Get into a comfortable sleep position and then try a relaxation routine 

Whilst you are asleep make sure your room doesn’t have anything that will wake you like a mobile phone.

A pet that sleeps in your bedroom and disturbs you in the night, should be encouraged to sleep elsewhere.

If you wake in the night and cannot get back to sleep get up and find something that makes you drowsy like reading or a yoga nidra sleep meditation.

If you find by morning you have not had enough sleep go back to bed and sleep for a while longer. If you catch up with a couple of hours sleep every night you will see the difference after a few months.

I recently read several articles which mentioned vitamin D (sunlight) exposure daily in the morning shortly after rising can help and mindfulness meditation both improved the quality of sleep in fibromyalgia sufferers. 

I believe this to be true because I usually get up and do a daily walk every morning and this regulates my circadian rhythm over the next 24 hours. It’s more important to get up at the same time every day than the time I go to sleep. 

I’ve found improvements in my concentration and ability to switch off at night after practicing regular Meditation on a daily basis. Explore meditation apps for sessions covering mindfulness and sleep. Have a look at my Fibromyalgia Self Help pages on  Meditation and  Exercise

If you have insomnia and it’s not necessarily fibromyalgia related, get it checked out by your doctor or health professional. If they prescribe sleeping pills it would be advisable to be referred to see a specialist sleep consultant.

Have a look at the  NHS sleep self assessment  to determine how good your sleep is.  From this link you will find some helpful information about sleep.

Trying to loose #weight?

sliced cheese served on white tray

Photo by Jennifer Murray on Pexels.com

If you choose cheese, are you aware how high in cholesterol it is?

I am a cheese lover;

I particularly like goats cheese for its strong unusual flavour.  In the past, I would regularly tuck into cheese sandwiches every day; selecting different cheeses to eat every week. 

I’m not in a minority enjoying cheese with around a third of us eating cheese regularly in a meal. 

The top five most popular cheeses in Britain at the moment are:

English Cheddar

Red Leicester 

Brie 

Mozzarella 

Parmesan

This trend seems to be growing with the increase in popularity of vegetarian foods recently. More people are becoming aware of the health benefits of cutting down on red meat and are also aware of the environmental impact of production processes. An appealing alternative to this appears to be cheese.

The most surprising fact is that one in ten people habitually eat a chunk of cheese as a main meal.

I’ve been trying to cut back on saturated fat intake along with my carer. Until recently I’d eaten cheese and thought it was not particularly any more fattening than any other type of food; except fruit and veggies which you can eat in abundance.

I discovered reading food labels in detail, that it is very high in saturated fats. Much higher than most red meats in fact and therefore not much help if your trying to cut back on saturated fat.

Cheese can contribute to increased levels of saturated fat in the diet fast if it’s eaten regularly. An alarming fact if you have switched to cheese recently and thought it was a healthy option to meat products.

Why is saturated fat something to be aware of in a diet?

Saturated fat in a nutshell……

Eating too much saturated fat in your diet leads to your body producing excess cholesterol which causes blood arteries to become blocked or restricted. This in turn increases the risk of cardiovascular disease which includes heart attacks, angina and strokes.

The easiest way to reduce this risk is by lessening the intake of saturated fats. There are some quick and easy ways to start making a difference. Avoid or reduce full fat dairy products such as cream or cheese (skimmed or 1% fat milk is much better than full fat milk). Also cut back on pasties, pastries, pies, cakes, chocolate, coconut milk, coconut oil and palm oil. When eating meat choose low fat meats such as chicken, turkey, venison, veal or rabbit.

In addition you can have foods that reduce cholesterol in the blood.

Soluble fibre (e.g. fruit, vegetables, oats and nuts) absorbs and carries the cholesterol out of the body.

Plant stanols or sterols inhibit cholesterol absorption in the gut. These are available in fortified foods such as Benecol.

For more information about diet and healthy eating have a look at the following website:

NHS Live well, eat well

Further details about heart disease and stroke:

British Heart Foundation information and support

Stroke Association

Look after your health and your heart….