20-Something Mom with Chronic Pain and Fatigue Managing Holidays
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20-Something Mom with Chronic Pain and Fatigue Managing Holidays

When I was at a writer's conference recently, I discussed with a group of ladies about felt needs and blog posts. As I described the blog posts and readership on this website, one of them suggested writing about the difficulties of parenting and exercise with chronic pain and fatigue issues. Holidays are challenging for anyone, but for someone who has a chronic illness, it can be a nightmare. So, I decided to talk with my older daughter, Lauren, about her illness along with parenting and holidays. Lauren is in her late 20's, a stay-at-home mom with two young children, and a certified personal trainer. She has fibromyalgia, celiac disease, several allergies, and some structural defects which cannot be seen, yet are challenging with exercise. Here are responses to the questions I asked her. Note: the people interviewed are expressing their own opinions and may or may not be the view of Totally Fit 4 Life. They were chosen for the situations they face in light of faith, health, fitness, and wellness.

Here's Lauren:

"Thank you for your willingness to be a guest in one of my blog posts this month. These questions relate to your health conditions, being a Mom, post-pregnancy issues with your abs, and pulling everything together for holidays. A couple of ladies at a writers’ conference brought up health issues, parenting and exercise which gave me the idea to ask you if you would be willing to answer some or all of these questions."

Q: You are a mom and have health issues. How do you balance the fatigue and pain with busy days with your kids?
A: I pace myself. We have puzzles & coloring books which are low energy things to do with my 4 year old. My 1 year old loves to hear stories, so story time is great! If its a really bad fibro day we have movie day & I snuggle kids on the couch.

Dinner those days is simple chicken and veggies roasted in the oven.

Q:  What health issues do you have and how do they affect exercise and diet for you? What is your favorite exercise routine?
A:  I have fibromyalgia, celiac, and scoliosis, as well as food allergy to casein, and sensitivity to nightshade vegetables.

- Scoliosis requires chiropractic care, more emphasis on back training with weights, and yoga/stretching exercises to keep it functioning well.

The food allergies/Celiac require me to be creative with my cooking!

- My favorite workouts are either full body weightlifting or a push/pull split routine, I also love speed rope as well as walking for cardio. My workouts vary on the energy I have that day but are always consistent.

Q: How has your health affected your faith?
A: I believe that God allows us to have challenges, so that we can help other people. I like to think of it as a gift really. He trusts me to use my illness to help others. Did he give me illness? No, but I believe he allows it to happen. It keeps me humble and striving to be my best for Him and for myself & my family.

Q: After you had your first baby, something was a problem with your abdominal wall. What happened and how does that affect your exercise?
A: I developed diastasis recti. It is a separation in the abdominal muscles caused by them being weakened by pregnancy. It can be minor or severe. I was lucky to have a 2 finger gap, but for some women it can be 3 fingers or more. A Dr can diagnose this, and their are many specialists online and personal trainers that can help to "close to gap". Some people require surgery, others do well with exercise, but only a Dr can determine that. One exercise that is terrible for diastasis recti is the crunch. Crunches and sit ups can make it worse.

Q: How does your hubby help you on a bad day?
A: He will help cook dinner, run the vacuum, or entertain the kids while I sit down for a minute.

Q: What Christmas traditions are important to you and what do you have to let slide if you feel overloaded or exhausted?
A:We love to make over the kids. We always do a Christmas tree & stockings. This year starting to celebrate Saint Nicholas Day, a tradition from my mom & dad when I was young. 

- I let the food slide. I will make the main courses, but if tired will leave out the dessert. Some of the extra decorations that a lot of people put up (like Christmas lights), we don't do.

Q: Your children are young. What do they do to help out at home?
A: My son is 1, but he already knows how to pick up his toys. I didn't teach him, he learned from his sister who is very good at picking up her toys. My 4 year old knows how to put her plate in the sink, laundry in hamper, and generally picks up after herself. Having everyone in the family know how to put things away keeps from excess pick up that can be exhausting on top of regular chores.

Q: What foods do you have to avoid?
A: Gluten (wheat, barley, rye), oats, dairy/casein, nightshades ( tomato, potato, eggplant, bell peppers, etc) these can cause inflammation and fibro pain for me, sulphur dioxide ( this can be found on non-organic grapes & dried fruits).

I choose to leave out soy and sugar cane as they are inflammatory to the body.

Q: What are two of your favorite foods?
A:  I love a big salad! Chicken, avocado, and mustard are a must on my salads! 

- Roasted butternut squash with coconut oil and cinnamon is a major favorite too.

Some helps for people with fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, and autoimmune diseases like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis:
  • Assess the energy you have for your day after you get out of bed and dress. This will help you know what you may be able to do in your day or not.
  • Use rest-work-rest intervals. Don't try to get everything done at once.
  • Set exercise as a priority for your day. Allow 1-2 days off between exercise days. Don't workout during a flare-up. Get good weight gloves to protect hands. Lift light with more reps.
  • Send e-cards instead of cards that need to be mailed.
  • Shop for gifts online. If you go to the stores, go early in the season and in the day.
  • Plan your activities and chores with priorities on what is most important to you to accomplish.
  • Enlist help whenever possible. Delegate age-appropriate chores to kids.
  • Keep things simple. When you decorate or entertain, you can have something nice if you streamline what you do. I.e. have people get food buffet style, use crock pots, set out disposable dishes, put up the tree rather than decorate the entire house.
  • Use assistive  devices such as a rolling stool in the kitchen, grippers to open jars and bottles, velcro instead of buttons and zippers on winter wear.
  • Have guests help you set up meals or pass out gifts.
  • Use gift bags instead of wrapping paper.
  • Don't feel obligated to go to parties or other people's houses for Christmas. Give yourself permission to take it easy when you don't feel well.
You and your family can have a great time with a little advanced planning. Many blessings to you!

Sites to see:
Arthritis Today Magazine www.arthritistoday.org

Arthritis Foundation www.arthritis.org

National Fibromyalgia Association www.fmaware.org

Lupus Foundation www.lupus.org

National MS Society www.nationalmssociety.org

Celiac and Food Allegies:

Celiac Foundation   www.celiac.org

Gluten-free and More  www.glutenfreeandmore.com

Allergic Living www.allergicliving.com

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