Monday, February 25, 2013

Invigorated, Not Weary

I belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whose members are frequently nicknamed Mormons. This isn't because we worship someone named Mormon, but because we believe that the Heavens are still open. "We believe the Bible to be the word of God, as far as it is translated correctly. We also believe The Book of Mormon to be the word of God" (Article of Faith 1:8). In addition to The Bible and The Book of Mormon, we believe in modern revelation and prophets called by God in our day.

Joseph Smith was the first prophet called in our dispensation, and through divine revelation given to him by God, we have another book of scripture called The Doctrine and Covenants. In the Doctrine and Covenants, there is a scripture that says,

"...Cease to sleep longer than is needful; retire to thy bed early, that ye may not be weary; arise early, that your bodies and your minds may be invigorated." (D&C 88:124)

Those sound like some great promises to me! And they've been repeated by many people and proven to help people sleep and feel better. Benjamin Franklin said, 

"Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise." 

Sometimes we don't have much control over this and sometimes we do. But I want to do the best I can, so I am making a goal to:

-go to bed at 10:00pm 
-wake up at 6:00am

When I'm able to do this, I could get 8 hours sleep, and still have time in the morning before John wakes up to pray, read scriptures, have breakfast and do yoga. Sounds like a great plan to me! 

We started yesterday and woke up early, and much more was accomplished in the morning. We did go to bed at 10:00 (maybe it was 10:15), but John is teething, and rolling over (not on purpose), so I was up at midnight and 4:00am. So that didn't work out as well, but hey! You win some, you lose some. The daily battle is not as important as winning the war, so we'll keep working on it.

Update: 3-3-13
Well, it is incredibly ironic that as soon as I make this sleep goal, I have an entire sleepless week. Our baby got a virus and a terrible rash, poor guy. He has been miserable and hasn't slept well, neither have I. But like I've said before, it's not a straight shot up the mountain, there will be switch backs and even landslides, but if I keep trying to move forward, we'll see some progress eventually!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Progress and Improvement

I've been pondering on progress and improvement. I love to see results, good results, quick results. Perhaps everyone does, but I have been learning that

progress and improvement most often require:

You don't get to the top of a mountain instantly, you have to climb. You meet obstacles and switchbacks, but as long as you follow a steady upward course, and never give up, you will make it.

I see a long journey ahead of me, and I don't know how far the destination is, or even if there is a destination, maybe it's just always a journey. But I'm looking forward to it. I'm excited about it! 

I am a learner. I love to learn.
I am a worker. I love to work.

So, I'm on my way. I can do it, one step at a time.

I've been practicing yoga consistently for a month or two, and it always helps me feel better, more free, more open, more clean. Am I a master? Absolutely not. I'm really just a beginner, and I like to practice yoga alone (or with my husband) at home with a DVD (usually Rodney Yee) that I can pause and repeat and do my own thing. I can modify the poses to fit my own ability without anyone watching or critiquing or comparing.

When I started doing yoga again after our baby was born (it took many months to start again), 
I couldn't:
-do sitting positions without a cushion
-do downward dog position at all
-roll up to sitting positions from lying down without blacking out a little bit
-do standing forward bend without a tall block

But after a month or two of those 5 things I mentioned above,
I can:
-do sitting positions without a cushion
-do downward dog position for a little bit
-roll up to sitting positions from lying down and feel fine
-do standing forward bend with a small block

It has taken quite a bit of time and effort to accomplish these small things, but it's good to see a little progress, and I enjoy it.

A good friend of mine wrote a post on success that inspired me. She quoted W. Stephen Smith’s book “The Naked Voice:”
 "Success is all about the joy we attain in pursuit of our passions."
And I am pursuing my passions and I am attaining joy from that. I haven't reached my goals - really, I never will because I will always make a new goal - but I am finding joy in the journey, so I am successful.

President Thomas S. Monson, the current prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints advised, 

"Let us relish life as we live it, find joy in the journey, and share our love with friends and family."

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Introduction to the Wagner Way to Health

As you can see from the title, this blog will be all about the Wagner Way to Health. In it I hope to include my own thoughts about my journey to health, steps I am taking to try to achieve overall physical health but also spiritual, emotional and mental health. I have learned that through the big and small changes in my life, I cope best by keeping a record, writing down my thoughts which helps me figure out how I'm feeling, why I am doing what I am doing, and learn more about myself and what I'm doing well, and what I need to change and improve.

One of my biggest changes I am currently undergoing is in my relationship with food. Through this change, and continuing in the future, I plan to post what I am learning about food, recipes I am trying out, and tantalizing pictures that might even tempt critics to try them out. I also want to post my own reviews of documentaries, books and cookbooks I am reading, and provide resources and links to anyone who would like to learn more with me. The possibilities are truly endless, but that's a start for this little blog as it goes out into the world.

First off, a little about my struggles with physical health. I am 26 years old, yes just 26 years old. You may ask, but how have you already had physical health challenges being so young?! Yes, I would like to know that too, and for that very purpose, I'm making some changes that will hopefully result in improved physical and overall health.

To get into some detail (hopefully without getting too personal) of what I have faced (with the unfailing support, love and prayers of my stalwart husband as well as my family and many friends) over the last 8 years:
  • Mononucleosis/Epstein Bar Virus for 2 years
  • Subsequent Hypothyroidism - have to take a pill every day "for the rest of my life" says the doctor
  • Severe Tonsillitis and then a Tonsillectomy 
  • 2 Miscarriages
    • See THIS post for more details about the above challenges
  • Weakened Immune System
  • Insomnia and difficulties sleeping
    • Inability to fall asleep quickly or to sleep soundly
  • 12 Urinary Tract Infections
  • Chronic Headaches
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Frequent Sinus Infections and Headaches
  • Lactose Intolerance
  • Fibromyalgia - chronic muscle pain and weakness
  • Consistently Ineffective (and very expensive) physical therapy
  • Anxiety
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
    • Chronic Digestive Issues which cause serious pain and discomfort - so much so that there have been times I have been afraid of food because of what it has done to me
    • 2 colonoscopies
    • Undesired weight loss (sometimes even up to 20 lbs in a few short months of digestive problems - and I really don't have any lbs to lose)
  • A host of medical issues that I don't feel comfortable sharing
  • Constant doctor's appointments (some of whom have treated me as if I'm a number, like I'm not even a person, like I don't know anything about my own body - who often just prescribe me yet another expensive drug disregarding the harmful and painful side effects that come with it, many of whom have given me no hope and tell me to just accept that I will be sick and tired and in pain for the rest of my life)
  • 10 minor surgeries - 3 unsuccessful which have caused serious consequences (usually in the form of pain)
  • Inability to run (or do any rigorous activity) because of knee problems and muscle weakness
  • $45,000+ in medical bills (that's what we've paid after insurance - it's really true)

Well, I'm just going to stop there because this list is so discouraging. I don't want it to continue. It's exactly that. I don't want it to continue, and it's time for me to take control of the destiny of my own health, as much as is in my power to do so. I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired! I want to be healthy and active. I want to feel rested and to be full of energy. I want to do all I can so my family can have those blessings too. I want to take care of John to the best of my ability. I want to play with him on the floor and run around all day and still feel like I have much more to give when my excellent husband comes home from a long day at work. I want to have more children. I want to see those children grow up, and I want to see their children, and their children. I want to help those children avoid illness as much as possible. I want to grow old, very old, with the husband that I love so much and to be able to enjoy the beautiful life we have ahead of us.

I've tried everything that I've thought could help me at great expense and usually to no avail. So what am I going to do? Well, for starters, I will continue doing yoga and walking for exercise (more on that in the future), and I am going to change the fuel I'm putting into this intricate and miraculous machine (my body) that is designed to repair and heal itself! It apparently doesn't run very well on what I've been putting into it for 26 years, so why not try something new!?

According to Hippocrates, 'the Father of Western Medicine'
"If we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much we would have found the safest way to health."
and "Natural forces within us are the true healers of disease."
and "Let food be thy medicine."
 I believe this Ancient Greek guy has a point. A good point.

I am going to change to a plant based whole foods lifestyle.

I don't like to call it a diet - because people associate "diet" with weight loss. I am not trying to lose weight but to gain health. One of my friends told me the other day, "You need to eat more food." Yes. Yes, I do. More of the foods that will help me feel the vitality and energy I've been searching for all these years. "I like the way it tastes," shouldn't be my reason for eating things. I want my reason for eating things to be because it makes me feel good (long term) and promotes my good health - and I of course want it to taste good too! This blog will also be about my learning how to achieve that. You could call most of what I eat "Vegan" if you must, but there are a lot of ways to make "Vegan" food very unhealthy, and that's not the way I want to go.

My goal is to significantly reduce (close to eliminate) animal products, refined and bleached flour and sugar, and most processed foods from my diet, and eat mostly natural, whole, health promoting foods such as vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, and whole grains.

If you are interested in what was the major catalyst that made me want to try this: (for free) Watch THIS movie, and THIS movie.

Will I eat animal products again? Probably. I'm guessing I will when I feel I need to. I'm not going to say never. I am not forbidding myself, or anyone else from eating animal products - I believe animals were created for our use and benefit, but I do feel they should be used sparingly with thankfulness, and only in times of winter, of cold and of famine.

You may call this an extreme change, but before you do, refer to the list above. I would call that list extreme for a 26 year old, or perhaps for anyone. It has certainly felt extreme to me, and I'm ready for a change. Are you wondering what my husband is going to do? Well, I don't think he has completely decided yet, but he has been so very supportive every step of the way, and at home he is eating (and enjoying!) the same food I eat. In social settings he is going to eat whatever he feels is best, and so will I. I haven't really figured out what to do about social eating yet. What will our kids eat? I don't know yet. Stay tuned. Right now, John is enjoying breast milk, and just started on homemade baby food: oatmeal and carrots. Mmmmm

I want the people I love to know that I love and care about them, and that I am doing this for me and my own little family, and that I am not doing it to judge or condemn anyone. I wish good health and happiness for everyone, but I don't think there is only one exact way for every person to achieve health. And there is a time and a season for everything. I know that some people are blessed to have anything to eat at all, and there have been times in my own life when I've not had the time or strength or even an open enough mind to even think about trying this. But I am grateful, in a way, that I have been sick, perhaps it's God's way of helping prepare me to learn more about how to promote my own and my family's health.

I am very passionate about what I am discovering, and I love to share with anyone who would like to learn about what I'm learning and trying, but I know that people don't like to be preached to, so I think this blog will be a wonderful outlet for me to share, and no one is required to read it unless they'd like to know more and/or see how I am progressing on my journey.

I'd like to say thank you in advance for your love and support to me on my road to health. I certainly need all the love and support I can get!