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Author: Kami

Have you tried what seems like all-the-treatments and there seems to be a missing piece? Check out the 12-week program, Empowered Healing, and learn how to reclaim wellness! Click to read more!

Empowered Healing: Reclaiming Your Health & A GIVEAWAY

This giveaway is sponsored by Innovative Medicine and is open through May 31, 2017 at 11:59 pm PST. Scroll to the bottom and follow the directions to enter!

Over the last few years I’ve done anything but lie in wait for healing. I have made a lot of sacrifices, faced incredibly difficult treatment protocols, and put a huge daily effort into supporting my body’s healing.

My diet has shifted dramatically, and multiple times at that. I relied on an expensive supplement plan just to keep functioning. And up until 3 months ago I spent the majority of my days at home. Not out of choice, but because my unimaginable fatigue and symptoms demanded so much rest.

But in the last three months I’ve seen tremendous healing come from adding in an entirely new treatment program called DNRS. And because of that I’m truly starting to get my life back. DNRS is based on the foundation that we have the ability to heal ourselves by rewiring our brain. You can read more about that here.

Because of this new addition to my healing protocol, I’ve become absolutely fascinated by reading up on neuroplasticity. I’m always intrigued to hear about other treatment programs with similar, yet unique perspectives on healing.

So when Monica from Innovative Medicine reached out to share more about their Empowered Healing program launching on June 1, I was all ears!

Psssst…spoiler alert: they are giving away FIVE of their 12-week programs here on the blog! You can scroll down to the bottom for more info on how to enter.

What is Empowered Healing?

Empowered Healing is a 12 week program designed to put you in the driver’s seat of your health. EH is founded on the idea that we all have the ability to reclaim our natural state of health and functioning. And their program gives you the tools you’ll need to do just that: to activate your journey back to health.

What you’ll learn…

(taken from their website):

  • A holistic understanding of the underlying causes of illness and the critical (yet often overlooked) mechanisms that determine how people truly heal.
  • How to start feeling better instantly and optimize your recovery response by learning and applying the scientific evidence that the body can heal itself.
  • The 7 key fundamentals of health and how to address each of them in a personalized way that starts with your current individual-based priority.
  • The ‘Healing Blueprint’ framework: A five step process for charting your own unique course back to health, starting from right where you are.
  • How to solidify your newfound vitality, step fully into your healthiest self and sustain your new ‘set-point’ for the rest of your life.

The program consists of a 12-week guide, video lessons, interactive exercises, personal accountability calls, email coaching, research, and an online community to foster your healing journey.

I also found it super compelling that the program has been 12 years in the making…12 years! The creators of the program spent that time interviewing doctors from around the globe and learning from them. And now have used what they’ve gathered to create a comprehensive system that offers tangible steps for healing.

One of the creators, Ben Ahrens, suffered years with Lyme disease and has seen tremendous healing through implementing some of the practices presented in the program. You can listen in on his fascinating story he shared on a TED talk here.

“Could the program help me?”

As I was reading some of the info on the website, their description of who the program is for tugged at my heart. Simply put, it’s because I feel like it resonates with so many of us that have been working hard at healing:

“Whether you’re chronically ill and looking for ways to optimize your success outside the doctor’s office, wondering why various treatments don’t always lead to long-term health, or simply curious about what you can do in your personal life to compliment your medical treatment, this 12-week program will show you how to implement all of the discoveries and principles that Innovative Medicine is based on to empower yourself and reclaim health outside the medical office.”

How many of us have tried yet-another-treatment that helped someone else, but our body couldn’t tolerate it? Or it made us worse? And how many doctors have we seen that left us wondering if there was possibly a missing link? Perhaps something they hadn’t thought of that could help.

I know I, for one, could answer so many of those questions with a head nod. Or a blank look while trying to add up the number of times I’d been there.

The Empowered Healing program is a 12-week program that includes one on one accountability, email coaching, video lessons and interactive exercises to help you regain health! If you've been living with chronic illness click to read more about this amazing new approach to healing!

So what do I think?

I have to say that I’m excited about this program! I’ve seen firsthand how powerful neuroplasticity based healing can be. And with that being just one component to Empowered Healing, I’m embracing it with open arms.

I’ve had a chance to look over their beta program and will be diving into the full program in June. And I’m impressed just from my first exposure to the program!  The science behind it, their teaching style, and holistic approach really resonates with me.

And if you’re one of the lucky winners, maybe we can swap our experiences as we go through the program together! 😉

The GIVEAWAY:

Innovative Medicine was kind enough to offer not one, but FIVE lucky readers their brand new 12-week program!

Here are the deets:

  • Giveaway winner must be 18 years or older.
  • You may earn up to EIGHT entries.
  • Submit all entries by 11:59 PM, May 31, 2017
  • Winners will be contacted by email and must respond within 24 hours to claim their prize.

To enter click this link or enter using the Rafflecopter form below!

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Why would you like to win the Empowered Healing program?

Enter to win an Empowered Healing program from Integrative Medicine: the 12-week program that's designed to help you reclaim health and wellness through a holistic approach to healing.

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Did you know that there's healing that can be found by transforming the way we think? Here are 3 practices that are helping me release negative thoughts and reclaim health! Click to read more.

3 Practices That Help Me Release Negative Thoughts & Heal

My original version of this post was first published on ProHealth’s Inspirational Corner.

As I sat outside sipping on my cup of tea this morning, the cool air brought a smile to my face. In the quietness I brought my mind into the moment, took a deep breath and closed my eyes against the rising sun’s bright beams.

And then I did something I’ve been doing more of lately. I silently reminded myself: “I’m strong. I’m happy. And I’m healing.”

You see, I recently started a new treatment that’s brought up a lot of new emotions. Renewed hope for healing, a genuine happiness, and more quiet rest in my mind. And while the quiet and calm have been so welcome in this tired body, I’ve discovered some buried debris:

Some negative thoughts I’ve held onto about my worth, purpose, and talents.

You see, I’ve worked through a lot of the things that have surfaced in these years of health challenges. Ideas that I’m not enough. Thoughts of comparison with someone else’s talent or ability. Beliefs that what I have to share isn’t of value to anyone else. It’s really quite a messy collection of harsh words and emotional knick-knacks that I just don’t need.

So I’ve started to question, what do I believe about myself? Do I really believe that my diagnoses define me? That my thoughts, experiences, or talents have no place in this world? Are they really “not good enough” or am I just afraid of letting my talents shine?

I don’t want to live buried by a pile of doubts and insecurities so I’ve decided to intentionally shift my thoughts. And in doing so, my aim and hope is to make more room for self-kindness, acceptance, and grace. Let me share a few ways I’m tangibly putting this into practice…

Daily gratitude journal.

Over the years, the people I’ve met with health challenges are some of the most grateful, appreciative bunch I know. We see the beauty in the simple things, soak in the things and moments that matter. So I wanted to be even more purposeful in this. Writing down a list of the things I’m grateful for has created a perfect space to allow the good in my life to shine.

And this list is not just about noticing the good, but also recognizing my efforts for the day. This can look like “I’m grateful I did a great job at sticking to my treatment schedule today” or “I’m thankful I was able to commit to my appointment even though it took a lot of extra effort.” It reminds me of positive truths like: I’m strong, committed to my health, determined. And when does that ever not feel encouraging to hear?!

(I’ve also been doing a Living Gratitude Journal for the month of May in my Instagram stories. Short video clips of something I’m grateful for each day. If you’d like to follow along for inspiration – or join me – come visit my feed and click on my profile pic!)

Speaking kindness to my inner self.

I can be incredibly hard on myself. So learning how to treat myself with the same gentleness I wish to give others has been a process for me. And one way I’m challenging the tide is by silently reminding myself of my worth. Affirming what makes me, me.

The more I’ve stepped outside of my comfort zone with this one the more emotional healing I’ve experienced. Why? Because I’m actually starting to believe what I’m saying. That I’m talented. That I’m important. That I have something to offer the world. The beauty in growing in how I self-talk and care about myself is that I believe I’m becoming more equipped for encouraging and supporting others around me, too.

Meditation.

Meditation is something I’ve only recently begun exploring, but it’s such a treasured new experience! I love how calm and relaxed it can make me. So each day I make space for a bit of meditation before bedtime. And I do my best to get in another hour at some point during the day.

It’s something that has taken practice (and I still have room to grow). But I make a great effort to remain focused on healing for that hour. My body sometimes gets restless and distracted, so it’s been important for me to learn to be gentle with any thoughts that arise. Which can look like calmly reminding myself/my mind that it’s time for healing. And in giving myself permission to let go of any harsh thoughts during my meditation I’ve found that the harsh thoughts have lessened as a whole!

Finding My Center.

These three practices, while small and not-so-out-of-the-box, have played an important role in centering me on my quest for healing, fullness and purpose. Because as I’ve approached each one with intention and grace, they’ve helped quiet the thoughts that don’t serve me well. It’s helped me refine my focus on healing, be more gentle with myself, and be more accepting of where I’m at right now.

And it’s given me hope that there can be a full life in this moment – as I embrace the now, hope for tomorrow, and learn to dance in the freedom to dream.

Have you tried any of these practices or have one you’d add to your own list? What inspires you to stay mindful in healing?

If you’re looking for some guided meditations, here are a couple of my faves: Meditation Minis by Chel Hamilton and Tracks to Relax for bedtime. But there are a lot of other great guided meditation podcasts on iTunes if those don’t quite resonate with you! Or you can check out what’s available for beginners on Amazon.

(If you click on one of my affiliate links in this post, I may earn a small commission if you make a purchase – at no extra cost to you!)

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After spending years chronically ill I began researching the DNRS program as a natural alternative to healing. I've seen great results and am sharing 3 important questions I've been asked - and answering them! Want to know more? Click here to learn more about how the treatment works!

3 Things You Should Know About DNRS

This is not a sponsored post. These opinions are entirely my own and are in no way endorsed by the Dynamic Neural Retraining System.

If you read my post last week, you know that over the course of the last six weeks I’ve been adding in a brand new treatment. And it’s a program that’s, well…outside of the box.

It doesn’t come in the form of capsules. Or an injection. And it doesn’t involve a device, for that matter.

Because this treatment, interestingly enough, can’t actually be seen.

Sure, the information and instructions for DNRS (Dynamic Neural Retraining System) are delivered in the form of a DVD series and a personal workbook. So there’s something tangible you have in hand as you’re learning. But implementing the program involves working on/with your brain.

Which means it’s a lot of internal work.

The techniques presented in this program are based on research surrounding neuroplasticity. Which, in short, refers to the brain’s unique ability to change itself. Wild, right?

So today I thought I’d answer some of the questions that I’ve been asked the most since starting DNRS:

  1. What is DNRS?
  2. How would retraining the brain help current health challenges?
  3. Is it worth the $250+ investment?

These are all questions I’ve asked before starting the program so you’re not alone! Information on healing through neuroplasticity is still relatively new to me, but I’ve been seeing profound shifts begin since starting DNRS.

So how about we just tackle these one by one?

What the heck is DNRS?

As I mentioned before, the program arrives at your door with a set of DVDs and a personal workbook. You’re encouraged to complete the program (which consists of 14+ hours of material) in 4 days in order to get the most benefit, but I’ll be honest: it took me a bit longer. But I gave myself some grace and, as I’ve shared, am still seeing positive shifts in my health.

In a nutshell, the DNRS program aims to first educate you in the science behind neuroplasticity and then equip you with both the tools and techniques to help you repair your limbic system.

I wasn’t familiar with the limbic system prior to this treatment program. So in case you’re like me and your thoughts are starting to drift toward what you’ll be eating for lunch, let’s quickly cover the basics.

The limbic system consists of several parts of the brain including the hypothalamus, hippocampus, amygdala and cingulate cortex. Together, these structures make up the “feeling and reacting” functions of the brain.

Now if the limbic system is impaired due to injury or trauma (whether that’s an infection, chemical exposure, mold toxicity, emotional or physical trauma, etc) it becomes hypersensitive. And in this hypersensitive state it will overreact to even the smallest stimuli that would otherwise be passed over as harmless.

Since our limbic system works intimately with our endocrine, autonomic and immune systems, it inappropriately activates those systems which can end up in a “party” of symptoms we never invited.

The DNRS program gives you a system to implement that will help rewire the limbic system so that it’s once again functioning properly. The treatment you implement includes both daily brain exercises you work on throughout each day and one hour of devoted time of “practice”. Practice each day involves a combination of mild movement, vocal exercises, and mindfulness techniques – all to help restructure the pathways in the brain.

I obviously can’t share exactly what the practice outlines for you to do each day, but something that may be helpful to talk about is the reality that I was very limited before starting this. And even I was able to implement these practices in the beginning. Sometimes I just had to do it in an abbreviated way, such as lying down or sitting during a portion of the daily one-hour of practice.

Want to learn more about the Dynamic Neural Retraining System? After years of treatments, doctors, and way too many years spent home-bound this method is helping me HEAL! Click to read more as I'm responding to my 3 most asked questions about the program.

 

How would retraining my brain help my current health challenges?

Great question! And one I asked over and over again before purchasing the program.

One of my first thoughts upon looking further into the program was that it seemed like everyone was “drinking the Kool-Aid.” But heck, I was desperate. And if  the Kool-Aid actually worked, I couldn’t care less about the modality. I just wanted to be better!

And while I am getting better, this most definitely is not brain washing. (Or sugary Kool-Aid for anyone wondering). There was an important distinction I knew I needed to make early on in the program. As I learned more about the brain and neuroplasticity it became clear I had to treat my brain just like I was treating my body.

My magnesium has been regularly low for years now, which is why my naturopath has been supporting my body’s diet with magnesium supplements. My blood pressure has also been regularly low, so I frequently drank Himalayan salt water to help keep it from dipping too far.

So for me, it was helpful to view my efforts in neuroplasticity retraining as working with the organ of the brain.

As in: utilizing my mind to retrain my brain’s pathways. And while a huge part of this program is working with your thoughts, it’s more specifically working with the thoughts/messages your brain is inappropriately sending.

The aim is to redirect the neurons that are firing incorrectly (i.e. sending symptom and pain signals) so that over time they are no longer wired with the same old pathways. The outcome is rewiring the brain with new, healing pathways so the limbic system can be properly functioning once again. Which results in lessening symptoms!

I’ve heard all sorts of “just think positive” mantras and over these past years of health struggles they’ve felt like a big ball of blame. The message received was “you’re not positive enough, therefore it’s your fault you aren’t getting better.” And I don’t buy that one bit.

Any mindset shifts I’ve experienced (or been able to set in motion) in this program have been a direct result of experiencing tangible healing. Meaning: literally feeling a difference in my brain and body. It’s been like a fog has been slowly lifting. A fog I simply did not invite or entertain. Because believe me, I wanted all of the symptoms and discomfort GONE. 

This program isn’t about just thinking positive, but rather learning how to communicate with your brain to help it reach wholeness. And what I’m finding with each passing week is that I do feel lighter. Even happier, but genuinely so. And it coincides with the healing that’s begun in my brain and body.

How did I decide it was worth the $250+ investment?

First off, I can tell you one thing that didn’t help me decide: a guarantee I would get better. Because there wasn’t one. I knew that just like every other treatment I tried, no one could tell me this would 100% work for me.

But the following things really did help.

    1. A money-back guarantee. This was a first for me. We have shoveled out tens of thousands of dollars, much of which we fundraised, to pay for treatments over the years. Never once have we seen this. If you commit to the program for the full 6 months and don’t see significant improvement, they’ll refund you. That’s quite a statement of belief in their program!
    2. It’s really not that expensive. I probably don’t need to say more after what I just said about “tens of thousands”, right? But in case you need a further statement: $250 doesn’t begin to touch how much my supplements cost us right now each month. If getting me better means being able to go off of those, it’s well worth it.
    3. The research speaks for itself. The more I’ve studied about neuroplasticity through the program (and now after), it JUST MAKES SENSE. Variations of the techniques in this program have been proven effective in so many others. Want to be really amazed? Watch this TED talk given by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor who suffered a stroke and talks about her experience and neuroplastic healing.

The following contains affiliate links which means that if you purchase something through one of these links I may receive a commission – at no extra cost to you. As a reminder, I only promote things I have personally tried or believe are beneficial. Any commissions earned help me keep this blog running. So, thanks! 🙂

You don’t have to take my word for it. Learn more yourself!

Since starting the program I’ve had a craving for learning more about the brain, specifically neuroplasticity. So I have a running list of the books I’d like to read and recently checked out my first one from our local library by Dr. Norman Doidge, called The Brain’s Way of Healing. I’ve just started and already it’s a fascinating and helpful read! I also plan to read his first neuroplasticity book, The Brain that Changes Itself.

Since watching the TED talk video I mentioned earlier I’ve been eyeing Jill Bolte Taylor’s book, My Stroke of Insight, for a future read also. Because after watching her tell her story I just have to know more!

Finally, of course, the Dynamic Neural Retraining System’s website contains more information about both the program and understanding the science behind their approach. And it’s a great way to check it out more before deciding if it makes sense to purchase the program for yourself. Let me know if you do! I’d love to connect.

Have you read any books on Neuroplasticity? Have you done the DNRS program or something similar? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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How the DNRS Program is Helping Me Heal

If you’ve been following me here for awhile, you know that here in this blog-space I share the grit and guts of what I’ve experienced in the realm of the sick life. But if you’d like to catch up on my story to understand how powerful the news I’m about to share is feel free to check out this post. It’ll give you a look at what used to be an average day-in-the-life for me. Don’t worry, I’ll wait right here til you’re done…

Ready? Okay.

So a little over a year ago I met a doctor through a friend and my goodness has she been a godsend to me. Quite frankly, I believe she is one of two doctors that has helped keep me alive. Well, them and a nurse who quite literally gave me back my life in 2015.

Through her care I’ve seen some beginning signs of improvement as well as experiencing a much lower # of ER visits (1). But I’ve still been largely home bound. Weak. Frail. Experiencing way too many symptoms to be normal. She was feeling hopeful that by the year’s end I’d see some marked change. And I tried my best to hope with her.

But then I was sent a message from an Instagram friend that told me I needed to check out the DNRS (Dynamic Neural Retraining System) program. She said it had completely changed her life and since our stories were so similar I thought I should at least look into it.

So I clicked over to the website and began to read. My first response was honestly, an eye roll. “‘Retrain the brain’? Do they think this is all in my head? This sounds like another load of positivity B.S. So…I’m outta here.” I replied to the friend with a thanks, but this just isn’t for me. And I thought that was it.

But it KEPT. POPPING. UP.

A few weeks after I said ‘no thanks’ it popped up again. Then a couple days later a friend messaged me about it, asking if I’d heard of it. Call it what you will: a sign from the universe, or God, or my own body/brain trying to send me a message, but I just couldn’t get away from it.

So I looked at the website again. I watched tons of the testimonial videos as well as a presentation by the creator of the program, Annie Hopper. Her story, though different than my own, also held so many similarities. And she confirmed what I knew to be true: this illness is NOT all in our heads. So I softened.

I felt like her heart was compassionate toward others who had gone through what she had. And her incredible story was this: I learned to retrain my brain and I healed myself.

That’s quite a bold statement, no? So I looked at the price of the program and I talked it over with Trevin. A couple weeks later I had the DVD program in hand. It came right after I’d finished running my very first workshop with some of the readers here at Living Grace. The timing felt perfect.

Have you heard of the DNRS program based on the research of neuroplasticity? It's a fascinating program that is helping me heal from years of chronic illness. To read more of my one month update, click here!

I entered the DNRS program with a lot of skepticism.

I just feel like you should know that. It definitely wasn’t as if I bought into this deal right off the bat. But there were some aspects of the research I found online surrounding the brain’s ability to change itself (neuroplasticity) that I couldn’t ignore. And seeing how it had helped so many others similar to me gave me enough hope to give it a shot.

The program is designed to help you rewire your limbic system so that it builds more functional neural pathways. As I learned more about the brain and limbic system in this program, the cause and effect of why I continued to grow sicker or only experience small amounts of relief started to make more sense.

In the DVDs Annie explains that when the brain experiences various forms of trauma, whether that’s viral, physical, emotional or otherwise,  a maladapted stress response can be triggered. Essentially that means that our brain’s instincts to protect us get kicked into overdrive, leading our limbic system into a constant state of fight or flight mode.

And how on earth could I get better if my brain constantly thinks it’s under attack?!

This video documentary on neuroplasticity is quite fascinating if you’re interested in understanding more. (Just feel free to ignore the creepy music.) Variations of these concepts have been proven effective in the treatment of physical injuries, such as stroke patients or those who have suffered brain damage. And it’s also helped those who have suffered psychological PTSD or have OCD. 

Next week I’ll be unpacking a bit more about neuroplasticity and the design of the program, but until then you can also check out the website to watch some tutorials and read up on the science behind it. (<—that’s my affiliate link, which means I may earn a small commission if you click on it and purchase the program. As a reminder, I only share things I’ve either tried or believe in the value of. In this case: I’ve tried it and it’s helping me heal!)

My one-month improvements:

I’ve been on the program for just 4 weeks now and the changes in that short period of time have been quite amazing. Especially when Trev and I compare it to the life I’ve been living the last few years. And while I have more healing to work towards, I’m truly grateful for these beginning signs of healing.

As a pre-cursor to my improvements here’s a list of most of my diagnoses: Lyme, Bartonella, Babesia, Mold Illness, Heavy Metal Toxicity, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, MTHFR genetic mutation and POTS).

  • I’ve gone from barely being able to walk a couple blocks on a very good day to walking almost daily the last week+.
  • My fatigue levels used to be at an average of 7-9 every day (on a scale of 10 being “I can’t move”) and now my levels are averaging below 5 consistently.
  • The inflammation and joint pain I’ve consistently lived with hasn’t been this low in over 4 years.
  • My strength is slowly growing and my litmus test is being able to do the dishes almost daily. They used to sit an average or 2 days before I could get through another round.
  • Dizziness used to be one of my most debilitating symptoms. Now? It’s at an all time low also.

The healing process continues…

There continue to be new things that pop up and surprise me as I continue to commit myself to the program and work toward further healing. And in my commitment to the program, this post will be one of my last to mention diagnoses or symptoms for awhile. It’s a necessary part of retraining my brain in this critical stage of early healing.

Guys, I’m not going to sugar coat it for you: this treatment is not easy. But then again none of what I’d done for healing has been. Seeing improvements and feeling genuine hope is most certainly worth sticking with it.

With all that said, I feel so happy to share that I believe I’m in the process of healing. And while I believe in God, I’m going to keep my feelings on this experience ultra-real for you: this is not something that I’ve seen sprinkled down magically into my life. 

I’ve fought for this. For years.

I’ve committed myself to countless supportive supplements, doctor’s appointments, injections, blood draws, detox, nourishing myself, gripping onto my pebbles of hope, so-much-waiting and now I continue to reach for healing with this program. (And I continue to maintain my supplement protocol under my current doctor’s care while on the program).

So I’ll leave you with this one-month update and hope that this program may also help some of you sweet struggling ones on your own healing path. To reclaim your own health. To heal your brain’s limbic system. And begin to see yourself able to dream again… of living a healthy life, of travel, and of pursuing the things you’ve been waiting for.

Have you heard of DNRS before? Or tried it? Have questions you want me to answer in another post? Drop your thoughts below in the comments! I’d love to hear from you. 🙂

As a heads up: I’ll be largely taking a break from my Facebook page indefinitely, so if you want to stay in touch be sure to sign up for my email list. Or connect with me on Instagram!

 

*Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. That means that if you purchase through one of these links, I may receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you). Thanks for supporting this blog and my health!

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If you've ever tried dining out with food allergies - or even sensitivities - then you know it can be quite the obstacle course to navigate. Check out the DineSafe app which helps you locate restaurants in your area that offer items that meet your specific needs!

Eating Out with Food Sensitivities: How the DineSafe App Can Help

This post is sponsored by DineSafe, but the opinions shared here are entirely my own. I only share products and services that I personally believe in or use personally.

Over the course of the last few years I have experimented and transitioned through a variety of diets and food restrictions. And can I just say: it’s not for the faint of heart.

Some of my shifts in diet were directed by doctors, while others my body demanded in ALL CAPS. Regardless of the reason, one things remains true: eating out when you can’t eat just any ole thing can prove quite challenging.

Now, there are the obvious ways to get around it, of course. You can ask all the questions to your waiter. Or search through Yelp and Google for reviews that specifically mention your diet or allergies. And you can even just avoid the whole dining out scene entirely.

But what would make this process a whole lot easier would be restaurant menus being more user-friendly for guests with food allergies or restrictions. Yet in my experience, there are far too few restaurants that go that extra mile.

So what if restaurants could help us diners simplify the process of finding safe food to eat? And what if we could easily find those restaurants that match up with our unique dining needs? Well, THIS is the mission of DineSafe, an app that makes the process of safe dining easier for both restaurants and guests that have food allergies.

Last year I was offered an opportunity to explore and review this app, and I found it to be such a powerful tool. Something that has stood out to me in getting to know the company is the passion the founders have for creating safe dining experiences for all.

With more than 15 million Americans affected by some form of food allergy, it seems like common sense for restaurants to get on board with accommodating more than the average Joe, amiright?

Using the App

You aren’t required to create an account in order to use this app (which is free, by the way), however they make it SUPER simple to create your own food preference profile. There’s a list of 33 allergens you can sort through, adding any and all that apply to your needs by simply tapping on each item.

Then, say on top of an allergy you have to peanuts you also follow a gluten free diet. No problem! There are 11 different diet options  (gluten free, Vegan or Paleo to name a few) that you can choose from that can be incorporated into your personal preferences, too.

Once you’ve created your profile, you’ll be able to search threw a database of restaurants in your area that fit your specific needs. You can also endorse restaurants near you that you know have safe menu items for certain restrictions and suggest restaurants you’d like to see join the movement.

A Great Tool for Restaurants.

The founders have aimed to make the process of creating an account simple for restaurants. Understanding that the time of restaurant owners is valuable and the process of identifying allergens can feel overwhelming, their team will do the bulk of the work. They’ll able to manage both large nationwide chains as well as our go-to local favorites.

They’ll help the restaurants create an interactive menu that lists their items, identifies common allergens, highlights nutritional information (like no sugar added or low sodium) and aligns dishes with any of the 11 diets offered. The team at DineSafe is also working on a new feature which will give restaurants access to analytics that will show them the biggest needs and trends in their area.

And the best part of all? It’s FREE for restaurants, too. No cost to the restaurant and it puts their menu on the map for those of us looking for safe places to eat. Win-win, right?

If you’re reading this and thinking “I NEED this app”, you can find it on both Apple and Android. Let me know if you do!

You can also follow DineSafe on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date on new restaurants and features when they’re added. They’re about to launch their first nationwide restaurant chain soon so be on the lookout for that!

Do you have any tips for dining out with food allergies? I’d love to hear what’s been helpful for you!

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Do you feel 'stuck' as someone who lives with chronic illness? Do you feel like there's no way to change your current situation? Today Kerry Heckman is sharing her thoughts and experience on making positive changes that have helped her heal. Click here to read the full post!

How to Make Changes in Order to Heal

Do you feel 'stuck' with pushing through the pain of chronic illness? Never feeling like you'll ever get better? Kerry Heckman is sharing her story of leaving her full time job and the healing that it's brought her. Click here to read her full story!

This post contains affiliate links, which means if you purchase through one of these links I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. This helps me keep this blog running so thank you!

Today’s guest post is written by Kerry J Heckman of Body Mind Lyme.

In her book Mind Over Medicine, author and doctor Lissa Rankin discusses how she changed her patient interview process. She used to ask patients about symptoms. Then, she started asking patients, “What do you need in order to heal?” The answers surprised her and changed the way she practiced medicine. People started saying things like, “I need to quit my job,” “I need to leave my relationship,” etc.

Often times there is a voice in the back of our mind telling us we need to change something. For me that voice started many years before my diagnosis.

It told me I needed to leave my job. I was working as a school social worker with mountains of work and heavy responsibility. I ignored it and kept pushing myself and pushing myself, ultimately making myself sick.

The Lyme disease, which I’d most likely had since childhood, came out of remission. Then, I no longer had a choice. It was either me or the job. There is no doubt in my mind that if I had stayed at my job I would’ve ended up on disability. My body just couldn’t handle the level of commitment that was expected.

Making changes…

I know the response many people have when they hear this; they say, “I can’t quit my job.” Lyme disease treatment is outrageously expensive and most insurance companies won’t reimburse doctors for treatment, so we are stuck paying out of pocket. I completely understand that leaving a job is not possible for many Lyme patients, many of whom live on the brink of poverty.

If you can’t leave your job or make the other major changes you need to heal right now, it’s about finding small ways in which you can work toward the changes. The voice inside my head started telling me I need to leave my job five years before I actually made it happen.

Taking small steps is okay.

You don’t have to quit your job, move across the country, or leave your unhealthy relationship today, but it may help to take some time to think about what it is that you really need in order to heal. Start thinking about small steps you can take to move toward that place.

Can you make a commitment to updating your resume, or make an appointment for couples counseling? Can you make a Pinterest board of the place you want to live and research home prices in the area? At the very least can you start a 5 minute a day meditation practice in order to start listening to yourself and asking the question, what do I need heal?

One of the first small changes I needed to make was to change my belief system. I needed to go from looking at my illness as a terrible thing that was thrust upon me, to a message. My illness was here to tell me something and I could either listen and make changes, or I could fight against it live a place of anger postponing the healing process. I started to get quiet and really listen.

“Find a new forest.”

Sometimes we think we are completely stuck in our circumstances, and that we are out of options. My personal belief system is that is never true. There is always a teeny tiny adjustment we can make (even if it is just in our attitude), which can tip the scales in our favor. A wise person once told me that I needed to get out of the forest I was in, because all I could see were the trees that were already there. I needed to find a new forest, so I could see new trees, and new possibilities.

Quitting the job I thought I would have forever was the scariest thing I’ve ever had to do – scarier than the MRIs, the hundreds of needles, and the swabs shoved up my nose. Now every day I wake up and know that I chose myself, I chose my healing, and I made the right choice.

Kerry can be found over on her blog, Body Mind Lyme, where she aims to create a positive space for those healing from Lyme disease and other invisible illnesses. She’s a contributor on the Global Lyme Alliance blog, as well as the websites Lymeology and The Mighty.

You can also connect with her on the following social media outlets: Twitter Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest

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This episode of the podcast is dedicated to all you brave mamas who are fighting chronic illness while raising their family. Tanya Fierro is joining me on the podcast to talk about the challenges she's faced and how she's learned to navigate them. Click here to tune in!

Motherhood & Chronic Illness: A Podcast Episode with Tanya Fierro

Every time I connect with one of you fellow spoonies who’s also a momma, I am so inspired by your strength. On top of the layers of struggle that sickness brings, somehow you wonder-moms are raising your kids with so much heart and care.

You’re tackling what you can in the home. You’re showing up whenever you can for the big moments, and embracing the small ones on the daily. You are patient. You are giving. And you are rockstars.

Since I don’t have personal experience in this area, I wanted to chat with someone who could share their experience and encouragement with other parents who chronically ill. Someone who understands the unique challenges of balancing a life of pain and mothering (or fathering).

A chat with Tanya Fierro

So today, I’ve brought on Tanya Fierro to chat about her own experiences with motherhood while living with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. She writes over at My Fruitful Home, sharing inspiration and helpful tools for living life fully with chronic illness.

Tanya’s had her share of heartache and struggle. Her understanding of loss has been an encouragement and comfort to me as I continue to live with the memory of my own. And I know that her story will inspire and connect with so many of you, too.

So whether you’re a mom, chronically ill, or hoping for motherhood someday, or just want to listen, you are welcome to join us on our virtual couch today. I’m telling you guys: her honesty and kind heart are such a light.

You can tune in below to hear us talk about the challenges she’s faced and what she’s learned through more than 20 years of motherhood and illness.

What is one thing that helps you navigate motherhood while living with chronic illness? 

Want to connect with Tanya? You can find her on her blog and on Facebook. 🙂

 

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Want to save money on gluten-free, organic, natural, or Paleo items? Thrive Market will save you 25-50% and deliver right to your door!

Thrive Market Review: Saving Money on Organic + Paleo

This post contains affiliate links. This means that when you purchase an item through one of my links below I may receive a commission. Thanks for your help keeping this blog running!

Recently I signed up for a free Thrive Market trial offer to explore whether or not the yearly membership ($59.95) would be worth it. There are many reasons I believed it could be beneficial. But when you’re throwing a huge chunk of cash at treatment each month, adding a membership cost can feel overwhelming. If not downright impossible.

Buying organic, grain free, all-natural products to fit my dietary needs has it’s limits with our current budget. As in: we simply can’t afford it. So I had high hopes that this could help curb our costs. Spoiler alert: I just wasn’t prepared for how quickly the cost would pay for itself in savings!

So before I start throwing confetti all over you and singing Thrive Market’s praise, let’s get down to the basics.

What is Thrive Market?

Thrive Market is an online membership-based site that offers many of the top selling non-GMO, organic, healthy food and household products at a discount. We’re talking 25-50% off retail value!

“Why, yes, I do love a good discount, Thrive.” – Me.

Is non-toxic cleaning important to you? Well, they’ve got it.  Gluten free snacks? Done. Following a Paleo diet? You’re covered too. And you are going to be in love with the Simple Mills line. Or at least, I am.

So, in short, think: shopping the speciality/health food market at wholesale prices.

A Business That Gives Back

Beyond their selection of great healthy products, one of the biggest things that stood out to me was Thrive’s heart for those in need. I love that it’s their mission to give free memberships to those who can’t afford one. And for every paid membership, a box of food is donated to a family that needs it.

Which means that by shopping with Thrive, we get to be a part of that cause. And I LOVE that by buying groceries that my body needs (and even saving money while doing it) I can play a small role in helping someone else out.

What’s in my first Thrive box?

I know this is what many of you sneaky blog readers really want to know anyway. Yes, I’m looking at you, cutie who reads through posts but never says hi. 😉 Don’t worry. I still love you. And I’ve done it too.

Here’s what I got this round:

If you're looking to save money on organic, Paleo or gluten free products, Thrive Market will deliver them right to your door. And for 25-50% less than your local grocery store!

Teeccino Dandelion Dark Roast Tea – $4.45 for 10 ct.
I am supposed to stay away from coffee due to mold and candida issues and let me tell you: I MISS IT. Some friends told me about this awhile back and I finally tried it with this Thrive box. I’m in love, you guys!! It reminds me so much of coffee. Mmmmm coffee.

Thrive Organic Spices – $2.95 each.
I bought their brand of paprika, Chili powder, and cumin seeds. It’s such a great price period, let alone for organic. I’m not a spice expert, but they’re fresh and flavorful. Just like they should be. 🙂

Check out my recent Thrive Box review: Why it's helpful for me in chronic illness.

Simple Mills Rosemary Sea Salt Crackers – $4.45
These were probably my favorite thing in the box. Let me just ‘splain something before I get crazy with excitement. I do my best to eat grain free. And I’ll be honest and say it’s sometimes sad and I dream of donuts, but avoiding them helps my sick body. So basically: THESE CRACKERS ARE LIFE!! They taste amazing, have the crunch of crackers that I miss so much and I could easily write them a love song. That is all.

Simple Mills Pizza Dough Mix – $7.55
Okay, so I splurged with this one a bit. The box makes two 8-inch pizzas, but if I were to buy again I’d either try to make them bigger and thinner or make 3-4 smaller personal pizzas. I did like the crust, but probably won’t be buying this again anytime soon because paying for crackers and fake coffee come first.

Jackson’s Honest Sweet Potato Chips – $2.95
Get ready for more giddy excitement because these babies were another fave from this box! I absolutely adore these chips. Everything about them. The salty, thick kettle-like crunchy, that sweet potato goodness. Sigh. These are the goods. And they’re baked in coconut oil for a double win!

My Thrive Box Review: Unboxing and my favorite grain-free and organic products!

Acure Lemongrass Conditioner – $6.15
I’ve been a fan of Acure natural bath products for a couple of years now so I decided to try this out. I’m waiting to finish my current bottle of Acure conditioner in a different scent so I’ll have to update you later on how it works. But it smells great! And is several dollars cheaper than on Amazon.

Acure Body Wash – $5.95
I’m a fan of clean. Clean ingredients and clean skin. But sometimes organic + natural products can leave a little to be desired in the area of “sudsing”. This body wash is a winner in my book! I’m not sure how to describe the scent, so we’ll just go with I like it. And it’s fresh. Not overly floral or fruity, but light.

Meyer’s Hand Soap Refill – $6.45
This is such a deal for this hand soap refill! And the scent (lemongrass) feels so refreshing to me. I hadn’t tried this before, but I’ve used Meyer’s dryer sheets and loved those so decided to give this a shot. And I can report that the soap hasn’t disappointed either.

Califia Farms Better-Half Almond milk + Coconut Creamer – $2.95
It was important to me to get a full “coffee” experience so I treated myself to this dairy-free creamer. I was very impressed with it! I’ve run out and am definitely planning on ordering more of this. And soon.

Jason Peppermint Toothpaste – $3.95
What I like about this toothpaste is it’s better for me than what I’d used before. And it makes my teeth feel really clean. As in slick when run over with my tongue and my mouth stays fresh longer than with regular paste. The taste is different than traditional toothpaste mint (guess those chemicals taste pretty good…) but I really don’t mind it.

Is it worth it?

In short: I’m a convert. I love the ease of ordering specialty items online, saving money on things I’d be buying anyway, and supporting a company that gives back.

In my first two boxes (the second one containing only 3 items), I saved nearly $60 – which, as you read at the beginning of this, is the cost of the yearly membership. So I’ll most definitely be joining as a way to save money this year!

A free gift for you.

When I signed up for my free trial I didn’t get a free gift, but YOU WILL! This month when you sign up for a free 30-day trial through my link, they’ll include a FREE full-sized bag of raw cashews with your first order of $50+. And you’ll only pay $1.95 shipping! (UPDATE 5/23/17: You can get 25% OFF your first order and FREE shipping!)

You can even more perks if you share the Thrive love. Invite a friend to join and they’ll get 15% off their first order, while you get $25 Thrive Cash! And if you blog and want to become a Thrive Market affiliate, you’ll earn a commission every time a new customer joins or your fellow bloggers sing up as an affiliate.

Have you tried Thrive Market? What are your favorite items?

Who knew you could buy healthy groceries AND save money?! Have you checked out Thrive Market? Click here to check out the free gift you get when you sign up for a trial membership.

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For those struggling with depression, healing from abuse, anxiety, or living with a chronic illness - the idea of hope can sometimes feel disconnected from our reality. Matt Pappas joins me in this episode to discuss his own journey with hope. What's helped him tangibly engage and define his personal sense of hope and encouragement for listeners who may WANT to hope, but don't know where to start. Click here to give it a listen!

Thoughts on Hope: A Podcast Interview with Matt Pappas

*This post may contain affiliate links, which means when you purchase an item through one of my links I may receive a small commission. Thanks for helping keep this blog going!

It’s been a few months since I launched with my first podcast episode for my channel, Grit & Grace and I loved hearing your feedback and connecting with you all. After that episode I went radio silent as it’s been a difficult few months of juggling treatment and work from home…But I’m finally back with our next episode!

Today’s Guest: Matt Pappas

I recently chatted with Matt from Surviving My Past about the reality and challenges of the word “hope”.  He is active in the online community, striving to bring encouragement to others who share his past of childhood abuse as well as those who battle anxiety, PTSD, and illness.

It can spark a variety of emotions in us when we hear or talk about the idea of hope, can’t it? Engaging hope when you feel hopeless can bring pain or discouragement. We may feel “less than” for not being able to grasp it in way others want us to or how we think it should manifest. All the while, others seem to keep the flame of hope burning inside, despite the struggle of pain, depression, or loss.

But wherever you’re sitting on this topic, you’re welcome here.

In this episode, Matt shares honestly on the ways he views hope, as well as the real challenges that both abuse survivors and the chronically ill face. It’s an insightful conversation, not a head-in-the-clouds message on hope. This is all about grassroots hope, real experiences, and encouragement for the struggling heart.

How do you engage hope? Let us know in the comments!

To connect with Matt more visit his blog at survivingmypast.net and be sure to download your FREE copy of his new book: Surviving Grief.

You can find Matt on the following social media channels:
Twitter: twitter.com/survivingmypast
Facebook: www.facebook.com/survivingmypast
Instagram: www.instagram.com/survivingmypast/

And be sure to subscribe to his podcast!

Want to listen to the episode on Marriage in Chronic Illness? Click here!


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Chronic Illness has a way of turning every day tasks upside down. I've set out on a mission to find items that will help make my life, and even pain management, at least a bit easier. Click to read more about my top 5 favorite gadgets for making the day to day of illness more manageable.

5 Useful Gadgets That Actually Make A Difference For Me

 

*This post contains affiliate links. Your purchases through these links help keep this blog running, so thank you!*

Chronic illness has single-handedly turned my health and day-to-day into a jigsaw puzzle. From navigating all my symptoms to pain management, life looks much different for me these last few years.

Normal things that I used to never think twice about, I have to plan for (or around) in order to make them possible. A myriad of other adjustments have had to happen.

I subconsciously (and sometimes vocally…color me weird) ask myself questions that I never did before. “Can I load the dishwasher today?” “How much will my body have to pay for taking a shower right now…can I still make dinner after?”

Some symptoms are harder to manage than others. Managing pain can often feel like playing hide and seek with a ghost. Fatigue is another beast that’s really hard to wrangle.

But for some of my symptoms, I’ve found tools – aids, if you will – that make my life just a bit easier. And that little bit means a whole lot to this girl! From saving me effort to supporting me (literally), these have become my must-haves for navigating my day-to-day. All while living with a list of diagnoses I’m working hard to heal.

Slim-Fit Earplugs

Do you suffer from sound sensitivity? These slim fit earplugs have been a godsend for me! Super soft and comfortable on sensitive skin, too. Click to read more about these and other handy gadgets I use to help me navigate chronic pain and symptoms!

One of my top 5 most debilitating symptoms might surprise the healthy, but for those who live with sensitivities YOU FEEL ME. I’m not talking about emotional sensitivities, but sensory. I’m highly sensitive to noises, some triggering me more than others.

The simple sound of plastic crumpling, glasses tinking, or the faucet running, for instance feels like someone is taking a bristled bottle brush, adding electricity and shoving it through both ears. Yeah, it’s fun. With continued healing I’m confident this symptom will get better, but for now: earplugs are a must!

These slim-fit earplugs by Mack were recommended to me by a dear friend who uses them for the same purpose. And boy are they a godsend! They’re smaller than regular earplugs which makes them more comfortable for me. The set of 10 even comes with a travel tube so I can always have them on hand and easy to find in my bag!

Neck pillow

A couple of years ago I noticed that my head and neck pain would consistently rise in the car. Once I realized how much having neck support would help, Trev picked up a basic neck pillow for me. I was amazed at the difference it made!

As with anything I’ve purchased to help me manage my day-to-day, this doesn’t remove my pain, but it makes riding in the car more manageable. Even short rides used to spike my pain more than they do now that I have that bit of support.

I actually attach my neck pillow to our headrest in the passenger seat by turning it backwards and “hugging” the top portion. Not all seats will allow this, but thankfully the design of ours does. It feels more comfortable to me that way.

Walking Cane

Healing with a chronic illness looks different for every person and every illness. But through the process of healing and treating, we can find ways to offer support and relief to our overwhelmed bodies. Click here to check out my top 5 tools that have made a difference for me!

 

If you follow me here or on social media you may already know this, but I like to name things. My oxygen concentrator is formally known as O2D2 (I grew up watching Star Wars with my siblings, can you tell?). So I couldn’t help myself to name my cane Hugo. It was easy since his tag said so.

My husband suggested I get one that had more than one pod on the bottom for extra stability since my balance varies from day to day. And, as he would smile and tell you – I wasn’t thrilled with that idea. Oh vanity. As if four prongs somehow makes my cane more noticeable. 😉

I found this one and thought it was a perfect fit. And after using it for over six months now I can say I’m so happy I went for the quadpod version. It gets a good grip on the surface and the handle has enough traction that your hand is not likely to slip. I even used it in a snow-packed icy parking lot recently, while also being supported by Trev on the other side and it worked really well supporting my weak side.

Pill Organizer

This is, by far, the BEST pill organizer out there. Each day's doses are in individual containers which makes it easy to grab and go to doctor's appointments, meals out, and a day or two of travel. Soft silicone lids make for easy opening on arthritic hands. Click to read more about this and 4 other handy gadgets that have actually helped me LIVE, even if in small ways, in spite of chronic illness.

Okay, I’ve been raving about this since I bought it so I HAD to include it here. I saw someone share the link for it in one of my Lyme support groups and I loved it at first sight. I’m a romantic, after all.

Why was I willing to drop $35 for a pill organizer, you ask? Because I was confident it would make my pill routine easier. From accidental missed doses, to opening pill bottles every day with sensitive hands, to packing meds for travel – I saw this as a huge help. And it has been just that.

Its soft silicone lids make it ultra easy for opening and the ‘x’ opening easy for sliding in each day’s supplements. My hands are so much happier! Not to mention individual containers make for easy access when you have a meal you’re eating out or a day or two of travel. Since I’ve already sorted out the week’s doses, it’s just grab and go! This had made for less occurrences of late or missed doses which is always a positive.

Motion Sickness Bands

For a year and a half, nausea was a frequent – if not constant – companion to me on this healing road. I’ve always had motion sickness, but this was different. And it grew worse when coupled with driving.

I always ride in the front seat and I’m pretty cautious about anyone else driving besides Trev because of how sensitive my bod is. He’s the only one who knows just how fast things can turn for me. 

Motion sickness bands like these made by Sea Band have actually helped this for me. It took me a bit to figure out the right spot for the pressure point, but once I did I noticed a difference. You do need to put them on at the start of the car ride, I’ve learned – and adjust them if you’re not feeling the benefit.

Be gentle with yourself.

In the chronic life there are many things we can’t change immediately. Healing that doesn’t come overnight. But if we can take even a bit of the burden off by making a few aspects lighter, why not?!

You’ve just heard my top 5 current faves for navigating my day-to-day symptoms so now I want to hear yours! What is your favorite(s) pain/symptom/make life easier gadget?? Let me know in the comments!

Have you snagged your copy of the FIVE gifts to give yourself when going through a hard time? Be sure to download yours here.

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