Have you tried walking yet?

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Woodland Path Photo by Nick 

Walking is one you should really consider; it can help you loose weight and get exercise.  It’s possible for most people to take up walking and it’s easy to start…..

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 started walking regularly before I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia.  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 look forward to my walk everyday, sometimes twice a day if I’m not too tired later on. I like walking especially on a fine sunny day; it can really lift your mood.  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 each walk and vary the terrain. On really cold or wet days when my symptoms are worse, I go for a walk at a local covered shopping centre, which means I still get exercise but I’m not exposed to the elements as much as outside. 

I bought a new pair of waterproof walking boots recently; which are great to wear in rain and snow. I bought mine from a outdoor clothing and footwear shop in the 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 consult your doctor or health professional beforehand.

If your joints are very stiff it might help to try gentle exercise at your local heated swimming pool first. Exercising in water supports the body and would free up joints. If you are a wheelchair user some pools have special equipment to access the water easily.

When you feel ready to start put on some comfortable shoes and suitable waterproof clothing for the weather.  Start off 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.

Throughout the UK free regular guided walks are provided by  Walking for health  which is funded by the UK People’s Postcode Lottery and Macmillan.  They offer different short walks for beginners which are for 20-30 minutes long. The route you walk over is easy terrain as they are specifically designed for people who are not very active. Some walks are suitable for wheelchair users and people with buggies. 

If you are a wheelchair user the UK website Walks with wheelchairs is dedicated to routes for wheelchair users.  All walks have been tested by wheelchair users.

The NHS Walking for health  site gives helpful advice for anyone wanting to start walking. 

If you suffer from fibromyalgia and have started exercise recently, it would be really helpful to hear about your experience.

Wishing you all happy holidays

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Holly and berries by Nick

A thank you to all my followers, for supporting me over the past few months.  It’s been an exciting time setting up my site and getting my posts ready.

Also a big thank you to my ‘software engineer’ for sorting my laptop recently. Hopefully next year I will be able to do all sorts of amazing things with my site.

I have many plans for the new year both with decoupage and other art and craft based projects.  One of these will be based on the Tree of Life, possibly in various formats.

I will also be writing more about my life living with fibromyalgia. When I first had the idea to start doing this I didn’t know where it would go. It’s still early days but I hope to carry on as long as I have something useful to pass on to others with fibromyalgia.

Hope you all have a great break and enjoy a happy new year.

A wintry tale from the past….

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Photo by Meve R. on Pexels.com

Snowflakes gently glide to the ground; white snow covered trees are glinting in the faded sunlight.

I start to walk along a track through the trees listening out for any sounds. It’s really quiet apart from a few birds singing. The occasional thud of snow falling from the branches breaks the eerie silence. 

As I make each step forward, I hear thick snow crunch beneath my feet. My hands feel bitterly cold; the breath in front of my face nearly freezes. 

A spectacular scene of ice unfolds into the distance. A frozen river bed fills the expanse.  On the horizon is a bridge, which stretches across the river. 

Rustic tents and strangely clothed people bustle about a huge outdoor market.  The market’s taking place directly on the ice.  I walk over onto the river bed and join the crowd.

By one tent I see the excited faces of the crowd, waiting at a printers.  People are gathering around and watching a man print a special ticket.

Where can I be? 

Before I went to sleep I had been reading about the frost fairs that took place on the river Thames in London, during the 18th century.

The year is 1716. I realise, I was looking at old London Bridge and the river must be the Thames. It looks so strange without the familiar stone embankment on either side.

Old London Bridge was quite a differently proportioned bridge to the current one. It was built on nineteen arches supported by small piers, these in turn slowed the flow of the river which is why it often froze.

The tickets I saw being printed were actually printed, using a woodcut, on the ice as a souvenir for visitors. They were dated and read ‘Printed on the ice on the River Thames.’ 

I had left a window open, which is why I felt cold and had fallen asleep still holding the book I had been reading.

For more fascinating facts and information about London in the past have a look at the Museum of London website.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Christmas Baubles

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I have two new bauble designs completed, I thought I would share.

To make these I used some pre-cut mdf,  then painted the shapes with orange, yellow and purple acrylic paint.  To finish I added a few gems for sparkle.

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How’s the diet going? Losing weight with fibromyalgia

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Photo by Bruno Scramgnon on Pexels.com

You may remember my post ‘You are what you eat’. My carer was diagnosed with high cholesterol a few weeks ago and is trying to reduce the cholesterol and lose weight.

I decided to get my cholesterol checked by my doctor; as I do far less exercise and probably eat a lot more than my carer. 

I was surprised to find it was ‘OK’; although my BMI was high and I am categorised as overweight.  My question is, How can this be? We both eat the same meals?

Our bodies burn up calories differently.  Some people are more likely than others to have high cholesterol. This can be for a number of reasons, which do not necessarily relate directly to the food they eat. 

Between us we have learnt a lot about reducing cholesterol. It isn’t as straightforward as I had first thought. 

Learning about the different types of fat, such as saturated and unsaturated fats has been tricky, when trying to select food. Also good (HDL) and bad (LDL) cholesterol.

Butter or its equivalents was very confusing.  Fat spreads are high in saturated fat but some contain plant sterols which help to reduce the ‘bad’ cholesterol in the body. They work by blocking some cholesterol being absorbed into the blood stream from the gut.

The British Heart Foundation has produced some guidance about food labelling which is really useful when choosing healthy food.

In a nutshell it really means eating a healthy balanced diet which is low in saturated fats.

Losing weight and lowering cholesterol are two different things, but combined you can do both by cutting out food high in fat and saturated fat.

So far I have good and bad news; the good news is…..

My carer has managed to lose almost all the weight required in roughly two weeks. I asked ‘What’s your secret to this amazing weight loss?’ Apparently not eating unhealthy snacks throughout the day. If you feel hungry substitute the unhealthy food with different types of fruit. Most drinks are OK, as they contain no fat/calories and having a drink rather than food can help to make the stomach feel full. Also cutting out cake and biscuits which pile on the pounds. 

My results so far are less encouraging, I have only lost 2 lbs in about two weeks. Having fibromyalgia I think it’s harder to stick to a diet. I have cut back drastically on snacks now and we longer eat cake for tea. Both of which were piling on the pounds and are full of saturated fats. I’ve stopped eating cheese, only cottage cheese. But chocolate, my favourite snack I’m still eating. Dark chocolate is better; so I have a small piece at a time. 

The good news for me is, I have noticed I’m not wanting to eat as much or eat as many snacks. My clothes are also a lot looser around the waist! I’m taking it slower losing the weight and hopefully I will be able to stick with it.

If you want to find out about high cholesterol the NHS website has more information.

Another site that has a lot of facts about reducing cholesterol is Heart UK .

I also came across an interesting article by Dr Axe an American clinical nutritionist about reducing cholesterol naturally without using statins.

If you have any thoughts or suggestions about this please let me know. It would be great to share others experiences.