Monster Motivation

Sometimes, you need a swift kick in the pants. More often, you need that gentle encouragement of “you can do it” whispered in your ear. Especially when you’re making a big change to your diet or lifestyle.

Maybe you are trying to form some new habits, including but not limited to:

  • Diving into the Intro phase of the Specific Carbohydrate Diet and slurping up some homemade chicken soup
  • Waking up and drinking hot water with lemon first thing in the morning (I hear that’s good for you)
  • Calming a sick stomach with some peppermint tea

Sometimes, forming new health habits is a drag. For me, I start off with a bit of excitement and enthusiasm, and then find myself in the doldrums of “do I haaaave to?” before the new routine becomes permanent.

That’s where encouragement comes in. Sometimes you need a little help in the form of, say…an adorable monster mug.

The Monster Mug of Motivation by KatieAbeyDesign

Fact: cute mugs make drinking liquid more fun.

Fact: cut mugs with encouragement are even better.

Unfortunate fact: most of my own mugs are not this cute–some are hand-me-down, others I won at Catholic Bingo. But I do know what it’s like to use an everyday tool that you absolutely, positively adore. It makes the day just a little bit better, no matter how difficult or dreary.

Had I this mug (which I don’t but maybe I should go for it), I would want to pour something in it every single day.

And wanting to do something helps stick it in your brain better.

Those wanting-happy-positive emotions become attached with whatever new habit you are trying to form.

Positive reinforcement.

Cheers all around!

No One Cares More about You than YOU

One consequence of moving from paper-based medical files to electronic health records: people are lazy.

Some medicos have gone to lengths to mitigate hospital security controls. Staff at one unnamed hospital put styrofoam coffee cups over proximity sensors in a bid to prevent automated log outs.


One hospital charged the junior medico with pushing the spacebar on computers every five minutes to prevent log outs.


These workarounds which keep machines logged in have resulted in at least one instance with the issuance of the wrong medication when a doctor did not realise the wrong patient records were open.

This is why you should always pay attention when you’re at the doctor or in the hospital.

While medical professionals of all stripes usually go into the profession because they want to help people, they have to work all day every day just like the rest of us. And, just like the rest of us, they become tired, annoyed, frustrated, rushed, fed up, bored, sad, or inattentive.

I can’t tell you how many times at work I haven’t been paying attention, and started typing things into Microsoft Word instead of the email message I had been intending to write.

Or even worse…a message intended for a chat with a friend going to someone else instead.

We’ve all been there.

But sometimes typing into the wrong box, or not saving a file, can have major consequences.

So if you’re at a doctor’s appointment, getting an infusion, or in the hospital, stay vigilant. Don’t nap. Pay attention. Ask questions. Be curious about what’s going on.

If something seems fishy, ask.

And if you don’t feel up to being that pushy, bring along someone who will do it for you.

As much as your nurse cares for people in a general, abstract, sense, you (and the people who love you) are the only ones who truly care about you, the human being.

So take care of yourself, and pay attention when you’re receiving medical treatment.


A RIDICULOUSLY clean mouth from Uncle Harry’s Toothpaste

I used to be constantly worried about my mouth. Probably 5% of my daily focus was spent worrying.

My gums were puffy. Sometimes they hurt. They would bleed when I tried to floss.

It was like my mouth was always angry. Red, patchy, puffy, spittin’ MAD.

No amount of brushing (with Crest), flossing, or mouthwash seemed to help.

For a couple months, my gums sprouted these weird, tiny sores that my dentist couldn’t explain.

That made me even MORE worried.

What if my teeth fell out?

What if I needed dentures while I was still in my 20s?

When I moved cities, I was scared to find a new dentist who might tell me I was going to die of gum disease.

I had a nightmare about my teeth falling out.

And of course, that stress only fed into a horrible feedback loop with the rest of my body.

Eventually, I found a good dentist. He calmed my worries and told me to start using a Sonicare toothbrush. That helped a little.

Using adhesive nasal strips at night helped a little more.

Cutting out dairy was huge. Then I could finally breathe through my nose.

But none of the steps I had taken cleaned up my mouth.


What gets your mouth ridiculously clean?

Then I tried Uncle Harry’s Toothpaste.

It’s like a punch in the mouth.

It’s so intense, that at first I couldn’t brush for the full 2 minutes with my Sonicare.

Over time, I got used to it, and I associate that feeling with the utter destruction of bacteria.

Uncle Harry's Toothpaste Reviews

When I brush with Uncle Harry’s Toothpaste (which is pretty much every night), I love the way my mouth feels–so clean and shiny.

Because it’s a clay-based toothpaste, it comes in a little jar that you dip into with your toothbrush to scoop up some of the paste. Don’t worry about getting bacteria into the jar–the WEAPONS GRADE essential oils will keep everything sanitary.

And if you don’t want a punch in the mouth, but do want to feel just as clean, they make an Anise flavor which is less intense. The only downside to that one is you have to like black licorice.

After about a month and a half of using Uncle Harry’s Toothpaste, I had a dentist appointment. It was the first exam in years that my gums didn’t bleed.

That was a major, major win.

I danced in the dentist’s chair.

The Verdict

No more red, angry gums. No more nightmares about losing my teeth. Just a healthy mouth and feeling clean every single night.

I would recommend that to anybody.

In fact, I’ve even foisted it on some of my family members–that’s how you know it’s good.

I hope you check it out.


Full disclosure: not all of the non-angriness of my gums can be attributed to the toothpaste, although I do think it contributed a lot. Bringing down the overall inflammation in my body was also a major factor.


Poop Quotes I

From James Altucher:

The Physical Body: The shell we must take care of to live. It houses everything we do. And it’s pretty simple. We know when we are doing bad things to it. Too often we think, “Once I achieve X, Y, Z, goal, I’m going to get back in shape.” But it doesn’t work that way. Not that you need to be ripped and jacked or eight-packed or whatever. You just need to be healthy. And you know what I mean?


You need to shit regularly. That’s it.


Poop Quotes is exactly what it sounds like: a series of quotes about poop. Enjoy!

4 Ways to Move Fluid Around Your Body that Your Doctor Isn’t Telling You

There’s a lot of things that your doctor can’t teach you during your 15 minutes together.

One lesson that I never had with my gastroenterologist is this: you body is a dynamic system.

Not static. Not stagnant. Dynamic.

It’s meant to be moving, always. Breathing, in and out. Blood pumping. Lymphatic fluid circulating.

Food being digested and moved into the bloodstream.

Blood moving oxygen and nutrients into cells.

Waste being whisked away.

That movement helps our bodies function. If the movement slows, or breaks down, there will be consequences to the rest of our bodies.

Instead of staying stagnant ourselves, making our bodies work harder to pump blood and lymph and everything else around, we can help out. Here are a few ways to do that:

1. Exercise (duh)

This is a complete no-brainer. We all know that exercise is good for us. When you’re super-sick, it doesn’t even have to be hard exercise–get up and move a little. At my worst, I would stand up and walk a few times around the house.

So get up, take a walk or do some yoga or bounce on a trampoline or whatever you want to do.

2. Contrast showers

These are simple in theory, but less-than-fun in practice. Start your shower with hot water, then blast yourself with cold water for at least 30 seconds.  It’ll get your blood zinging to the surface of your skin in no time.

I end every shower with a cold rinse (plus a compulsive dance with a chant that goes something like “ooh cold cold cold”). It’s a great way to convince my body that it’s time to wake up and start the day.

Bonus points if you alternate between hot and could for a few cycles.

3. Warming socks

This one is similar to the cold showers, just for your feet. In a nutshell, you soak your feet in warm water, then dry them off and put on cold, wet socks, plus wool socks on top. Hop into bed and sleep like a baby.

Yes, it sounds disgusting. But here’s the thing: you can’t feel the wet socks. The warm/cold contrast boosts circulation, drawing blood away from your brain. You feel sleepy immediately, and I’ve always slept really well when I do this treatment.

The downside is there’s some prep involved. It’s easy if you have a bathtub…which I don’t.

4. Castor oil

Rub some onto your belly before you go to sleep at night. Done!

Oh–and wear a tee shirt that you don’t mind getting greasy. By morning, your skin will have absorb the oil and there will be better flow of lymph throughout your body.


FYI: I am not a doctor, or an oracle, or your own brain. This post is intended to let you know about what’s out there…not to diagnose or treat illness. Don’t be an idiot, but do make your own decisions about your health. If you’re unsure about how something will affect you, consult your doctor.

Still Ill

Technically, this pin is a reference to The Smiths, and not to my own Crohn’s disease, but I’m the kind of person who would wear it anyway.

Of course, when you do wear a pin like this some of your conversations will be explaining that no, in fact I’m not a huge Morrissey fan but let me tell you everything about my intestines, aren’t they just the craziest?


When I was a little kid, I hated anyone knowing about my disease. I would get mad at my mom for telling anyone about it, even when she had a perfectly legit reason to do so.

I wanted to hide that part of myself.

I didn’t want to be sick.

And I definitely wouldn’t wear a badge suggesting–nay, begging–the world to ask me questions about it.

Nowadays, my health goals (which I try really hard not to talk about with random strangers but sometimes I just can’t help myself) mostly involve getting to a “set it and forget it” point where I can go days or even weeks without having to think about my guts.

That would be awesome.

I could pretend that I’m a REAL BOY for a while, without dysfunctional insides.

But alas, the fact remains that I’m ill.

Always will be, in some form or another.

And I’m mostly okay with it.

I’m still ill.

And I’m not afraid if anybody knows it.


If you like this pin, you can buy it at Darling Distraction, along with other really cute pins and stationary and stuff.

That Wonky, In-Between Stage

It's moving day every day

You know that itch you get to rearrange your furniture at 9 o’clock at night?

When you have this vision of how–let’s say your bed–can better fit your space. How it, if you’d only just rearrange a teeny little bit, would give you better sleep and more rest and everything you’ve ever dreamed of.

The rest of your to-do list fades into the background. Nothing can outshine that idea, that glimpse of a bright new future that has become your bed.

Your bed stands out, gleaming, a tantalizing promise of a WHOLE NEW WORLD!

So of course–oh wait, you don’t get that itch? Luck you.

Walk with me, then.


You rearrange your bed. It doesn’t take long, just a few minutes of pushing and shoving.

Maybe you find a few dust bunnies. Nothing you can’t handle.

Eventually you get the bed where you envisioned it, maybe nestled against a curtain of iridescent fringe you put up a few weeks ago.

Then of course you have to change up your bedside table too.

As you’re moving it, you imagine the beautiful tableau it will make with your bed. You imagine how it will look, all pieces neatly fitting into place, a beautiful spot to sleep and wake up.

And then you step back to admire your work.

Needle scratch.

It doesn’t quite look like you had envisioned.

It’s too crowded.

The bedside table is wonky and feels too big for the space. The end of the bed buts up awkwardly against your wardrobe. There’s a really weird empty space that just…looks weird.

There’s still potential–you can see a glimmer of what you were imagining.

But it’s not there yet.

There’s more work to be done.

But–it’s time to cash in for the night and go to sleep.

That’s the peril of rearranging your furniture at 9 o’clock at night. There’s a hard deadline, and you’ll have to live with wonky, half-arranged furniture for the next few hours (or let’s be honest, days).

Sometimes, you can turn that to your advantage. You can use that in-between time to look at what’s happening and formulate a better plan.

But you still have to live in the in-between.

You have to spend some time in the wonky, half-finished room.

Sometimes, I get the urge to rearrange my health.

I do my research, talk with my doctors, envision a plan for my health, start dreaming of a WHOLE NEW WORLD! of healthy poops and a less restrictive diet.

I put my plan into motion, and…

…end up in that wonky, in-between time.

In my experience, especially with naturopathic and alternative treatments, nothing good comes quickly. Bouncing from one extreme to the other is stressful on my body, and rarely happens when all my organs are  working together in harmony.

I get that itch, wanting to rearrange everything right away, hoping to make everything work together right now.

I’ll handle the dust bunnies, I just want to see results.

I want to go from the vision to a perfect bedside tableau in one night, forgetting that it takes time, and consideration, and tweaking, and rest, and for everything to settle back into place.

I have to learn how to live with the wonkiness, understanding that there are things that my body has to go through before it can realize that vision of good health.

My body has to go through the process of rearranging itself.

I just need to calm down, back off and let my body do some interior redecoration of its own.

And in the meantime, make peace with the wonkiness.

Start the Week with Links

Some bloggers use link posts as filler, but other bloggers’ links post are spectacular and I look forward to them every week. Instead of using links as an end-of-week roundup, I figure a Sunday post would be cool to provide some food for thought for the week and to kick off any weekly projects or goals. Kind of a Sunday “executive meeting” and an excuse to clear out those lingering tabs that always end up open in my browser. There’s always interesting stuff to read, but not all of it sparks a blog post.

As in all things in life, the aim is to keep things moving–gut motility, lymphatic fluid, bloodflow, information, browser cache, iteration in daily health routines. The spice must flow!

Are You a Patient?

James Altucher posted some thoughts on civilian life this morning:

I was a civilian for a long time.


I worked in my cubicle, hoping to get a raise … a promotion. Sometimes the cubicle changed and it would be a new title, new company, new “friends”, new employee handbook. New boss to choose whether I flourished or suffered.


Sometimes the boss would look at me: his eyes over his glasses, like I was the worst interruption he had ever suffered. Sometimes he’d laugh at my jokes and I’d feel happy. Sometimes he’d praise me and I’d call home and tell my parents about it.


It wasn’t that he was bad. It wasn’t even I was so pathetic (I was though). But that’s civilian life. I was a civilian. Not aware of the bigger world out there. Not aware I could survive in it.


We have two zones: the comfort zone and the Other zone. Civilians live in the comfort zone.

I’ve been thinking on the line between civilian life and, well, I don’t know what to call the other life yet because I’m not yet there. Not on a day-to-day basis, at least.

I’m definitely still a cubicle civilian, although I have the luxury (?) of an office with a window to the glorious Pacific Northwest. Sometimes the chains are gilded, yo.

But where I’m decidedly NOT a civilian is my health. This past year has been a process of breaking the chains, escaping the rat-race of Western medicine, and learning how to fly free.

I want to try an experiment.

Let’s replace “civilian” with “patient.”



I was a patient for a long time.


I went to the doctor, hoping to get better health … a cure. Sometimes the doctor changed and it would be a new drug, new insurance, new “goals”, new clinical approach. New doctor to choose whether I flourished or suffered.


Sometimes the doctor would look at me: his eyes over his glasses, like I was the worst interruption he had ever suffered. Sometimes he’d laugh at my jokes and I’d feel happy. Sometimes he’d praise my compliance and I’d call home and tell my parents about it.


It wasn’t that he was bad. It wasn’t even I was so pathetic (I was though). But that’s patient life. I was a patient. Not aware of the bigger world out there. Not aware I could survive in it.


We have two zones: the comfort zone and the Other zone. Patients live in the comfort zone.

Just like civilians, patients look to our doctors for the final word. If we’re good, and compliant, maybe we’ll have a chance at getting better. We’ll “admit” that we have a fever, or “deny” that we are allergic to medications.

We’ll receive infusions of weapons-grade immunosuppressants every eight weeks, dutifully billing insurance and denying ourselves a health savings account to qualify for subsidization by the same big pharma company that makes the drug.

Welfare, healthcare-style.

The drugs work, that’s for sure. But there’s a dark side to having no immune system. Inflammation built up. Infections wouldn’t heal. That nagging feeling at the back of my mind that kept saying something isn’t right.

But because I wasn’t yet at a crisis point, my doctors wouldn’t do anything about it. Maybe we would push the treatment out to 9, 10, 11 weeks, but that was it.

I was surviving, but I wasn’t flourishing.

My Western doctors were good people, don’t get me wrong. But they had their own perspective. They didn’t see my life, the little things that worried me every day.

No doctor cares more about me than I do. No doctor lives my life.

Eventually, I gathered my courage and made the decision to take control of my health. To make decisions myself, instead of letting my doctor make them for me. To make decisions that could have major consequences to my health, life, and finances.

Taking charge was scary, I can’t lie. The responsibility now lies with me, not with my doctor or my insurance plan’s rules. It’s me who makes the decisions. It’s me who has to follow through with the decisions I make.

I made the decision to walk away from the comfort zone of my health-cubicle.

I’m not a civilian anymore.

Not a patient.

I’m in charge.

Are you?


Anticipate the Hangover

When you drink too much, you get a hangover.

When you stay up way too late, you’re tired the next day.

When you eat too much, you get full and uncomfortable.

There are always consequences.

You may not like it. You definitely don’t want it. But the consequence is there just the same.

One of my favorite facts is this: “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” It comes from the study of physics.

Scientific or not, I like to apply it to everything from human relationships to the way my body reacts under stress.

The reaction may not come out in the way that I’m expecting it, but there’s always something.

In my last post, I explained how I thought ahead to the fancy wedding I was attending, to make sure I had food for the day. That definitely helped cut down on unhelpful consequences like hanger and anxiety.

That wedding also included things like dancing (I’m recovering from pneumonia), talking to lots of people (introvert), and sitting in the sun next to a field of grass (hello, pale skin and seasonal allergies).

When you think ahead, you can usually head off some of the worst consequences my moderating yourself in the moment. Rest after dancing. Take a walk by yourself. Sunscreen and Claritin. Drink water.

Even when you’re taking care of the little things, they still add up.

The next day you wake up with a pollen hangover.

Maybe you’re a little bit dehydrated.

Or you have a sunburn.

Those things take a little while to recover from. And that’s okay.

Make sure to plan for it!

Don’t pretend that you can muscle through it, because you can’t always do that. Take a half day off work, or work from home if you can. If that’s not an option, take into account recovery time when you’re asking for time off or swapping shifts with your coworkers.

Make sure to have water and aloe lotion in the house, so you don’t have to expend extra energy to go get them, energy you could be spending on recovering.

Cook yourself the equivalent of a greasy breakfast and coffee, make sure to stay hydrated, and ride out that hangover.

Expect it. Embrace it. Realize its inevitability and just let it be.