Having a suppressed immune system during flu season makes interacting with any human being feel like you are playing russian roulette with your health. Last year was the worst flu season I had experienced ever. I got the flu shot and still ended up with the flu. Twice. I spent a seriously huge chunk of my winter trying to get over being sick. I actually did a post about the remedies I found had worked. At least if I was going to spend that much time under the weather, I was able to gather some good tips to pass on.
This year my focus has been on taking preventative measures to make sure I don’t have a repeat performance of flu season 2018. Between how busy I have been recently and already having to take extra “down time” because of my Crohn’s, being out of commission for an extra week is incredibly inconvenient. This season I have seen success with a few tricks I’ve picked up over this past year. It is only February so while we aren’t out of the woods yet, I’ve at least made it this far and wanted to share. I have rounded up my “Essential Top 5” tricks for getting through flu season, including some products that have been a total game changers for me.
1. Stay hydrated with DripDrop
Adding a packet of DripDrop to your water everyday is a super simple way to load up on Vitamin C and make sure you are keeping your body hydrated. Staying hydrated is so important for keeping your immune system strong and moving toxins out of your body and vitamin c is the holy grail of immune system boosting tricks. DripDrop is an oral rehydration solution that treats and prevents dehydration. I make sure to have a packet of DripDrop added into my water to sip throughout the morning. It tastes really delicious too, so it feels like you are giving yourself a little treat. I’ve been doing this for the past couple of months and I have also noticed a difference in my energy levels, improvement in my skin, and best yet, I have stayed pretty free from nasty cold weather viruses!
The more I researched why staying hydrated is so important, I’m thought, well duh, how did I not put this together before. Think about when you go to the hospital… what is the first thing they do pretty much every time? Hook you up to an IV to get you hydrated. The fact that I can basically give myself all of the benefits from an IV everyday without the needles or hospital stays, is pretty game changing*. I like DripDrop specifically because the drink mix isn’t loaded with unnecessary sugars, it packs a ton of vitamin C into just one serving, and it works so quickly. My favorite flavor is the watermelon, it also turns your water pink so, pretty on brand, right? You can get the multi-flavor pack (here) so you can sample all three flavors and see what your favorite is.
2. Take your vitamins
Similarly to staying hydrated, I have been making sure that my body has all of the vitamins it needs so I can stay as healthy as possible. Traditionally I am not a big vitamin fan because they usually mess up my stomach and aren’t worth the hassle. For the past few months I’ve been trying Ritual Vitamins and have been loving them. They include everything you need in one capsule so you don’t have to lug around 5 different vitamin bottles in your purse. They also taste great because they are infused with peppermint essential oil and they don’t upset my stomach. Win. Win.
3. Consistently get a good night sleep
Being sleep deprived is your immune system’s number one enemy. It is important to make sure that during “sick season” you are giving yourself ample time to sleep at night and make sure to maximize those precious hours by getting to sleep quickly. This hasn’t always been a strong suit of mine but I have been working on meditating before bed, scheduling a “bed time” for myself (and abiding by it), and limiting blue light exposure before bed. Everyone has different tricks that help them sleep but being in a routine has really helped my body become more aware of when it is supposed to be snoozing. I recommend the Headspace and Relax Melodies apps for meditation and start about 20-30 minutes before you actually want to be asleep. Both apps have a lot of different options so there is something to help everyone drift off into slumber.
4. Manage your stress levels
This is the number one thing my gastro always tells me, keep my stress levels in check to help keep my body well. This is another work in progress for me but I’ve seen a lot of relief by managing the expectations I have for myself and the expectations I set with others. I used to always be nervous to say no to an activity or social event. Now, no is a response I give a lot and it is for the better. I also have recently been auditing my calendar to make sure that everything I’m doing is adding value to my life. Through doing this I’ve been able to cut out unnecessary tasks and use that time to relax instead and make sure I’m giving my body the down time it needs.
Part of stress management for me also includes staying active. Keeping a strict workout routine is difficult when there are so many surprises your body can throw at you. Crohn’s flare, aching joints, a random fever out of nowhere…. Just a few things that like to get in the way. I like to make sure that even if I can’t do something intense I am being active in some way. Two of my favorite ways to keep my body moving are doing yoga at home and taking my dogs for walks. Both are not strenuous and don’t put extra stress on my body but keep me active and give me time to clear my head.
5. Sometimes you have to play offense
While most of my tips are about heightening your body’s defenses, sometimes you have to play offense when it comes to protecting your immune system. During this time of year I always carry hand sanitizer, a hospital mask, and sanitation wipes. I especially do this for when I travel because you are in contact with so many people and so many potentially germ ridden surfaces. Making sure you are keeping your surroundings clean is important and allows you to proactively handle germs.
Hopefully these tips were helpful and you can implement them before “sick season” is over and get through flu free. If you have any questions specifically about the products or apps I recommend, shoot me a message.
Now about to go sip a big cup of DripDrop, watermelon flavor, please, and watch The Bachelor.
Photos by Madison Short ;; Jacket by AmyScripts
*2003 study shows no difference in effectiveness between ORS & IV.
I received this product for free for testing purposes but all opinions are my own.
Food and I have always had a love/hate relationship. I feel like that’s sadly too often the case in people with IBD. Throw constantly working to stay in recovery from an eating disorder and you’ve leveled up to a status that “It’s Complicated” can’t even begin to cover.
Over the years I’ve tried a plethora of food related remedies to help with my digestive issues and seen plenty of nutritionists for both that and my eating disorder. I’ve tried the keto diet, low FODMAP diet, removing dairy/gluten, liquid diets, Chinese herbs…. a lot of things. Some of them have stuck, like I now know what foods don’t agree with me, but I don’t feel like I’ve developed a truly sustainable and enjoyable way of eating. Plus, I still have a variety of issues leading back to autoimmune and inflammatory problems and I still have no way to fix those things.
Over the years I’ve developed such a stress surrounding food and meals. What is going to make me sick? Will this make me gain weight (on top of the weight I’ve gained from my medications)? Is this food really good for me? How the heck do I actually even cook something properly? I am a hot mess when it comes to anything in the kitchen.
I’ve had such a stress around food preparation that I never really learned how to cook. Like, I’m really, really not great at it. Matt doesn’t even want me to cook our Sunbasket deliveries alone because he’s concerned for my safety. I wish I was kidding. I love enjoying good food though; I get that part. The marriage of flavors, the textures, the balance. Creating a successful dish is just like putting together a well-designed room or outfit. It is a science and an art, just one that my heart has never been behind.
I never made it a priority to learn how to properly cook for or fuel myself because I have always just gotten by with my half-assed attempts. My life has been so busy that there was always an excuse as to why cooking simply wasn’t for me. It is funny how you can make all of the excuses when it involves you, but when it involves others the game changes. Let me explain……
Sue from Savory Living reached out to me to connect about her unique online experience. The goal is to help you eat right for your body in a way that is customized to you and lifestyle. At first I was skeptical because I can’t tell you HOW many people have reached out to me telling me that their special diets or products would cure my Crohn’s Disease. That a shake would rebalance my immune system. That eating only raw vegetables would revive my digestive system. The list goes on and on and I always called bullshit, especially after all of the years of desperately trying whatever I could.
I looked into Sue’s company, Savory Living and I was pretty impressed. Savory Living is an online experience that, in 12 sessions, helps you develop healthier habits that YOU choose, teaches you how to cook food that is good for you, tastes good, and gives you the “why” behind adding in those certain foods. It is focused on mindfulness around what makes you feel good, showing up and committing to yourself, and ADDING good foods to your plate instead of focusing on elimination. The program slowly guides you to make small changes over time so that you don’t feel overwhelmed. Baby steps to set you up for success. I am ALL about this and have tried to do this for myself but the thought of what the heck I’m supposed to eat gets too daunting and I run out of the grocery store in a cold sweat.
I had a long call with Sue and we connected immediately. Hearing her story of how she’s thriving as a mom and entrepreneur, and crushing a rare disease that was determined to hold her back, was super inspiring. She explained how she made lifestyle changes for herself (and her family!) that really stuck and helped to create a drastically healthier life and an increasingly good prognosis for her health conditions. By the end of our conversation I was in awe of how much she really just wants to share her knowledge and experience in order to help others who were suffering from chronic ailments.
As she walked me through the program I was really drawn to how education focused it is. The whole goal of the program is to help you discover how to eat right for you (getting anti-inflammatory eating to solve the issues you are experiencing) and to guide you through the change to make it easy, manageable, and fun. Then she hit me with something that SHOOK ME….Sue explained that we teach our kids how to walk and talk and read and write but we never teach them how to eat.
THIS. RIGHT. HERE. Is what got me. If I don’t learn how to have a healthy relationship with food and figure out how to best fuel my body, how would I be able to teach my kids? The thought of leading my future children down the complicated food path I have traveled completely horrified me. This thought played over in my brain all day after our conversation.
So here I am. I have finally committed to learning a bit more about food, food preparation, and the “why” behind what we put in our bodies. I am starting an online program with Savory Living in hopes of creating a better lifestyle that I can pass onto my future kids and my family.
The program is a total of 12 sessions with two weeks in between to implement your new tricks. During those two weeks you implement three different changes to your life that are positive and trackable. You log what you are eating each day in the Savory Living portal so that you can be aware of any correlations the food you eat is having with your body, mood, energy level, etc. The classes are only 25 minute long videos which are easy to digest (haha get it….) and to the point, plus there is a ton of food ideas, cooking content, and other resources that you can explore. It is super interactive and personally I can’t wait to try out the recipe videos! You also have a coach who is helping to hold you accountable and advise you as you go through the program. This means a built-in person to help you if you are having a grocery store meltdown. Sorry in advance, Sue.
I am hopeful that educating myself more on food and nutrition instead of turning a blind eye, because it’s just too stressful to think of, will help me to feel better physically and mentally. I am hoping what I learn can help me adapt my lifestyle and feel excited about eating and cooking instead of treating those actions like a dreadful chore.
As I go through the programI am going to share my thoughts with you, as well as some bits and pieces of knowledge I’m getting. I’m going to track how I feel as I implement these lifestyle changes and you can come along on this journey with me. Since each program takes a full two weeks, I’ll be posting a “check in” every month or so to track progress and see how things are going.
One of my intentions I set for the year was to be more mindful and I am excited that this program and support are going to help me be more informed about what I am putting in my body and more mindful of how those things make me feel. As always, if you have any questions as I start the Savory Living program, drop me a message, and make sure to follow along via Instagram for even more updates along the way.
Being dehydrated has always been a sad and annoying complication of having Crohn’s Disease. Through vomiting and diarrhea you are pretty much always losing valuable fluids that your body needs to function and, when you are feeling under the weather, forcing yourself to drink the high volume of water that your body needs can be hard and honestly downright painful.
I have struggled with this issue for years and it gets even worse when I am working out! I love being active but when I am dehydrated and lethargic it is difficult to get moving. There have been times that when I do get my butt to a workout class I’ve almost passed out because I’ve had Crohn’s issues the night before and my body isn’t refueled/re hydrated enough to handle a workout.
I’ve dabbled in a few re-hydration methods and finally found something I can proudly advocate for. DripDrop is an oral re-hydration solution that is so easy to use and I can carry it in my purse at all times. Its a powder that comes in little packets (for either 8oz or 16oz servings). You just add the powder into your water and, boom, you have an electrolyte drink. Now I know when you hear electrolyte drink you are thinking about some nasty, sugary sports drink but this is NOT the case. It tastes great (my current favorite is the berry flavor) but isn’t loaded with added sugars. This is also ideal for people with sensitive stomachs because you know those sugars are not our friends. Basically this stuff re-hydrates your body super quickly by only have to drink 8-16oz of water instead of two to three times that amount.
You know I am skeptical about products and especially ones that claim to help with Crohn’s related issues but let me tell you I’ve tried this stuff and I am an actual fan. It works quicker than any other re-hydration drink I’ve tried and doesn’t upset my stomach. I also really love that it has 110% of your daily recommended Vitamin C because, let’s be real, when you have Crohn’s your immune system sucks so we need all of the Vitamin C we can get.
I love the idea of this being such an easy thing to add into your daily routine. Like you can throw it in your purse… there is no excuse why you can’t use DripDrop. It is already on my packing list for my two upcoming trips because flying gets me super dehydrated which then leaves me landing in my final destination with a killer headache and skin that looks like the Sahara desert.
While I started loving this product because of the benefits for my Crohn’s related issues, I since, have been loving the other benefits as well. Staying hydrated can give you some gorgeous glowing skin… something I rarely have had despite my skincare product obsession, now to be changed by my new found hydration routine. I’ll keep you posted on this one…
Last thing, you all also know I love to have a glass or two of rosé from time to time. I am not 21 anymore so after about two glasses I feel my skin drying up like a sad prune and my insides reminding me of how horrendous they will feel the next day. Cue DripDrop because if you drink this before bed on a night of indulging you are number one, super responsible, and number two, will wake up feeling fresh despite the rosé. If you aren’t one for a proactive approach and you’ve already been cursed by a hangover, it is all good. Pop some in your drink in the AM and you are good to go.
I am telling you guys, this stuff is a life saver and whether it is because I am having a Crohn’s flare or because I had one too many spicy margaritas, I am here for it, I am about it, and I recommend it. That being said, in honor of Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Week, I am doing a special giveaway with DripDrop! The winner will receive two boxes of DripDrop sticks and a super cute DripDrop bag. To enter, head to my Instagram and check out the post of my pink water for details.
What flavor are you excited to try?!
Let’s talk money….
Something that a lot of people don’t realize is the impact that Crohn’s (or really any chronic illness) has on finances. Imagine budgeting each month an extra equivalent of your mortgage payment or car payment just so that you can stay well enough to continue earning that money. Once you get that into your budget you learn how to live and even manage to save money. The budget thing is working. Then imagine taking that extra money you worked your ass off to save for a nice vacation and having to use it all on a new treatment that you need to actually keep yourself alive. Or a surgery. Or a hospital visit. Or if its not that drastic you find yourself slowly dwindling away at your savings account to pay for specialty doctors visit, special supplements, and holistic treatments that insurance doesn’t cover. Thats the reality of finances when you have Crohn’s.
I am by no means writing this to complain about money or finances. I know that I am beyond blessed to have a job that I am well enough to work at, a side hustle for extra cash, a husband who also works his butt off, and a family that would help out if I needed it. I am here to shed light on the reality of what having a chronic illness can do to your financial situation. If an affluent, college educated, 20 something with a well paying job she is well enough to work at faces these issues, think about the people who are less fortunate facing the same thing…. It makes me feel lucky to be in the position I am in with the support I have but breaks my heart knowing that there are others out there who are literally spending their last penny just to stay alive.
If you don’t suffer from Crohn’s or a chronic illness you are probably naive to the things one must budget for. A lot of people just think, oh yeah more doctors visits that sucks. It is way more than just that (I mean that is part of it but we’re here to talk about the less obvious).
Doctors visits add up. Even if you are just paying a $20 or $30 copay that can really amount to a lot on top of everything else. You also are not just seeing one doctor. You see your gastro for the root cause of the issues but often times you are also seeing other specialists for the other autoimmune diseases you have developed or to help remedy the side effects from the medication you have to be on. Add in some urgent care visits because you have a weakened immune system and are sick every couple of months at least. Oh, and add in some visits to your therapist/psychiatrist because being sick all the time can cause anxiety and depression.
Next up, medication. Some things are covered fully by insurance which is great but other medications you have to fight to get covered and can still end up being $200-$300 per month. Once you add in infusions that is a whole other story/insurance situation that can be equally as expensive if not more.
Then there are supplements and vitamins. Those things ARE NOT CHEAP. My doctor, love him, but he recommends a probiotic that is literally $200 a month. I. CAN’T. No, but I LITERALLY CAN’T. Then there are all of the vitamins you are deficient on that you have to buy over the counter that add up. Fun fact, if you are so deficient in something that you have to get a super high prescribed dose insurance actually covers it! #unfortunatelifehack
Holistic treatments and alternative medicine are a whole other ball game that most insurances won’t touch so you are paying out of pocket for things like acupuncture or medical cannabis. Not cheap, extremely helpful, potentially not sustainable due to cost.
Dental care is another area where people often are naive to the correlation. Ever since my Crohn’s started escalating my previously perfect teeth all of a sudden were wearing down due to excessive acid reflux. I had cavities that popped up apparently the root cause was also the Crohn’s. I ended up spending an absurd amount of money on a retainer/night guard situation that is supposed to help protect my teeth and prevent future damage. The jury is still out on the ROI of that one…..
The list continues on…. food for special diets, multiple sizes of clothes due to weight gain/loss and bloating, factoring in days off of work if you are paid hourly, unexpected medical procedures, etc.
As I mentioned before, I just want to raise awareness around this impact of Crohn’s/chronic illnesses. I talk about a lot of things very publicly and finances aren’t usually one of them. I don’t think anyone wants to run around shouting from the rooftops that they have just shelled out an exorbitant amount of money on their Crohn’s treatment. This really just scratches the surface of the financial depth of chronic illness. There are so many other factors that stem from the extra financial burden and, for me, most of it is around the guilt I feel. When Matt and I were dating and I was in the beginning of my treatment there were times when he had to pay my medical bills for me. I didn’t ask, he offered, but it still pained me. As a ruthlessly independent person I literally felt (even more) sick to my stomach thinking about him doing that. I was in my early 20s, just started a new job, and had no money in the bank. I am lucky that I have him. Now that I am in a good place career wise my pride has kept me working relentlessly to bring in as much money as possible for our family so that we don’t have to make sacrifices because of MY health. I don’t want to be the reason we can’t go on a family vacation or the reason why we have to empty our savings to pay a doctor.
While the cost of Crohn’s is high I’ve found that sometimes it isn’t even the money that hurts, it is the guilt, fear, and anxiety that go along with the financial burden that really are taxing.
The holiday season is upon us which means you are looking for gifts to give to the special people in your lives. I love consulting gift guides of my favorite bloggers to get some ideas especially when it comes to buying for my sisters and friends. I wanted to kick off my series of gift guides with one that is near and dear to my heart.... a Spoonie Gift Guide!
If you are someone living with a chronic illness you know there are some really special comforts in life that truly are some of the best gifts. There may not be a magic pill you can gift to someone who has a chronic illness that will make it all better, but there are plenty of gifts you can give that can help reduce anxiety, create a more comfortable way to relax, and provide a bit of luxury to a day of self care.
You can shop my picks below so you can treat the spoonie in your life this holiday season (or yourself... alway appropriate to treat yourself). I also have included some brief descriptions, giving you the scoop on why these are the perfect gifts!
1. slip Silk Pillow Case - When you aren't feeling so hot it's no secret that you can spend a lot of time in bed. Having a luxurious pillow case can make you feel at least a bit pampered while you are getting your beauty sleep. The numerous benefits for your skin and hair simply by switching to this pillow case can make you feel like you are treating yourself while you snooze.
2. Herbivore Detox Bath Salts - Baths are won of my favorite ways to unwind after a long day and they help a lot with chronic joint and muscle pain. I also love how cute this jar is because you will actually want it to be displayed in your bathroom.
3. slip Silk Sleep Mask - I never understood the hype around sleep masks until I wanted to sleep in a bright doctors office. Game. Changed. This is a gem to someone who is constantly exhausted.
4. Audible Membership - Audible is the gift that keeps on giving. It allows you to consume content straight through your earbuds in a relaxing way. When you are nauseous or have a migraine the last thing you want to do is read a book or look at a screen. Audible solves all of these problems and is also a great companion for when you are getting infusions or suffering through a long wait at the doctor's office.
5. Pajama Set - Feeling cute and put together goes a long when when it comes to mindset and morale. Even if your hot date this weekend consists of Netlixing by yourself it feels good to get a little fancy in these adorable (but still ultra comfy) pajamas.
6. Earbuds - This goes hand in hand with the Audible Membership. Listening to books, podcasts, or music can be a great distraction during medical procedures or when you just aren't feeling great and need to take your mind somewhere else. Also, great to wear when you don't feel like speaking to any other humans.
7. Mask Frenzy by Peter Thomas Roth - Masks are another great way to practice self care. This set has all of the greatest highs from PTR but isn't necessarily something you can justify spending the money on yourself. This is a special gift that will remind the spoonie in your life to spend a little extra time treating themselves.
8. Gravity Blanket- These are proven to help with anxiety and insomnia which are two things many spoonies experience. Who doesn't want the gift of better sleep?
9. Teddy Bear Faux Fur Bath Robes - Again, sometimes its nice to feel pampered without having to leave your home.
10. Acupressure Mat - These are out of this world when it goes to helping decrease muscle pain and discomfort. They are are proven to help lover anxiety.
Did I miss anything? Let me know what else you would add to the list.
Also, stay tuned for my next gift guide coming soon.
Going into a holiday that is pretty much solely revolved around food can feel like a real nightmare for someone who has IBD. The Thanksgiving table is an uncharted war zone full of things that could potentially set your digestive system into full SOS mode, not to mention the exhaustion of having to actually speak to humans all day, oh and did I mention a limited number of shared bathrooms. Yikes.
My family is always extremely accommodating and supportive of my dietary needs and medical situation which is a relief but even so, I still experience a variety of road blocks throughout Turkey Day. I figured if I am running into these issues, I cannot be alone in my struggle. We are getting it all out here on the table (no pun intended)… all of the annoying things about this food focused holiday. Actually feel free to share this with your family/relatives so they know what you are going through. Never fear though, I will also supply you with some tips on how I get through the day and actually end up having a pretty enjoyable time.
The first issue with Thanksgiving, or really eating at anyone’s house where you did not prepare the food, is how are you supposed to know the actual ingredients of what you are eating? Grandma might say that her dish is gluten free until she realizes that whoops there were bread crumbs in there, do those have gluten? and BOOM your whole day goes to shit. Literally. Or there are the other types of people who know what is in their dish but INSIST you try it anyway. Like I get that your corn pudding was pinned 700 times on Pinterest but that STILL does not change the fact that me and corn are not friends. I don’t see you asking the person with a shellfish allergy to “just taste” your crab dip because its “that good”. Just because my reaction doesn’t involved an epi-pen doesn’t mean it doesn’t count. And to be honest, I still may also end up in the hospital. Re: the last time I though quinoa was a good idea.
As I mentioned before, my family is really good about being accommodating with dietary restrictions. Even still, I can’t always predict that the dishes that on paper meet all of my requirements still won’t make me sick. It could be a spice or an oil that I sets me off, or maybe a specific vegetable that I don’t normally eat. Or honestly it could be anything under the sun that my body just decides to hate that day. Either way, you can try as hard as you want to avoid things that will make you sick but at the end of the day there are no guarantees.
At that point you are stuck out of your house, utilizing a common bathroom, and still having to speak to people despite feeling horrible. Not a great situation. Side note here really quick: this is all assuming you are going elsewhere to celebrate Thanksgiving. If you are hosting it at your house, damn girl, good for you. I can barely figure out how to make my Sunbasket deliveries so I am not with you there but like I said, good for you. So back to the situation where you are sick and have one bathroom and have to talk to people. Sneaking away for a 20 minute bathroom break can be a good excuse to get some downtime from the fam but I also would rather spend that hiatus hiding in a closet somewhere, strolling around the backyard, or literally anywhere but one of the common bathrooms.
Even if you make it through the day without any digestive melt downs it can just be a really exhausting day. Between prepping food, catching up with family, and having little to no time for yourself, it can take a toll on you even if you love being around your family and are having a great time. Over exerting yourself around the holidays can be hard to avoid because you are just really so excited to spend time with your loved ones and celebrate.
So now you’re reading this, nodding your head, and wishing someone had a magic pill to make your Thanksgiving digestive drama go away. Well I don’t have that (because TBH science isn’t my strong suit) but I do have some suggestions based on what I incorporate into my own life and a whole lot of research (aka years of trial and error).
I try and set aside “downtime” every holiday… including Thanksgiving. I usually do this by creating a tradition out of it. No one messes with traditions. For example, on Thanksgiving morning instead of jumping right into big groups and festivities I watch the parades with my mom and my sister. This gives us all time to relax and ease into our day. It allows us to spend time with each other but also not be “on” having to really socialize. We are all on the same page with this one. Maybe you make a new tradition for yourself that revolves around being home at 6pm and getting a start on Christmas movie watching. Relaxing, festive, and still fun.
Next up… Bring your own food if you are concerned. To be full disclosure, I’ve heard mixed reviews on this. Some hosts says its super rude to bring your own meal. Some say THANK YOU because they don’t have to deal with your dietary restrictions and risk being the one that sends you into a shit storm. I personally think this is totally fine and you are actually doing your host a favor. As long as you are messaging it properly that you are doing this because you value spending time with everyone so much and want to make sure you are feeling your best to do so, then I think its perfectly appropriate. Bring a nice bottle of wine to share with everyone and one as a host gift and you should be good to go.
In addition to bringing your own meal, or instead of if the thought of rolling into dinner with your own lunchbox is giving you anxiety, at least bring a dish to share that you know you can eat. By doing this you are sharing the love and contributing to the dinner but you are also hedging your bets because you know there is at least one thing YOU made and YOU can eat. This is also a fun opportunity to show your family that your “weird” diet can still yield some really delicious recipes. And hey, if no one else is into your gluten free stuffing, you will get all the leftovers to yourself. Win, win.
Last piece of advice, and actually my favorite, is to make the holiday not about the food. I know this sounds absurd and impossible especially when we are talking about Thanksgiving. It is doable though. Think about what are the other things you can enjoy and celebrate about the holiday. Thanksgiving… you are (most likely) off of work, you are spending time with people you love, you get to wear a cute outfit, this is a perfect excuse to force your significant other to take corny Instagram photos with you… or dress your dogs up in turkey costumes… maybe that is just me. What I am trying to say is there are plenty of things to look forward to about the day that are non food related. Parades, football, getting ready to Black Friday shop, or literally just celebrating you have a day to not be at work. I don’t care what it is but there has to be something that gets you excited that has nothing to do with turkey.
I know all of this is way easier said than done and the holidays can be a tricky time. Try and hang in there, enjoy what you can, and accept when it’s time to tap out early to binge watch Hallmark Christmas movies. There is NOTHING wrong with that.
This week on the podcast my lovely sister, Amanda, joined us to give a different perspective on having early stages of Crohn's and how she managed that through college and now her early adult life. She got very real on topics like dating, talking to your employer about your digestive issues, and trying to teach a room full of five year olds while you're afraid you might shit your pants. GOOD TIMES.
I'm so happy she was willing to share her story. I think her journey to diagnosis and how she is managing her symptoms are so relatable to anyone at that stage of their life/ IBD.
While we do tackle some serious stuff we have plenty of laughs as well. Diane introduces Amanda like she is writing her match.com profile and Diane AND Amanda both admit what kind of uncivilized humans they are taking vitamins on an empty stomach. That's a big "no no" guys.....
I hope you enjoy listening to this one and as always feel free to leave any questions or comments you have for us!
You can follow Amanda on Instagram here + here.
If you followed my blog/social media before Crohnically Blonde became what it is today, you know that fashion was a large portion of the content I shared (before I even knew “content” was a thing). I have always loved fashion – cue the years of me curating a huge book of magazine clipping inspiration in high school. In college I had a brief stint in fashion school in NYC which was my teenage dream and came back home without a degree but with exposure to a new platform to curate my inspiration. Tumblr. This was in 2009 when social media was just really at the very beginning of becoming a thing. A blogger was not yet an accepted job title, and a fashion influencer was not what we know it as today. I started sharing my own personal styling and outfits on my new blog on Tumblr and eventually Wordpress. Fashion has always been something that I have loved as a part of my life. I love putting together looks, I love sharing my inspiration with others, and I actually feel high off of finding a great deal on a designer piece.
When I started Crohnically Blonde I was in not a great place as far as body image or self-esteem. Crohn’s was ripping apart my body (actually pretty literally), I didn’t have control of my weight or how my body looked thanks to the medications I was on, and I honestly was happy to live in my comfiest sweatpants every day. The last thing that crossed my mind was sharing photos of me wearing things for the world to see, drawing attention to this body I had no control over. In the past, I was used to wearing whatever I wanted and not having to forgo trends based on my bloated stomach or weirdly unexplainable weight I was putting on in weird places. Fashion, as much as I loved it, was also the least of my worries at the time.
As an outsider looking in you probably would have no idea that I have struggled so much with this over the past three years. I come to work in my cute LOFT shirts and stretchy Old Navy pants that my friend so sweetly calls my “mom pants” and there is NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT. I have figured out a “uniform” that makes me feel comfortable in my own skin for the most part which is what I wear out to social events. I stopped experimenting with styles and just sticking to safe because that is the way I would feel comfortable and draw the least attention.
This really doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, I know. But to me it really was because I was missing out on something that used to be such a big passion for me. I had come to terms with the fact that I was never going to have my pre Crohn’s body back and I should appreciate that this is what I had to work with. I should appreciate how much my body does to fight and keep it going instead of shaming it for looking “weird” here and there. The thing is, I had PERSONALLY come to terms with this but then I spent hours scrolling through Instagram comparing myself to every girl to post and outfit photo and sending myself into a panic that I could NEVER put myself in THIS body out there like that.
I know, again, to some people this may seem ridiculous. To me it is not. At this point I’m in eating disorder recovery and dealing with a body that does its own thing health wise so I am on every level feeling absolutely out of control. At the same time as much as I hate myself for not looking like and Instagram model, I hate myself for caring and letting that hold me back. I preach authenticity and am all about owning your body especially through the lifetime struggle of ED recovery. I preach these things, empower others to do them, but yet, I am terrified to post a photo of me in an outfit.
As I’ve grown in my blogging journey and participated in more events and photoshoots I have come to realize that I have to stop letting this hold me back. When you break it down I am literally NOT participating in something I am passionate about and that I love because I am scared of… what? Comparison? Judgement? Both not things that I can’t stand to be the reason I shy away from something I enjoy.
So here we are and I will continue to share with you all. I want you to know that behind that outfit photo there is purpose and meaning for me posting it. Not only am I genuinely excited to, again, share my fashion journey but I am also excited to hopefully show someone else that just because you aren’t meeting your ridiculous standard of perfection you should still go for it, put yourself out there, and don’t let it hold you back. I also hope that you all will take away from what I share that to me fashion is about feeling confident in what you are wearing and learning how to dress for your body in a way that works for you and makes you feel great. I’m sharing the real dirty deets on what I am wearing (stretchy jeans and all) because that is what is real and authentically me. So enjoy and I hope this will inspire you to continue on this never ending journey of finding self-confidence with me.
I'm really, really excited that you will be able to keep up with all of my favorite looks via LIKEtoKNOW.it (here!) or download the app! I have been a huge LTKI fan for years so I am thrilled to finally be able to use the platform to share my personal style and finds.
Photo by Jade Nikkole Photography
I’ve received quite a few messages recently asking for a health update and I realized I haven’t done one in a while so it is far overdue that I share what has been going on.
First and foremost, I have had so many other positive and exciting things happening in life that my attention has been on that and I’ve been in what I like to call “maintenance mode” health wise. Trying to get by day to day without making things worse but also I wouldn’t say really making things better. That is okay by me though! If most days I can function and live life happily I have come a long, long way in the past three years or so. I hate that this might jinx it but overall things have actually been pretty good.
By pretty good I mean by my standards of not in the emergency room and pretty much fully functioning. That doesn’t mean that my symptoms have gone away though and that other symptoms haven’t decided to manifest themselves unfortunately upon me. Those things still happen and are still there and I am going to share them with you. I feel weird sometimes going into detail about this stuff because I don’t want sympathy for what ailments I have. I know there are so many other worse things that I could be experiencing, I assure you I know that and I am so incredibly thankful that I can function the way I do. The reason I share is not to complain but it is to bring awareness. There are so many weird symptoms and problems I have run into over the years that are seemingly unexplainable by doctors and took my reading someone else’s experience to realize I wasn’t crazy. That is why I want to share. Hopefully by me sharing my health journey you can relate and maybe not feel like such a psycho.
So like I said overall my Crohn’s has been relatively under control. I am not in remission yet but slowly working towards it. I still go and get my Remicade every 6-8 weeks. Currently we are on an every 6 week schedule. That seems to be working well but the side effects still make me miserable at times. I do have to say though, when I started Remicade a little over a year and a half ago, I was totally unprepared to cope with the unavoidable side effects but as I’ve become a Remicade pro, I’ve gotten a better handle on managing them. CBD oil is my best friend in that regard. I take a small dose every day to help with pain, inflammation, anxiety, and a whole slew of other things that can be a separate post. But anyway, I amp it up after my infusion and when my side effects are bad. The side effect that is probably the most annoying is the joint pain. I can’t STAND it. I remember I went to geriatric yoga class at the YMCA, I’m not kidding you geriatric like right next to my grandpas retirement community, and I was in tears by the end because my wrists and knees were so swollen and in pain. From the former hot yoga enthusiast this was very abnormal for me. So this still happened but my CBD oil helps and I have a topical CBD cream that I use on my muscles and joints which is a huge relief as well. That is where we are with the Remicade situation.
I unfortunately got the news last time I was at the gastro for my infusion that I was long overdue for my colonoscopy/endoscopy so I had to go through that lovely experience last week. The prep definitely sucks but like the having diarrhea for hours on end isn’t that much of a shock to my body unfortunately so that’s not the part I really hate. It’s the fasting and pain and nausea from drinking that crap and the pain after the procedure. That is what really gets me. I do have to say an anesthesia nap is the best nap and I totally love the nurses at my gastro so they make the whole process a whole lot more enjoyable. I see them more than I see most of my friends and they all know my life story so… yeah. The colonoscopy/endoscopy situation was a success though. I still have inflammation in my ileum so they are upping my Remicade dose and my esophagus has some funky stuff going on but all in all not horrible! To go off on a tangent quickly I am an actual nightmare when I come out of anesthesia. Like actually satan. I’ve been known to cuss out doctors and demand a bedside cocktail just to name a few situations. I actually get very embarrassed because I spend like so much of my life with these people I can’t have them thinking I am the devil. This time I was actually really nice, chatted about dogs and Game of Thrones, requested a gingerale, you know, all normal sleepy people stuff. It takes me so long to get unconfused though and I was on some pain meds on top of it so things were not looking right from my perspective. When my doctor came in to give me my update I somehow thought he was saying I could go off of my medicine so I happily thanked him and said oh yay so I’m done with my medicine? Apparently from what my husband said this was directly after he said “we are going to up your medicine”. They both laughed, I was confused, my husband was embarrassed by me and then I reminded him that he practices the art of selective hearing often so he could CHILL and get off my back please. I actually didn’t remember anything my doctor said and had to get a debrief from Matt who so graciously accompanied me. This man COMPLAINED that he was hungry after it had almost been a full 48 hours since I had had a solid food. That’s like complaining that you have a tummy ache while your wife is in labor. He also made sure to make fun of me for yelling loudly how gassy I was while still waking up from my sedated slumber. Really keeping the love alive.
The real issue I’ve been having recently is with my sinuses. Now you wouldn’t think this would necessarily be impacted by Crohn’s but you know what HERE WE ARE. Your body is one big connected thing so what else can we expect. To give you some backstory I had sinus related surgery when I was 6 and then again about 7 years ago. That was the time I cussed out my doctor and told him I hated him and to get me out of there. During the recovery from that surgery I was also satan and begged my mom and step mom to take me back to the hospital because I was sure I was going to die. It seems dramatic, I know. But if you have had sinus surgery you know it is NO JOKING MATTER. I digress. So I got this surgery to remove my inflamed sinus tissue and then I got a really weird antibiotic resistant bacteria in my sinuses afterwards which was a hoot. I was alright for a few years but just recently it started to get worse again. Usually one of these surgeries is enough for one’s lifetime and I am hoping that will still be the case for me but like let’s be real, with my luck chances are I’ll be cussing out another doctor while coming out of sedation again soon. I won’t bore you with the whole story but basically my doctor wanted me to try a specific antibiotic but wasn’t really sure about it and then the side effects were nuts specifically in the gastrointestinal department so we had to nix that idea. Back to the drawing board, I just got a CT scan to see if the inflammation in my sinuses has returned.
Inflammation seems to just haunt me which is not unusual for Crohn’s sufferers or those suffering with other auto immune diseases as well. It took digging through the internet to find cases where sinus inflammation was linked to IBD and there is proof that it can be hence the whole your body is inflamed 24/7 and all that jazz. But I couldn’t find anything that was really helpful or someone saying here is what I did to make my sinuses better for good. So here I am waiting on the results of my CT scan and feeling like there is a large rhino running repeatedly across my face.
I’ll keep you all updated on what the results come back as. I am pretty certain this is linked to my Crohn’s in some way. Even if not directly, the inflammation piece is something we can’t ignore here. Hopefully I can get to the bottom of this so next time someone is frantically Googling “sinus pain and Crohn’s” maybe this pops up and you won’t feel so crazy.
I know this was a long one but, hey, it has been a while. I love hearing updates from you all too on your health journeys so please, please, please share via comments or if you don’t like putting your whole life out there on the internet like I do, drop me a message on Instagram!
I love when I have the chance to team up with other boss babes to promote really cool products or businesses. When Boho Babe Jewels reached out to do a collaboration I was pumped because their jewelry is so freaking cute (I'll get into details about that later), but they also are supporting a cause that I can 100% get behind.
Proceeds from one of their collections went directly to support the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation. Seriously, right up my alley. Supporting fellow Crohnies is also something I am passionate about. It is hard to have your own business or a side hustle regularly but doing it with a chronic illness is even more of an uphill battle. I know I've shared my struggles with finding time to fit everything with Crohnically Blonde into my schedule while still taking time to rest and maintain my health. I'm sure there are a ton of you badasses out there who are blazing the entrepreneurial trail while trying to keep your health on track. If so, I'd love to hear about what your hustle is and a tip for how you balance it all?
Take a look at how I styled my pieces and make sure to head over to their website to pick out some of your own. They are having a HUGE sale right now on everything (I'm talking like $15 for some great stuff) so the stars have aligned with the timing here... go check them out!
I was very excited when my two chokers showed up because I have been trying to nail the layered choker trend and have not been able to find the perfect combination. The trick is definitely to do a chunkier piece with a more delicate one layered on top. This balances out the whole look and prevents tangling. I made the mistake before of pairing two super delicate chokers and things did not end well. You can also wear them separately which is ideal for traveling because you get multiple looks in one. All of their pieces are handmade in Alabama so you know you are getting some love and positive vibes sent your way when you wear these.
I love these necklaces, I love Boho Babe Jewels in general, and I love the cause that they stand behind. Keep on killing it and go support our fellow Crohnie by treating yourself to some cute new jewelry.
Blonde babe. Maryland native. Crohn's crushing puppy mother to two sweet rescues.