Where’s your ‘After’ photo?

For those who have followed my journey for awhile, you know that I work out fairly consistently & I’ve started changing my eating habits (watching portion sizes with 21 Day Fix containers, decreasing my coffee size & replacing my afternoon cup with green tea, adding more fruits & veggies to my day). But you may be wondering, “Hey! Where’s your ‘After’ photo?”

Truth is, I don’t have one. And I won’t have one for some time. Why?

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INFLAMMATION

If you bump into the coffee table & bruise your shin, that shiny purple bump of pain is the ‘good’ type of inflammation. It’s your body’s response to the problem & a sign of healing. Unfortunately, in life there’s always a yin to the yang…there is a ‘bad’ type of inflammation, when your immune system gets stuck in hyperdrive and won’t turn off. It can clog arteries over time, leading to heart disease, and it can worsen insulin resistance & keep your blood sugar high. It’s not always something you see on the outside, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there. Your doctor can run a specific type of blood test to find out if you’re experiencing chronic inflammation.

Bad inflammation can be caused by:
* An unhealthy diet
* Not exercising enough
* Consuming too much sugar
* Nicotine, Marijuana, and Alcohol
* Stress 
* Illnesses like Diabetes, Depression, Arthritis, Asthma, or Autoimmune Disorders
* Some foods, like vegetable oils, fried foods, dairy, synthetic sweeteners & saturated fats
* Some allergens, like drycleaning chemicals, detergents, and air pollutants
* Weight gain

I personally have 3 types of arthritis (Rheumatoid, Ankylosing Spondylitis, and Psoriatic Arthritis) and Fibromyalgia – all things that contribute to bad inflammation. When you have these illnesses or if you have bad inflammation, it’s important to keep your weight in check. Being overweight can exacerbate the inflammation, make you feel lousy, cause more illnesses, and make current ones worse. Losing weight can turn off the signals that cause chronic inflammation.

BUT! The crazy loop is…exercise can make the bad inflammation WORSE! It can be a vicious cycle, making you gain weight rather than losing it, even if you’re working hard.

So how do you reduce inflammation & lose weight?
* Exercise – Sorry, you still have to do it! Keep it consistent (30-45 mins, 3-4 days/week), but keep it moderate (cardio like jogging, yoga/pilates, or swimming). Avoid long, intense, strenuous workouts that will cause a high pain response from your body.

* Antioxidants – Add more green tea, berries, dark green veggies like broccoli & kale, and root veggies like turnips to your daily menu.

* Spices – Go nuts with these (they’re all free on 21 Day Fix)! Add lots of garlic, cinnamon, turmeric, cayenne pepper, oregano, and ginger to your meals.

* Omega-3 Fatty Acids – You can eat more foods like avocados, salmon, chia seeds, flax, and walnuts, and/or you can take fish oil supplements.

* Sleep – Invest in a comfortable mattress & bedding that will help you get 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Even a single night with loss of sleep can trigger bad inflammation.