Thursday, October 4, 2018

Get Autoimmune Strong: Why Not All Exercise Is Created Equal For All Bodies

I’m so excited to share this guest post with you guys. I was first introduced to Andrea on the Wellness Mama podcast. She was interviewed on a recent episode and so much of her story resonated with me. At times, I felt like she was telling my own autoimmune fitness story, so I just had to reach out to her to see how we could work together. I know a number of you struggle with autoimmune and chronic diseases, but also want to find a healthy balance with exercise. I totallllllly get that, so I wanted to share Andrea’s perspective on fitness. I hope you enjoy her guest post and check out her Autoimmune Strong program! 

Hey there, I’m Andrea, founder of Autoimmune Strong. I have been an athlete all my life, and this is what I used to believe. But not anymore. And today I am going to tell you why.

Credit: Erin Long Photography

Now, let me be clear, let’s define “athlete” here. I wasn’t an Olympic athlete or anything. I ran cross country in high school, and I was pretty good, even coming in 4th at the regional state championship (but let’s be honest here- it was in RI, the smallest state in the country). But regardless, I loved to move my body. I loved to run, and would regularly go for long, 2h runs, which made me feel great. I even trained for multiple marathons (even though I got injured before the race every time). I loved going to the gym, doing yoga, and going to spin classes. The harder, the sweatier, the longer, the better. I loved that feeling of pushing myself to my limit, to see just how far my body could go. I loved the feeling afterwards, where my legs felt like jelly, my mind was empty, and I was exhausted but happy.

And then, I got sick. It wasn’t a sudden sickness- it came on slowly. I lived my life like my runs- I pushed myself in my work and in my social life. I worked hard and played hard. I worked long hours and traveled frequently for my corporate job. And then I got married and had 2 babies, all while trying to maintain this fast pace.

After the birth of my second son, I knew something was wrong. I was exhausted, to the bone, so tired it was hard to get out of bed. My body hurt, like I was on fire. My hair was falling out, and I was gaining, not losing weight. I was struggling to maintain even a tiny bit of my previous life, where I was such an avid go getter, an overachiever. Now, I was barely an achiever. And I had two teeny tiny people who needed me. I had to find a way to get better.

It took me 2 years to figure out that I had a number of conditions that were affecting my health- Hashimoto’s, Celiac and Fibromyalgia. I learned that what I ate played a big part in how sick I felt, and as I transitioned to a real food, nutrient dense, chemical free diet, I started to feel better. And during this healing period, I kept on trying to exercise- in the same way that I used to- pushing my body to the max. And every time, I would start a cycle that looked like this: I would feel ok, then go to the gym, work out, and leave feeling great. Next day, same thing. Continue for a week… until… the next week when I would wake up feeling so tired and weak and exhausted, like my body was on fire… and I would then proceed to skip the gym until I recovered, which could take weeks. Then, when I felt better, I would go back to the gym and begin again.

And here’s what I learned: that style of exercise did not work for me. In fact, it worked against me. By stressing my body out with intense exercise, I was aggravating my autoimmune disease and causing a symptom flare-up. I was making myself sicker and weaker, rather than healthier and stronger. I knew I had to find another way.

That’s when I had an idea. For someone as Type A like myself, what if what I actually needed was to slow down, and move my body more gently? So, I tried that. I started with a few core strengthening exercises, at home, for 5 minutes every day. It felt like nothing, and was so hard for me to consider it “exercise”. But I kept going, and introduced a foam rolling routine into my short, at home workout. And slowly but surely, I kept adding in one exercise at a time, increasing my 5 minutes a day to 10 minutes a day. And guess what- I found that I was stronger and healthier than ever. These short mini workouts gave me more energy for my day, helped me feel strong while doing everyday things, like carrying my groceries, doing housework, and lifting my little ones.

And the best part is that I no longer had the cycle of flare-ups! By choosing a shorter, more targeted exercise routine, I was able to be more consistent in my exercise, which actually helped reduce my pain and inflammation. The exhaustion disappeared and my body no longer felt like it was on fire. Instead, it felt nimble and strong and flexible.

So for those of you living with chronic disease who feel like the only way to exercise properly is to crush it at the gym- I encourage you to consider another way. Daily movement that is short in duration, targets the full body, focuses on both strengthening and stretching, and builds in difficulty and intensity slowly over time- this is the type of program you want to look for. Trust me, it changed my life. Now, I am able to lift heavy at the gym and go for long runs without experiencing flare-ups. And you can too.

If you want to see what a program that takes these tips into consideration looks like- check out the 7 day free trial of Autoimmune Strong. You get access to all the exercise videos and the nutrition information, and you can try for yourself the program that changed my life.

Andrea Wool is the founder of Autoimmune Strong, an online fitness membership service designed for people living with chronic pain conditions like autoimmune, fibromyalgia and Lyme disease. Her mission is to spread the word that not all exercise is created equal for all bodies- and that we need to find exercise that works with our bodies rather than against.

To learn more about Autoimmune Strong, or to get access to the 7 day free trial, go to You can also find Andrea on Facebook @autoimmunestrong, on Instagram @getautoimmunestrong, and via email

The post Get Autoimmune Strong: Why Not All Exercise Is Created Equal For All Bodies appeared first on Carrots 'N' Cake.

from Carrots 'N' Cake

4 Adult Things We’re Doing To Prepare For The Baby

This post is sponsored by Haven Life Insurance Agency. 

It’s kind of a shame that there isn’t much curriculum devoted to financial literacy in schools. Most of what I’ve learned has been a mix of trial and error and podcasts/articles/research over the years, plus a few meetings with financial planners over the years. On the crest of turning 36, I finally have a really solid foundation of the important components of personal finance: budgeting, saving for retirement, being totally debt free (my goal is to pay off our mortgage, but I’m not there yet!), life insurance, college savings for the kids, wills. All that fun adult stuff. I was so clueless in my 20s that I thought car payments were a good thing that adults did. I once had a car payment (at 0%, but still) when I had the cash in savings to pay off the car. I finally got sick of the payment in my monthly budget and just paid off the darn thing. Now I know how dumb debt is and have no plans to ever go into debt again.

As you all well know, changes are on the horizon! In fact, my family status has changed quite significantly in the past few years. Another big little change is arriving any day now via a stork! Thus, Thomas and I are evaluating all of our “adulting” tasks to prepare for baby’s arrival.

College savings

Double the kids, double the college savings. For Mazen, we have a combination of a 529 plan here in Virginia and a separate mutual funds account for college savings. The good thing about 529 plans it that siblings can share them as long as the kids don’t overlap in account usage. So if Mazen doesn’t go to college or goes in state and that ends up being less than we’ve saved, then his brother can use the rest. So we’ll have them “share” the 529, putting in what we think will cover the minimums, and have the mutual fund account for the excess.


Life insurance

Most people need life insurance coverage when they have people in their lives who rely on them financially – a partner, a child and even siblings or parents. The proceeds of a policy can be used to help with expenses like the mortgage, childcare, school savings, and the many other day-to-day expenses we all have.

Luckily term insurance is relatively inexpensive – usually a couple hundred dollars a year. For example, a healthy 35-year-old woman can buy a 20-year, $500,000 Haven Term policy, issued by MassMutual, starting at about $19 per month.  I’ve had life insurance since Mazen was born, but Thomas hasn’t had dependents until this year so it’s new to him. We’re in the process of putting some in place for him, and I may purchase additional coverage now that I’ll have two kids as well. Term policies are generally offered in 10, 15, 20 and 30-year term lengths. The right term will depend on your age and how many years until your dependents will be adults or the mortgage will be paid off.

Haven Life, the sponsor of this post, makes it simple to buy term life insurance online. Founded by a father of two, Haven Life is a mission-driven online life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by MassMutual – a leading life insurer. If you don’t already have life insurance, Haven Life has helpful tools like a life insurance calculator to estimate your needs or a quote tool to find out how much a policy will cost. From there, you can easily apply online and, if approved, start coverage that day.

Haven Life also recently introduced a new offering called Plus – a rider that provides Haven Term policyholders with access to a suite of no-cost or discounted benefits such as an online will drafting service, a digital safe deposit box, and a discount voucher at MinuteClinic inside CVS Pharmacy and Target stores.


Speaking of wills, any time you have a major life change, a marriage, a divorce, a baby, you need to update your will, advanced medical directive, and power of attorney so that it accurately reflects your wishes. Our family situation is a little complicated with two children of two different dads, so we’ve had to have some talks about what we would do in different scenarios. It’s a sobering conversation, but it’s one every couple needs to have. Making decisions and sharing those decisions with those who are involved in advance of an accident means everyone is on the same page and there are no surprises. Luckily, just like life insurance, creating a will is becoming much easier. If your family scenario is fairly straight forward, Haven Life Plus partner Trust & Will is worth considering for an online will creation option. (And if you’re a Haven Term policyholder in an eligible state, you can create one at no additional cost.)

Health insurance

Health insurance usually gets evaluated every year, so this is one that many people stay on top of. It comes as no shock that health insurance for a new baby will need to be added to the family plan. What was a shock was how much it’s going to cost! (Especially when you combine that with the deductible cost of prenatal care and having a baby!) We’ll need to make some adjustments to our budget for the new expense. However, most of the first year’s preventative care and checkups are all included in the plan, so that does make the cost easier to digest.

Bringing a baby into this world is super exciting, but it’s also a big responsibility! In addition to buying all the baby things, preparing for birth, and nesting, it’s always a good idea to get your adult life in order before the baby comes. Last time I renewed my passport, set up all my bills on autopay, and worked on the above list. This year I’m going to try to vote in advance too! Haven Life’s blog has a great even longer list of things to think about before the baby comes. You can never be too ready 🙂

Thanks to Haven Life for sponsoring this post. 

Haven Term is a Term Life Insurance Policy (ICC17DTC) issued by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), Springfield, MA 01111 and offered exclusively through Haven Life Insurance Agency, LLC. Policy and rider form numbers and features may vary by state and not be available in all states. Our Agency license number in California is 0K71922 and in Arkansas, 100139527.

Haven Life Plus (Plus) is the marketing name for the Plus Rider which is included as part of the Haven Term policy. The rider is not available in every state and is subject to change at any time. Neither Haven Life nor MassMutual are responsible for the provision of the benefits and services made accessible under the Plus Rider, which are provided by third party vendors (partners).

from Kath Eats Real Food

30 Clean Eating Pumpkin Recipes

Can you even handle these 30 clean eating pumpkin recipes?

I mean, how exciting is it that autumn has finally arrived!! Tis’ officially the season of the pumpkin!!!! YAAAASSSSS!!!!!!! My favorite… Read more →

from The Gracious Pantry