As we approach a new year, it is common practice for people to take time to evaluate their goals and make resolutions for the new year. There is no better time than now to start living a better version of yourself living with interstitial cystitis. What do you vow to leave behind this year?
Callie Krajcir, RD, owner of Callie K Nutrition and the mastermind dietitian behind The IC Collective, Road to Remission Program and IC You Podcast, recently posed this question in her social media feed. Here are the top five results with tips to help make them long gone in 2023.
1. Self- Limiting Thoughts
Are you constantly fixated on the “could haves”, “would haves” and “should haves” in your life? Perhaps you are living with regret and blame as your daily companions? These actions are called self-limiting for a reason, they limit your potential. Remember you have the choice to be your best-friend or your worst enemy. Which way do you want to live with yourself?
Changing years and years of negative thought patterns and self-limiting beliefs is not an overnight fix. But don’t be discouraged! Making small, positive changes and lifestyle habits can help you get on the road to optimism.
Here are some suggestions:
Get Busy: The National Institute of Health recommends staying active as a healthy way to cope with life stress. If you feel negative thought patterns starting to spiral out of control, take this as a clue to get busy. Find hobbies or events that you enjoy. Take up a new class or find a walking buddy.
Set Aside “Worry Time”: Create a calm and comfortable space in your day and devote it strictly to all your worries. This time should be consistent, short and uninterrupted. Add this time to your weekly calendar and resolve to save your worries for that specific time.
Help Others: Altruistic behaviors, such as small acts of kindness or volunteering, have been proven to help reduce chronic pain. Researchers used MRI brain scans to prove that helping others can actually buffer pain activity in the brain. Even though you may not have the time or energy for a regular volunteer job, small acts of kindness can go a long way. Try joining a support group where you can share your IC knowledge with others, or take time to visit an elderly neighbor during the holidays.
2. Unsupportive people
Why are you wasting your time with medical professionals, coworkers, family members or friends/ acquaintances that don’t have your best interests at heart? There is no time like now to change your team of supporters. Here are some suggestions:
Medical Professionals: Do you feel stuck with a doctor or therapist that isn’t helping you? Maybe you have been seeing the same practitioner for years without progress. Remember you are your best health advocate. If you are not feeling heard and/or not seeing the treatment progress you desire, it may be time to shop for a new practitioner. Consult with others in the IC community. Ask a trusted practitioner for advice or a referral.
Coworkers: Do you suffer from symptom flare-ups brought on by interactions with your boss or coworkers? How long will you let your health suffer? Given the current state of labor shortages, your company may be even more willing than ever to make accommodations for a friendlier work environment. Make an appointment with your boss or human resource specialist. Go into the meeting with a solid plan of action and ask for exactly what you need, such as working from home a couple days a week or an option to take more frequent bathroom or rest breaks.
Friends and Family: Close relationships have a very important role in health and IC illness management. We all know the benefit of a truly supportive friend. Oftentimes, friends and family may feel isolated or not know how to help. Don’t be afraid to give people specific directions, such as “It would be really helpful if you could do______ on Tuesdays and Thursdays.”
Remember it is ok to just say “no” to family members or family events that drain your energy. Just because they are family, does NOT give them the right to demand your time or attention. It is your life and your choice as to who gets priority.
3. Treatments that don’t work
Many of the clients in the Road to Remission program report that by the end of the 12 weeks, they are able to reduce their symptoms and stop taking supplements and medications that don’t work. How do they accomplish this? They get educated about IC and they pay close attention to their IC symptoms and triggers.
First and foremost, get educated about IC. Learn about the different subtypes and treatment options for each subtype. What works for some subtypes may not work for yours. The Intro to IC Mini-Course is a great place to get started. This is a 4-week, self-paced education course designed for someone new to IC. Class topics include diagnosis, treatment options, IC subtypes, pain science, mindset, advocacy, & basics of conducting an elimination diet.
Don’t underestimate the power of tracking your IC symptoms. Purchase a tracking journal and start paying close attention to your diet, monthly cycle, urine volume, frequency, pain levels, mood and much more.
4. Feeling Alone
Even though it is estimated that between 4-12 million men and women in the United States suffer from Interstitial Cystitis, chances are you may be the only one in your social circle with this illness. It is all too common to feel like the only one in the world who is suffering.
But you are definitely not alone! Join a free facebook group like Interstitial Cystitis Nutrition Support Group. If you are craving a more personalized support group check out The IC Collective. It’s a monthly membership where IC Warriors can connect in real-time, get access to exclusive monthly education webinars from an IC expert, and participate in weekly Q&A's with Callie Krajcir.
Conquer your social anxiety and make small commitments to put yourself out there. Sign up for a hobby class or membership to a sports club, yoga studio, museum or performing arts center. Make the commitment by paying in advance. It will help motivate you on those days when it feels hard to leave the house.
5. Flare Anxiety
Is the fear of your symptoms flaring keeping you from living the life you desire? Are you avoiding things that bring you joy, like traveling, exercise, sex, or attending parties, because the potential consequences may be unbearable?
A “flare” is described as a sudden increase in the intensity or frequency of your particular IC symptoms. It can be brought on by a multitude of different triggers. For more information about flare triggers and treatment, check out The Interstitial Cystitis Ultimate Guide to Flare Management.
Get educated about your specific flare triggers and have a plan of action. Many IC Warriors in the Road to Remission program swear by having a flare kit on them at all times. This may include OTC meds such as Azo or Prelief to proactively prevent a food flare or pain meds to help after the flare. Portable ice packs or heating pads to alleviate pelvic pain. If tight pelvic floor muscles trigger your IC symptoms, keeping a pelvic floor wand on hand may be a life saver.
If you need additional help with flares, Callie has created an entire Masterclass about Flare Management inside The IC Collective.
What will you leave behind in 2022?
Now that you’ve read about the most common negative thoughts and behaviors that IC Warriors are leaving behind for a better 2023, what will you do? Will you choose to leave your fears behind and join others in their quest to become the best version of themselves?
Support and guidance awaits you on many different levels. You don’t have to live in silence nor fear loneliness with Interstitial Cystitis. Resolve to make big changes this year. Learn more about how Callie K. Nutrition can help you achieve your goals and meet your New Year resolutions.
Author: Beverly Leveque, RD
Editor: Callie Krajcir, RD, owner of Callie K Nutrition