Posted in exercise

12 months later…

Sometimes, I don’t feel as energetic or as pain free as I’d like to be now, even after being diagnosed with Ankylosing spondylitis. Then I remember where I was just one year ago! I am so thankful for the improvements and positive changes that I’ve had over that time.

I started recording my walking and workouts on the app Map My Walk in June 2018. How do I know this??? LOL I looked it up yesterday because I went walking at one of my favorite local places. And it was FAST; well fast for me. I looked at the app to check whether I had ever recorded a mile pace that fast.

And NO I had not! 🤩

Yesterday’s pace was a 23 minute mile. I was listening to music and imagine my surprise when the music diminished and the voice of the app stated the one mile mark with the pace time! I even went back and checked last year’s workouts when I was struggling just to get out of bed. I didn’t have the exact date but I did have a couple of times listed for February and both one mile pace times were over an hour!

AND, I was still walking with the cane then!!! 😧

I am so thankful and grateful for the opportunity to pursue better health and to actually feel better. Days like this are a wonderful reminder of progress. And thank you for rocking with me throughout this journey!

From yesterday’s walking path
Posted in exercise

Finding a routine

I joined a wellness center. It’s affiliated with my job at a local hospital and it’s in an area I frequent most in the city. Now I’ve just got to find a routine and stick with it!

Getting started at the gym

When I lived in Chapel Hill, my apartment complex had amazing facilities so I didn’t need to join a gym. And the weather tended to be alot warmer year round than where I now live so looking for a gym was not as pressing. I chose a wellness center that has a gym, well, because it’s a wellness center. With the exception of a sauna, it has every single thing that I was for including a steam room and heated pools.

The challenge is fitting workout time into my day. It’s easy to do a quick yoga routine or treadmill workout at home but I also need a bit more than just those two. At first, I thought that going before work might be an option. But since I’m in school as well, I use the mornings to cover homework so that’s out of the question.

At least for now!

So my goal has been to go one time per week and try different elements each time. I have started seeing a chiropractor twice per week and I am upping my gym time to twice per week – heading to the gym while I’m already out!

Today I tried out the elliptical machine for the first time on about 3 years. Dealing with the osteoarthritis, which turned out to be Ankylosing spondylitis, made using an elliptical extremely difficult. I did 10 MINUTES! That seems very small but it’s a jump from not exercising on it at all 🤩🤩

Any suggestions on how to add another day at the gym? I’m open to all suggestions! Hoping your health journey much success this year 🎊🎉

Posted in Overall health

January Reset!

Is anyone with me on resetting or starting new this month? I had wayyyyyy too many carbs and sugar in the months of November and December and I’m feeling the effects. While my sleep has been good, I have also been much more tired than usual. And I’ve been stiffer in the morning though that could be due to the colder temperatures as well.

Making plans!

For so many (including me), a new year means new resolutions that typically dissolve before the month is over, despite the best of intentions. Instead, I’m making plans! These plans include my physical, mental, emotional, relational and spiritual health. So many times I focus on just the physical aspect because that is what is easy for me to grasp. But my hope for this year is to nudge each area just a bit down the best path for me.

Won’t you join me?

Wishing you all the best in 2023! Thanks for supporting this journey and you are invited to share your own.

Posted in Life with doctors

Skipping surgery

I’ve been recommended for two different types of surgery for varying conditions. My nutritionist gave sound advice by reminding me that I could get a second opinion and should, especially once something is taken out because it cannot be put back in.

For the first procedure, I saw a second opinion with a traditional doctor. The second doctor was GREAT! She went over multiple options and even explained which ones she would not recommend along with the reason why. The initial doctor did none of that, saying that surgery was my only option. In this case, I opted not to do surgery and try a different procedure instead; surgery would then be a back up option if this did not work well. But it did!

For the second potential surgery, I opted for a more functional medicine perspective and saw a wellness center that included a chiropractor. Many who are diagnosed with AS are told to avoid a chiropractor but the chiropractor has been an amazing route for me as long as the practitioner is knowledgeable about AS. There treatments took all summer but the result has been fantastic – walking without a cane! And my walk steadiness on my phone has improved dramatically from the time prior to visiting the wellness center.

Why do I say all of this? Well, first, I’m not giving medical advice; I’m just sharing my experience on my quest to find alternative therapies to complement what I use with traditional medicine. Second, I’m aware that surgery is not always the only option. If I can research a method that avoids surgery but still puts me on the path to wellness, then I’m taking that path. It may not get the quickest results, but neither does surgery. Our bodies are so complex and designed to heal if we are willing to put in the work to do so.

Just a thought as we wrap up another year and set new intentions and goals to achieve. Wellness CAN be within reach. All the best!

Posted in Nutrition classes

What I’ve Learned…

I’ve not had a chance to write as much this semester because I’m taking two classes, working part time and volunteering to plan for a virtual college fair. Whew! I was able to take a nutrition course this semester and it has been so so good!

So what have I learned?

Nutrition is foundational to EVERYTHING. And sadly, our system here in the US does not support proper nutrition to all. Food access is a huge issue, food insecurity is real and food swamps are a thing. Food swamps are areas that are flooded with fast food chains and quick marts. There is nothing wrong with these places but they are not replacements for real grocery stores and fresh food markets.

But I digress … I had to write a paper on the myth that organic is more nutritious than conventional, and with a few minor exceptions, it’s not. And did you know that seafood is not regulated as organic in the US? 🤯 If you see any seafood labeled organic, it’s typically based on the label from another country. Organic produce does limit what type of pesticides might be used but that doesn’t generally affect whether the food is more nutrient dense.

And I had to compare an online newspaper article with the study that the journalist pulled from. And there was sooooooo much information missing from the newspaper article so reading the original writing is recommended, if you have access to it. The study detailed the various chronic diseases that are associated with drinking both diet and regular soft drinks. But the newspaper article left out much of the details. And I get it- I was a journalism major and you only get so much space to write an article. But it can be a disservice to those reading it.

As I always say, take control of your own health. Definitely do the research and work with your health care practitioner. There are so many ways to improve your health, maintain the health you have or even work to put health conditions in some form of remission just by addressing nutritional deficiencies.

Wishing you the best in your health journey!

Posted in food

Watch for the Supersizes!

I mentioned earlier this year that I started school and would share information from time to time. I started a nutrition class this fall (yay!). And this week we are talking about designing a healthful diet, which includes portion and serving size details.

So, why is this a big deal? How often have you bought a pint of ice cream and finished it in one sitting? 🙋🏽‍♀️ no one else, just me?? That pint is actually 4 SERVINGS! So rather than having a 250 calorie treat, I smashed 1000 calories in record time.

And manufacturing has not helped in managing portion sizes 

I believe the lecture that I’m watching was recorded in 2020 so the picture below references the year 2000.

Comparison of food sizes, 20 years apart

…supersizing foods is real! So we not only supersized food while adding additives, clothes manufacturers implemented vanity sizing so while you may no longer be the same size physically, you wear the same numerical size… MAKE IT MAKE SENSE!

Just a note – a kid’s meal or junior meal at most restaurants is what a proper portion size should look like. Tracking food intake from time to time helps me stay mindful of how much I’m actually eating. And while I knew that food portions have grown in volume, seeing the comparison in picture was mind blowing.

Has anyone else notice the larger portions being served?

Posted in Overall health

Relief!

Allow me to remind everyone that I am not giving medical advice, but just sharing my journey that has allowed me to move toward better health.

That being said, I started using Humira to stop/slow the progression of Ankylosing spondylitis. The rheumatologist recommended it and am I glad that she did! I can move better and more and I no longer need to get up an hour plus earlier than a normal person would to start my day. While I still get tired (working full time, part time and going to school part time will do that!), the all day fatigue has lessened. The knee swelling that made my right knee look double its normal size has gone down. And so many more benefits!

I got news of the biggest change yesterday!

I’ve mentioned working on my bloodwork numbers before, especially iron and c-reactive protein because iron would be low and CRP (an indicator of inflammation) would always be super super high. I had been trying everything – lifestyle changes, totally changed how I eat, exercise, supplements. I had to do bloodwork yesterday morning to set a baseline on the medication.

EVERY SINGLE FACTOR CAME BACK NORMAL!! 

Even my iron level went up to normal and the C-reactive protein dropped to a normal level; the CRP level had been crazy high when I first had it tested in 2018. If my calculations are correct, my original CRP level was about 100!!!!! That’s at the border of the high level and points to an autoimmune condition. Now it’s less than 3! I am so thankful and so grateful for finally getting relief.

I realize that everyone does not go the medication route but after trying alternative solutions for 4 years, I am elated to find something that has been most helpful!

Posted in Overall health

Finding balance

I’m sitting on the beach at a lake in Ohio. As my brother jokes, this has become my new favorite place. 🏖 and in a way, it is. I can get outside, enjoy the sun and disconnect for a bit before going back into the business of everyday life.

And I’m thankful that the beach is only 30 minutes away!

I decided to bring a book today along with my usual snacks. It’s called Body on Fire by Drs. Aggarwal and Rao and I’m already hooked on the first few pages. It goes along perfectly with my desire to find balance, or homeostasis as mentioned in the book. And for me, that’s everything at this point. So many times, I’m going from one thing to the next all day and not resting until it’s time to sleep!

And I’m on a such a mission to regain balance that I recently put in my notice at work without having another job lined up immediately. There’s a travel component that is just too much for me physically as I learn how to manage Ankylosing spondylitis. But the wild thing is that once I made that decision and put in the notice, I started receiving TONS of interview requests; and while that’s a post for a different time, it brings a level of validation that others positively view your skills the way you see your skills but your current place does not.

But, I digress …I am finally saying yes to myself and all that entails. And my yes may look very different from your yes, and that’s okay. Each of us is so unique and it’s time we celebrate our uniqueness in healthy and balanced ways. So as I continue to read, and begin class again next month, I hope to hold this moment to look back on when I don’t always have a moment to pause.

Wishing you all the best from the beach! And check out the book 📖