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!
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!
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 🎊🎉
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!
What’s your why?
Everyday, I have a decision to make: to either do all the things to give me a chance to feel great that day or revert back to old habits that weren’t the best for me. Every. Single. Day. I say this because every day is NOT a great day but I choose to move forward with something that can help tomorrow.
Why? Even when it’s hard. Why? Even when I seem stuck. Why? Even when there’s no progress. Because I cling to my reasoning behind what I’m doing. See, when I started my journey in getting healthier, my nutritionist asked – what’s your why? I took that to mean- what’s the reason that is so strong that even when I don’t feel like it, I’ll keep at it. My why?
Elimination of pain
So as I’ve mentioned, PCOS can cause low grade chronic inflammation which I definitely deal with. Well when everything is inflammatory, then it can have negative effects on the body including the wearing and tearing of joints; this can lead to osteoarthritis. And arthritis is painful. Pain is that motivator for me.
I plan to start the autoimmune protocol diet in January to start targeting what may be causing pain and to heal the gut, which I need in the worst way. When you wake up in some level of pain everyday, then you will look for ways to reduce pain – physical therapy, gentle exercise, NSAIDs, more sleep, Epsom salt baths, CBD oil, dietary changes, weighted blanket. I’m trying them all in an effort to minimize pain and enjoy each day.
So what is your why? Whether you are just starting or looking for ways to stay motivated, I encourage you to find a strong reason to stay on track. Writing it down and sharing your reason with accountability partners are both great recommendations that I’ve used. On my vision board, I even include ways to accomplish my goal.
What is YOUR why? Share below and motivate someone today!
Less Stress – Wellness Wednesdays
Over the last couple of years, I have purposefully been looking for ways to de-stress. I would only take self care seriously when I went on vacation but that’s not enough to sustain a stress free lifestyle. As variety is the spice of life, below are things that I started incorporating more regularly.
Yoga – I have taken one on one yoga classes to learn how to modify various techniques. The breath work in yoga has helped so much. I even did a yoga workout on PBS this morning that is chair based. It also helps with flexibility concerns so it serves as a win-win.
Massage – love love love to get a massage, especially deep tissue massage. That has helped so much with the arthritis symptoms as well as serving as an outlet to destress.
Prayer – some call it quiet time or contemplation time. This is so essential for me to bring stress down. It helps me to keep life in perspective. I tend to get a little hyper or think “what if’s” and this helps temper those.
Meditation – this is the most recent addition for me. I use a meditation app at night to just relax and breathe. And it helps me to fall asleep. Meditation is a great way to lower your blood pressure too.
Exercise – aerobic exercise is your friend. Walking and hiit workouts are such good ways to just get the stress out of my system. I love being able to just forget about what bothered me before the workout.
Beach. Outdoors. Nature – the ultimate stress reliever! Nature is a such a good way to disconnect from stresses, work, pressure. When it’s nice outside, I try to get out almost every day. Reconnecting with the earth keeps you grounded, research shows.
What things have you incorporated to reduce stress? What works well for you? See you next week!
Exercise – Wellness Wednesdays
Welcome to Wellness Wednesdays! Today’s focus is exercise. 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.
For most of my life, I’ve tried to incorporate some type of exercise. As a teenager, I ran track for a couple of years. I tried out for field hockey and made the initial cut to do conditioning but that level of running left me exhausted. Looking back, this should have been a stop sign to find out why I was so exhausted. In college, I worked out fairly consistently my freshman year and lost about 25 pounds. But when my course load increased sophomore year, physical activity decreased. After graduating, I worked at an hmo and went to the gym there several times a week but it seemed that I toned more than lost weight. And the saga goes on and on. Frustrating, yes?
Around 2011, I started having issues with my hip and so I chose yoga and stretching to help ease the concerns. And it worked! Another clue but I still hadn’t taken the time to put all of it together. I walked a good deal and did other higher impact aerobics but was just maintaining weight. Then I started following doctors and nutritionists who focused on PCOS. That was a game changer.
Basically, I had been doing a lot of the wrong type of exercises for me. While exercise is wonderful, the body believes there is stress and increases cortisol- your fight or flight hormone. Well with pcos, that hormone is hard to get back down and that increases the storage of fat and inflammation, especially in the gut. So I’ve changed to longer, slower walks and always stretch at the end. I try to do a yoga or Pilates based workout twice a week. Weight training probably once per week. I limit hiit workouts to maybe twice per month. Sometimes I cycle or do the elliptical at the gym, when available. And that’s it! After years and years and years of thinking that the harder I went, the more I would lose 🤯 I don’t have to do that. How amazing to have that revelation! And I have still lost 97 pounds in the process! 🤩
So I encourage you to find the workout that is best for you. Comments, questions? Drop them below and share what works for you. See you next week!
Sooooo…I live in the southern states of the United States and in the summer, it gets HOT. I mean, hot with humidity that makes you sweat instantly. And while I love hot weather, it can be extreme.
That leads to the downward slope into dehydration. My go to exercise is walking, especially since gyms were closed in my area due to coronavirus and I don’t know that I would go even if they were. I think I’ve been running slightly dehydrated for some time but it was not overwhelming.
Until this past weekend. I had started walking later in the morning. Mistake #1. While I drink a ton of water, I was not adding beverages specifically with electrolytes or foods that would supply these. Mistake #2. I was still wearing exercise pants to walk in because all of my shorts are too big. Mistake #3. And the list goes on…
I began feeling really dizzy Thursday evening to the point that I needed my mom’s help that night. The next morning, I was so weak and dizzy that just walking to the bathroom was taxing. My parents eventually called EMS because getting down the stairs would have been impossible. And the testing at the hospital confirmed moderate dehydration so a drip IV was needed.
Why do I mention all this? Because I don’t want the same thing to happen to anyone else. I am ALLLLL about staying healthy in all weather but be aware of the extremes. I even came across an article today that discusses making better choices when walking in the heat. The link is: https://blog.myfitnesspal.com/6-hot-weather-hacks-to-keep-walking-through-the-summer/?utm_source=mmf&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=MMWalk_Newsletter_20200728
Please check out the article and stay healthy everyone. 🥂to your good health. Until next time …
Grass, trees and trails – oh my!
Allergic to alll greenery outdoors but I love walking and exploring so do it anyway 😂😂
I’m always looking for good walking areas and I found a couple of locations to go to: flatter trail closest to home and a split trail that goes to two parks about 10 minutes away. With the advent of the coronavirus, the walkways been more congested than usual so I try to go at odd times and hotter parts of the day. My joints LOVE heat so this is a win-win.
Getting outdoors allows for a change of scenery and can produce endorphins to make you feel better. And I love warmer weather so getting in a sweat is a plus! My acupuncturist is all about walking outdoors as nature, especially green and trees, relaxes the body. And with stress levels through the roof, who doesn’t need a way to relax?!
I truly hope this finds you well, safe and healthy. Have you found a place to get away? If so, drop a line below; I’d love to hear from you! 🥂 to your good health.
Work, travel and exercise
For about half of the year, I travel a good deal for work. As I write this, I am on a train to New York penn station so that I can head out to Long Island. I enjoy the flexibility of working from various locations but it can interfere with attempts to be healthy and, especially, to work out.
Initially, I just considered the additional movement of the day as exercise. You know- airport walking, train platform walking, wandering the stores, campuses, basically anything that got me moving while out for travel. But now I try to be more intentional about actually exercising while I’m on travel. I pack my workout clothes so that even if the hotel gym has only one treadmill, I’m going to use that one treadmill. I prefer the recumbent bike but it’s not available everywhere. I also use amazon prime to do a couple of easy stretch videos if that works better.
And when the weather is warmer, I’ll incorporate intentional walking outdoors and walking in the pool before anyone gets in. A coworker even looked up exercise classes at the local YMCA while we were in training for a week- wow, that’s dedication!! What tips do you have for exercising while working and traveling? Share your experiences; I look forward to hearing from you. Until next time 🥂…
My newest tip…pack a light sweatshirt for the gym because it can be chilly in there!
Scenes from recent gym adventures-