I was 24 when I had been diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis. This was also the year I got married and I was supposed to be having the time of my life preparing for this joyous event. In the back of my mind I felt like this was the beginning but also the end. Excited about being married and new adventures with my husband, I was haunted by this diagnosis that I did not want to burden a new relationship with.
I was a non-exerciser, and being newly married and both of us working full time, I wasn’t aware of the quality of foods I was eating.
Who am I kidding, I didn’t even know what a calorie was let alone, fiber, grams of fat and the list goes on.
I reached my heaviest about a year after getting married and weighed in at 167lbs. Not a stitch of that was muscle I presume. My knees ached due to the Arthritis and my doctor informed me that some of the extra weight “off of my knees” would be a good idea.
She neglected to tell me how to go about doing this in a healthy way (nor did I ask). This still shocks me to this day that doctors treating arthritis still know very little about exercise and nutrition.
I did some reading and figured out that Weight Watchers would be my best bet to try. After all, I saw my mother lose some weight on this plan and she was happy with it. Well, it initially gave me the knowledge I needed to make some “better” choices and balance my eating lifestyle.
I lost 30 pounds over a 6 month period of time only incorporating walking into my fitness routine. I noticed changes in my knees, taking the weight off them really did help but I found myself still using the Arthritis to excuse me from further strain.
There were days before the doctor knew what to prescribe that I ached like the flu. With the type of Arthritis I had being an autoimmune disease, any bit of “unhealthiness” would translate into a flare up or attack of the aches.
Still at this time, no doctor asked what my exercise or nutrition routine was like. They were eager to prescribe anti inflammatory medications. I was so fearful of experiencing pain. I took a combination of Tylenol and other medications daily, to numb this discomfort though exercising….I didn’t know that there was a proper form of exercise that keep me safe within the limitations of my illness and help be build strength at the same time.
With no resistance training and very little cardio activity, managing food became a huge block to success. It was difficult to bounce back from holidays and special occasion eating.
I would save room for “the cake” and skimp on some essential foods, but I was watching the calories!!
Ten of those pounds crept back, but no one is perfect, right?
My husband and I were introduced to a plan that brought resistance training and cardio into our lives.
This was my first experience lifting weights and the love affair continues.
I felt stronger and the weight seemed to shift.
This was the first time I felt like I was powerful and actually building muscle!
The 12 week program went by and I felt like I could conquer the world!
I participated in a mini Triathlon!!
The problem was that the 12 week program ended with me not knowing where to go next…..all the while still taking medication to mask any pain while training.
I gave birth to my gorgeous son in 2002. I was in heaven as the hormones from pregnancy eased up my arthritis symptoms and I felt healthy and ready to be a mother.
Well no one told me that those awesome hormones would come to an end and leave me feeling worse than I started. Not only the hormones, but my rheumatologist neglected to inform me that not returning to my autoimmune meds would cause a serious relapse in my disease.
But I was dedicated to experiencing every moment of the “Mom” adventure. Like a “hero” I still attempted to nurse my son while hobbling up and down stairs with a cane….the arthritis in my knees and feet was unbearable.
Getting back to full time work teaching high school kept me busy and exhausted as I did not find time for exercise, nor did I have the energy to prepare healthy meals for my family.
I fell into the rut of quick and easy processed foods to keep us going.
Just before my son turned four I visited an acupuncturist who treated me for Arthritis. This was my wake up call that I really didn’t feel well. Answering her questionnaire forced me to think about every aspect of my physical being that was not well.
After only a few sessions my energy level was increasing and something triggered in my head about starting the basic resistance training program that I tried 6 years prior. It was the only strength and cardio combination that worked well for me.
Well I was determined to see results and I did. Increased energy, losing some excess fat and feeling fabulous again changed my life.
So much so, that I took a leave of absence from the teaching profession and became a group exercise instructor and a personal trainer!
I followed my body, and my heart and am the leanest, most fit I’ve ever been and what I’ve gained? My life.
I’ll share more about the journey in the next blog.