Exercise and RA: Part Three

By Marianna Boyce

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After the onset of perplexing RA symptoms in 2016, it’s taken me more than three years to pull myself together—especially in the area of health and wellness. The counterintuitive aspect of combining exercise with rheumatoid arthritis seemed ludicrous, but I’ve been desperate to feel like my old self again. I know exercise is an important factor. I’m not getting any younger, so it’s high time to get started. No more quitting.

Everyone’s probably heard the definition of insanity—the one where you do the same thing over and over again while expecting different results? Yeah—that’s the one. I was driving myself crazy trying to figure out what I was doing wrong.

It was clear what kept me in tip-top shape in my thirties and forties wasn’t clicking in my fifties. I had entered a new season of life—and wasn’t happy about it.

This change was inevitable, and throwing RA in the mix was much like throwing gasoline on a fire.

In a nutshell, I just missed me. It was evident I needed a different approach, so I got back to basics—start slow and do what you can.

Initially, I resorted back to my home workout videos, but they weren’t as easy as they used to be. I was desperate for outward results but didn’t realize at the time that I needed to work on things other than vanity.

Wanting to lose twenty pounds, I started making better food choices, but also took the plunge and began working out in my sister’s pool last summer. It was then, something strange happened. After a few sessions in the privacy of Cindy’s backyard, I felt incredible—and hadn’t even lost one pound.

Disappointing? Maybe at first, but as time passed, I made a conscious effort to stop fretting about the number on the scale and concentrate solely on the inner me instead.

When summertime came to a close, Cindy covered her pool for the fall and winter months. We decided to join a local fitness center with an indoor pool as we waited out the colder weather.

In all honesty, we weren’t thrilled with the idea of shaking up our daily routine by going to the gym throughout the week, but it’s something we had to do. It sounds like a zany idea for two women in their fifties to be joining aquatic activities in a public pool—yet there we were, along with other people of all ages, shapes, and sizes.

We both loved it immediately.

After the first few sessions, one of the instructors asked if we’d tried classes other than the pool-related ones.

At that time, Cindy and I were on an incredible exercise high, but our instructor knocked us right back down to earth when she asked us about trying other classes.

My thoughts were, “We’re just here for the pool, lady—nothing else. We’ve found our new comfort zone, and we’re happy about it, so there’s no need to push the issue.

This intuitive instructor wasn’t convinced. She thought we could do more. This sweet lady suggested we try a Yoga-Restore class offered upstairs in their main studio.

I told her about a few yoga videos I enjoyed at home (pre-RA,) but they were currently more advanced than my physical capabilities allowed.

She explained this particular class was more concentrated on breathing, stretching, and relaxing. The more she talked it up, the more Yoga-Restore intrigued us. balance-body-exercise-female-374101

Breathing is a necessity; stretching leads to mobility, and relaxing is a luxury.

Sign us up. When’s the next class?

Little did we know how amazing we’d feel the day after yoga.

If you suffer from RA, fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, etc., you know that mornings are the worst. The pain and stiffness after waking up are debilitating, but after the first yoga session, our mornings were much more tolerable—not 100% pain-free, but definitely a considerable difference than before.

Branching out to take that one additional class prompted us to seek more possibilities, but we agreed the pool would be a constant. Our new yoga class was also a keeper, but we now looked at the gym in an entirely new way. It appeared Cindy and I were much stronger than we initially thought.

Our options are limitless, but our health issues sometimes keep us grounded. There’s always a fine line to tread, but as a team, we have each other’s back as we both make progress.

How can we push ourselves without going overboard? What else can we possibly do? Just about anything we put our minds to.

Olympic Fever

By: Katie Austin

The 2012 London Olympics is finally here!  Did you watch the opening ceremony and if you did, what did you think?

I loved every minute of it!  I held off going to the bathroom or getting something to eat/drink as I didn’t want to miss anything.. (I know, I could have DVR it, but then I would have been up even later as my bed time is around 10pm 🙂 ). I especially liked the set transitions from the British meadows to the industrial revolution, which built the Olympic rings that were raised above the stadium.  Impressive!

Then, to see Mr. Bean as a member of the orchestra as they played, “Chariots of Fire,” which led into him racing in a scene from the movie – priceless!

The part that I struggled to stay up for was the United States team members make their walk into the stadium.  It’s one of the few times I wished our country’s name started at the beginning of the alphabet.  Haha.  Actually, I found it interesting to see the different countries participating and how some only had a few attending on behalf of their country.  Then we walked in with so many representing our country and it made me proud to be an American!

I have been glued to my television ever since, watching as many events as I can and catching up on sleep missed on the weekend 🙂  Where else can you watch beach volleyball, swimming, soccer, water polo, gymnastics, table tennis and synchronized diving while spending quality time with the family?!  That’s what makes the Olympics great – there are so many events to choose from!  It makes for great discussions around the water cooler and predictions of event finals yet to come.

The Olympics is where memorable moments are created.  A time when we can forget about our troubles, focusing our attention on cheering our team to the finish line.  I wish the Olympics would come around more often as I think it would serve as a reminder that with a positive attitude, hard work and determination, you can reach anything you set your mind to.  Thank you to all those representing the United States in London as you have sacrificed a lot and are making a difference, inspiring many!

What events do you like to watch? What has been your most memorable moment of the 2012 London Olympics?

Running for the Colon Cancer Challenge …

By: Summer Brons

On Saturday, March 24 I participated in Lexington Medical Center’s Colon Cancer Challenge.  Held at Dutch Fork High School in Irmo, the event offered 65-mile and 25-mile cycling races, as well as an 8k run and a one-mile fun run/walk. With the race practically in my backyard (and with a modest registration fee!), I signed up for the 8k, happy for an opportunity to run my favorite distance for a great cause.

The 8k didn’t start until 8:45am and it was probably after 8:15 by the time I arrived. I’d intended to show up earlier, but I found myself in a bit of a battle with my iPod Shuffle, having determined that the morning of a race was the perfect time to completely erase everything on the device and begin anew. Multiple syncing issues later, I gave up the fight and decided to run with my iPhone since it was already in my hand and I knew it had music. I can’t run without my tunes, I just can’t. Kudos to other runners who can pound out the mileage without a soundtrack…I am simply not one of them.

I’ve digressed.

I made my way over to Dutch Fork High and was pleased to find that the event was extremely well-organized.  I was parked within seconds and able to walk straight up to the registration tables and pick up my race packet with no wait, no hassle. All that was left to do was sit in my car and compile a suitable playlist. (Shameless plug time: A premium membership with Spotify is totally worth it.)

As the clock ticked closer to 8:45 am, I made my way to the starting line with the other runners. It was a small field and everyone seemed to be in good spirits as we listened to the speakers touting the importance of colon cancer awareness prior to the start of each race.  As the horn blew and we set off, I went out entirely too fast and found myself tired within the first half of a mile…oops. I don’t run with other people very often, so when I’m in a situation with other runners around me, the excitement tends to push me beyond my typically manageable pace and I’ll burn out quickly.

Luckily, I was able to settle into a reasonable clip and particularly enjoyed the downhill stretches throughout the five-mile route. The course was great; a nice mix of flat, downhill and uphill terrain as we looped back to Dutch Fork High.  My Garmin clocked me at just under 48 minutes for 5.03 miles. Solid! As long as I’m under a 10:00 min/mile pace, I’m happy.  9:40 or under is grounds for excitement in my book.  According to the results posted by Strictly Running, I came in at 47:52 for an average pace of 9:38 and finished 10th out of 24.

The race was a great way to kick off my weekend and I’d like to give a huge thanks to Lexington Medical Center, Strictly Running and all involved sponsors for pulling the event together!  Cancer awareness is so important; it’s great to see folks getting involved with the community to help spread the word and raise funds for continued research and treatment.

Be Prepared: Not Just for Boy Scouts

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

“To be prepared is half the victory.” — Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Spanish writer

Mary Pat Baldauf

When asked the secret of my success for the healthy lifestyle change that resulted in a 90-something lb. weight loss, I’d have to say preparation, hands down. Don’t get me wrong.  It took a village to transform my life:

  • A nutrition counselor to educate me on healthy eating, challenge me to try new things and coach me through the rough spots.
  • Personal trainers who carefully guided my workouts, helped me to know my potential (and limitations), and kept me motivated to exercise at 5 a.m.
  • Friends, family and co-workers who cheered me on, encouraged me on rough days and tolerated my newly found soapbox.
  • My employer, the City of Columbia, who not only introduced me to the Doctors Wellness Center program, but also paid for the first 12-weeks and a follow up maintenance period.

But the thing that tied all of those things together? Planning and preparation.

Here are five tips that made a difference in my journey.  In one way or another, they all go back to being prepared.  Any of these tips could really be a post on their own, but for convenience, I’ll give you the “Readers Digest Condensed Version:”

  1. Make a Weekly Menu Plan and Cook Ahead for the Week: To eat healthy, you can’t fly by the seat of your pants. Unless you’re superwoman (or have a chef), you can’t cook every day either. On Friday, I look at the coming week, make notes of special challenges and plan several items I can prepare ahead of time. Over the weekend, I make several dishes, pack one-serving portions and pop them in the fridge and/or freezer.  Soup, chili and bean dishes work especially well.
  2. Do Prep Work Ahead of Time: Let’s face it; some things just don’t lend themselves to pre-cooking and freezing. For that, I do as much as I can ahead of time – that cuts out quite a bit of time in the kitchen. One of my favorite recipes is Glazed Tofu. On Sundays, I mix a large batch of the sauce, divide it into portions and freeze it. The night before I want to cook it, I drain the tofu and pull out a sauce from the freezer. When I get home the next day, it’s as easy as throwing it on the stove.
  3. Expect the Unexpected: Ever pack a healthy lunch and leave it on the counter?  Or get stuck at your desk when you’d planned on eating healthy at home?  Keep healthy, non-perishable food in the car, the office and in your purse.  Bring several lunches for the work ‘fridge at the beginning of the week.  Eat something healthy before going to special events. At first, it’s hard to hone those clairvoyant skills, but soon it becomes second-nature.
  4. Take Your Show on the Road: Traveling for work or pleasure? With a little planning and creativity, you can do as well on the road as you do at home. Look at your itinerary and plan accordingly.  If some meals are provided, check the menu and don’t be afraid to make special requests.  Use the Internet to research area markets and grocery stores, restaurant menus and hotel amenities.  Pack non-perishables like peanut butter and raisins, as well as non-breakable containers and a set of utensils.
  5. Schedule Activity: Make exercise a priority. Schedule time on your calendar for it, and don’t let anything keep you from it. My job often requires me to attend evening meetings and events, so the best time for me to exercise is in the morning. Most weekdays, I’m at the gym between 5 and 5:30 a.m., back home in the shower by 7 a.m.  I’m not a morning person by nature, but with a little preparation, it’s not so bad. Don’t do mornings?  You don’t have to; just find your best time and work through the challenges that might stand in your way.

What changes have you made to accommodate a healthier lifestyle? Do you have a particular challenge you’re facing when it comes to improving your health?  How have you (or could you) prepare to meet that challenge?