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342 Days of Small Steps

Friday, April 27, 2018

A year ago, I was barely able to get up in the mornings due to rheumatoid arthritis. My infusion drug that had worked for years had ceased to work at the end of January and the new one we were trying wasn't very effective. I was on a ton of prednisone a day just to be able to minimally function; a steroid that is known for weight gain. So, between that and being almost completely sedentary due to pain, I had put on weight during the previous 3-4 months. I'd also had surgery on my left wrist to fuse a joint together and was still wearing a cast. I felt so defeated.

Last May though, I decided that at the very least, I could try and do something about it. So I dusted off the stationary bike that I hadn't ridden regularly since I had my daughter (she was almost 3 at the time) and told myself that for the next week or so, I would ride my bike first thing in the morning, every morning, just for 15 minutes. That it didn't matter how slow I went, I just needed to get my joints moving so I could somewhat function and get myself to work.

I also focused on eating less inflammatory foods. I'm not sure how much specific foods matter, but many foods that are deemed "inflammatory" are high in sugar and saturated fat. I figured that, if nothing else, it wouldn't hurt to eat less of those types of food. I controlled what I could control and just hoped other things would fall into place. I set no expectations, no big goals, just focused on being a little active and eating a little better and see what happened.

And it worked! I was able to decrease my prednisone usage somewhat and after riding my bike, I was at least able to get myself dressed and help my daughter out. It wasn't a total turnaround. I still needed a better infusion drug, but it definitely improved my quality of life. And I also lost 25 pounds! As obnoxious as it sounds, I wasn't even trying to lose weight.

As I started to feel better, I was able to include some gentle strength training and other low-impact exercising like walking. I love searching for high cardio, low-impact workouts on YouTube. So many good things.

Anyway, today was my 342nd day IN A ROW of riding a bike for at least 15 minutes. When I went on a business trip, I rode the bike in the hotel gym. When I went on vacation to North Carolina, I rented a beach cruiser. When I stayed the night at my parents, I used my mom's bike.

I plan to go a full year just to say I did it for a whole year. And then, maybe I'll do other gentle cardio some mornings instead for some variety.

I think I may be on the right drug now though. My older sister gave me her treadmill and between starting out slow on that and buying custom orthotics, I've actually been able to consistently run the last couple of months. I mean, maybe I could really run a race like I used to, not just wog along. I'm scared to hope to get running back in my life again because I have hoped for it ever since I first got sick more than seven years ago. I've tried and failed many times over the years due to pain and joint issues beyond my control. But this feels different. It really does. So I am very cautiously hopeful that this is for real. I haven't gotten a runner's high yet, but I know it's out there.

Some before and after. The ones on the left are from February and March of last year. The ones on the right are from late August.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    750 days ago
    For you for being so diligent and doing all you can for yourself... I know we recently talked about osteopenia and I had written a blog about changes I had made. I am glad you are doing more than just the stationary bicycle because I also have one but I try to make my main focus weight-bearing through walking or my Zumba or different things that will put pressure on the bones to strengthen them as the stationary bike is a good cardio but isn't going to do anything for the bone structure... I know xo we do give it our all and our best... Happy May Day to you!
    873 days ago
    Gotta show some LOVE for the fitness drug! emoticon emoticon

    Eating less inflammatory food is so smart! emoticon Me too. I am so PROUD of your faithfulness!

    emoticon cheering you on! ~ Laura
    877 days ago
    Congratulations on overcoming your health issues. You are a warrior and look great.
    877 days ago
    Good for you
    877 days ago
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