My Biggest Struggle with Rheumatoid Arthritis and How I Overcame It

My Biggest Struggle with Rheumatoid Arthritis and How I Overcame It
I remember that day so well. I sat on the couch and I was so tired of being sick, tired, and in pain.  

Sick of watching everyone do what they wanted to when they wanted to.
Tired of telling my husband or friends that I didn't feel well enough to go out.
Pain wracked what seemed like every muscle and joint in my body.

Then it happened, I found something that helped me do more of what I wanted, say yes to more, and live with less pain.  What was this magical, miracle cure?

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Do you make time for play? It makes a HUGE difference in reducing my RA flares

Do you make time for play? It makes a HUGE difference in reducing my RA flares
Does playing seem like a waste of time to you? 

Do you feel like there are better things you can do with your time?

Let me tell you, whether you're an entrepreneur, empty nester, or someone with rheumatoid arthritis, unstructured, spontaneous play can be a game changer for you. How? Let's take a look.

One of the first benefits of play, according to this article at HelpGuide.org, is reducing stress. As we know, stress can be a major factor in triggering flare activity for any autoimmune condition.  If you don't have an autoimmune condition, reducing stress in your life allows you to think more creatively and helps you take your body out of "fight, flight, or flee".

If you're not familiar with the term "fight, flight, or flee", it essentially means a heightened sense of alarm your entire body goes through when it senses danger. Its role is to protect and prepare your body to defend itself if necessary. This is fine in small doses, but increasingly it is becoming a long term issue for many.

Another reason it's important is that it helps you think more creatively and problem solve. This is the same clarity you get when you're in the shower.  This can help you think through your problems in a rational, logical manner and take action when needed.

It helps your connections in relationships when you practice play with friends or family. The more good things you can combine, the more endorphins, or even oxytocin, the bonding hormone, is produced. This can also help you feel better and reduce flare activity.

The last thing it can help, if it's active play, is getting your lymphatic system moving. This is vital if you spend a lot of time at a desk, computer, on your couch or bed. Moving lymphatic fluid through your body helps reduce limb swelling, inflammation, and fluid retention (aka cankles). 

There are many more benefits - these are just a few. Can you see how important play can be and how its benefits help reduce the things that produce a flare? This world could use a few more people willing to play, don't you think? 

My Intro to Intuitive Eating - and it's not what you think!

My Intro to Intuitive Eating - and it's not what you think!
Have you ever lost weight following a particular way of eating only to gain it back soon after? If so, you're not alone.

Based on a recent poll of my Instagram followers, no one who loses weight on a diet (or some would call it a lifestyle) keeps the weight off. Unless they go back on the same (or sometimes an even more restrictive) diet. 
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How to Keep Going When You Want to Quit

How to Keep Going When You Want to Quit

I remember early on hearing from people further down the road than me telling me, "you didn't get sick overnight and you won't heal overnight. No matter what, KEEP GOING." I don't know if I didn't take them seriously or wasn't truly ready to hear that, but it's 100% true. 


When you're at the point of having an autoimmune condition or chronic pain, you're going to have to put in some work, and there is no magic pill. I hope that's not too much of a downer to start with, but I don't want to BS you. I want you to know right off the bat that you will be challenged, you will want to quit, and you may stop and start a few times. This journey is HARD and, at times, can be the most confusing and frustrating process you'll ever go through.


The most important thing to remember is to never give up. 


So how do you do it? Is there a system to follow, a checklist, or a roadmap? Well, yes and no. Because we're all so individual and things can manifest in our bodies in different ways, there are some things that anyone can do. Some pieces require more attention. Clear as mud? Let me explain.


I always begin this conversation by talking about habits. I prefer habits over goals because once you establish a routine, it's still with you. A goal can be moved and changed in a way that may not bring about the change you need to feel better. 


How to start a new habit? James Clear, author of Atomic Habits: Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results, says that habits that stick start by identifying what's in your individual 'habit loop'.  The Habit Loop consists of 4 parts in this order: Cue, Craving, Response, and Reward. I'll let him explain this in more detail here.


This is so important because once a habit is established, it becomes part of your routine.  And once it becomes a part of your daily life, you no longer have to rely on willpower or motivation, which removes a HUGE weight off your back that you don't need when you're healing. 


Something else that helps emotionally more than anything else is reading my Bible and praying. While that may not be for everyone, it is THE thing that keeps my mind focused and priorities straight. And on those awful pain days, I can cry out to the Lord, and He comforts me.  


My growing community of fellow spoonies is the best on those days too. They encourage me that today is today, and tomorrow can be better. If you don't have support at home, I encourage you to seek others who are on the same journey. I have a fantastic community that I'd love to plug you into, and it's totally FREE. 


If you are struggling to keep going, feel free to reach out to me, and let's chat. I know how lonely chronic pain can be and how it can feel like no one cares or understands. Please don't let that be you. I'm here if you need to talk. 



Feeling stuck and unmotivated? Here's what worked for me!

Watch this to be as motivated as Tony Robbins!
 

Something else that helps keep me grounded and motivated is my daily bible study. I LOVE the Through the Word app because it has you can search for topical studies as well as just picking a chapter and reading through it. You can find the app on the App Store and Google Play.


What are some things that keep YOU motivated? 


 
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