I look in the mirror and I don't recognize myself. My body looks bloated, my joints look swollen and moving around isn't as easy as it used to be. What sucks is, I don't just have my chronic pain to blame. I've lost control of my health — eating too many sweets, exercising only once in a while, giving in to cravings. And sure, my chronic pain holds me back from being active, and my medications make it hard to lose weight, but it also doesn't force me to eat macaroni and cheese instead of apples and kale. It was time to commit to a healthier lifestyle.
Different plans work for different people, especially people with different chronic illnesses. Here's some of what's been working (and not working) for me and what I plan on tying as part of my Spoonie Shape Up Plan.
From the beginning, I knew I wouldn't be able to go cold turkey and only eat healthy foods. I decided to start small and work my way up to big changes. On a recent trip to Texas I was introduced to mangos with fresh squeezed lime and Tajin seasoning, and I've been hooked on this snack since. To my little sister's amusement, and probably nobody else's, I started to post my #dailymango on Insta and Snapchat and it just kind of stuck as part of my daily diet. Mangos are awesome super fruits, packed with antioxidants, they help alkalize the body. They're also the perfect solve for a sweet tooth. Check out a few of my favorite recipes to get my #dailymango:
Oh exercise, the enemy of every spoonie everywhere. Finding the right type and the right amount of exercise for where you're at physically is pretty much a guessing game. I was tired of going to the gym now and then and just trying what everyone else was doing. It wasn't working for me and it definitely wasn't helping my pain. I joined a new gym, one that's closer to home and felt less intimidating. I bought some new comfortable work out clothes. This makes a HUGE difference in your ability to exercise for a longer period of time. Check out Outdoor Voices — a new brand with a wide variety of cuts and fabrics that are gentle on an achey body. I purchased a pair of these amazingly lightweight Flyknit sneakers from Nike, which I do almost everything in. They're worth every dollar. For me, it was learning that getting physical activity doesn't mean going hard at the gym once a week. It's daily choices. Taking the dog for a walk instead of letting her out in the yard, walking to the train instead of getting dropped off, helping my sister practice volleyball in the driveway for 30 minutes. Every bit adds up, and eventually becomes easier to fit into your day.
Physical therapy has become a staple in my week for the past 3 years. During my visits my therapist works with me to complete exercises that help what's bothering me at the time. Here are some Injury Prevention Exercises from Real Simple that I've found helpful when suffering with muscular and joint pain. I especially like the dying bug, since that's usually how I feel.
This is just the beginning of a lifelong commitment to being healthy, but instead of thinking about it as a grueling life sentence, I'm focusing on the daily challenge of getting my spoonie ass into shape. And don't get me wrong, I love my curves, but I know that with a balanced diet and a little less weight to carry around, my conditions just might improve. I'll post more as my plan evolves and let you know how my Spoonie Shape Up is working out.