Everything Hurts

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Spoonie Shape Up Plan

wellness, physical therapy, exerciseAmanda VinciComment
Photo -  The Recreationalist   

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.

FOOD SWAP
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:

EXERCISE RIGHT
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.

EH Reviews: Atlas Foam Roller

eh reviews, health, fitness, exercise, productsAmanda Vinci2 Comments
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I am so excited to tell you guys about an awesome product I've been using lately! See that big red thing I've got behind me? It's a foam roller. And it isn't just any foam roller — it's an Atlas Foam Roller. If you haven't used a foam roller for your muscle stiffness and soreness, you've got to try it. This has been my first time using one, and I really love it. And if you have tried them out before, take a look at this one by Atlas. It's super high quality, and proven more effective in smoothing and soothing soreness and stiffness (that alliteration is killing me).

This "exercise" wasn't featured on the site, but it's the first thing I did when I tried the roller. Not actually what rollers are for,  but , it felt nice for my shoulder blades and arms.

This "exercise" wasn't featured on the site, but it's the first thing I did when I tried the roller. Not actually what rollers are for, but, it felt nice for my shoulder blades and arms.

New to foam rolling, I had no idea what to do with this big red foreign object I was now in possession of. Where do I start? Here of course ➡️ Atlas Foam Roller's Video Page . I browsed through the videos and singled out some movements that I thought would be beneficial to my pain, and not too difficult to start off with. The guys and girls in the videos were super fit and healthy looking, so I was hesitant. But, within 30 seconds of trying out the roller, I was confident I could learn quickly.

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I started out with rolling out my calves and hamstrings. My calves are always stiff and a little swollen. It's hard to massage-out the pain I feel there, it never quite relaxes. The foam roller didn't hurt while I was doing it, but once I stopped my calves actually felt a little looser. All I had to do was use it for about five minutes too!

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The Atlas Foam Roller has been getting a ton of use since I got home from my cross country road trip. My neck and shoulders are a wreck. Turning my head to the side and using the roller up and down each side of my neck really gives it a nice stretch. There's no set time to roll, do it as long as you feel comfortable.

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Clearly this is not the most flattering look, but it feels really great on your lower back. You simply slip the roller right above your butt, and lift your legs in the air and place them back down. It's a nice light exercise, and also rolls out all the muscles in your hip and lower back area. It's even safe if you've had surgery on your lower spine, like I had. I would just double check with your doctor if your surgery has been recent.

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Luckily, my arms never really hurt me. That wasn't the case this weekend though, after I took my little sister and a bunch of her thirteen year old friends bowling. I hadn't bowled in years, and by the end of our first game my entire right arm hurt from my wrist to my neck. The roller is great for this pain too. Just wedge it against a door frame and your body and squat up and down a bit. This movement was a bit more strenuous than the others I tried, but it really helped me work out this new set of pains.

There's really no limit to what you can do with the Atlas Foam Roller. My favorite part is that you can get a partner to help roll you out too — just lie on your stomach and have them press the roller into you and roll you from top to bottom, just like cookie dough. It's the best way to use it if you're really not feeling well enough for movement.

If you're interested in giving the roller a try, definitely take a look at their video "learn" page on atlasfoamroller.com — they'll give you an even better idea of all that you can do to simply and effectively ease your pain. There are few products out there that allowed me to take my pain relief into my own hands, and this is one of them.

The Atlas Foam Roller has both bearings and handles built into it, this really helps you to get targeted relief, reaching down into your myo-fascial layers of muscle. Really ideal for those of us suffering from chronic muscle pain. The pain at the myo-fascial level is stubborn and difficult to relieve, and the Atlas Foam Roller does a great job at soothing the relentless tension we often feel throughout our bodies.

Check out their website, Facebook and Etsy page.  And if you're located in the Dallas area, their super helpful and friendly founder Mark teaches foam roller fitness classes!

Now excuse me, while I go roll out my pain. Happy MLK day!

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