Just another couple of days until Christmas and truly my body is feeling the effects of lots of eating, chatting and being off schedule. I am ready to have the holidays come and go so I can get back to my regular routine. As I have written in many past blogs I do not partake in the alcoholic beverages since it really can put me into flare quickly and without much effort. I am 178 days without a flare and not about to get one now when my body is already tired and teetering on the edge of exhaustion. However, I have been walking more do try and combat the terrible eating I’m doing. Yes I’m keeping it gluten free but not sugar free and it has really worn me down. My yoga practice is great and I have also been able to find myself in the Bikram studio for some warmth so I’m happy with the way my body is performing just wish I wasn’t so tired.
Weekly stats – 97,725
Daily – 13,104
Miles – 36.46
Floors – 141
Hope you all enjoy a safe holiday season and that your bodies are holding up
This week you will see a drop in my over all steps and I did not average out to my goal of 15k steps per day but I knew that the decrease was coming and I’m ok with that. I have been spending a lot of time in the yoga studio and even jumped into a Bikram session this week. I love all types of yoga but I really enjoy Bikram yoga to the fullest. If only there was enough hours in the day to do everything I want but it isn’t realistic so I pick and choose and see what each day has to offer.
I am meeting with my trainer today and we have had a change in seasons so my hands are swollen and although I cannot make fists I am going to lift what I can do whatever it is my body is capable of. I have pulled out the gloves and have covered to ensure my Raynaud’s does not get worse but for the majority of my body it is majorly protesting this change in seasons.
Weekly – 94,193
Daily – 13,456
Miles – 37.71
Floors – 143
This week was a good but not nearly as impressive for me as last week. Still each step is a good one to take and I realize that I need each and every one of them. On weeks like this I look back in journal and see more yoga or resting, I did a Bikram class this past week and more weight training so each time I do something besides walking it takes away steps but that doesn’t mean I’m not active and I just have to remind myself of that.
Weekly – 119,620
Average daily – 17,089
Miles – 47.47
Floors – 139
Today is the beginning of a new month and already this month is starting out pretty good. Interestingly my week looks very similar to last week. Maybe this means my body is on the up side of strength and when I feel good I take full advantage of it.
Total steps – 117,385
Average daily – 16,769
Miles – 45.00
Floors – 170
New month, new goals, and adding weight training back into the mix. I met with trainer and although it had been a while my form and alignment are still very good, the weight amount has dropped some but I believe I will have it back up to normal in no time. However, I forget that with regular weight training you have that perpetual body soreness and just when soreness starts to subside it is time to train again. After training I make sure to have yoga lined up so help stretch out the shoulders, triceps, chest, and hamstrings. Between spinning, walking and now weight training my hamstrings are as tight as they have ever been so doing simple folds or other postures that lengthen the hamstrings it is difficult but I really need the yoga to keep that all loose. I need yoga for so many things but especially to counter the activity I put my body through.
On Saturday I stepped in the Bikram studio where I haven’t been in a while and instantly felt the warmth and the humidity and really enjoyed being there. Bikram is a good practice for me to loosen my tight areas and although I get the same relief from my vinyassa classes, my body and mind and lungs really enjoy that incredibly hot room. When I walk in and instantly start sweating I just know that I’m about to work and as much as I “work” with other activity there is just something really special about the way I feel in that room.
I realize it is not for everyone and that’s why there are so many forms of yoga out there because there is a form to fit any personality, I just happen to have a personality that likes them all except maybe the chanting yoga but that is just my brain getting in the way. I’m not writing off just saying I don’t seek it out.
Each year the Bikram studio holds a 2 hour class with music on Thanksgiving morning. I have been doing this for many years and it really just starts my day off right. I am no longer a member at that studio but I knew I wanted to be part of the Bikram festivities again this year. The class is a donation class so all the money went to the food pantry which is very fitting for a Thanksgiving practice. Here is how the day went and what a day it was. In Maine we got a foot of snow Wed night into Thursday morning which meant that Matthew and I had to get up around 4:30 and start snow blowing and shoveling ourselves out. At 6:30am he started the turkey. Our 26 lbs. bird was beautiful and we know well loved. As a thank you to the bird we used the whole thing but more on that later. As my handsome husband donned his favorite apron and got started in the kitchen I made my way out into the snow winter wonderland first for an exercise and weight training session followed by my 2 hour Bikram class. I had not been in a Bikram studio since June of this year and I did not know what to expect. I figured I would just treat this class like I did all my other classes in the past so I wore my long pants, long shirt and small jacket to make sure I was warm. I found a great spot near the heat up at the mirror. 2 things struck me immediately, the first is that the room is so bright and second is that mirror is there to show every flaw and mis-step. At one time I enjoyed the mirror and being able to see myself but for some reason I didn’t like it this time. Maybe after spending so much time on my mat just feeling, I didn’t really want to see. There was music playing so that was a nice change since there is usually no music in a standard Bikram class. This was a fusion class with the 26 postures mixed in, but we also did vinyassa work which was really challenging in the heat.
I love the heat, always have and probably always will but going from head up to the head down was really hard and made me a little bit dizzy. Nothing that I couldn’t control but I did wonder if there were any new people in the class and how they were fairing. We hit all the major 26 postures and took the entire 2 hours to complete our moving meditation. I was so hot, tired, and totally spent but also felt so incredibly good. I forgot how absolutely wonderful being that hot and sweat can actually feel. After it was all said and done I was ready to join my husband back at home to finish our thanksgiving preparations.
He had it all finished and off to my parent’s house we went, 26 lbs. turkey in hand with pies, and cranberry sauce. Once we got there everyone was so pleased with how the bird looked and especially how it tasted. We sliced up the organ meat and put that out as well and everyone devoured it. We didn’t want our little bird to go to waste so we ate the entire thing. He was so delicious and I think we have made our mark on the family that getting our meats from the nearby farm where they are truly loved, well taken care of and especially well fed naturally is the best for the animals and us. My husband did a marvelous job with that bird and has been crowned the chef to do it each and every year from here on out but I don’t know that he really wants that responsibility. The day was stress-free, so enjoyable and I ate guilt free since I had just put in my time at the gym and Bikram mere hours before.
Today I have been 1 year without a flare and I have so many things running through my mind. I wonder where my next year will take me and I’m hoping I can continue this path of being flare-up free. I have been working so hard on my fitness and getting stronger and I wonder if that is the key for me. Could it also be that menopause has stopped the influx of hormones which in turn has quieted my MCTD? I have so many questions and not a lot of answers. My family wants to hear what I think is the reason behind being flare-up free and although I don’t know for sure I have a theory. Before MCTD I was not an active person by nature and thus didn’t exercise. When MCTD came into life the pain was so bad I couldn’t walk and my Rheumy just told me to start walking and use a pedometer to ensure I was getting 1500 steps a day which is not much but felt like too many back then. As time went on and I became more fit and exercise became a regular routine in my life I spend hours at the gym on the elliptical, in classes, walking outside whenever possible but not much weight training. I also didn’t understand how to fuel my body for exercise to that extent so I was burning major calories but not taking enough in and causing stress to my body. Literally I was causing a trifecta of inflammation to my body every day and ultimately would flare. My Rheumy wanted some weight training built into my routine each time I did weight training and while my muscles healed my body would flare so it didn’t take long for me to let the weight train slip by and stop altogether.
I did this for many years and would keep a journal of how many days I was flare-up free and kept waiting to reach 90 days. I used Bikram yoga for 9 years as a way to keep my body loose and enjoy the heat which my body loves but in truth that is a stressor as well and causes inflammation but I did finally reach 90 days without a flare and decided I need to figure out how to get more of those 90 day periods. I actually got to 180 days but then went into flare just by being too cold. Temperatures, my fragile immune system, and the added daily inflammation were too much for my body to endure so I flared. Once I flare it takes a long time to get back to a long period being flare-up free again so I struggled. It wasn’t until a couple of years ago when I embarked on the Paleo lifestyle and incorporated walking, Bikram yoga and weight training into my life while eating real food. I am not 100% Paleo today and although there are days I wish I were I’m too emotionally attached to food to be 100% so I live in a 70/30 realm and try to keep my diet as clean as possible. The weight training has really proven to be beneficial and I feel stronger than I ever have before. I started eating meat the same time Paleo came into my life and I think that combo of high fat protein, exercise and many more calories is again the trifecta I need to keep my body strong. I know I still have inflammation because my test results show it but I don’t feel it like I used to.
The last decade + MCTD has been my identity and write this blog because of my MCTD but now I don’t have much to say about it and I don’t see MCTD as an identity for me. I know I have it, but I don’t feel it and it doesn’t stop me from doing what I want.
I’m trying so many things and doing so much but keeping my core keys in tact which is eating enough. This is the most important thing I can do. In truth I have gained 10 pounds in the last 1.5 years as I have added the weight training, meat eating, and more calories into my life but according to my trainer I need this and perhaps one day I won’t care what the scale says or even have the urge to look at the scale but right now I look and sigh and then remember that I have gone a year without a flare. Sure I could get extreme with diet and exercise but to what end result? My fear would be a flare which I’m not willing to do.
I just keep doing what my trainer asks of me and find myself lifting heavier each week, feeling stronger each week and watching the passing days without flares increase. Now if only I felt so good about my golf game!!
Ever notice how this time of year a lot of people are starting to cleanse, diet, detox, start over and ramp up their routines? The gyms are full of new faces, the classes are a little larger, the wait time for certain weight equipment is stretched and the locker rooms have an overused smelled to them. Year after year this is the routine as people get bathing suit ready bodies and tighten everything up a little more so that spontaneous BBQ parties don’t come with an overwhelming amount of guilt. I don’t ebb and flow through yearly routines like other’s because mine routine is more constant but even I need to cleanse, re-focus, re-balance and re-evaluate my routine from time to time. Now is that time for me.
I have been committed to Bikram yoga for nine years and when I say committed I was truly committed to a 5 day a week routine but I found myself thinking of Bikram more as a chore than a yoga practice. I was getting to the point that when I was headed into the studio I couldn’t wait to get back out. This has never happened to me before so I clearly needed a break. I agonized over giving up the heat, my yogie ladies, and the routine of getting hot and sweaty but the time had come for me to let go and re-focus.
I need a yoga practice and I am also one that commits whole heartedly when I want to do something so I found a yoga studio near my home that has vinyassa flow, Thai Chi and Qi Gong as well Yin, Pilates, and restorative yoga. I made a yearlong commitment to this studio, found the classes I was interested in and set up my calendar with my appointment times. Exercise for me are like doctor appointments because they are all part of my management program. I treat each class I take the same way I treat a personal training session and it goes in my calendar and I only cancel if there is no way around it. Sure there are days I don’t want to do something but I don’t have the luxury of deciding not to. If I really feel like I cannot do my exercise then I adjust and walk but I take my medications everyday as prescribed and do my work out routine everyday as prescribed. The difference is my medications are prescribed by my doctors and my exercise is prescribed by me. This way I also have the luxury of changing my prescription when needed and this was needed.
So, what have I done so far? I signed up for my yearlong commitment on Memorial Day, May 26th. In the 3 weeks I have been going I have indulged in Qi Gong/Thai Chi and enjoyed this practice so much that I bought a DVD recommended by the instructor to have at home on the few nights a week that I cannot get to the yoga studio. I have enjoyed Pilates and find that even with my core strength she still gets me in places that I forget I have muscles until they are sore. The Yin is so hard but so rewarding as it goes deep into my connective tissues and just when I think I can’t take it one more minute we do 2 more minutes and I come out of the pose thinking what a relief. My vinyassa flow is getting much better and the most amazing benefit of this yoga practice is that I am sleeping so well each and every night. There are 3 nights a week I don’t have the studio available to me so on Sat, Sun and Wed night I have my own Qi Gong practice that I do right before bed to ensure a wonderful rested night’s sleep. As each day goes by and learn something new about the studio I have joined or the people I am meeting or the practice I’m doing I realize this was a good move for me. I am not saying I won’t ever go back to Bikram but I have a new commitment this year and I am throwing myself into my new yoga practice 100%.
I do miss the Bikram ladies very much but that is what lunch is for and although I also miss the heat very much, that is what summer is for. I have some regret not signing back up for Bikram classes but then I remember that I’m only 2 miles from my home when I come out of the studio and my body is thanking me for my new found commitment.