Category Archives: Fitness Challenges

WELCOME SUMMER

Today I woke up and felt a rush of energy as I realized it was the first day of summer. This is the longest day of the year and I have only been waiting for 9 months for this day to come.  I do love autumn as well so maybe 6 months is more like it but either way it is here.  My body enjoys the heat and humidity and I often tell people that my 3 favorite H’s are hazy, hot and humid.  Most people don’t believe me when I tell them but the reality is that our bodies and lungs like a little moisture in the air and my body in particular craves this weather and needs this warmth.  I can start to back off my Raynaud’s medications in the summer as my body is able to have more warmth and I spend more time outside getting vitamin D, as well as I just spend more time in the fresh air living life.

I rode in the Tour de Cure on June 11th and although it was 92 degrees I was ready to ride.  Tour de Cure is a ride for diabetes and even though I do not have diabetes, Type I diabetes is an autoimmune disease.  My thought is that any research done towards autoimmune disease is a win for the whole autoimmune community. The heavy hitters are Diabetes, Crones, Celiac, and MS.  As they come up with new equipment, medication and science based research for these autoimmune diseases they are likely to come up with some for other diseases.  I don’t know how much if any time, research, money and attention is given to MCTD but benefits are reaped when they can figure out what causes this disease.

Back to the ride, yes it was 92 degrees but we were riding along the ocean and the breeze was amazing.  I rode the 50K and at the end of this 50K I was ready to climb off that bike.  How does a body dealing with MCTD hold up under those circumstances? Let me start by saying I wear full biking gloves with a lot of padding in my palms.  I try to really relax my breathing and my mind before the ride although I did feel a little anxious at the start.  700 riders all take off together and for the first part I’m navigating other riders and drivers, but at the 7mile mark there is a rest stop and I keep going while everyone stops for a rest. This allows me time on the road with nature, quiet and myself to find my rhythm.  I’m not strong rider so the stronger ones leave the rest stop and catch up to me and maybe even pass depending on how strong they are, but I keep my pace.  I try and shake out my hands as often as I can and keep breathing steady.  At mile marker 26 my feet were completely dead, couldn’t feel them at all and needed to give them a break so on the next down hill I lifted off the seat and sat back behind the seat right in myhips and glutes, this allowed me lift my feet off my sneaker and give my toe pad a rest.  After that I was ready to go again, but my hands have almost no feeling left shifting gears becomes a challenge.  At the mile 32.3 or 50K there is a steep uphill to finish and I dropped my chain shifting to hard on the gears but I completely lost all working function of my hands.  I had crossed the fnish line and my chipped registered I was back from the ride and my husband came right down, helped me off my bike and walked it for me.  I had finished the ride with pride and was eager to eat a huge lunch.  A ride like that takes me 2 hours and 20minutes or an average of 14mph.  No records, but it is a ride not a race and I do it because I can.

There may come a time in my life when I am not able to do what I want when I want and if it comes I will deal with but right now even though I haven’t been feeling all that good since March I’m still able to dig deep and do what I need, what I want and do it when I want.  I did a lot of yoga after to stretch out and felt great the next day.  It did however take me 5 full days to get back on the bike but for those 5 days I was doing what I love which is walking and yoga.  I literally could and do walk every day and do my yoga when I can and still teach.  I would say all in all I’m doing well and waiting to see what this summer brings for fun, joy, and even good challenges.

HAPPY NEW YEAR

I woke up this morning and realized I’m at 225 days without a flare so this is a great start to the new year. We don’t have to wait until New Year’s Day to make changes in our lives or set goals but it seems easier to do so when it seems the slate has been cleaned and the new year ahead is full of opportunities. I started my day by teaching a yoga class and I started by saying I think we should ease into the new year and what I heard back was no bring it. Most people are tired New Year’s Day, most people haven’t been sleeping enough, eating out of the ordinary, drinking more than they normally would and we should probably all let our bodies rest but instead we wake up on the first day of the new year and want to be challenged. Whether in a spin class, a new facebook challenge, or even a yoga class. We want that push to get us started in the new year right. We all look for this, but what is the drive? I don’t have the answer to this question as I’m still trying to figure out what drives me to do all I do, and try all the things I try. The people around me wonder where my energy comes from, where my drive comes from and what my boundary is. The only thing I know for certain is that I do as much as I can on days that I feel good because it isn’t every day that my body is running at 85% and never at 100% these days, but I do what I do because I can. If you have been with me since the beginning there was a time when I couldn’t walk and with therapy walking 2000 steps a day was a chore and took all day, now I hit 10,000 steps usually by noon, because my legs work, because my body functions. I do hours of yoga because I have the strength in my arms, elbows and wrists. I do what I do because I have worked to get here and part of me is afraid it could be taken away at any moment. I live in the now as best as I can, but there is a lingering fear that my body could and probably will some day long from now not do what it does today. I believe I will always be able to walk and I will always be able to do yoga. That is where I put my focus, but I’m crazy about spinning. I’m crazy about trying new things, and I’m crazy about succeeding.

I don’t know what this New Year will bring, but I am open to all the events that come my way. I know I will not like everything that I’m faced with this year, but I will face anything with calm, peace and grace. I will continue to encourage all of my yoga students to do the same and challenge them as they need and let them rest when they must without judgment. Happy New Year to you all and hope your year brings you health, happiness, and peace and may this year bring you everything you need.

HEALTHY BODY, HEALTHY MIND, HAPPY HOLIDAYS

I haven’t written in a while but have not had a lot to write about. This is a good thing actually because it means that things in my life are relativity in balance. The point of this blog is to tell my story about MCTD but that story is very much the same day after day. I’m at 217 days without a flare which is wonderful and I’m very grateful that my body is feeling good. I am still working out every single day whether it means walking, spinning, or weight training. My yoga practice is a daily adventure whether it is my own practice, preparing for yoga classes, or teaching. My body is strong and most days I feel like my mind is strong. However, this time of year the days are short and it is dark when I go to work and it is dark when I get home. This time of year can be stressful for some people and even bring on depression. We are rushing from place to place, trying to prepare for events, eating and drinking more than we might normally, sleeping less than our bodies need and feeling the stress throughout our bodies and minds. Many people are rushing around so much that their immune systems wear out and illness takes over. I live with MCTD therefore I have a “super-immune system” I don’t worry about the common cold or flu. I don’t worry about picking up germs from the places I go. I enter a gym atmosphere nearly every day, which other than an airport might be one of the germiest places on earth. What I worry about is running my body too hard and putting myself into flare.

This time of year we must make choices, and they won’t all be easy. I thought I would write about some of the things I do in order to stay flare-up free during the holidays and winter months. I am not saying I don’t or won’t flare during the holidays or winter months but I try to keep things quiet in order to stay flare-up free for as long as possible. In Maine our winter started several weeks ago and will take us into April. It is long, it is cold, it is hard to endure sometimes. The way I get through this time is simply one day at a day time. Each day when I wake I take inventory of how I am feeling and then decide what my body needs. I will do something every day even on days I wake up a with some fatigue. I can always walk, as long as my legs will move, I can walk. I find some days it is actually easier to walk than to do yoga. Even if I choose restorative yoga because my body doesn’t always want to bend and move in certain postures.

This time of year we are invited to many events as most of you are, until I was diagnosed with MCTD I rarely said no to things even when I should have. For the last 13 years I say yes to the things that most important to me and my husband. Our families will always be high on the list and if I can help it we do not turn down family events. I also choose 1 evening event a week, this way I’m not out late 2 nights a week. We may do something Friday night and something Sunday during the day but not two late nights. This ensures that my body receives the adequate rest and sleep that it needs. I’m not hyper vigilante about what I eat this time of year except that I make stuff I really want. On Dec 26th that is when I go back to being hyper vigilante with my eating and drinking and let my body fully recover. By New Year’s I am not looking to go out or make resolutions I’m looking to start my new year fresh, clean and re-offer my body everything it needs. Think of it as a back to body basics cleanse.

I meditate a lot this time year. I take minutes in the morning to reflect on the day ahead and things I might have done differently yesterday. Not with anger, or regret, but as ways to learn and do better today. I take minutes to watch my thoughts, make my thoughts cleaner, and notice days when I really don’t have a lot of thoughts. I take this time for me, the time in my life that truly belongs to me, not my family, not my work, not my yoga, not my trainer, not my spin instructor, truly just me, only me. Minutes, not several minutes or an hour, minutes in my day.

This holiday season is going to look different to each and every person, but my goal in this holiday season is to capture the joy, love, peace and calm that it brings. Happy Holidays to all.

YOGA FUN

I have been spending so much time on my yoga mat that I feel like I need one with me all the time.  I keep one at the studio, one in my car and one at home.  The one I use at home is getting worn because every time I roll it out and jump on it my little kittens jump on it too. Their little claws are putting some prick holes in it and they chew the edges, sharpen their nails and roll all over it.  I don’t honestly mind having the mall over it and it doesn’t change my sequence, since I keep moving and they move to get out of the way for the most part.  There have been times that I’m doing chaturanga dandasana and they won’t get out of the way so I just hover above them and push back up to plank and down-ward facing dog instead of using upward facing dog.  Either way I’m working my arms, core, chest and back.

For every class I teach I have a new sequence and yes I title my sequences based on what we are doing, what music I’m using and where I expect to the take the class for that hour.  I save each sequence and although I may use pieces of it for a future one I haven’t used the same sequence in its entirety yet.  I am constantly thinking about my sequences, perfecting my postures that I want in my personal practice and enjoying each every moment I’m on the mat.  It almost becomes a dance on my mat, a finely tuned, controlled choreographed dance.

I do show up to my classes with a sequence ready and practiced but also tweak it and make changes on the fly depending on who is in my class, how many people are there and how people are feeling.  I did go in on Sunday without a sequence, without a plan but had spent so much time doing my own practice that I felt comfortable letting it flow. I did this because I wanted to ask them what they wanted, how they were feeling and get feedback.  What I learned very quickly is that they are not there to give me suggestions and would prefer I just come in ready with a good sequence and modifications on the days that they need it.  Someone might feel really good one day and be totally off the next day.  It all depends on how they slept, what they ate, how hydrated they are, what kind of stress they carrying and just how their body and minds feel that day.

In my everyday life I wake up and assess what am I working with that day and am I feeling strong, is my body stiff or tired, is my mind clear.  Sometimes I wake up feeling really stiff and sore and overly tired so I start out slow with some stretching before I even do my first sun salutation and then things start to loosen up and feel free.  On days I teach I arrive at the studio 60 minutes before class so I have a full 45 minutes to warm up my body and warm up the room before the first group of people start coming in.  It is hard to get the body to move in certain ways when you are cold and with winter the studio starts off cold but we warm up it nicely.  I will also take us through some internal warming postures to get things moving easier.

The best part of figuring out what works and putting it all together.  I use my body to help gauge but also realize that my body is very strong even with MCTD so I do not ever assume that my students are all capable of doing what I do and offer levels, modifications and invite them to all work at their pace and with the body they are working with on that particular day.  I love teaching and wish I could do more of it. Someday I hope to do a lot more of it.

I won’t be giving up spinning or walking but I did have to take a break which I will discuss in another blog post and what I realized is that even when I can’t do that regular cardio and weight training I can do yoga which makes me very thankful.

CHECKING BACK IN

I have not been paying much attention to my blog lately other than weekly check in with steps but the truth is my MCTD is pretty quiet so I haven’t had much to discuss recently. I am not complaining about a dormant MCTD but I do think it is time to do a full check and reconnect.

I am at 242 days without a flare and with the extremely mild winter that Maine has had this year I have not even suffered from Raynaud’s much either.  My fingers are feeling much better and using the compound seems to have helped the issues I had over the summer.  I have to see the doctor again and have updated X-rays done to see if the calcium deposits are really smaller or gone but my fingers in general really feel much better.

As many of you know I am completely committed to my yoga practice and teaching these days so although my steps are right where they need to be I am not focusing on walking, spinning, or other cardio activities as much right now.  I am in the yoga studio or at home doing yoga every day and that takes a lot of time.  I was listening to a podcast the other day that said don’t let hobbies get in the way of people, relationships and family.  I think my husband would whole heartily agree with that statement but also realizes that I need to take this time now to establish myself as a yoga instructor so I can do more with it in my future and see where this may take me.  I love teaching, I love learning and I love doing yoga so all in all it was the best decision for me to make at this time in my life.

I do hope to find a nice balance between my yoga, cardio, weight training and of course my family and friends.  If only I could get my husband to join me in doing yoga I would be able to spend time with him while we did yoga but that is not likely for at least for the near future.  Perhaps as we move forward into our mid-lives it will inspire him to stay flexible and work on yoga for his body and mind.  Speaking of mind, my meditation practice is dialed and do get a few moments every day to sit quietly and just breathe.  There has been some research recently that states that a daily meditation practice could help with autoimmune diseases and chronic pain.  Find ways to relieve stress and finding ways to ensure that I don’t get over fatigued greatly helps with my MCTD and chronic pain, therefore, meditation is a great tool for both of those things.

With 242 days behind me I forget that I even have MCTD some days but I am also not new to having a long stretch being flare-up free and then having that flare that takes me back to zero.  I half expect it any day but I also don’t expect it to ever come again.  As we age and our hormones change that can also help with reducing the frequency of flares, good sleep, moderate eating, reducing stress, mindful activity, giving and receiving love and peace all help in managing the symptoms of autoimmune diseases.

I look forward to my next doctor appoint to see where my numbers are and what my X-rays look like and can make adjustments from there, but until then I will continue to do what I do and hope for many more flare up free days.

WEEKLY STATS

The new month has started and my steps for last week were average.  I’m not breaking any records with my steps and have decided to take a break from challenges for a while. I am focusing on my yoga practice and setting up my classes accordingly. I spend 2-3 hours per day doing my yoga practice and getting ready for any classes that I’ll be teaching for the week.  I have started to incorporate light weights into my personal practice which is very interesting on the body and my arms are getting quite a work out.

My accomplishment that I’m very proud of right now is that for the first time I can lower from high plank to low plank, hover for several seconds and push right back up in full push-up position.  I have been able to lower and hover for quite a while now but the push back up is a new found success for me.  It is a reminder that we all start somewhere and we all progress at our own perfect pace.  My legs are incredibly strong but my arms, chest, back and shoulders still need work.  I am truly a work in a progress and if I’m going to challenge my students I need to challenge myself.  It is a true statement that we never push ourselves as hard as someone pushes us so I have to take classes as well with other instructors to feel like a real working student.

I am a student of yoga and life and truly enjoy celebrating my personal success as much as celebrating my students’ successes.

 

Weekly – 72,864

Daily – 10,409

Miles – 28.5

Floors – 150

 

Hope this week brings you small victories and successes as well

WEEKLY STATS

This is the start of a brand new month and I’m so surprised that a full month in 2016 is already over. I am behind on my stats so this will have 2 weeks of information.  I have increased my yoga to nearly 4 hours every single day except for Saturday and Sunday when I’m doing even more.  My body is felling good and I’m 220 days without a flare but I also have not had a lot of time for other things.  I’m weight training but only once per week and yes I make time for at least that 1 time per week. I wish it were more so I’m starting to incorporate light weights into my yoga routines.  This is just for me not the classes I teach nor do I tell my students I’m doing this as there is so much strength building in yoga already but I feel like I need some added weights.  I have 3 and 5 lbs weights I do during standing sequencing since it is not easy to chaturanga dandasana with weights in your hand so I have also been exploring weighted gloves so I don’t actually have to hold anything in my palms.

 

Weekly stats from 2 weeks ago

Weekly – 74,113

Daily – 10,588

Miles – 28.87

Floors – 122

 

Weekly stats from last week

Weekly – 80,121

Daily – 11,446

Miles – 31.15

Floors – 154

 

I also received the astronaut badge from Fibit last week as I reached 28,000 floors. They add up day after day, week after week, year after year.