The Plan 2.0

I cannot believe  it’s been more than a year since my last post. Wow. All I can say is that it has been an amazing year, it wasn’t all good, but despite the horrible parts, this last year contained some of the best moments of my life so far. I got married to an absolutely amazing man in November and I can say without any doubt that it was the happiest day of my entire life. 


He was there to help me through my last medical disaster and without his love and support, I would not be able to announce that I am 100% free of the fibromyalgia meds!

It took several months, but I took my last prescription drug, (for the fibro, at least), in February of this year. What a relief that was! I wish I could say that I feel 100% better without all of the drugs, but the reality is, I feel much the same. The main difference is that I no longer rely on a prescription to get me through the day. I still have the pain, fatigue and insomnia that are the hallmarks of fibro, but I’ve found that they are easier to manage without the “help” of prescription drugs. I have discovered that 5-10mg of melatonin right before bed is just as effective at getting me to sleep as 2mg of Xanax and 100mg of Seroquel, (combined!), ever were. No, I don’t always stay asleep, but the prescriptions couldn’t deliver that either. The only thing the prescriptions could ever be relied on to do was to make sure I was a groggy disaster in the morning, whether or not I got any sleep. In order to even wake up, I had to start my day with 40mg of Adderall and 150mg of Wellbutrin. 

The drugs themselves have changed significantly over the years, but for the last decade or so, the basic formula has remained the same: drugs to help me sleep and more drugs to help me shake off the effects of the sleeping pills. I started tapering off of them in November, (with the guidance of my pain management team, please don’t try this on your own!!), and I am so happy to be able to say that I am done with them all. 

The downside is that the side effects of weaning off the drugs left me a bit of a mess. I fell out of my workout routine all together and have put quite a few pounds back on. I have not regained all of the weight I lost over the last few years, but it’s close. Yes, I got off the meds back in February and it has taken me this long to realize I need to get my butt back in gear. The important thing is that I’m ready now. I could list off the myriad of excuses I had for not being as active as I had been, but I won’t. They no longer matter.

Today, the Plan, V2 goes into effect. I’m back! 

Right now, my main goal is to get back into an exercise routine. I am not going to focus on losing weight, I just want to get back up to my peak level of activity. For the moment, that means walking, (lots and lots of walking), but I plan to start doing the Couch to 5k training routine in a week or two and get back to racing again by the end of the year. As before, I have to take things slowly, especially now that I don’t have any medications to fall back on if I trigger a flare up. However, this time around, I have the benefit of already knowing that I can do it. Shamrock 2017, here I come!!

Back in the saddle again!!

First off, many thanks to Aerosmith for providing my latest theme song!

In case the title of this post didn’t give it away, I am back up and running again. Literally. The last few months of 2014 were hectic, to say the least, and I fell off of my routine pretty hard. (I am rather miffed about admitting this next bit, but accountability is important, so here goes). Not only did I fail to lose the 8 pounds I gained from Christmas 2013, I managed to put on another 10 or so on top of that. See? I wasn’t kidding about having fallen off of my wagon.

Those of you who read some of my previous posts have probably seen me say something like this before. I wish I could say that this is the last time I’ll say it, but that’s really unlikely. Living with fibromyalgia involves a lot of stopping and starting. You get into a solid groove and then, WHAM!! the fibro steps in and knocks you for a loop. You can try to fight it, I know I’ve tried, but somehow I always find myself off track. Rather than sitting here feeling sorry for myself, I have come to accept that this is just part of my life. I’m like the itsy bitsy spider, (or that old Chumbawumba song); I climb up, I get knocked down, then I get up again.

So, now it’s time to get up and get back in the game. I’m back to counting calories, (ugh), and I’m once again walking almost religiously. I’ve decided to set my daily step goal to 11k, which, if I’m honest is something of a challenge for me, but with the help of my trusty fitbit, I’m getting it done. In addition to these tried and true methods, I’ve started working on creating meal plans for each week. While I find it to be somewhat tedious to actually write them up, I do like the structure the plans provide. No more standing in the kitchen staring into the fridge trying to figure out what to eat, I just follow the plan!

The best part is, this time around, I get to use the buddy system. My boyfriend, Aaron, is totally on board with the whole thing. With his help, I’m dragging my sorry butt out of bed and going for walks in the morning and soon, we’re going to add some strength training to the mix. Don’t get me wrong, he has been there for me every step of the way on this journey of mine, but mostly as a cheerleader, now he’s a full fledged participant and it’s awesome!

I’m thrilled to say that he will be joining me in running the Shamrock 8k this year! Since we don’t have a lot of time to train before the race, we’ve set our goal time at 70 minutes, which is the same goal I had for myself last year. Our plan is to use this race as a kind of baseline and then keep training for the Wicked 10k in October. If nothing else, it should make for a fun and interesting year!

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The Plan, One Year Later

Three hundred and sixty-five days have come and gone since I first decided to share my story. In that time, I have walked, (and even jogged), over 1,600 miles, lost about 35 pounds and 4 jeans sizes. In short, over the past year, I have taken my life back; fibromyalgia, while still an undeniable part of my life, no longer runs my life.

If someone had told me a year ago that I would make the changes I have, I would have said “that’s simply not possible”. This time last year, I was a wreck, in every sense of the word. Physically, I was in constant pain, over weight and completely exhausted. My emotional state was even worse; I was in the throes of a deep depression, suffering from panic attacks and utterly hopeless about my situation. My marriage had fallen apart and my other relationships were starting to fray as well. I felt completely powerless to stop any of it; I had lost control of my life and I honestly believed that I had no choice in the matter. I had spent so long allowing the fibro to dictate my actions that when my life fell apart, I had nothing of my own to cling to. I felt like a victim.

It wasn’t until I began to seriously contemplate suicide that I realized how wrong I was. There was one thing that I hadn’t yet lost: myself. I am, by nature, a fighter, but I had forgotten that. Somewhere along the way, I had stopped fighting and simply accepted the idea that fibromyalgia was going to run my life. That idea spread through my mind like a weed, choking out any hope or motivation I had. Thankfully, right when I needed it the most, I found the strength I needed to save myself. In that moment, I realized that the only thing stopping me from living my life on my terms was ME.

It was such a simple idea, but it was more powerful than anything I have ever experienced. Using this new understanding, I came up with a plan to heal myself. No more waiting around for someone else to come along and “fix” me, no more feeling sorry for myself. If I wanted my life back, I was going to have to fight for it.

Coming up with my plan was easy, putting it into action, however, was another matter altogether. Not only was I having to work against what my own body was telling me, I had to fight my own self doubt and the doubts of others. Most of my family and friends were incredibly supportive of my new outlook; unfortunately, a few of the people I had expected to be the most supportive turned out to be the most critical. At times, it seemed as if they were trying to undermine my efforts to change, going so far as to plainly tell me that they believed I couldn’t do it and even saying that despite my efforts, they saw nothing worth being proud of.

Typically, this is where people say things like, “I don’t care what other people think of me” or “their words can’t hurt me”. Well, for me, that’s not true. I do care, (probably way more than I should), about what those close to me think about me and I have always been overly sensitive about what other people say to me. Add that to my already delicate emotional state and you’ve got a recipe for a total breakdown. There were so many times that I wanted to give up, so many times that I very nearly did. It took me awhile, but I eventually learned to turn that pain into fuel. I learned to “punish the pavement” rather than myself. After awhile, that pain turned into anger and I used the anger to further fuel my fight. Going through that was Hell, but I see now that those doubts and cruel words only made me fight even harder. So, thank you, for helping me to see you for who you are and for helping me find the strength to get past my own barriers, now please show yourselves out of my life*.

*(For the record, my original statement wasn’t nearly so polite.)

Flash forward to today: I am still here, still fighting and better than ever. I am active, healthy and best of all, happy. More importantly, I can feel the shackles of fibromyalgia falling alway; I am almost entirely pain-free. I do still have occasional flare ups, but they are usually brief and nothing at all like the debilitating attacks that would keep me in bed for days; no more giving up things I want to do because of pain.

I never imagined that I could live without pain as the center of my universe, I never even dared to dream that I might live something like a “normal” life. The success I have experienced over the last 12 months is beyond anything that I could have hoped for; in my own mind, it’s nothing short of magic.

Of course, the problem with magic, is that it is not free; to borrow a quote from Rumplestiltskin, “magic always come with a price, Dearie”. So, what is the price I pay for this particular brand of magic? Hard work and self-discipline. The simple truth is that keeping myself healthy is literally, a full-time job. I have to make sure to stay active and I have to pay close attention to what I eat, every single day. Sure, I have my “off” days, but they are few and far between. I cannot afford to sit on my butt all day and just eat whatever I want to; my body is quick to point out when I’m not doing what I need to.

One of the things that I have learned over the last year is that counting calories is not enough. I’m not even talking about for weight loss, I’m talking about simply maintaining a balanced, healthy diet. My daily calorie budget right now is around 1600 calories; well, 1600 calories of cookies, chips and pizza are not the same as 1600 calories of veggies, fruits and lean protein. In order to keep my system happy, I eat 4-6 carefully controlled meals every day. The amount of thought and effort that goes into my diet alone can be overwhelming, as I find it difficult to come up with different ideas that are healthy, tasty and easily fit into my plan.

On top of that, I have to make sure to keep moving. My body has gotten used to moving and the pain will happily take over if I’ve been sedentary for too long. My goal is 10k steps a day (about 5 miles), which at a normal walking pace for me would take about an hour and a half of solid walking. I prefer to break that up into smaller, easier to manage chunks throughout the day, which like my meals, takes a fair amount of planning on my part. 10,000 steps is a lot, believe me, I know. While I have learned to enjoy walking and being active, I don’t always do it because I want to. I don’t exercise because I feel good, I exercise in order to feel good. There’s a huge difference there, and it’s sometimes hard for people to understand, but I can’t put enough stress on the idea that it is absolutely necessary to stay active even when it hurts because eventually, the activity will make the pain go away.

I cannot escape the fact that I am sick; I know that no matter how badly I want to, there are always going to be things that I am unable to do. For instance, I would love to be able to get back into the classroom and teach again. I know my limitations. I know that I cannot maintain my current level of health (and happiness) AND take on a regular job. I understand that there are many, many people out there who are capable of doing all of these things and more on a daily basis, but I have to accept the fact that I am not one of them. I simply do not have the stamina to do it. Maybe one day, I’ll find a way around it, but for now, my “job” is taking care of myself.

You know what? I am ok with this.

Race Day, The Shamrock 8k

Shamrock results

On Saturday, March 15, 2014, at 9:15 am, I crossed the finish line for the Shamrock 8k, 2 minutes and 11 seconds under my goal time!! I’ll be honest, I have no idea how I actually managed it. The race started at 7:45 am, and I was only running on about 4 hours of sleep… I am amazed that I finished it at all, let alone under my goal time. I spent about the first 2 miles of the race cursing myself for being out there in the first place and wondering why on earth I ever thought this was a good idea. Seriously. Thankfully, around mile 2, I finally found my stride and was able to put my butt in gear. I may have been hating myself initially, but I am so glad that I was stubborn enough to push through to the finish.  Even after all of the training I put myself through, this was one tough run.

Would I do it again? Hell yes! As a matter of fact, I’m already considering my next venture into insanity: The Wicked 10k, where I’ll get to run down the boardwalk dressed as a giraffe. I’ve got until the end of October to create the perfect giraffe running outfit and get myself ready to actually run 6 miles… I’m not fully committed to this one yet, but the urge to do it gets stronger every time I say the phrase “running down the board walk dressed as a giraffe”, so chances are good that I’ll end up doing it. Hopefully, I’ll be running with the BFF for this one, but even if she doesn’t run with me, she’ll be dressed up in a matching giraffe costume, since it was mostly her idea… 🙂  Don’t worry, there will be pictures!

I know it sounds like I’m treating this lightly, but for me, running these races is no joke. It has been getting easier, but most days, every single step is still a fight, both mentally and physically. I’m not running because I feel good, I’m running in order to feel good. I know that as soon as I stop moving, the fibro wins, but there are some days where even that knowledge isn’t enough to keep me going; on those days, it’s the support of my loved ones that keeps me going.  Thank you guys for believing in me, even when I didn’t believe in myself. Extra special thanks to Aaron for getting up at 6am and dragging my whining carcass out of bed and down to the starting line, knowing you would be at the finish line is what kept me moving forward.

 

Shamrock finish

 

The Plan, update #8

Here’s a random, completely unnecessary fact about me: I LOVE making playlists. Seriously, I can amuse myself for hours putting together a playlist for something. That being said, it should come as no surprise that I have at least 5 different workout themed playlists. It’s quite possible that making new running playlists is my favorite part about running. 🙂 I decided today that it was time to make a new playlist, geared towards running a nine minute mile. There’s an awesome website, www.jog.fm, that creates playlists based on your desired pace, which for me has made finding new music amazingly easy. New or at least fresh music is incredibly important for me, since it’s one of the ways I amuse myself while doing something that I have no natural desire to do.

While looking over the list of suggested songs, I came across several songs that aren’t actually “new”, they’re just new to me. My favorite so far is “Not Afraid” by Eminem. I know that a lot of people find his music offensive, but I love it. I can’t say that I love everything he’s ever written, but I do like most of his stuff, and “Not Afraid” is definitely at the top of that list. Why? Because the song rings true for me, here’s one of my favorite parts:

“And I just can’t keep living this way
So starting today, I’m breaking out of this cage
I’m standing up, I’ma face my demons
I’m manning up, I’ma hold my ground
I’ve had enough, now I’m so fed up
Time to put my life back together right now!”

Admittedly, the song is a bit fast for a 9 minute mile, but it gets my head in the right place, so I’m willing to over look that little fact.

Another song that made it in to my new playlist is “Remember the Name” by Fort Minor feat. Styles of Beyond. Like “Not Afraid”, this song is technically too fast, but it helps me focus and again, I can relate to it:

“This is ten percent luck, twenty percent skill
Fifteen percent concentrated power of will
Five percent pleasure, fifty percent pain
And a hundred percent reason to remember the name!”

If I were to use these lyrics to describe my own journey, it would read more like this:

This is five percent luck, five percent skill
Thirty-five percent concentrated power of will
Five percent pleasure, fifty percent pain

The lyrics don’t flow quite as well that way, but that’s ok, it’s not like I have any aspirations to be a song writer; I’m just an ordinary person, trying the best I can to describe the way I see things. For all the doubters out there, this song, (“Remember the Name”), is a reminder that yes, there is pain involved in this endeavor of mine, but the results are worth it. I am not ignoring the pain factor, nor am I suggesting that anyone who has a similar condition ignore theirs; you have to be able to look at the pain and ask yourself this question: “Is this a pain I can work through, or do I need to slow things down?”

When the answer is “yes, I can work through/around this pain”, that’s where the “thirty-five percent concentrated power of will” part comes in. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t exactly LIKE exercising, (“five percent pleasure”), but I have learned that it is necessary. If I want to have something that even resembles a “normal” life, I am going to have to work for it, which in this case means working out, or at the very least staying active. I will not be a prisoner to my pain, even if it means getting up and doing things I am not particularly fond of. Of course, it also means paying close attention to what my body is trying to tell me.

Even when someone is as intimately familiar with pain as those of us who deal with it on a daily basis, it can be damn near impossible to tell the difference between “serious, something is wrong pain” and “normal, fibro pain”. Do I get it wrong sometimes? Yep. Being as stubborn as I am, I usually tend to push through when I really should take a break; more often than not, it takes someone else pointing out that I need to rest to get me to actually do it.  No, I am not exaggerating, I am actually that hard-headed. Thankfully, I have someone in my life who loves me enough to say “hey, dummy, you need to take a break”.

I truly wish that I could sit here and say that all the hard work has totally paid off and that I am completely pain-free. I can’t.

Before I started “THE Plan”, I spent EVERY SINGLE DAY in near constant pain, often rating 8 or higher on a scale of 10. Some days, I dealt with an incessant “hum” of pain at about a level of 5 or so, with crippling spikes of 8 to 10. Every day was a “bad” day and I nearly lost myself in the misery. Then, one day, I woke up. I realized that no one was going to “fix” me and that if *I* didn’t do something, I was going to end up wasting my entire life.

There is no cure or even any definite treatment for fibromyalgia. There isn’t even a common consensus on what causes it. From the looks of things, it will be a very long time before researchers even begin to understand the disease. The only thing that anyone seemed to agree on was that regular exercise seems to help with the symptoms. I took that idea to heart and thus, “THE” Plan was born.

It’s been eight months, 35 pounds, and over 1000 miles.  I am exercising a minimum of 4, usually 5 days a week, for at least 30 minutes a day.

I am not pain free, but now the “good days” out number the “bad” days by about 5 to 1. I am no longer in constant pain and while I still experience some kind of pain on a daily basis, my average pain level is 5 or under, with occasional spikes of 8 to 10. Fatigue, insomnia and “fibro fog” are all still major problems, but most of those symptoms can be at least partially managed by medication. I am well aware that I am not “cured” and I know that as soon as I stop working at it, things will go right back to the way they were before. Nothing that is worth having comes without a fight and since as far as anyone knows, you only get one life, I’d say that’s definitely worth fighting for.

“I’m not afraid
To take a stand
Everybody
Come take my hand
We’ll walk this road together, through the storm
Whatever weather, cold or warm
Just letting you know that you’re not alone
Follow if you feel like you’ve been down the same road”

— Eminem, “Not Afraid”

Race Day!

You guys have read about my goals for my first 5k for months now, and I am thrilled to announce that Sunday afternoon, I crossed the finish line over a minute under my goal time!

race results2

You may remember that back in June, I had managed to do the full 5k in just under 50 minutes, and set a new goal of 40 minutes for the actual race. As of October 20, I completed 5k in 38 minutes and 58 seconds! I wasn’t able to jog the whole thing, but I hadn’t expected to; my main goal was simply to cross the finish line with the best time I possibly could. Considering that about six months ago, I was literally a couch potato and could barely walk a 20 minute mile without feeling miserable, completing this challenge is an amazing feeling.

It wasn’t easy, especially with the road blocks put in my way by my own body. The fibro didn’t want me to do this and to be honest, there were many times that I doubted myself. I know that to a lot of people a 5k seems like a small thing, it is after all, only about 3 miles, and I imagine that most people in fair health could do it if they wanted to. Those of us with fibromyalgia know that even if we’re in otherwise perfect health (which we’re usually not), physical activity of any sort is an iffy venture, at best. We can never really gauge how we are going to feel on any given day, so setting up an actual training routine is nearly impossible. It took me six months to get myself ready for this race.

The first few weeks of training were incredibly difficult; I don’t think I can adequately describe what it was like to someone who doesn’t have a chronic pain condition. My body did not want to cooperate, it was perfectly happy to sit on the couch and do nothing. Not only did I have to fight against my own self doubt, I had to fight my body’s insistence that I was hurting myself. Getting past the “payback pain” was an arduous process, but I will tell you now, I would do it all over again. The results are worth it. It took about 6 weeks, but I did finally reach a point where I began to feel better after a workout, rather than worse.

The thing you have to keep in mind is that: I do not work out because I feel better, I work out to make myself feel better. I don’t just exercise on the days that I feel good; even on my worst days, I will force myself to go do something, even if it’s just a short walk around the neighborhood, because I now know that afterwards, I will feel better. I cannot put enough emphasis on how important that realization was to me. Those days where all you want to do is curl up with a bowl of ice cream and cry are the days that where you need to find a way to be active, even if it’s only for 20 minutes. I promise you that you will feel better. Your mental state will improve almost immediately because now you can be proud of yourself for not giving up, and eventually your body will realize that the activity actually does feel better than doing nothing.

Alright, enough of the “get active” propaganda :).

I would like to say how very, extremely proud I am of my best friend, Heather. Like me, she has been struggling to get and stay active. She has been a constant source of support and motivation for me, I can only hope that I have managed to do the same. I will tell you right now, that without her to kick me in the behind every now and then, I wouldn’t have done as well as I did in the race. She has been there for me from the get go and has stuck by me even when I was whining about not wanting to do anything. She’s also had a rough time over the last 6-8 months, but she still managed to be there with me at the starting line and even with a bum ankle, she crossed the finish line well under our original goal of 1 hour. We’re already looking forward to our next race. 🙂

Another person that I’d like to mention is another very dear friend of mine, Aaron. Even though he had absolutely no reason to get up and go out to the race this last weekend, he was there to cheer both Heather and I on, and was even nice enough to hold on to our stuff for us. I can’t even tell you guys how much it meant to me to have two of my very favorite people there to support me on a day that a year ago I would’ve said would never happen. Even before the fibro, I would have never thought that I’d voluntarily participate in a race; after the fibro, I would have said it would be impossible for me to do at all. I’m so very glad that I was able to prove myself wrong.

After race

The Plan, update #7

So far, all of my updates about The Plan have been about positive things that I have noticed or goal I’ve achieved. This update is a bit different, because I have hit a wall. A big, fat, solid, wall.

I don’t know if this is just the fibromyalgia making things difficult or if something has changed, but the last few weeks have been a bit rough. Simply put, I am exhausted. Absolutely, utterly drained. In August, I was able to up my walks to 3-4 miles, 4 or 5 days a week. On top of that, for most of the month, I was able to do one of the Jillian Michaels’ workouts at least 4 days a week. Let me tell you, I was pretty impressed with myself!

I carried this pace all the way through to about mid September, when out of nowhere, my energy levels plummeted. I figured that maybe I was getting run down and took a few days off from the Jillian Michaels workouts, (but kept up with my walking routine), planning to get back into it the following week.

Epic fail. I made it about a third of the way through the workout before my body just refused to cooperate. After that, I began to pay a bit more attention to how I was feeling throughout the day. I noticed that not only has it been harder to wake up in the mornings, (it literally feels like I’m dredging my consciousness up through deep, dark water every morning), but I’ve reverted to feeling like I need a nap in the late afternoons. I haven’t actually gone so far as to take said naps, but I have thought long and hard about it more than a few times.

I don’t feel sick, my pain levels haven’t changed, I’m not having any extra trouble falling asleep and I haven’t made any changes to my diet… I’m kind of at a loss on this one. I’ve even talked to my doctor about it, but all I got was the typical shoulder shrug that comes with the fibro territory.

I absolutely refuse to give up my walking. I will zombie drag myself down the street if I have to, but I am not going to give up on this. If I was feeling otherwise run down or had any other symptoms of illness, I’d take a break for a few days, even I’m not that stubborn. 🙂 The thing is, I’m mostly convinced that this is just the fibro trying to trick me into giving up, and I know what happens if I do. I have been down that road and I know where it leads: misery.

I may not have the energy to cook dinner every night and its possible the laundry may sit around a little bit longer, but I am going to keep moving. Over the last five months, I have been happier, my mood has been lighter and I have simply felt better than I have in years. I knew that this was going to get harder at some point; I’ve already fought my way through several massive pain flare ups. The pain couldn’t stop me, neither will this.

The Plan, update #6

It’s taken four months and 316 miles (yes, I have walked 316 miles over the last four months!!), but I have officially reached the halfway point of my weight loss goal! A full 25 pounds, gone! YAY!!!

As part of my celebration, I decided to do a google search for things that weigh 25 pounds, so I could get a visual of what I am no longer carting around:

  • an average 2 yr old
  • a 25 lb barbell plate
  • 25 one lb  full butter boxes
  • a small dog
  • 10 ft metal chain
  • 5 bags sugar
  • 25 foot balls
  • a 19 inch flat screen T.V.
  • 3 one gallon jugs of water

I have to say, the image of carrying these things around with me is pretty strange… no wonder I’m always so tired!

It’s important to remember, however, that the weight loss is just a fabulous side effect of what I’m actually trying to accomplish. My original goal with all this dieting and exercise was to fight my fibro with fire. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired, and after 12 years of just living with the disease, I decided to fight back. I decided to take my life back from this invisible menace and I DID. I stopped sitting around feeling sorry for myself, waiting for some miracle cure and started taking care of myself.

It was not easy. My biggest obstacle was myself, I had to fight not only against my own feelings of doubt and depression, but also against my own body. When my body was screaming at me to stop, I had to quite literally force myself to keep moving. It took a long time for me to get past the initial pain of making myself exercise, but I didn’t give up.

I’ll be honest, I was in a very dark place when I discovered the strength to fight this; I didn’t just wake up one happy morning and decide to do it. It wasn’t until I found myself considering suicide that I realized things had to change, that I had to change things. In truth, I am thankful for the events that led me to that dark place, because without them, I would still be wallowing in the misery that I had allowed the fibro to create.

I am not saying that I am cured. The fibromyalgia is something that I will have to battle every day for the rest of my life, I have accepted that, but I know now that it IS possible for me to live a fairly normal life. I know now that my struggles with this disease have made me a stronger person and I have discovered how to put that strength to good use. Yes, the fibro puts limitations on my life, but I have learned that there are ways to work around those limits.

Some days are harder than others, but in the end, I know that fighting through those days is what makes days like today so awesome. 🙂

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THE Plan, update 5.1

I don’t really have enough to say for a full blown post, but I have an announcement to make, and I’m so excited that I can’t wait any longer.

I have officially dropped another jeans size!!! 🙂 Two full sizes in about three months- omigod! It took an amazing amount of restraint not to start squealing in the middle of the Old Navy fitting room.

Yes, it’s been a lot of (very hard) work, but moments like this make all the dieting and forced physical activity totally 150% worth it! The next time I’m having a bad day, I think I’ll try pulling a pair of my old jeans out of the closet as inspiration to keep going.

The Yoga Verdict

About a month ago, in “The Plan, update #4”, I made a big deal about wanting to change my workout routine and giving yoga a try. I’m rather ashamed to admit it, but after publishing that post, I kind of ignored it. Ok, I seriously ignored it. The DVD arrived, I popped it in the player and bored myself to tears in about 5 minutes. So, I turned it off and didn’t give it a second glance until today. I could take the easy way out, say that the DVD was just too boring for me to suffer through and that it was a waste of money, but that’s not true. Yes, I was bored by the slow pace of the exercises, but that’s because at the time, I was looking for something more vigorous. I moved onto Jillian Michaels’ Thirty Day Shred and found it infinitely more satisfying.

The problem is, being in the middle of a nasty fibro flare makes Jillian considerably more difficult. I’m still trying to stick to my routine, but I’m finding it harder and harder to recover. When I woke up this morning, I was so stiff I could barely move. I started having flashbacks to The Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy and the scarecrow meet the tin man… If I had thought that spraying myself with WD-40 would have helped, I’d have done it in a heartbeat. Which brings me back to the previously discarded yoga DVD.

One of the most important things that I have learned since starting my get healthy plan is that once I get moving, I feel better. My mood improves and the pain doesn’t seem as a bad. The hard part, of course, is getting myself to move in the first place. Let’s be serious here, when we’re in pain, the last thing we want to do is move. Unless of course that movement results in a comfy pillow and some chocolate. Thankfully, I have a new carrot dangling in front of my face: a little bit of movement = guaranteed relief. With that in mind, I finished my morning cup of tea (green tea!) and faced Ms. Barbara Benagh once again.

I started out with her 20 minute Sun Salutations routine, and let me say right now, this time it was not boring. The slow, gentle pace was exactly what my muscles needed. By the end of the routine, I was feeling energized and <gasp!> limber. It actually took effort not to start squealing like a four-year old who’s just been let loose in Candyland. No, I’m not exaggerating. 🙂 As a matter of fact, I felt so awesome that I decided to try a second twenty minute routine, Strength & Balance. Both routines challenged my strength, flexibility and endurance, but gently. I didn’t feel rushed and throughout the routines, the instructor offers helpful (non patronizing!) advice on how to modify the poses if you need to.

At this point, I feel positively amazing. Part of that is because I’m just proud of myself for doing it and even more proud that I was able to follow both routines the whole way through, something I wouldn’t have been able to do a few months ago. The cherry on top is that I physically feel better; my muscles are limber again and while they are still a bit sore, it’s at a much more manageable level.

Of course, as with any new exercise, the real test is still to come: how will I feel tomorrow and will I be able to get the same results consistently? I certainly hope so, but I’ll keep updating as I go along.

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