New attitude, new strength, new opportunities

2015 is going to be a great year for me. I know it. The last two and a half years have been a complete nightmare – trying to accept having an illness and all the horrific realizations that come along with it. You think you know but you have no idea until you experience it for yourself. A hospital stay. Chronic nausea. Bacteria overgrowth. Flying to Chicago to be cared for by family with bacteria overgrowth because I wasn’t able to care for myself. Devastation. Loss. Reality.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m so fortunate and grateful for all I have, but anyone who is living with a chronic disease knows challenges are constantly thrown your way and I’m usually left changing things around and trying to go with the flow which isn’t easy when my body says no but my mind wants to say yes. I’m getting better at not overcommitting myself – something that is extremely important to me. When I do too much I end up paying for it. This is a constant struggle for me and in my opinion, for most people living with RA.

I started Pilates with a friend last week and know it is going to change my life. I haven’t been ready for this until now. I’m an expert on listening to my body and my body has been craving more lately. So I decided to try private duet sessions on the reformer machines and build up my strength by committing to two sessions a week. Starting off slow is key – one session for two weeks to make sure I can handle the pace. The day after my first session I was sore, but in a good way. Epsom salt baths and stretching are my new best friends. Continuing my cardio is also key – committing to moving my body no matter how exhausted I may be.

I’m pleasantly surprised with how strong my body is and I feel comfortable with where I am and where I want to go. I have been walking taller, working on my posture and am mindful of my movements – and that has been an amazing experience. My boyfriend told me I’ve been “walking on air” for days.

There is hope and light at the end of the tunnel. I’m confident that through adding Pilates to my routine and mixing things up that I will increase my flexibility, build muscle and feel better all around. Not to mention I’m excited I’m able to work out in this capacity. I finally feel like my old self. Muscle has memory – my body knows I’m craving to increase it and shed the weight I’ve gained so my joints are as happy with me as possible. I’m confident that 2015 will be a better year than the last couple with more movement and exercise to increase my quality of life.

asbRA was diagnosed with RA in November 2012 at the age of 27 and fibromyalgia in 2013. Through therapy and MBSR meditation asbRA found her calling in journaling her experience and is writing a book on how to navigate an RA diagnosis in the prime of one’s life. As a strong advocate in the autoimmune community asbRA shares her wisdom in hopes of helping others. @AllisonSBerger

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