I felt like I was standing still. Not because of choice, but because of change. For most of my life, I had been active. Sports in high school, 10K’s in my 20’s, a marathon at 33, aerobics instructor, avid hiker, and a gym membership even with five kids. I was always in pretty decent shape. Until a whole bunch of life hit.
That kind of thing happens as we get older. Life takes turns that we didn’t plan for. How do we regroup when any number of possible setbacks interrupt our lives?
Sometimes we just have to start over. But that can be hard when we are not really a beginner. “But I used to…” Those words can sabotage us; they certainly tried to get me. I have had to embrace the fact that I am a beginner, again. I finally bought a program called Power Body Program: Beginner. I found these adjustments helped get me started again.
IT STARTS WITH OUR MINDS
Fitness begins in the mind because fitness is not just exercise. It’s a general state of well-being and affects every part of our lives. Although getting older is inevitable, there is much we can do to enhance our overall health. We begin by acknowledging that our mind has more of an effect on our bodies than time.
IT STARTS WITH AN HONEST ASSESMENT
We have to be honest about where we’re at. I had to acknowledge that I wasn’t going back to where I was. My goal became to get in the best shape I could today. I want to do the big and little things of everyday life: hike with my family, paint the guest room, yank weeds out of the garden, get the dogfood home. And just generally feel good every day.
IT STARTS WITH REALISTIC GOALS
We need the details. It could be walking a number of steps, or gaining a certain amount of muscle, or stretching for a specified amount of time. It doesn’t matter where we start. We start where we are and go from there.
IT STARTS WITH A SCHEDULE
We determine realistically what works for us. What days and times work for us? We don’t let the day order our commitment. We make our commitment order the day.
When we have setbacks, it is easy to settle for a new reality. And we may have to do so for a short time. But we have to remember that what we think determines our reality more than circumstances. I hate that I had to get a “beginner” program after being on the other end for so long. But i’d rather be a beginner than a settler.
Cheers to being a beginner. Even if it’s beginning again.
“You need to ignore what everyone else is doing and achieving. Your life is about breaking your own limits and outgrowing yourself to live your best life. Push to outdo your past, not other people.”
I just saw this on Instagram and definitely agree with most of it. Paying attention to what everyone else is doing only serves to make us feel insecure. Or superior. Both of which are unhealthy.
But as we take the focus off other people, do we turn our attention to beating past versions of ourselves? As we grow older, we have so many versions of that person. We have the past version that was 24 hours ago. And the one that was 24 years ago. As we get older, we can forget the yesterday we can still see and remember the yesterday we can’t.
When I was in my worst days with rheumatoid arthritis, I didn’t remember that yesterday I didn’t so much as go for a walk, but I clearly remembered the double workouts from my 20s. I remembered the marathon I completed, the weights I lifted, the mountains I climbed. Beating yesterday can be overwhelming if those are the yesterdays we are trying to beat.
A while back I decided that instead of “beating yesterday” I would “befriend today.” Beating implies a competition while befriending suggests an alliance. When we befriend today, we enter into an amicable relationship with the day. We are able to show up and do what is best for our bodies where we are at now. Not where we were yesterday.
Being our best can’t just mean doing more than we did yesterday. Befriending today could be walking for an hour, meditating for 10 minutes, making a nice dinner, stretching, lifting some light weights. Or it could mean sitting outside with some tea and a good book. If I show up, fully present, and do what is best for my body today, I win.
All of us have yesterdays filled with both accomplishments and regret. They are valuable teachers, but poor monuments. Whether it is the yesterday we can see or the one that reminds us of who we were, today’s victories can be sweeter than yesterday’s accomplishments.
The best way to beat yesterday? Befriend today. It’s been my best ally and greatest treasure.
This isn’t the typical post for me. But March is National Autoimmune Diseases Awareness Month, and it is definitely a topic that needs awareness. I knew almost nothing before being diagnosed myself. With over 50 million people affected by this disease, and millions more likely undiagnosed, autoimmune disease is becoming a health crisis. Early diagnosis can make a significant difference in one’s ability to fight the disease with minimal damage to the body.
The problem with bringing awareness is that, although there are over 100 autoimmune diseases, they are most often looked at as individual diseases, including Hashimoto’s, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, celiac, and Crohn’s. But these diseases all have a common factor: the immune system is attacking a part of the body. The name of the disease depends on what part of the body is being attacked. For example, Hashimoto’s and Grave’s disease attack the thyroid, rheumatoid arthritis attacks joints, lupus attacks organ systems, Crohn’s attacks the digestive tract.
Autoimmune diseases target women 75% more often than men, and combined, autoimmune diseases are one of the top ten killers of women under the age of 65. According to American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA), autoimmune diseases are on the rise. The reasons for that are not known, but as people become more aware of their own risk factors, they can seek a diagnosis and begin a treatment regimen as soon as symptoms occur.
Some symptoms of autoimmune disease include joint pain, fatigue, rash, stomach issues, and a general feeling of unwellness. These conditions are present in other diseases as well, making it hard to diagnose autoimmunity, especially if it is one of the rarer forms. It is also likely a genetic factor exists, so if there is a family member who has had an autoimmune disease that is good to know and mention to a doctor.
Inflammation is at the root of all these diseases, so asking your doctor to run blood tests that check for signs of inflammation might be helpful. Since these diseases most often affect women, and it is easy to attribute fatigue to working and raising children, women are sent home with the “understanding” that their fatigue is normal. The kind of fatigue associated with autoimmune disease is anything but normal.
It is estimated that people with autoimmune disease will see up to four doctors before a diagnosis. It is important that people are aware so they can be their own advocate and understand risk factors and treatment options. These diseases can be game changers in a person’s life. There is often much pain and an inability to do business as usual. A diagnosis helps that person come to terms with what is going on in the body and get treatment.
Autoimmune disease has definitely affected my life, and I have more to say about that, but for right now awareness is key. Disability and organ damage are often a part of the disease, so early diagnosis and treatment can help people live longer and more normal lives. It is possible to be stronger than autoimmune disease…the first step is knowing what we are fighting!
I have always been an avid reader. Books opened up a whole new world for me, and I devoured them growing up. Today, I still love reading. And while a good “beach read” is a fun escape, I don’t so much want to be entertained as I want to be provoked. I want to be challenged in the way I think, or understand something more fully.
As we get older it is so important that we stay curious, that we allow our worlds to expand. It is also important that we stay active. I have discovered a way to do both.
When I was diagnosed with RA a number of years ago, it was challenging to stay active. I loved to run, hike, and weight train. But for a while, I couldn’t even walk. Just getting to the mailbox was a stretch. But as my body began to heal, I was able to go farther. Sometimes I wanted a distraction from some discomfort I still had.
Enter the podcast. I love the long format style of discussion, and after this year’s election cycle, I can’t handle other news sources. Sound bites never tell the whole story and often suggest something that is far from truth. Context is king, and sound bites offer none of it.
At first, I just listened to episodes that were inspirational. I needed encouragement, motivation, and hope poured into my soul. I almost always came back better than when I left. Because I believe that truth is truth, it didn’t matter if someone’s belief system was different than mine. I learned to look past some of the things I might not agree with and grab the good.
Honestly, anything that sounds interesting usually proves to have some element of inspiration in it. Interesting people inspire me. Below are some of my favorite podcasts, along with a few specific episodes that I really liked.
Super Soul Conversations Oprah Winfrey
Lady Gaga: “Heal through Kindness”
Bryan Stevenson: “The Power of Mercy and Forgiveness”
Michael Singer: “Free Yourself from Negative Thoughts”
Paul Coelho: “What if the Universe Conspired in Your Favor”
Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks: “Powerful Books, Mystics, and the Dangers of Safe Spaces”
Lori Gottlieb: “The Power of Getting to Unknot Yourself”
Jocko Willink: “On Quitting, Relationships, Financial Discipline and more”
Jim Collins: “The Value of Small Gestures, Unseen sources of Power and more”
Jerry Seinfeld: “A Comedy Legend’s Systems, Routines, and Methods for Success”
Harley Finkelstein: “Tactics and Strategies form Shopify, the Future of Retail and more”
Joe Rogan (on Spotify)
Neil de Grasse Tyson
These are just some that I have enjoyed. The podcast world has exploded over the past few years and there are so many out there. Get good walking shoes, grab earbuds, and head out the door. You just might come back better than when you left!