Archive for ‘Exercise’

January 1, 2020

Your 2020 “Givens”

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Annie Spratt

Happy New Year! 2020 – a round year to round out your list of “givens.” 

In order to manage my disease, I’ve developed a list of “givens,” – the things that allow me to live “companionably” with RA. This list has evolved over the years to include more self-care. I have also given myself time to incorporate it into my lifestyle. Suffice to say that I was not quite ready for some habits. Or perhaps the habits weren’t ready for me!

Here are some examples of the things on my list of givens:

  • Getting some form of exercise/movement each day. This could be as simple as putting on some tunes and dancing around the living room, going for a swim, doing Essentrics or venturing out for a walk. Cleaning also counts.
  • Choosing foods that are nutritionally sound, even if I slip up with some of those things on my “naughty, but nice list.” Ice-cream, chocolate….
  • Listening to my body and learning its language.
  • Making sure I get enough rest and sleep.
  • Transforming my stress.
  • With stress transformation, comes the realization that sometimes life, and RA, can get in the way of bowing down to my givens. If that’s the case, I pick up the list the next hour or the next day. The important thing is that I get back to it as soon as possible.

Driving in a New Direction in 2020

A new year and a new decade may just the catalyst you need to expand your list of givens that will drive you in a new direction. If your resolution list is as lengthy as your “Dear Santa List” once was, you may wish to pare it down to make it more manageable. You want to be successful at each step along the way.

Start small. Another option is to do this Start, Stop, Continue exercise that is reflective of where you’ve been, whether you wish to stay there and what needs fixing/adding/augmenting. 

For me, it is a better “vehicle” than that (often broken down) resolution list. This is the destination for 2020: New Year Renewal

What things are on your “given” list for 2020?

 

December 9, 2019

Essentrics Are Essential, Especially with RA

It started with a trip to the library. While perusing the DVDs I came across the Essentrics Pain-Relief Workouts : Standing, Floor and Barre Workouts. I loved how at ease I felt while doing the exercises. The best part was that I felt much more limber after doing a workout almost-first-thing in the morning. (By the way, you do not need a barre – a chair serves as your barre.)

What I love about these exercises is that they are gentle. Miranda Esmonde-White, who retired from the National Ballet Company of Canada, knows her stuff. If her routines are good enough for the Montreal Canadiens and Cirque de Soleil, they are good enough for me! (No, you don’t need to be a high performance athlete to benefit or to take part.

In the beginner DVDs, Miranda cautions you to respect your body. If it hurts, don’t push into the pain. Instead, go back to the point where you didn’t feel pain, thereby allowing your brain to send the message to your body that it is safe to move to that point. Do what you can, while respecting your limitations, which will more than likely change for the better over time. You’re encouraged to relax while you do lazy, circular movements, reminiscent of T’ai Chi, that help to lengthen and strengthen your muscles.

As a person living with rheumatoid arthritis, you know that range of motion exercises are vital, especially if you wish to maintain the mobility that you do have. Your often-neglected hands and feet aren’t forgotten in Essentrics. A full-body workout in 20 to 30 minutes. Isn’t that worthy of your time? As always, check with your healthcare provider before starting any exercise program.

I have also checked out Classical Stretch – Age Reversing Workouts for Beginners – Mobility and Bone Strengthening, Aging Backwards – Connective Tissue Workouts, Essentrics – The Ultimate Stretch Workouts, Essentrics – Strength and Stretch in Motion, Essentrics – Toning for Beginners – Standing, Floor and Barre, Essentrics – Full Body Toning – Standing and Floor, Essentrics Body Sculpting Series – Volume 1 and Essentrics Body Sculpting Series – Volume 2. (I found the latter two DVDs more challenging to do in the morning, but they were much easier to do in the afternoon.)

The library also had Aging Backwards – 10 Years Younger, 10 Years Lighter, 30 Minutes a Day. It is a wonderful “User’s Manual,” that introduces you to your muscles, ligaments and joints. You’ll learn about the difference in strengthening your muscles concentrically (by shortening them as in weight-lifting), and essentrically, (strengthening by lengthening, as in Essentrics). Aging myths, fitness and disease prevention, injury recovery and exercises are also included in the book.

Equipment

Apart from the cost of the DVDs, which I’d class as $$, you don’t need expensive gear. Maybe an exercise mat if you have hardwood floors, a sturdy chair and an exercise band. For the exercise band you can use a towel, or braid your old pantyhose if you’d prefer something stretchy. (I remember doing that in the 80s when I did those Jane Fonda exercise videos. Do you remember VCR tapes?)

My feet tend to slip on the carpet, so I put socks on that have a rubberized non-slip sole:

Do Better When You Know Better

In my 20s and 30s, I taught fitness classes. If only I knew then what I know now, bolstered with the information I gleaned from Miranda. It is what it is, so by applying the principles I’ve learned from Miranda in her Essentrics program, I can do better in order to live better.

Perhaps if I were 10-15 years younger, I’d consider beoming an instructor. Similar to my Auntie Stress hat, I suspect that I would become my own best client. That’s how much I believe in the Essentrics system.

The movements I’ve learned and practiced in the livingroom accompany me as I go about my day. I am more mindful of how I walk and stand (something that is covered in the How To section of Classical Stretch Posture and Pain Relief DVD). I have even incorporated some of the movements into my pool exercises.

Now, my biggest challenge is to choose one of the DVDs from the many that are currently on special. If you are interested, the 30% special ends December 27, 2019, at 11:59 pm, EST.

No, I am not being compensated for this review! Darn! 😉 I’m sharing this information with you so that you can take back the reigns of your life and giddy-on-up to feeling and doing better!

 

April 30, 2019

“Paw-blem” Solving

HollysBoots

Holly is still with us, despite her diagnosis in December 2017.

Unlike the boys, Harley and Murphy, Holly is more high maintenance, which is understandable, given her rough beginning. “Just like her ‘mamma’,” says my husband! (RA tends to make one high maintenance, but that’s a post for another day.)

She has an inexplicable skin condition, which is extremely itchy. Her nerves are impacted because of the location of the tumour. As a result, she doesn’t feel when she has the urge to poop. The solution is to put a diaper on her when she is in the house.

She drags her feet when we go on walks, which has worn down her nails so much, that several of them bleed. Whenever we go out, we now have to put boots on her. It’s like getting a toddler ready to go out to play in below zero weather. It takes us about 10 minutes just to get out the door. It is what it is, though.

It’s a challenge to find something that is suitable for both of us. With my loss of hand strength and dexterity, it is difficult to tighten the straps enough so that the boots stay on during our walks. It helps if the straps are long enough so that I can get a good grip on them.

Here are some of boots we’ve bought (and returned):

  • Jawz for Paws Dog Boots  – Impossible for me to stretch the boot enough to get it onto the  “Jawz” – the device that is supposed to make it easy to put on.
  • Puppy Socks – I liked these, but they wore out in 1 week. It says that the toe is covered in rubber. If that were the case, I’m sure that they would have lasted longer.
  • North Fetch Silicone Dog Boots  – I brought XXXL home from the pet store. Couldn’t even get it on her foot. Even if they were a proper size, they’re not tall enough, so you couldn’t tie the boots on tight enough.
  • Waterproof Mesh Dog Boots – My husband uses these. I find that the velcro is not long enough for me to pinch and give a good tightening tug.

Since I couldn’t find any boots that worked, I decided to get some made for Holly. (I’d do it myself, but I don’t have a heavy-duty sewing machine.) We had an old boot that belonged to Harley, which worked pretty well, until she wore a hole in it.

I stopped at the shoemaker to ask him to sew a pair for Holly from a pattern I had traced from Harley’s boot. He told me that he didn’t have any appropriate material from which to make it.

Undaunted, I stopped a thrift store, where I found a pair of men’s heavy duty work gloves that would work. I brought them and my pattern back to the shoemaker. To prolong the life of the boots, I asked him to sew leather over the toes. They were ready in a couple of hours.

DogBoots

To keep them on, I wrap a strip of velcro around the boot and off we go. If they do fall off, which isn’t often, when I can get the velcro pulled tight enough, the bright orange boots are easy to spot.

“Pawblem”solved!

March 27, 2019

#566 – Live Better with RA – Tip #3

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Tip #3 – Move/Exercise

The last thing you may feel like doing is moving, when even talking hurts. The adage “move it or lose it” applies, especially when you have RA. If you’re concerned that you are doing more damage, consult a physiotherapist for appropriate exercises for RA.

In addition to keeping you mobile, strong and flexible, the right amount of exercise can help kick inflammation to the curb. I always notice a huge improvement in mobility, particularly after my swim.

UC San Diego Health has this to say about exercise as an anti-inflammatory:

The brain and sympathetic nervous system — a pathway that serves to accelerate heart rate and raise blood pressure, among other things — are activated during exercise to enable the body to carry out work. Hormones, such as epinephrine and norepinephrine, are released into the blood stream and trigger adrenergic receptors, which immune cells possess.

This activation process during exercise produces immunological responses, which include the production of many cytokines, or proteins, one of which is TNF — a key regulator of local and systemic inflammation that also helps boost immune responses.

Speaking of moving and exercising, I’d like to share what Rick, my online acquaintance, has accomplished. His go-to exercise is cycling, which combined with healthy eating (see Tip #2), has allowed him to become, in his own words “a big loser.” Way to go, Rick!

A big round of applause to all of us who are losers, and to some of us who have been on the weight-loss/weight-gain teeter-totter and have finally settled into a good place/weight.

In case you are in the midst of a major flare, I’m swimming two extra lengths just for you! (It’s my new thing. Consider it an energetic gift for someone who is unable to move/exercise. 🙂 Whether I’m stretching, lifting weights, swimming or dog walking, I’m finishing my “usual” routine by doing two more – be it lengths, blocks, lifts, reps, minutes or holds.)

Can you guess what Tip #4 will be?

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