Thursday, September 13, 2018

I Want to Live a Long, Healthy Life

If you were to hear today that your father has cancer, you could go to the Internet and Google everything you want to know about it, including possible cures.  However, my 17-year-old self could not.  It was pre-internet back in 1979 . We had the library and we had encyclopedias; so when I stumbled upon an article in our Good Housekeeping magazine about a doctor curing his cancer by changing his diet, I was fascinated.  I was also young and my father’s cancer was too far progressed so we didn’t try this.  But, I kept that article.

I thought about this throughout the years, but didn’t study it a whole lot more.  My name is Patty and over the course of 2 years, I have lost 75 pounds and gained a whole new life.  When I met the trainer who would help me, I was a 276 pound woman with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, inflamed rheumatoid arthritis, and a thyroid that was seriously out of whack (even with medicine.)  I was 54 years old and I definitely didn’t think I would see 55 (especially remembering my dad only saw 53.)

Throughout my years of being overweight, I had tried almost every “diet” out there with very limited success.  I had recently worked with the Metabolic Center upon my Rheumatologists request.  I was quickly disillusioned because they wanted my calories in to be at 1000 calories a day and they also said, “Don’t exercise as it will make you hungry.”  This picture is a representation also of all the “supplements” I would need to assist in the weight loss.

Week after week I would meet with them and say “I physically cannot take all of these supplements.  What is the one most important one?”  And every week they would end up with “You need them all.”  I grew tired of this charade and so when I met the trainer who would help me, I told him straight up.  Diet and Exercise – NO SUPPLEMENTS. 

It turned out that is what he was all about anyway.  He was also about “eating.”  Let me say that again.  He was and is all about eating.  Never had I ever met anyone who encouraged eating.  95% of the programs I had tried in the past had put me at 1000-1200 calories a day.  Now I was closer to 2000 calories a day.  I exercised daily and turned in a food log weekly.  He began to teach me about whole foods and better food choices.  He would talk about limiting or eliminating processed food, but that did not mean anything to me; so he would look at my food log and say “instead of this, try this.”

When you have RA or Thyroid issues there are a lot of doctor appointments.  I had gone to my Rheumatologist for a routine visit in January of 2016.  One week later I started my weight loss journey.  Approximately 6 months later I had another routine Rheumatologist appointment.  I had lost about 40 pounds and totally changed my eating to whole foods, eliminating most sugars, and eating almost 2000 calories a day while exercising 5 to 6 times a week.  I wish I had saved the voice mail message I received from the Rheumatologist office.  The shock in the voice, the praise for whatever I was doing – the encouragement to keep it up.  It was so thrilling to hear.   All of the inflammation markers had gone from high to low.
I was beginning to see how food affected my health; just like I had read about back in that Good Housekeeping article from 1979.

I have been eating this way for over two years now.  The results have stayed fantastic.  My blood pressure is normal; my cholesterol is normal; my RA inflammation is basically in remission; and my thyroid medicine has been adjusted to a lower dose. 

A very basic graphic if you are interested looks like this.  A lot of people say “Oh I could never do that.”  But if you just choose one thing at a time and make it a habit, it’s not so overwhelming.  I’m literally saving and prolonging my life so I will always do this.  That being said, If I want a piece of pizza sometime, I go for it.  If I want Fettucine Alfredo, I go for it.  But honestly, I feel the inflammation the next day so a lot of times I choose not to “go for it.”

I am extremely thankful as I was not looking for the next diet fad, I was looking for a healthy, sustainable, way to live and enjoy my life.  That is what I found!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Moody, Anxious, Tired? I Didn't Realize I Was Until I Wasn't.

I want to share a little bit about my health in the hopes of reaching just one person.  I have six sisters. One of my sisters had Thyroid cancer when she was in high school.  She beat it and she's doing great, but at that point my mom had us get our thyroids checked.  I started taking thyroid medicine when I was 17 years old.

Basically once a year at a physical, I'd have a blood test to tell me if I was at the right dose of medicine.  This has been rote, routine, by the book, for many, many years.   About a year ago, I started working out at MARS (Martial Arts Research Systems).  This is where Ryan went to work after Gold's Gym and before Boston.  While at MARS, Toni the owner and I would get into discussions about thyroid.  She would ask, do they check your T3?  I always answered, "No, just the T4 and TSH - as I silently rolled my eyes at her."  Basically I heard her and said, blah, blah, blah. I mean come on, I've been taking the medicine for over 35 years.   After about the 10th time of her asking me AND her telling me that checking the T3 had become more popular lately, I asked my physician to check my T3.

Couldn't find a picture of Toni - but here's Jenna and I
at Kickboxing.  If the only reason I went there was to find out
about T3 it was worth it. (But there were plenty of other reasons too.)
Guess what?????  My T3 was virtually zero.  (Just another example of being in the right place at the right time.  Meeting Ryan was like that.  Talking to Toni was like that.)   My physician prescribed the proper medication to get T3 back into my body.  After about two weeks, my husband said to me - You have been so much happier since you started that new thyroid medicine.  I was like, I am?   Hmmmm, I am.  It's one of those things that you don't realize until you feel better, if that makes sense.

I decided then and there it was time to see an Endocrinologist.  I was seen July 18th and since then have been going back regularly as we try to get my thyroid within the correct levels.  My T3 is within range, but now that I am getting T3, my T4 meds can keep decreasing.  You have to stay at one dose for 6 weeks and then get rechecked via blood test.  Today, this was the gist of our discourse:

Nurse Practioner:  You've lost weight again, haven't you?
Me:  Yes, I've lost 12 pounds since I saw you 12 weeks ago.
Nurse Practioner: You know if you keep losing weight, we will need to keep reducing the dose of T4?
Me:  Sounds like a great problem to have.

Checkout girl:  Hey, can I have what Patty has?  I want to lose weight too.  :)

My Nurse Practioner is actually very happy I am losing weight.  It's just a sensitive matter to get the dose right, and that means blood work every 6 weeks.  But I told her I planned to lose weight for awhile and I am fine with checking it every 6 weeks.

My hopes in writing this post are only this.  If you deal with thyroid issues, have you ever had the T3 checked?  Just be aware that there is a T3 and a T4.  And apparently once my T3 came back to normal, I became nice and happy.  :)   Let me tell you that there is a retired endocrinologist that I swim with on occasion and she told me that there is no use whatsoever in checking the T3.  She told me this before I saw my current Endocrinologist.  So there is an "old school" that does not believe it's worth it.  But I just want to say from experience, correcting my T3 has changed my life.

I am not a doctor.  I am not giving medical advice.  I am only stating what someone tried over and over to tell me about a year ago.  Has your doctor checked your T3?

Sunday, November 19, 2017

A Harvest of Memories - Thanks Living

It's that time of year again, where I like to reflect back on my year and remember all that I am thankful for.  I thought about just re-posting what I wrote last year in my Thanksgiving = Thanks living post, because I feel much of the same way this year.  But you know me, I have too much to say to just re-post.

My husband of 26 years and me.
I am thankful first and foremost for my husband and my children.  Dave has been reaping many benefits of "fitness" in this year of 2017.  I have complete support from him and all three of my children which makes meal prep and finding the time to work out pretty easy.  We look forward to many years together reaping the benefits of the seeds we are sowing now.

Tori, me, and Stephannie
I am thankful for Tori and Stephannie.  We are a fierce threesome when it comes to obtaining our goals.  When one person is ready to throw in the towel (because of the many changes we've experienced in the past year), the other encourages and reminds why we will not give up.  They are available morning, noon, and night and they are FUNNY.  We send hysterical snapchats to one another and we also are able to just talk about life together and help one another.

The above picture is a true depiction of how my year has gone.  For the NLP program at Golds I am on the 4th trainer in one year.

Number One - Ryan - I am forever grateful for the day I met him.  He has completely changed my life.  And although he left Grand Junction in May of 2017, he continued to work with me from South Dakota and now from Massachusetts.  A lot of our year was spent figuring out some health issues with me, but once they got stabilized and I got back from vacation (August 2017) we started a 20 week plan.  Currently I am just finishing Week 15 and I have lost 15 pounds.   I really can't thank him enough for all he has taught me.

Numbers Two and Three - Semaj and Misty - I am grateful for the short time we had together too.  Lots of laughs and fun.

Number Four- Paul - I actually did NOT like Paul when I met him.  AT ALL.  So I'd say we have come a LONG way.   My husband Dave worked with him all year.  Dave would come home and rave about Paul and about how Paul was helping him get stronger.  It was pretty cool to watch happen actually.  And now, I couldn't be happier to be his client.  He's done an amazing job with his clients at Gold's Gym and his clients have had great success.  If you are local, I highly recommend Paul.  At least go have a sit down and see if he can help you meet your goals.  We certainly hope he stays for awhile so we do NOT have a Five.  So in all seriousness Paul - thank you for all you have done for Dave and for me.

Swimming a Masters swim meet and swimming in general.
I am thankful for swimming which will bring me back to Ryan.  Ryan thank you for encouraging me to get in the pool no matter my weight; but get in the pool because it is something I love to do.  One of my 2017 goals was to swim a Masters Swim Meet which I did!  Right now, I am in an arthritis flare up AND my right wrist and palm have tendinitis.  So I cannot lift weights with my right arm for a few more weeks.  BUT my swimming has become so much stronger because I got in the pool a year ago.  So with the help of a GREAT app - MySwimPro - I am able to complete intermediate level  workouts and get a great cardio / and upper body workout.

2017 - A Year to Remember
2017 was INCREDIBLE.  Jessica graduated from college.  Joe graduated from high school. Ben is almost 16 and driving soon.  Dave and I went to the Grand Canyon, a Nascar Race in Phoenix, and to Bermuda.  Our family went to Branson, Missouri and I went to Ohio to visit my family.  Before January of 2016 these events would have completely exhausted me.  Not only was I NOT exhausted, but I ziplined for the first time.  I did the iFLY for the first time.  I jumped off a cliff for the first time (since I was a teenager.)  I climbed up this rubber slide contraption and slid off with my son, Joe.  So, so very thankful for the weight I've lost and the strength I've gained.

Last but certainly not least I am thankful for all my friends, supporters, and readers.  There are many times, I consider not writing publicly anymore.  I would say when I get a thought like that, someone will message me and tell me how I am inspiring them.  Someone that I had no idea was even reading what I write.  So THANK YOU!  ALL OF YOU!  May God bless you with a wonderful Thanksgiving.

I leave you with the following:

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow." ~ Melody Beattie

Sunday, November 12, 2017

When Life Gives You Lemons , Make Orange Juice and Leave the World Wondering How the Heck You Did It

My sweat sister!
I have spent a good portion of my life "chasing perfectionism."  I did not start out this way, but there was a period of my life where this was being promoted and it has kind of stuck.  Especially so with not feeling well.  I was taught to never "show" that, to put on a happy face and face the world. I think you have to be very careful if you are counseling someone this way, because everyone interprets things differently.  Spending my life chasing perfectionism is exhausting.  Vince Lombardi said "Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."  I'd agree with that.  But it has also been said that "Perfectionism is self-abuse of the highest order."  and "Chasing perfection won't attract those you are meant to serve, sharing your vulnerability will."

It is with that in mind that I write this post.  I have not felt well for awhile.  But having been taught to never show that or talk about it, I've kept it quiet.  However it has affected my mood big time and I actually was hating my workouts for awhile now.  My crappy mood is usually what my trainer will pick up on as we are no longer in the same state and that is the case here.  I told him a few of my aches and pains, but not all and he cut me back some.  After one week of being cut back, I already could tell the difference.  My body needed that rest.

This past week I went to see my Rheumatologist for a routine appointment.  But I made a list of all the things that were hurting on my body and I asked her to help me sort them out.  Was it arthritis, was it tendinitis, was it carpal tunnel, was it a broken bone.  I would say that I do believe my doctors will help me if I am honest with them.  So I laid it all on the line.  Turns out that I have three different things going on.
A Motrin free hand for 36 hours - shows the swollen knuckle
of arthritis.
One - the rheumatoid arthritis is back - after leaving me alone for 7 years.  This I kind of knew, but was really afraid to say anything because I figured once it was back, it was back for good.  OR I would need to go on a
 steroid.  But here's the thing.  My doctor has been with me on this journey of mine and she KNOWS that a steroid would work against my progress.  She is aware of many other ways to attack the RA before ever having to suggest a steroid.  AND it can go away again.  This is not the beginning of the end.  So we made some adjustments to medicine and I will go see her again in 2 1/2 months instead of in 6 months.  Unfortunately this affects my hands, my elbows, my ankles, and my feet.  But I feel confident we will nip it in the bud again.

Two - my right wrist has tendinitis.  I need to rest it for four weeks.  When she told me to rest my right arm for four weeks, it was like a ten-ton brick was lifted off of my chest.  I almost cried with relief to know that it wasn't going to hurt every time I tried to pick up a weight.
Ring finger wouldn't straighten.
Three - my ring finger on the right hand.  I think it got jammed when I fell off the stability ball and I am having trouble making my finger straight.  We did an x-ray (I do not know the results) and I have an appointment Monday with an Occupational Therapist.  But this needs to be rested for four weeks as well.

Now, having said all of that, let me state that she has NEVER told me to stop exercising.  EVER.  She suggested swimming, elliptical, leg day, abs, and anything I wanted to do with my left arm.  So even with all that going on, I can still get my exercise in.

Now here's the really cool thing.  I started swimming again a little over a year ago.  I've become a lot stronger in the water.  And get this, on Monday I got in the pool and my ring finger was bent at the middle knuckle.  I began swimming.  The pain ran down my finger into my hand into my wrist -- for about 200 yards and then the pain stopped.  When I got out of the pool an hour later, I could extend my finger completely.  Also when swimming, no joints hurt.  And swimming is one heck of a workout.  It's the only thing I do that actually makes me hungry (starving actually.)

This is not a "pity" post.  I want you to know that you can do it too.  I'm going to keep doing the things I can, letting the right arm heal, and continuing with forward progress.  I know it's working because I have to go clothes shopping again.  The treatment we started for the arthritis has provided MUCH relief and the rest I have given my wrist has helped too.  And I'm enjoying myself again.
This is me - enjoying myself again!
And if my trainers have made it this far into the post, please know that I am working on making sure you know how I feel, because I know you are not mind-readers.  It's a personal problem with me from years of chasing perfectionism and thinking that I cannot show others my weaknesses.

Life is full of choices.  When life gives me lemons, I choose to make orange juice and I will leave the world wondering how the heck I did it.

Friday, November 3, 2017

To Become A Champion, You Must Love What You Are Doing!

Winning is not the most important thing.  Winning is a byproduct of having your life in balance and keeping what's most important in perspective........     To become a champion, you must love what you are doing, and have fun when it counts the most.  Happy swimmers are fast swimmers........ Be happy!!!!!!!!!!!

That is the sign on the wall at the CMU pool where I swim.  Sometimes I forget to have fun and to be happy.  Life is meant to be lived and enjoyed!

Be happy!
A quick update on me.  I know that my wrist is NOT broken and that my wrist does NOT have arthritis.  Two really good things to know.  I am taking two weeks off of "lifting" anything with my right wrist.  I just completed week one.  I see the Rheumatologist for a scheduled appointment next week and then I should know more after that.  I am still on course with my 20 week plan.  I've added an extra day of swimming in these two weeks.

I love swimming for a variety of reasons.  It brings back really happy memories.  It reminds me of my college friends.  I enjoy the solitude of swimming.  It's easy on my joints.  It's one heck of a cardio workout.

Ten years ago I swam one Masters swim workout.  The coach said I had a great breaststroke and would I like to join the Masters team.  I said, "No, but I will once I hit a certain weight."  That weight number was 175.  It is now ten years later, and I have still not hit that weight. 
Me swimming breaststroke (today.)
I made this same argument with Trainer One in the Fall of 2015.  His response was along the lines of "If you love swimming, you should be swimming.  Don't let your weight stop you from doing something you love!"  So I found a suit big enough and I got in the pool at Gold's Gym -- all 250 plus pounds of me.  I could swim 100 yards without stopping and then I was POOPED!  I kept swimming but only one length at a time.

October 2015 - if you love swimming - SWIM!  (Trainer One)
Today I am swimming faster and much further than I was when I started.  I'm always smiling when I swim (well except for when I need a breath.)  The pool just feels like home to me.  I love the smell of chlorine - many happy memories with that smell.  I was thinking today had I waited until I weigh 175 to get in the pool, I still would not be swimming today.   So the take away from this post today is don't let your weight hold you back from doing something you love!  You may have to start slow and you will not be as fast as your younger self, but I bet you'll love what you are doing!

Me today - Butterfly (without fins).  This means my abs are getting stronger!
Photo cred for the today pictures goes to Whitney Robison

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Be a Fighter Jet!

Are you frustrated?
Are you not where you want to be in life?
Do you feel like no matter what you try nothing seems to help?
If so you need to be more like a fighter jet!
Let me explain.....
As you probably know there is no magic pill or "positive-thinking" method that can get you there. It all comes down to your habits or lack thereof.
As John Maxwell says " People have uphill dreams, but downhill habits"
Another way I've come to look at this that I've adopted from one of my mentors is the difference between a fighter jet and a crop-duster plane.
Obviously there is a BIG visual difference you can see in these two planes. But I believe we can learn a lot more than meets the eye between these two aircraft.
Start adopting these three "habits" of a fighter jet if you want massive success that you can sustain.
Be a fighter jet!
1.) Pre-flight Routine
In order for a fighter jet to take off and get into the air, a lot of special clearances and operations need to happen. The pilot must go through a lengthy checklist and there is a whole team on board to make sure everything is cleared and the flight goes smoothly. However, anyone who can fly any ol' plane can walk outside and jump in a crop-duster and off they go.
​If you want to be a high performer and get the most out of each day, you also need to start getting into a routine. For starters get 7-8 hrs of quality sleep each night. Wake up at the same time everyday (yes even on the weekends). Your body thrives on consistency so doing this sets your sleep/wake homeostasis cycle and circadian rhythm biological clock properly so you're operating at maximum efficiency each day.
Just like it takes a whole process for a fighter jet to even take flight, to consistently achieve your goals it requires the same. You need to plan and prepare for the week ahead. Look at your schedule, what events are coming up? Make sure you've gone grocery shopping and that you have some meals and snacks prepped for when you know you'll need them. Be sure you've made time to get in 3-4 workouts for the week as well.
Now you're cleared for take off and ready to dominate your week!

​2.) Maintenance
As you can imagine the maintenance and upkeep of a fighter jet and a crop-duster is drastically different. It's the same way with underachievers and high- performers.
So fill your body with high quality foods (mostly unprocessed) and drink plenty of water throughout the day. A fighter jet requires a higher grade fuel than a crop-duster and your body is no different.
​If a crop-duster were a person it would be the kind that skips meals, powers through the day, and then picks the easy, cheap, and unhealthy option for dinner. The fighter jet on the other hand can't afford to miss any steps that haven't been take into account beforehand.
You only have one body, so take care of it!
Again, think about the fighter's stored in special hangers or on aircraft carriers guarded by military personnel.
The crop-duster?
It's just out there beside the old barn underneath a tarp exposed to all the elements.
So don't overeat, don't drink too much, don't smoke, or hold grudges.
​Keep your body and mind in pristine condition by watching what you do, what you think, and how you let things affect you.
Remember, you may not be able to change your circumstances but you can always change your attitude. Control what you can, cope with what you can't, and concentrate on what counts.
3.) Your Fleet
If you visit an aircraft carrier full of fighter jets, you aren't going to see any crop-dusters around.  Why?
Because fighter jets don't hang out with crop-dusters 
In all seriousness the people you surround yourself with will always have a massive impact on your life and what you're able to achieve. As a fighter jet you'd never go to battle with a crop-duster because it simply can't go as fast, can't fly as high, and is content with staying closer to the ground and doing ordinary things.
Who is in your fleet?
Instead, surround yourself with other people who want more out of life. People that are givers not just takers. Folks that don't gossip,who look to serve others, and who have a positive attitude.
If you can't remove certain negative people from your life (like family), then just limit the amount of time you spend around them so you can you be out and about making the world a better place.
You were made for more in this life.
Are you going to put in the work and effort to be a fighter jet which will allow you to have and sustain success, or are you going to settle for being a crop-duster and just get by?
The choice is yours.
I hope you'll choose to be a fighter jet!
Happy Hump Day!
Trevor (Blacksburg VA Fit Body Bootcamp)

Friday, October 27, 2017

But It Wasn't My Idea -- Week 12 of 20

Here is my reality.  I am not Super-Woman.  Surprising, right?  Yeah surprising to me too.  Sometimes I think I'm still that 19 or 20 year old athlete, but my body says NO.  My reality is I have two auto-immune diseases.  They call these invisible diseases because when people look at you, you look completely healthy.  But you don't always feel completely healthy.

Week 12 - Control the Mind
Week 11 I was a bit of a cry baby and everything hurt and this sucks, etc., etc., etc.  Week 12 I was told to cut back on certain exercises and swim more or do the AMT more.  I KNOW that was the right decision.  Hell I was thinking of suggesting it myself.  But to have it told to me instead of it being my idea, didn't go over well.  Does that ever happen to you?  Come on, be honest.  What is that?  Pride?

AMT with friends - makes time fly by.  (Well sort of.)
My RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis) seems to be flaring up.  However, it's not something I am real familiar with.  I had the original pain seven years ago and then the diagnosis and then a steroid treatment for a year and then really no pain since.  But when you have to take Motrin in the morning and the evening just so your fingers won't swell and if  you try to make it without Motrin your knuckles look purple, you might be in a flare up.

Honestly this is where I am very thankful to have a trainer that has stuck with me and knows my moods and my aches and pains and who can point out to me when I need to cut back.  Like I said, I wasn't happy, but I am at the end of that week now and feeling WAY better.  I'm going longer without Motrin.  So next step is to figure it out on my own (when to cut back) before going cray cray.

I have an appointment in two weeks, so don't worry about me.  I'll figure it out with my rheumatologist.  I downloaded an app that allows me to input a lot of information daily about symptons and quality of life.  I'll be able to bring my doctor this info and we'll be able to come up with a course of action (hopefully without steroids.)  In the meantime, I swim more and weight train slightly less.

Sometimes I am hesitant to write to you about my aches and pains and/or my autoimmune diseases, but I feel it's necessary.  The absolute worse thing I coud do would be to stop exercising.  Movement is great for the RA.  Swimming has been awesome for it, especially in a colder pool (as opposed to a warm therapy pool.)

Swimming does not hurt any of my joints - at all.  This week I have swum PRs (personal records) all week.  PRs for me since I started swimming again a little over a year ago.  Not PRs from when I was 20.  One workout I swam 3 - 1000 yard swims with 30 seconds rest in between each one.  That's 120 lengths.  Today I swam 2 - 1000 yard swims and beat my time from the Masters Swim Meet in March by one minute in the 1000.  That was pretty exciting for me.

Let's not let our pride get in the way when someone suggests something to us that we know is the right decision, yet it wasn't our decision.  Let's be bigger than that.   There I'm done preaching.

Just know that if I can do this, you can too!

If you need a laugh, enjoy my epic gym fail on the (unstable) stability ball.