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"You Don't Look Sick"
Often times when people find out I have Rheumatoid Arthritis they say "You don't look sick". That's because R.A. is a silent disease. It attacks the joints and depending on the severity of the disease; it can attack the nervous system and soft tissue. It causes extreme fatigue and the pain can be excruciating.
I've had it since I was an infant. After a Rheumatic Fever attack as a baby, my joints were affected for life. All my life I've had to deal with joint dislocation, painful swelling, and stiffness. The attacks are at random times and without warning . Mine are more often around rainy days, I always know when it is about to rain, (even when the meteorologist doesn't). I'd like to see it more as a super power. With a disease like this, who needs the weather channel. Right? ;)
2010 is when it became more real for me. I wasn't taking care of my already sick body. I was overweight, and my stress levels were through the roof. As a result, this body started turning against me. It was knocking me off my feet weeks at a time. I couldn't raise my arms without shoulder pain. Forget about doing step ups on even a low step! My body would scream if I attempted shoulder presses or step ups! That's when I knew I had to do more. I had already been a fitness boot camp instructor for 3 years prior to 2010, but I wasn't serious about fitness. I was still getting away with a lot.
In 2010 I discovered weight training. It was painful and it was hard, but I found that the more I lifted and the more muscle I built the less frequent the pain became. A light bulb went off in my head and I made the decision to lift regularly. But, I still struggled and still had bumps along the way.
My second wake up call was in late 2014 when 70% of my body went numb and started developing "Drop Foot". Meaning; I lost all feeling and strength of my left leg from the knee down. Now THAT was scary!!
Imagine tripping over nothing all day long and having to use your arms to lift your leg just to get up on a curb.
When I heard the doctors say "Multiple Sclerosis", I knew I had to go at it HARDER. I knew that fitness was forever going to be a top priority for me. I trained harder and I cleaned my diet completely. It wasn't easy, it was frustrating and I spent a lot of days crying at the gym as I forced my body to respond.
As if that wasn't enough, Doctors found spinal stenosis, and a bone spur in my spine growing inward in my neck. Doctors urged me to stop lifting before I became paralyzed... Wait what?! ... no way, Jose!
I am grateful to say that because of my stubbornness and unwillingness to give up, I now have full mobility. My flare-ups are mild and spread out to maybe only once per year without medication. I haven't needed surgery and I am not paralyzed!
I am telling you all this because I want to encourage you to take care of your body. Sick or not, you can prevent a lot and improve a lot by just keeping the body moving and eating healthy. By the way, things didn't really get that much better until I understood that NUTRITION was a major part of the process. So make nutrition and exercise A MUST before it actually becomes a must. It doesn't have to be weight training. Try different styles of fitness until you find what you enjoy and stick to that! It doesn't have to be a crazy diet either, just eat clean! Eat more fresh foods, and less junk food!
Proper nutrition and fitness has saved my body, and it can save yours too!
Go smash something!
LIFE. PROSPERITY. HEALTH.