A look at how nutrition and fitness habits impact life with autoimmune diseases (namely Rheumatoid Arthritis and Hypothyroidism). 

A look at how nutrition and fitness habits impact life with autoimmune diseases (namely Rheumatoid Arthritis and Hypothyroidism). 

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Part 7: Recap and Reflection

Thanks for checking back in for this last installment of My Ra Story. If this happens to be your first time, take a look back at Week 1 that has an overview of this series with links the other weeks' posts. 

Health Update

The past eight weeks (well really 3+ months) have been a rollercoaster.  I felt AMAZING after giving birth to my first born 6 months ago. I had more energy than I'm normally used to and I was still reaping the benefits of the pregnancy hormones squelching my RA symptoms. I was enjoying not having to be on meds to manage my RA and hopeful that staying active and eating healthy may lengthen the amount of time I could go without them. 

About four months in I learned that Postpartum Thyroiditis caused my hypothyroidism to swing to hyperthyroidism and then eventually (in the past month) back to more severe hypo. My doctor explained that my numbers were way out of wack and enough to make anyone feel terrible despite living an otherwise healthy lifestyle. My baby was finally sleeping better allowing me to regularly get a good night's sleep but I was feeling worse and worse. I was sore, achey and freezing most of the time, but most of all, just unbelievably exhausted. We adjusted my dosage of Levothyroxine and I'm still figuring out if that will do the trick and get me back to 100 percent. 

This past week I finally had enough energy at least to push through our free 7 Day Fitness Challenge, so that's at least a step in the right direction! I've been sticking to a gluten free diet since New Year's and while it's seemed to tame the join pain, some days are still worse than others and I do think I'm getting back to the point where I need to revisit my Rheumatologist and come up with a treatment plan that may involve medication. That's the thing about RA and other autoimmune diseases - while having a healthy gut and living a healthy lifestyle can make a big impact on how you're feeling, sometimes meds are absolutely needed to prevent irreversible damage from these degenerative diseases. Thus my biggest advice would be to shop around for a doctor you love and trust. Come up with a plan together that finds a healthy balance of nutrition, fitness and medication as all three have to work together to keep you at your best for the long run! 

Takeaways from the past 8 weeks...

  • Good nutrition is essential to feeling your best. There are foods that are great for fighting inflammation and promoting overall health. Bonus? A lot of these foods have cancer-fighting agents. #Winning
  • Getting moving is the hardest part. Gosh, but once you take that first step it's SO worth it and it gets easier and easier every day! Remember that when you stop moving your joints get stiff, your muscles get weak and you lose energy making you less likely to want to start exercising again, thus perpetuating the vicious cycle. Start slow and make modifications to workouts to accommodate your level of fitness. Push yourself to do a little more every day - challenge yourself to keep improving! You'll be surprised at how easy workouts that your struggled with at the beginning become after a few weeks! 
  • Stretch. Stretch. Stretch. Seriously. Stretch when you wake up, before you go to bed and as often as you can in between. Stretch doing mundane chores. Stretch at your desk. Fit in whenever and as often as you can. Oh, and don't neglect the little things... your fingers, toes, feet, wrists and ankles need some love too. 
  • Get Help When Needed. You can do everything right; eat great and exercise daily, but sometimes it's not enough. Listen to your body and seek medical help when needed. It's not worth risking serious damage to your joints or organs. 

Looking Ahead

This wraps up my eight week (7 part) RA journey via the blog. Obviously my story doesn't end here though. It's really just the beginning as these postpartum months have changed things around on me. While I won't be sharing insights every Monday, I may still incorporate an update on the blog from time to time, so be sure to subscribe to my newsletter and follow me on social using the form and links below. 

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