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Category Archives: exercise

Swimsuits & Shifting Focus

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I pay too much attention to wanting to be thinner and feeling sad I can’t drop any weight. I should be thankful I can move it and do some cool activities!!”

This is a quote from a friend who hikes, does triathlons, skis, and has a blast playing actively with her kids. Yet, she was feeling sad that the number on the scale wasn’t going down and that she wasn’t thinner. I think most women share her frustration. I know I do. Our bodies do amazing things, yet we’re unsatisfied with them because they aren’t smaller. Because they jiggle. Because they have stretch marks, lumps, rolls, or loose skin. Because they don’t look like they used to. Because they don’t look like that actress or that other mom who always looks cute. I hear this from women over and over, of all different ages and levels of fitness. I’m sure men have the same struggles.

So, how do we shift our focus? First, strive to appreciate what our bodies can do. By re-training ourselves to focus on body functionality, we can regain a more balanced perspective toward our bodies. Even if you can’t go up the stairs without getting winded or have to use a wheelchair, your body still does amazing things. Your smile lightens the hearts of those around you; your arms give comforting hugs. When we make an intentional effort to appreciate what our body can do, the aesthetics matter less. Also, continue to challenge yourself to see what your body can do, which will grow your self-confidence AND body confidence.

Re-frame your thoughts. When you shimmy into that swimsuit to play with your kids, think, “We’re going to have so much fun today!”, instead of, “Ugh, my huge thighs are so ugly!!”. This is a struggle for me every time I put on my swimsuit, but I’m always glad that I chose to join in the fun, instead of letting my negative thoughts and self-consciousness get in the way. It’s hard to choose to have a positive frame of mind, but it makes a huge difference. When you notice that “mama belly” that just won’t go away, think, “WOW, what a gift that I got to carry in there.” Also, recognize that some things are simply genetic, natural, or unavoidable with age. Saggy skin, stretch marks, cellulite, some lumps… These are just part of life; while they may be somewhat improved by various things, acceptance is key. You don’t have to be perfectly happy with every aspect of your body. However, you can still be respectful and appreciative of your body, grateful for the amazing gift that it is, no matter how it changes as you age and/or deal with health struggles.

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Remember that people you see on TV, in ads, and on social media are generally airbrushed, filtered, photoshopped, covered in make-up, and posed in the best lighting and angles. Many of those folks have teams of people that get them ready, exercise for hours a day, have personal chefs to provide healthy meals, and/or are just genetically blessed with flawless skin and a certain body type. 

Consider taking a break from the scale. If you just can’t stop thinking about that number, stop weighing yourself for a while. Focus on how you feel (physically and mentally), striving to take good care of your mental and physical health, and appreciating what your body does for you every day.

That reminds me… Another thing you can do to help shift your focus is to take good care of your body with regular movement, eat mostly healthy food, tend to medical and mental health issues, get adequate sleep, and don’t forget to use it for FUN. Maybe you can’t burn up the dance floor like you used to, but your dancing days don’t have to be over, even if you have to groove while seated on a chair.

Finally, choose your influences carefully. If the media you consume or the people you hang out with tank your body image, adjust accordingly. Redirect your friend when they start criticizing their body (or someone else’s). Limit your time with them if they are consistently spewing negativity. Stop reading that airbrushed “health” magazine. Surround yourself with people and influences that build others up and put you in a positive frame of mind.

Your body is amazing. How will you thank it? What will you do to shift your focus?

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Baby steps are better than NO steps!

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stop beating yourself up

I posted the picture above in The Disabled Diva’s Fitness Buddies Facebook group this morning, because it is something that I have to remind myself of often.  Whether it be in regards to eating healthier or exercising, lack of progress feeds my insecurities and makes me wonder if what I am doing is really worth the effort.

I didn’t get where I am overnight!

One thing I have to remind myself of daily is that I didn’t get where I am overnight.  The weight I gained came from years of inactivity and comforting myself with food.  Sure, I could easily blame it on my chronic illnesses, but the truth is that fibromyalgia, psoriatic arthritis, psoriasis, and endometriosis aren’t to blame, I AM!  For years I allowed pain and fatigue to control every aspect of my life and as each year passed by, the further out of shape I became.

Getting real with myself

I have struggled with weight since high school.  Prior to my invisible illnesses deciding to pummel my body with daily pain, I was at a healthy and acceptable weight.  It took a year of watching what I ate and daily exercise to reach my goal, so it would be unrealistic of me to think I could shed the weight I have gained since the fall of 2003 in a few weeks or months.  Another thing I have to consider is that I am 15 years older!!! I will be turning the big 50 this fall and let me tell you my metabolism is nothing like it was when I was in my early 30’s.

 

 

Accepting and rejoicing the progress I have made

I began getting serious about becoming as healthy as I can possibly be in January of 2017. Ten pounds is all I lost from that time until January of 2018.  TEN POUNDS!! At first I was pissed off by the number, but then I realized that those were 10 pounds that I didn’t have to lose this year! Not only that, but I developed better eating habits and my body stopped craving foods that aren’t good for it.  I also began craving physical activity.  This is something that I have never done, not even when I was younger.  Overcoming cravings, yearning to move my body, and losing 10lbs is progress that I never expected to achieve, nor would I had I done nothing at all.  So far this year I have lost 5lbs.  That’s 1.6666666667 pounds per month.  I could let this number get me down or I can be proud of myself for losing them.  I choose to be happy, because my eating habits and physical activity are continuing to improve.  While I may not be seeing significant results on my bathroom scale, I am seeing it in the mirror, in pictures, and by how my clothing fits.  I am down a pants size and am no longer embarrassed of having my body photographed.

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Baby steps

I began my fitness journey with baby steps.  I didn’t force myself into following a restrictive diet.  My dietary changes have taken place one at a time.  In time I will be following the diet that is perfect for my body, because I am taking small steps to allow my body time to adjust.  Had I decided to go full speed ahead and overhauled my diet to be what I want it to be right from the start, I would have quit.  Same goes for exercising.  I didn’t begin with walking 4 plus miles a day or using my rowing machine for 60 minutes at a time.  I had to take baby steps and began with 5 minute increments a few times a week.

My advice for you

Consider these three things if you are struggling to find a fitness routine that works with your disease:

  1. Search for physical activities that you are able to do, NOT what you wish you could do.
  2. Listen to your body and do what you can, when you can.
  3. Baby steps are better than no steps! You will never make any progress if you aren’t trying.

And when you’re feeling discouraged, remind yourself that:

  1. You didn’t get to where you are at overnight, significant progress will take time.
  2. You’re health is important! Having a chronic illness is not an excuse for not caring for your body.
  3. A bad day is just that, let it go and move on.  If a setback or flare requires that you reduce your activity or dictates that you have to start back from square one, that is okay!!!

Whether you have a chronic illness or not, The Disabled Diva’s Fitness Buddies are here to motivate, encourage, and support you in your quest to improve your health.  Click here to join us.

Finding an exercise program when you have one or more chronic illnesses can be difficult.  I suggest you check out Get Autoimmune Strong, an exercise program created for those who suffer from chronic pain.  The creator of this program is fellow chronic pain warrior, Andrea Wool.  The techniques and exercises she shares in her program have improved my personal routine.

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Tired of your chronic illnesses running your life? Take back control and make pain your bitch! Click here to download your copy today!

 

 

 

The Disabled Diva’s Fitness Buddies

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If you are like me, you may find it easy to talk yourself out of exercising or find a million reasons for not completing your goal.  While on vacation last week my bestest friend of 37 years and I made a pact to hold each other accountable in our quest to reach 10,000 steps per day.  Since posting about this on social media I have received messages from followers who wish to have an accountability partner.  To help us all I created a new Facebook group called The Disabled Diva’s Fitness Buddies.

The purpose of this new group is to encourage, support, and motivate each other, whether we have a chronic illness or not, in our quest to care for our physical health.  This group is for anyone who has set a daily or weekly fitness goal and wants to have a place to share their success or be uplifted when their health or life circumstances get in the way of reaching it.  There will be no shaming and no goal is too small.

Click here to join today!

Wondering how I went from having to use a wheelchair to walking everywhere in just one year?  All credit goes to my amazing drug-free pain relief device called Oska Pulse.  This fantastic piece of technology has decreased the pain and inflammation I experience from fibromyalgia, psoriatic arthritis, degenerative disc disease, and endometriosis like nothing I have ever tried in the past.  Click here to follow my journey from the beginning and click here to learn even more about how PEMF therapy may help you.  And as always, use promo code DIVA to save $55 when you are ready to give it a try!

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Movie Movement Mania

Movie Movement Mania

How we turned a popular drinking game into a healthy activity the whole family can play!

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In our quest to have a fun girl’s night that included some exercise, Donna, Abi, and I invented a game that is perfect for everyone. We took the popular drinking game where everyone has to drink whenever certain words are spoken during a movie or television show and replaced drinking with movement! This game is perfect for all ages, no matter what their physical ability is.

How to play:

  1. Choose movie that at least one person is familiar with.  Depending upon your energy level, you may also choose a favorite television show instead of a movie.
  2. Have those who are familiar with the movie/show choose words that are spoken throughout it often.  I chose five words from one of my favorite movies Nacho Libre.
  3. Every time one of the chosen words is spoken, everyone must move their body for an agreed upon amount of time.  We chose 30 seconds of movement for each word.  Our movements included running in place, lunges, stretches, and leg lifts.  Choose your movement based on your physical ability.  Other forms of movement could be jumping jacks, arm curls, stepping, sit-ups, pushups,  standing up and sitting down, ankle/wrist/arm circles, waving your arms in the air etc….  Participants can use weights, resistance bands, kettle balls, etc.  If you have workout equipment like a rowing machine, stepper, trampoline, elliptical, or treadmill you could have everyone rotate stations after each word.

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Make sure everyone has water to stay hydrated and have a healthy snack on hand to enjoy afterwards.  To decrease the chance of increasing your chronic pain, prepare your body by applying a topical CBD oil on your muscles and joints and treat your problem areas ahead of time with PEMF therapy from Oska Pulse (promo code DIVA will save you $55). Oska Pulse combats inflammation like nothing I have ever tried and the best part is that it does it without drugs. After playing I ran a few more PEMF therapy sessions on my knees and used “I am Peace” vape from BioCBD+ to relax my muscles.

Unlike the drinking version, this game is healthy and family friendly.  It can even be done in bed by modifying the movements with stretches and exercises that can be done while lying down or sitting.  Moving your body is important even if you don’t have a chronic illness, so why not make it fun too!

 

 

Winter Wellness Woes

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Well, good ol’ Punxsutawney Phil has spoken! Whether the groundhog is right about winter or not, most of the country has at least a little bit of wintry weather ahead. When you’re stuck inside, it can be harder to get the movement that your body needs.

Here’s a link round-up of some great ways to get moving indoors!

 

6 Low-Impact Moves

Gentle Yoga Sequence

10-Minute Booty Workout

“Curvy” Yoga Poses for All Body Shapes/Sizes

Low-Impact Beginner Cardio Workout (Quiet & No Jumping!)

Stretch While You’re in Bed!

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Which link or move do you like the best? How do you stay active when the weather is crummy?

 

 

‘Tis the Season to Thrive

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So many articles about the holidays talk about surviving the holidays. My wish for you (and myself) is thriving, not just surviving, throughout the holiday season. The holidays create perfect conditions for a craptastic shitstorm of awfulness. Tight budgets, family gatherings, loneliness, stress, cold weather, shorter days, sicknesses, traffic, sweet treats and rich foods everywhere…. Fear not! We hold a lot of power in our choices; we can avoid much of this awfulness!

A definite way to avoid some of those “holiday blahs” is sticking to your normal routine for balanced nutrition and regular exercise. This is especially important if you have a chronic illness that flares due to inactivity or overindulging. Limiting your intake of sugar, simple carbs, and alcohol will help tremendously, but also pay special attention to foods that you know make you feel bad. Limit your portion size of those things, or skip them altogether! Having a second piece of your aunt’s pecan pie when you know that your body doesn’t like the ingredients is just not worth it. Have a reasonable serving, and then you can look forward to having it again next year.

If you know that your body will regret sitting in a lump at your holiday gatherings, have a plan to stay in motion. Playing an active game, a short family walk, or even just setting a timer so that you get up and walk occasionally will make a difference. I know your schedule is packed, but do everything you can throughout the holiday season to carve out time for self-care in the form of movement for your body. A brief walk to start your morning, yoga at lunch, or a trip to the gym after work will pay dividends during this crazy season due to exercise’s positive impact on our psyche and immune system.

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Speaking of our psyche, are the holidays are hard for you emotionally? I get stressed and anxious thinking of everything that needs to be done, money, and obligations. It’s also a busy time of year due to my husband’s work schedule. Want to know a secret? I used to HATE Christmas and other holidays. I still struggle with this and am working on it as I create new memories with my kids. Growing up in the family that I did, holidays, especially Christmas, were bittersweet. Holidays meant extra yelling and shaming. It meant pretending to be a happy, normal family at church and family gatherings. There are some Christmas songs that I still can’t listen to and holidays foods that I can’t make or even see without feeling sick and anxious. Perhaps you still have difficult family members in your life that make the holidays less-than-joyful. Choose how you budget your emotional energy. Maybe this means declining an invite or coming up with a plan to limit how long you are around them. You have the right to set boundaries to preserve your emotional health!

Do you always feel bluer than normal around the holidays, no matter how good things are going? It might be SAD—Seasonal Affective Disorder, also called seasonal depression. There are many ways you can ease the symptoms, including light therapy, herbal products, medication, exercise, and vitamin D supplements.

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Lastly, don’t fixate on what you can’t do. Embrace the joy you can choose to find in what you CAN do. Comparing yourself to others (even if that “other person” is a past version of yourself) will only put you in a funk. Be proud of what you can do in spite of your challenges. Things don’t have to be perfect to be good. You don’t have to make a fancy meal, have your house decked out with decorations, go to every event, or bake cookies for everyone. Do what you can with what you have. I wish you a joyful holiday season in which you THRIVE!

Click here to read more from Donna

Cynthia’s new eBook Make Pain Your Bitch: How to Dominate Your Chronic Life will help you dominate your entire life, not just one season! When you purchase via the link on this page you get my exclusive price of only $5 !  Click here to order your copy today!

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Give yourself and the one’s that you love the gift of drug free pain relief from Oska Pulse.  Click here to learn more and use promo code DIVA to save $55.
Join Spoon Rest, a Facebook group for the chronically ill dedicated to empowering and supporting each other while sharing a laugh.
Join The Disabled Diva’s Alternative Chronic Pain Fighting Forum, a Facebook group for those who are seeking information or already treating their chronic pain with alternative treatments.

Do What You Can

 

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Everyone has limitations and roadblocks for exercising, but they can loom large when you’re struggling with a chronic illness. Don’t throw in the towel, though…. You’re going to need it after you conquer your exercise goals!

A smart first step for anyone, but especially those with physical challenges, is to talk with your doctor to determine the activities and intensity level you can handle.

Got the green light? Now what? First, start small! If you haven’t been very active, choose gentle exercises. Walking for a few minutes, “circling” your joints while you’re on the couch or in bed, or doing a few minutes of yoga every day are all good ways to improve blood flow and get more movement into your daily routine. Swimming and Tai chi are other low-impact options that will improve your overall health.

Even when you’re starting small, it’s important to listen to your body. Chuck that “no pain, no gain” mentality out the window! Trust your instincts so that you don’t push yourself too far. However, it’s easy to let legitimate caution turn into laziness and fear. Don’t let yourself skate by with half-hearted effort!

Focus on what you CAN do. Focus on what you accomplished! Be proud of yourself. Don’t worry about what you can’t do or what other people are doing. Don’t worry about making your workout perfect. Wanted to do 10 minutes but only made it through 5? That’s okay! Something is better than nothing. Challenge yourself to stick with it, and use yourself as your own competition. Remember, it also doesn’t have to involve equipment or a professional workout routine to count as “real” exercise, although those things can be helpful. Playing with your kids, walking around the block, or using a two-liter of soda as a weight for a living room workout all count!!

“Accept that perfect is never coming. You will never be perfect. Your life will never be perfect.”What You Can When You Can: Healthy Living on Your Terms 

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Do you need an accountability buddy? Sticking with exercise can be difficult for anyone, and it’s often even more challenging for those with a chronic illness. Make your commitment known to someone, and ask them to help you stay accountable. This can be a trainer, a workout buddy, a loved one, or even a stranger in an online forum. You might also enjoy and benefit from keeping a journal of your workouts—length, reps, how many pounds your weights are, etcetera. If you feel like you’re not making much progress, just wait till you flip back in your logs to see how far you’ve come and how long you’ve stuck with it!

Lastly, choose activities you enjoy. You’re not going to stick with it if you hate it. For me, this has different aspects. There are some exercises that I don’t really enjoy while I’m doing it, but I love the sense of accomplishment when I’m done. Some exercises are enjoyable for me while I’m doing them and after! I appreciate both, and I challenge myself by not always selecting the ones that are fully enjoyable. Also, rotate your activities, even ones that you love, so that you don’t get bored or burned out.

Regular movement of your body can benefit you in so many ways—stronger muscles (including your heart), better levels for things like blood sugar and cholesterol, reduced arthritis and fibromyalgia pain, and improved emotional health. In a University of California-Davis School of Medicine study, researchers even discovered that people with better mental health felt less pain while people with worse mental health felt more pain. Wow! Our mind-body connection benefits from the body’s natural feel-good chemicals produced by exercise, like serotonin and dopamine. These neurotransmitters positively impact memory, mood, and sleep. I don’t know about you, but I’d love to improve those!

So, what can you do today to get moving?

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Join Spoon Rest a FB group for spoonies to encourage and motivate each other.

Join The Disabled Diva’s Alternative Chronic Pain Fighting Forum.

Exercising is easier with a lower inflammation level.  Lower yours with Oska Pulse and as always save $55 with promo code DIVA at checkout.

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