Tag Archives: Exercise

Wellness Contract Update

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Alternate title:  The post where my writing makes my lawyer friends cringe.

(Address withheld)

23 February, 2011

(Address withheld)

Dear Amanda:

You are hereby put on notice that as of 23, February 2011, you are in breach of our contract dated 13 January, 2011. The nature of said breach is:

-Consumption of more than 3 glasses of wine per seven day period beginning on a Sunday during the period of 13 January- 23 February, 2011 bordering on perceived mocking of said contractual clause.

-Consumption of three jars of Tostitos medium queso WITHIN A THREE DAY PERIOD.  Also, over consumption of “comfort foods” during a cold.  Contract to be modified to allow some comfort foods but never again will daily meals consist of pancakes, grilled cheese, and baked spaghetti.  Boo hoo hoo…you didn’t feel good…NONE OF THESE ARE GLUTEN FREE.

-Blatant disregard for physical activity or cleaning provision of contract.  BLATANT disregard.

It is our desire to inform you of the foregoing and demand that you cease and desist the above behaviors to cure said breach. You are already being held responsible for all damages arising from said breach in the form of increased joint pain due to the introduction of gluten and alcohol into your body, increased fatigue due to glutens and lack of physical activity, loss of favorite clothing due to inability to put up laundry leading to you not being able to find a damn thing, and lost opportunities to regain strength and increase mobility through responsible exercise.  You may be held responsible for additional damages arising from said breach.

You have until 23 March, 2011 to cure said breach, after which we will be forced to further recognize that your own decisions are in no way helping your health.

Regards,

Amanda

2011 Wellness Contract

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So, in a long overdue blog update, I thought I’d post the contract that I typed and posted on my fridge. After posting and thinking about how I do so well with goals at work, I completely dorked out and wrote something similar to what I work with all day, everyday.

Initially, it was to begin on Jan 1st but I spent the first two weeks of the year cheating and tweaking and learning how to cook.  Yes, you read that last part right.  I can now make the following paleo style: chicken marsala, roasted veggies, braised cabbage, greek chicken, stewed apples, and fajitas served on lettuce rather than a flour tortilla.  And you know…the first time I made roasted veggies, I went back for SECONDS because they were GOOD.  Any of you who have ever fell victim to my culinary inexperience would know that this is a definite first!

So, I tried and am learning and thought I’d restart the contract on a date more meaningful to me: January 15th, my diagnosis anniversary date.

2011 Wellness Contract also known as

Operation Get Your Sh*t Together

This contract is made between yourself (an individual, referred to as AJ) and yourself (an individual referred to as AJ) and will commence on January 15, 2011 for a period of thirty (30) days and can be renewed with negotiation on both parties after each thirty (30) day period.  Neither individual can hold the other liable for any results or lack thereof resulting from actions defined in this contract.

The purpose of this contract is to establish certain desirable behaviors that may or may not directly influence AJ’s health or well-being and overall standard of living.  Behaviors include the following:

Medications: AJ must take all medications as prescribed for the next thirty (30) days.  It is not acceptable for AJ to skip medication for the following reasons: desiring alcoholic beverages, sheer laziness, or not wanting to have an upset stomach.

    1. Medications, specifically methotrexate, may be skipped if AJ is battling a cold or other illness or has been exposed to communicable diseases.
    2. AJ is granted an exception to methotrexate for a week involving any air travel but must resume methotrexate as soon as air travel is complete.
    3. If medication is forgotten and not missed because AJ doesn’t feel like getting her lazy self out of bed, it must be taken as soon as remembered.

Diet: AJ must try to eat in accordance with Paleo Diet guidelines.  This includes avoiding the following: Starbucks, Jason’s Deli, and any sort of buffet/meat and three dining preferred by AJ.

  1. Exceptions may be made for work functions where there are no other options AFTER AJ has attempted to find something that falls within Paleo guidelines.
    1. Starbucks may be substituted with coffee from a coffeemaker and rice or almond milk may be added for flavoring purposes.

Alcohol: AJ is allowed three (3) glasses of red wine per week.  Each glass of red wine must be accompanied by healthy food and a full glass of water.

  1. A glass of wine is defined as a NORMAL wine glass around 4-6 ounces, not a big gulp, big nasty, or anything with the words big, super sized, or fishbowl attached to it.
  2. No, seriously.  4-6 ounces.
  3. Topping off a normal wine glass continuously DOES NOT constitute one glass of wine, even if AJ may typically consider it one continuous glass.  Each top off constitutes a new serving.

Exercise and Cleanliness: Each night, AJ must either go to the gym for 30 minutes of light impact cardio, a yoga class, or, if neither option is available or if AJ is unable to go, something at home must be cleaned.

  1. Light impact cardio is defined as thirty (30) minutes on a machine, walking in the neighborhood, or taking a class.
  2. Light cardio is NOT spending thirty (30) minutes watching hot guys playing basketball at the gym while “waiting” on a machine to become available no matter how much this affects AJ’s heart rate.
  3. Yoga classes must be completed.  Also, it is unacceptable to attend a yoga class after consuming one (1) or more glasses of weekly red wine.
  4. AJ is not to be that creepy girl in yoga class who reeks of alcohol ever again!
  5. If neither yoga nor gym attendance are options, AJ must clean something at her place of residence (address omitted).
  6. AJ must clean whatever is most pressing.
  7. It is unacceptable to stall on a chore while waiting for another chore to be done.  IE AJ will never, ever, ever again put off folding two (2) weeks worth of laundry because she was waiting on herself to make her own bed…for two (2) days.

Miscellaneous, also related to cleanliness: AJ will put things up in their proper places at the proper time.

    1.     Coats: are hung in the closet by the door, not on chairs or floors.

    2.     Laundry: belongs in the hamper, not on the floor next to the hamper.

    3.     Toilet paper rolls: are deposited in the trashcan and new rolls are placed in the holder, not on the floor next to empty rolls.

    4.     You get the picture: clean up your crap!!!!

     

    At the conclusion of each thirty (30) period, contract will be reviewed and, if determined that AJ is TRYING (not perfect), AJ will be rewarded with a manicure and pedicure at salon of choice as long as price does not exceed thirty (30) dollars.

    Contract may also be modified if necessary and renewed for consecutive thirty (30) day periods.

    If it is determined that AJ is not trying, AJ will have to publicly acknowledge not trying on blog and to friends and coworkers.

    Off to dream about pretty fingers and toes in a month…

    372 Month Update

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    Dear Amanda:

    Yes, you are writing yourself a letter in third person.  Why? Well, for one thing, Facebook has ruined you.  You and your friends tend to state things as Facebook status updates.  Why, I am not sure. Damn you, Facebook!  For another, you spend an awful lot of time reading the blogs of all of your friends who have children.  And so, in honor of your 372 month of life, you thought you’d be funny and mock the monthly updates that a lot of them do.

    Yes, my dear, you are 372 months old today.  Let’s see what you’ve been up to!

    Height: 5’6…you get very defensive if anyone says 5’5 because your goal in life was to be taller than your mother…who is 5’5.

    Weight: 110 is the weight on your old SC drivers license.  For the record, it also says you’re 5’8.

    Hair: Yes, you’ve had a full head of it for approximately 370 months.

    Eyes: Still blue.

    Motor skills/development: You’re working on being able to grip things. The actual gripping is fine but you have a hard time with ‘grip and twist.’  Hey, doesn’t that sound like a dance  move? And speaking of dance moves, you’re going to be taking a dance class soon.  You learned another lesson while searching for a dance class.  Never google ‘adult dance class.’  The results will not be what you are searching for.  A better query would be ‘your town name AND dance class.’  You can search through specific studios pretty quickly this way and not have to worry about people seeing the results in your search history.

    Language Skills: Some problems here.  Nothing that a well placed bar of soap couldn’t fix.

    Diet: You are SUCH a cheater this week.  But tomorrow starts a new week and a new commitment to being truly caffeine, gluten, dairy, and anything that tastes good free.  You really can tell a difference when you stay true to the diet.

    Milestones: You are officially off of Prednisone.  YEAH!  Your wrists are really sore today- maybe because of this or maybe because of excessive red wine consumption. Who knows.  But you’re off of it and you’re still functioning which was not the case a few months ago.  Also, you attempted riding your friends bike the other night and while it wasn’t pretty, you didn’t fall on your ass!  YAY!  And when your friend offered to run after you holding the seat like you’re a baby with training wheels, you didn’t say anything incredibly rude!  MIRACLE!  Nope, you just cut your eyes, took another swig of wine, and wobbled down the driveway on the bike (which I may add is WAY too short for you) looking quite mature for your 372 years of life if I do say so myself.

    What’s next for you: another glass of wine and some cake.  Duh.  Then some building back of strength/stamina that you lost over the summer, some losing of weight that you gained over the summer, and hopefully some attempting of antibiotic protocol after you finish your study.

    Seven pounds

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    A picture speaks a thousand words, right?

    Meet my little bundle of claws, Molly.

    She’s seven years old and weighs fourteen pounds.  She’s my feisty baby. :) This picture shows her in one of her favorite places giving me the old ‘turn the water on and I’ll hairball all over the clean laundry next time you leave it piled on the guest bed’ look.

    Does it help conceptualize how big she is by seeing her in the sink?

    Good.

    Now chop her in half and attach one of the halves to my butt.  Because that is how much weight I’ve gained on Prednisone since June.

    I know that sounds horrible in several ways. I realize I need to not be so vain. I realize that I’m lucky to have access to healthcare and medications.  I realize I need to be happy that I guess I’m feeling a little better (although I now think I’m getting the placebo rather than Enbrel because I’ve dialed the Prednisone back to less than 10mg and I’m not feeling as good) but I’m really upset about the weight gain.

    I weighed 113 when I went to college.  I admit that was too skinny- I’m 5’6. At my heaviest, after long term Prednisone use, I wore a size 12 and was teetering on having to go up a size.  I have a hard time looking at pictures from that time. But I started to feel better, got off Prednisone, and took back control of my diet and exercise. In May/June, I was a size 4.

    I worked my butt off.  Literally.  You know how on all the weight loss shows they have super scheduled workouts, controlled meals, top notch trainers, supportive friends and family, and then they all somehow get fabulous makeovers for the finale show?  Um, yes….that doesn’t really happen.  I did splurge on a trainer who was enormously helpful for the diet and exercise part and am considering doing this again.  But scheduled workouts?  No, anything beyond our weekly appointments was up to me to make sure happened.  Controlled meals?  Again, all on me.  Supportive friends and family?  They tried. “I’m so proud of how hard you’re working, Amanda.  Now let’s go get Mexican and drink lots of beer.”

    I am still waiting for my makeover.

    So to gain 7 pounds so quickly after it took AGES+ literal blood, sweat, and tears to get it off….I’m having hard time not completely freaking out about it plus I feel gross and bloated and uncomfortable.   But I’m also really weak from this dang flare so really getting in a workout right now is tough.

    I started easing myself back into the gym this week.  On Monday, I did 12 minutes on the elliptical- there was much hacking and wheezing and general feeling like I was dying!  I had intended to do 15 minutes and then some light weight training but my legs felt like jello.  I took yesterday off mainly for the courtesy of the other people using the gym.  Today was better. I did 20 minutes on the elliptical. Then I did 3 reps of 10 on the leg press at 40 pounds and 2 reps of 7 of walking lunges with 8 pound free weights.  (Point of reference: I used to do 3 reps of 15 on the leg press at 75 pounds and 3 reps of 25-30 walking lunges.)

    Then I sat down on the bench and did a mental checklist of weight exercises I used to do: nope, can’t do that one yet and that other one would be a lot of force on my knees which isn’t a good idea yet.  And oh heck no, I am NOT doing that one because it completely sucks. So then I went home.

    But it’s a start and I’m happy with what I did tonight.  My goal is to work up to 30 min/3 times a week for both weights and cardio.

    I have a fun fall coming up: heading back to DC for the American College of Rheumatology’s Advocates for Arthritis where I’m ESPECIALLY excited to see some of you there, two trips to California, a Lady Gaga concert, tickets to see the Carolina Panthers, hopefully another trip back to SC, and a birthday a month from tomorrow. Ok, I’m not really excited about that last thing.

    I would really like my present to myself to be the absence of those freaking seven pounds.

    Note: no cats were chopped in half for the writing of this post.

    Blah…

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    You know the drill…

    You’re starting to feel better.  You sleep in gloriously late on a Saturday morning and wake up to think about a date you had the night before. No, he’s not Mr. Right.  Hell, he’s not even a contender for Mr. Right Now.  But it was nice to have a good looking guy WANT to buy you a glass of wine and listen to you prattle on about mundane details of your life.  Except he’s really really boring.  So you sigh, mentally file him back in the Rolodex, roll over, and sleep for another half an hour.

    You get up and you feel no better but also no worse than usual.  You’re okay with that.  You proceed to spend the next 3 hours laying on the couch watching movies and playing online.  You finally get off your butt to go do one of your most favorite things in the world: MASSAGE!!!!

    You spend an hour getting pampered and relaxed.  An added bonus is that thunderstorm that comes along in the middle of it- thunder and the sound of rain always relaxes you so this just makes awesome more awesome.  It even makes you forget that, as always, you really need to shave your legs.

    You leave the massage and hit up two more favorites: PEDICURE!  SHOPPING!  Afterwards, you pick up some junk food in preparation for movie night at your place with friends.  You’re actually having a really good day.

    And then something (usually stupid and usually trivial) happens that reminds you about your RA and it completely ruins the rest of your day.

    On Friday, it was the receptionist at my rheumatologist’s office who pissed me off so much that I found myself mad at my rheumatologist, which then made me mad at my old rheumatologist in SC, which then made me hate rheumatology in general.  At that point in time, I was suddenly morally obligated to ABANDON THE PATRONAGE OF ALL RHEUMATOLOGISTS EVERYWHERE so I called a naturopathic doctor I’m trying to get in with only to realize it was completely out of my budget so I then hated all naturopathic doctors too, and then I started thinking about insurance companies…

    It is a vicious cycle that only makes me feel like I’ve lost something all over again.

    Oh yes, and psycho.

    On Saturday, it was seeing people running in my neighborhood.  I know that most people see people running and think “oh, they’re being so healthy.”  But I sometimes look at them and think they’re taunting me.  Stupid runners with your stupid healthy joints and your annoying ipods. And you- YOU- in the pink shorts with the blond ponytail and the HOT shirtless guy…I despise you.  I bet you have those fabulous heels I drooled over today.  You know, the ones that I am physically incapable of wearing.  IT IS SO NOT FAIR- THOSE SHOULD BE MY SHOES.

    Like I said, psycho.  P-S-Y-C-H-O.

    For the record, I did not verbalize these thoughts.

    I continually come back to this overwhelming feeling about just how unfair this whole disease is for me.  For all of us.  Even when I’m feeling better, even when I have a million things going on that are positive, I just can’t shake it.

    Returning to the land of the living

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    I’m slowly starting to feel better.  Slowly.

    I credit Prednisone with that for now- I start my new meds this week.  I think.  Can I get a very sarcastic THANKS FOR NOTHING sent out to BC/BS for dragging their feet so long on approving Remicade that I was able to fully enroll in a study at my rheumatologist’s office instead?  So instead of dealing with their craptastic coverage and customer service as well as paying co-pays for all sorts of things, I’m going to get a little bit of extra cash, free meds, free labs, free x-rays, and weekly appointments with my doctor for….free.  SUCK ON THAT, BLUE CROSS BLUE SHIELD.  I really appreciate it.

    Anyway.

    This past weekend was the first weekend since probably April where I really felt that I was present and engaged in my life at a level resembling normal.  I’m trying to slowly increase my activity levels both physically and socially. I went on several short walks around the park.  I went to the Farmers Market and got a ton of fresh fruits and veggies for $15.  Then I came home and I marinated chicken in tequila, lime juice, onions, and garlic.  Then I popped it on the grill with fresh farm grown squash and corn on the cob.  I served all of the above with fresh home made salsa.

    I have to say that even for someone who hates cooking, there is something satisfying about your whole house smelling like cilantro.

    The whole preparing of the meal, the actual cooking, and even the cleaning was easy activity level but busy enough activity wise to keep me from being bored.

    And I didn’t burn the condo down.  SCORE.

    I didn’t realize until Saturday night just how “not there” I’ve been.

    I met a group of people out for drinks at one of our usual haunts.  I walked in, sat down at the bar, and ordered a glass of wine.  At a lull in the conversation, another friend came up to me and said that a bunch of people were going outside to play bocci ball and did I want to come.

    “OH!  YEAH!”  I slid off my chair and started following her outside.  I LOVE bar games. I didn’t intend to play myself because my wrists are still sore but when there are drinks, balls/darts/other things that must be thrown/rolled/hit/flung and then you add in my friends…something funny always happens.  Particularly at this bar where the nimrod who installed the bocci ball court made it face a busy street with a low wall.

    Nope, I’m not missing this for anything.

    Before I could even walk 10 feet, my friend stopped and turned around smiling.

    “Wow.  That was actually sincere!”

    I just smiled.

    For sure.  But ouch. That clearly implies that she knows that most recently I’ve only been going through the motions of things and maybe not terribly enthusiastic to hang out with her and the others even when I thought I was putting up a good front and that…sincerely hurts.  On the flip side, the fact that she/they continue to include me when I’m sure that some nights I’m about as much fun as a root canal…means the world.

    I really do have awesome friends.

    My friends didn’t disappoint- neither cars nor pedestrians were injured in our game but one of my friends hit the back wall with such force that it split the ball in half.

    And, as yet another sign that I’m still not back to 100%, I woke up Sunday morning feeling that groggy, super tired slight hangover feeling.

    Really? 2 glasses of wine?  And lots of water?

    What the heck?!?

    That’s just wrong.

    HTNWBBKQ8XV5

    Whining Moratorium

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    I looked back at the past few posts and got a little mad at myself.  So I’m making a rule for my posts for the next few weeks: PUT ON YOUR BIG GIRL PANTIES, AJ, AND STOP WHINING.

    Yes, I don’t feel wonderful but no, life doesn’t suck completely.  Or at all, for that matter. I’m getting on my own nerves so I would gander it’s fair to say that you don’t want to hear it either.  And it’s definitely not productive. So to commemorate the beginning of my blog attitude adjustment, I will tell you some good things that have happened the past few days and not dwell on how bad I may or may not be feeling.

    I got to spend a lot of quality time with my favorite “caretaker.”

    People who don’t know me well don’t know that she is MUCH more than ‘just a cat’ to me.  If I’m sad or upset or just not feeling great, she’s right there by me as pictured above.  She’s also right there by me if there is anything fleece involved. LOL.

    I figured out how to connect my laptop with my TV and then how to stream Netflix on my laptop.  So I’ll hook it up, lay down with my favorite fleece blanket, cuddle up with my favorite cat and relax the day away.

    Things at work are going really well.  I hit the highest I’ve ever produced (at this job) this last month (which I hope is indicative of the economy trending in general but we’ll see) and got a nice bonus check.  I’ve been obsessing over getting a grill and found one on clearance for $70.

    Once I had it home, I realized I had to put it together.

    Estimated time to assemble: 1.5 hours.

    Time it took me to assemble: Let’s just round it out to 7 hours.

    I suck at following directions.  You know how the joke is that men don’t read maps?  Well, Amanda don’t read directions.  At least when it comes to assembly.  It should be, afterall,  easy because you know what the final product is supposed to look like, right?

    The actual screwing itself was slow going. (THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID. Sorry, cabin fever has turned me into part adolescent boy.) I had to take breaks because my wrist was sore and had to use a wrench to hold pieces together because my fingers couldn’t. Then I realized I had put several pieces on backwards and had to backtrack.  Somehow, during the disassembly and reassembly process, the whole box of screws and flanges oddly managed to fly across the room.

    I have no absolutely no clue how that happened.  A ghost?  The cat? A Hogwarts spell gone bad?

    In all honesty, it kinda became one of those ‘for the principle of it’ things.  By God I’m putting this damn grill together, I don’t care how long it takes me, I don’t care how bad it hurts, it’s just got to happen.

    And well….

    It’s a grill!

    And have I mentioned that the tomatoes I’ve been growing out here are also looking good?

    I went today to watch one of my friends compete in her first kayaking competition.  It was ridiculously hot and I was wiped out by the time I got to the section where they were play-boating at.  I have good friends who try to take care of me without outright saying that they’re trying to take care of me: there was an extra chair, sunscreen and an unlimited supply of Gatorades waiting on me.  Very fun and very sweet!

    So all in all, a good weekend even though I’m not at 100%.  I go back to the rheumatologist tomorrow and then am heading to the lake with some friends for a long relaxing holiday weekend.