Strengthen Your Drive Muscles
Healthy lifestyle habits have been crucial to successfully manage my rheumatoid arthritis (RA). I know this because when I slip up, say I eat too much sugar, my joints soon ache and I feel like I have the flu. Pain and flu-like symptoms are classic signs of inflammation going on in the body. Feeling well, having a reasonable amount of energy and lack of pain (or most pain) in my joints is my drive to live a healthy lifestyle so I can better enjoy and engage in my day-to-day life.
With my drive established, living this healthy lifestyle should be a snap, right? Well, it isn’t that easy and doesn’t come naturally. I have a serious sweet tooth and portion size is a challenge. Then there is the fact that after feeling well for a few days I forget just how much I hate feeling lousy. I succumb to temptation and complacency.
This dilemma is why I’ve decided I need to strengthen my drive. Like this cute little guy showing off his muscles, I need to build my “drive muscles”.
I’ve learned about healthy lifestyle choices, in fact I coined an acronym to help keep me on track and assess what I’m doing. The acronym is FRESH and it has been immensely valuable to me. When I eat whole foods, limiting processed foods and added salt and sugar, I feel better and my joints don’t scream at me. Stress management, exercise, sleep and hydration round out my healthy strategy.
My FRESH strategy is great when I consistently practice it, but what can I do about my sweet tooth cravings and tendency for complacency? That is where building my “drive muscles” comes in.
Like I shared in the post entitled “What Drives Your Thrive?”, our reasons to develop healthy habits in order to thrive and live our best life are very personal. One person may be driven to live a healthy lifestyle so they can keep up with their grandchildren while someone else is driven by the desire to keep up with their golf buddies.
Tapping into our drive, or motivation, to make healthy choices is fundamental to changing unhealthy behaviors. Then strengthening the “drive muscles” will help prevent bad default choices when faced with cravings or complacency. When our convictions are deeper we are better able to resist and change harmful behaviors.
After failing time after time to stay on a healthy track, I put some thought into how I could do a deeper dive into why I need to make lifestyle changes. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is funky. I can feel well and my joints can be feeling well one minute then the next minute my joints can all out flare. That is my new normal. I need to do all I can to help my body fight this disease.
I decided in order to strengthen my “drive muscles” I needed to review Immunology 101 from pharmacy school to understand on a deeper level why changes are necessary. I focused on how my biologic works to interrupt the inflammatory reaction in my body. My next step is to learn more about how the microbiome interacts with the immune system. I try to visualize what is going on in me and that helps to take a pass when confronted with a craving.
We are all unique and learning to live with an autoimmune disease is a process. There are commonalities between us, but we all need to determine what works for us. I’m sharing my journey.
What are your tips to strengthen your “drive muscles”? We would love to hear them!
And that is using Arthritis Wisdom.
Photo credit: Ben White from Unsplash