The truth about being a personal trainer with RA
So here we go…..
This is going to get personal, I want to say it right up front and center because it is. I believe vulnerability is a beautiful thing and this is only the beginning.
First let’s take it back, I was diagnosed with RA when I was in college. For those of you who may not know what RA is it stands for Rheumatoid Arthritis. Basically it is a disease where you immune system thinks its super cool and defensive and starts attacking your joints thinking they are the enemy…. when they are not.
The struggle can be real stemming from things like
pain and achy joints
warm and swollen joints
extreme intolerance to cold or heat
it can also lead into things like anxiety and depression
It is crazy to me because you can start to think…. how does something that causes joint pain cause all these other things?? I have since learned it is due to the immune system in general being overactive, its working overtime to fight these fake issues so it takes energy we should have for other things (like daily activities) away.
When I was diagnosed in college, my biggest issue what pain and stiffness. Waking up and trying to walk down the stairs of my sorority house and feeling like I was 90. Exactly what ever college girl dreams of lol. I am on the lucky side that I was diagnosed and started treatment quick due to my father having the disease and him taking me right to his doctor as soon as I told him.
After that though it was an uphill battle, graduating college, starting a new life back in Atlanta yet I felt so alone. Not knowing how or who would ever want to be with a girl who was going to be crippled one day (or so I thought). This led to depression which led me to my doctor (who practices tough love, which I love) insisting that I get off my butt and start working out to see if it makes me feel better. He really just wanted me to get outside and do more to get moving. Smart guy he is, he knew that moving also helped create energy and got me to not be alone with my thoughts so much.
Around that same time I reunited with old friends and was taken into a new church that is when my perspective started to shift. I began to see the improvements in my pain and my mind. This led me to want to workout more, I actually went on to compete in some body building competitions (bikini division and please don’t google search those :0). It also led me to realize that I didn’t want to be in the corporate world the rest of my life, that I wanted to do something that served a true purpose. I wanted to share how great I felt with others in hopes they would feel the same.
So I took the leap and started personal training. The first few years were awful I can’t say it any other way, I met some great people but working and stressing and trying to figure out what I ultimately wanted to do with it and how to make money was hard. Not to mention lack of sleep, over training and working was taking a toll on my body that had at one point gone into actual remission of the disease. I was determined to not let it take me off my focus.
I landed my next and so far longest studio gig and moved into where I truly started to discover the type of training I wanted to do. I also have done work with the Arthritis Foundation over the years and realized I wanted to help more with corrective exercise and primarily work with women. Which kept pushing me in the direction to where I am today.
My day to day now-
I recently moved to a new studio which encompasses even more what I am about – Stat Wellness. (little side note it is my functional doctors practice). I am working 1 on 1 with clients there as well as still doing virtual training that you can find out about here.
As far as my health goes – Some days are great, some days are hard. The worst part is when I am literally fatigued and feel like after training 4 or 5 clients I have to sit down to I train them…. talk about feeling hypocritical…. “don’t mind me I will just coach you from the floor why you feel like you are dying”… it sucks! Granted that is not every day but it does happen. This is probably the biggest issue for me. Understanding and accepting that as a trainer sometimes my energy is not where I think it should be. I can’t do all the early mornings like I used to or my clients will pay the price for me being not on top of things. This can really mess with my head, especially when some people make comments and just don’t get it. Asking why I am tired all the time, or when I can’t workout 100% like I feel like I should. On the flip side of that though it has taught me so much on slowing down and learning to listen to my body. It is something we all should do. Not just if you have a disease but if you are stressed, or recovering from something you may need extra time off. The last thing our bodies want is to be put into an intensified stressed state when they are already stressed. Be it physical or mental from work, relationships, finances, lack of sleep, disease…. anything!
It has also made me learn how to gauge and progress workouts for clients. You need a strong foundation before you progress to full strength or injuries happen…. right? Same goes for someone with an autoimmune disease and even post partum women. You have to build the right things first to stay strong in the long run. Starting slow, increasing as you go, that is how you build long term success. No one starts out all in at something and experiences all positive returns, chances are setbacks happen due to lack of education or just unfortunate circumstances (not ruling that out here).
Being critical of myself is something I have to deal with though and my own insecurities and comparison issues are just as bad as the next persons. I do find myself constantly reminding myself that I am me for a reason. I am successful for a reason, I have great clients for a reason (which I do). So I must be doing something right. It does get hard at times, but thats where vulnerability and honesty come to play. My clients know me and know what I am about, they know that I don’t want to sit down but sometimes I have to.
As far as pain goes I am lucky on that end . My hands and fingers and shoulders will ache at times and fingers will get stiff. Sometimes gripping weights is hard…. another insecurity. But again I have come to realize and really work at reminding myself that this is me. I am alive and despite my insecurities and some inabilities I am still helping others. That right there is rewarding.
I try to eat the best I can, but I also believe in balance. If I want chocolate or wine I have it. I just walk away after and know I may have a few consequences the next day. Anti Inflammatory foods are my go to which you can find more about here. I drink alot of water and I try to be in bed by 10pm every night (my husband loves that….. that is sarcasm by the way ;)).
I have come to discover that it is all about priority and self care and love. I have to put myself first in a sense to make sure that I can take care of those I want to be there for. If I am not great, they won’t get what they want from me and when it comes to my work that is a major priority. So cutting back some hours and working from the couch when doing plans and social stuff is part of what I have to do. And ya know what? I am ok with that.
Overall the bottom line is- I try to treat my body how I want others to treat theirs. I try to fuel it the best I can, and support it with rest too. If you are someone who is struggling with ANYTHING I pray that you find a tiny bit of inspiration in something you read in this. Remember each day is a gift, we all have choices daily, and we have to do what is ultimately best for us in every area of life. We all go through hard stuff, but don’t judge someone if you don’t know the whole story. Ya with me?? I hope so.
I know my journey is just getting started, and I hope to share so much more with you along the way.