May 22, 2018

The Resurgence of Exercise

Exercise is great if you want to lose weight or for weight management, but I have always put it into the same category as dieting.  In my younger years, I had no problem during the school summer break going to aerobic  classes twice a day, riding on the bike path, 6 miles out, breakfast of bagel & cream cheese with coffee and stopping a few miles into the return trip for my first aerobics class of the day, before biking the rest of the way home!  The rest of the day I walked the beach, swam, cleaned house, and then set off for my 4 o’clock class.  For most of the summer this was my schedule expect for the three weeks we spent at Old Orchard Beach, at this point, all bets were off!  Jeff and I spent hours during the year plotting and planning what we would do on our summer vacation.  Sadly, I think of the decade plus on these vacations fondly, it was time we went wild!  We ate ice cream, fried foods, pizza, candy, and liquor daily!  Some of my fondest memories are the nights we spent planning for our upcoming vacation.  We spent hours discussing what would be our drink of this summer,  and judging which one would win the coveted spot of “Summer Cocktail of 20..”!  Things changed when our vacations were halted in 2010 due to Jeff’s medical condition.  Until Jeff was back on the road to recovery we only returned a few times spending a week here and there!   Subsequently, my diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis squashed my wanderlust physically, but now I’m ready to embark on tamer vacations, with the same anticipation and gusto we once enjoyed, primarily due to my updated relationship with food and exercise.  

Working with Patty Berry, my registered dietician, my attitudes and behaviors are slowly changing.  We will go to Maine this summer, but we are not preparing as if it is the last supper or our last hurrah!  I’m ready and willing to eat in moderation because I realize how good  I feel when I do! Feelings are extremely powerful, so I am embracing moderation and will enjoy the good feelings it brings. 

As far as exercise is concerned, I doubt I would risk a fall after a shoulder replacement so recently, so biking is out!  Jeff and I have been strategizing what we will do for exercise, we have eliminated miniature golf, arcades, and hiking.  It seems rather straight forward that we will be walking and swimming.  Unlike my acceptance/enjoyment of eating in moderation, I really did not give up anything in the food category.  The only downsize of eating in moderation is the loss of income for Dairy Queen, Feilder’s Choice Ice Cream, Beach Bagel, The Pirates Den, Bill’s Pizza, and Pier Fries.  The absence of biking is really going to impact our vacation.  Without the bikes, the traffic will determine where we go, as well as the parking situation is always difficult in this tourist town.  We will need to substitute our biking adventures for something and hopefully we think of it before we leave for vacation!

Here is a sampling of past Maine adventures!

May 15, 2018

I’ve Been Absent, Hopefully Not Forgotten!

It has been no secret that I’ve been nursing an injured shoulder for months, awaiting surgery. Nine days before the original operation date, preparing to leave for an overnight at the Castle Hill Inn I received word that the operation would be in two days. Sean Patrick being taken care of by my friends Val, Tre, and Jan, we left for Newport, I thinking this will be my last hurrah!  On the way to Newport, I did the whole self-talk thing, convincing myself that everything was going to be okay, but not really believing it. As we entered the grounds of Castle Hill Inn, I started to relax and our 20 hour mini staycation began.  Briefly, the operation went very well, I’m recuperating slowly, (reason for absence from my blog), and I want to share how ones surroundings can make a difference in attitude and strength.

As you enter the grounds of Castle Hill scattered on sand dunes, are the Beach Cottages.  We drove past the Portside cottage, our sanctuary.  The sun out and excitement growing in anticipation of walking the beach and just enjoying some time away from home.


A quick check-in, and a visit to the Terrace Bar for a shanack, began this staycation!


A picture is worth a thousand words!  The Portside cottage was our entrance to the stunning views from the cottage to the private beach and ocean beyond!

The perfect weather, the sounds of the waves rolling in, and the salt mist caressing my face transported me to a happy place.  I could have walked the shoreline for hours but, afternoon tea beckoned us to the main house!  Sweet and savory scones, cucumber and cheese sandwiches, chocolate bundt cake, and hot madeleines served with butter and clotted cream.  Delish!


After walking the trails and grounds of Castle Hillwe retired to the cottage to relax and hang out!

We just sat, talked, and rested for a while and I realized how happy and content I felt.  The stress of the upcoming surgery had diminished and I was thinking about the positive results of the surgery, and all the things I’ll be able to do comfortably after. When I vidyo chat with my nutritionist,  we talk about positive thoughts/attitude and I believe this staycation brought it to light.  As difficult as it may be, it is better to think positive thoughts.  Negative thoughts are just wasted energy, because any negative outcome you may experience is going to need a positive attitude to change.

It feels real good to be back writing and sharing my thoughts!  Hopefully, I will back on track, and posting weekly. 

April 17, 2018

Eat to Live a Better Life!

This week marks the beginning of the fifth month I have been working with Patty Berry, RD. In previous blog posts I’ve shared my progress without sharing the amount of weight, to this day I don’t have an accurate number, and frankly, I don’t care about the number. Living a healthy lifestyle is more than a learning experience, it is more of an awakening! I never realized how many components are involved in eating a healthy diet. It is so much more than portion control, types of food, timing of meals, and food preparation. Eating healthy is a commitment to change, not a temporary change until a desired result is attained, but a commitment to accountable eating habits and maintaining lifestyle changes. I needed to safely change to help manage my chronic condition. It was evident to me that my excess body weight might be increasing inflammation and may also be affecting medication effectiveness. What most impresses me about my growth by working with Patty is the steady improvement of decreasing stiffness and increased mobility. Whether these are attributes of diet or increased exercise, doesn’t really matter, but I’m loving it.

Here are a few of the elements of healthy living I’ve adopted and ways working with Patty has been both challenging and satisfying:

…after our initial conversation, Patty coordinated my specific needs and tailored a food plan not only for my health needs, but more importantly by my food preferences and lifestyle.  

…by regular interaction whether by phone, email, or video conferencing, she consistently helps me with challenges I face eating healthy, at times tweaking my food choices and meal plans, making it work for me.

Patty’s non-judgmental approach to slip ups allows discussion and accountability without sense of failure or of making a mistake.

…the added bonus of working with this dietician is her savvy food shopping experiences, food prep, exercise, and just about anything that will make this experience meaningful and worthwhile.

It feels so good to not be complaining about my weight, just sharing this wonderful experience.  Have a great week!

April 10, 2018

Smooth Sailing into Year 3!

This month we celebrate the second anniversary of RA Style & Flare. This blog was launched as a means to share information that empowers individuals to live life with Style & Flare in spite of Rheumatoid Arthritis, or any other chronic illness.  That’s what I shared with my readers two years ago in the about post, but I never came clean on why I was really embarking on this blogging journey.

It would be difficult to describe the myriad of feelings I experienced when a name was given to the excruciating pain that was ravaging my body.  After all the medications that were prescribed and the medical information that was given on the initial appointment, I left the appointment overwhelmed, dazed, and still in excruciating pain.  Enough about the particulars, I got home and immediately started searching for and reading blogs about RA.  I was really looking for success stories or stories of encouragement that living life with RA was going to be no big deal.   Sad to say, most of the blogs turned out to be negative descriptions of life with RA and what they share and do was a projection of their own reality and attitude, that was scary as hell!  Even though I truly understood the pain and frustration many of the writers felt, I needed to disconnect from the negativity, I was hurting and needed a life line.  The inception of writing this weekly blog has forced me to understand that medication is only a part of the equation that makes living with RA bearable.  I write about different areas that I need to address due to the changes my body regularly experiences.  In the last two years I’ve been remiss by not mentioning how important it is to surround yourself with people that are winning at life, the ones that enrich your life, that help and not hurt you.  

In previous blog posts I have acknowledged the support I’ve received from friends, family, and caregivers, and today I must add to the list.  For quite a few months I’ve been following a blog written by Leigh called phat50chick with RA.  I met Leigh for the first time today at lunch.  We have a lot in common and it only proved to me how important a positive attitude is.  I think the lunch was good, but the company was better!  It really was refreshing to spend time with a likeminded woman who shared some of her life experiences with RA that helped me and she made my day a little brighter simply with by her positive energy.  So on the 2nd year anniversary I am celebrating my blog and its future, plus the acquisition of a new friend!  Have a great week!


March 20, 2018

The Fatigue of it all!

Long before I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis my life had already changed.  I dealt with the challenges and innumerable doctor’s visits in stride, always hoping that each definitive diagnosis and medication would return me to myself.  Well, that never happened until the correct diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis, which came with a regimen of medications and a realization that life will never be the same!  These medications have side effects and the first one that reared its ugly head was the chronic fatigue that is part of the challenge that is rheumatoid arthritis.  

The loss of energy caused by chronic fatigue can be devastating.  When I first complained about the effects of chronic fatigue I was told to eat several small meals throughout the day to help keep energy levels up.  I was totally on board with this, but several meals morphed into many, and weight gain and fatigue were ever-present.  It’s funny how many lessons we learn in life that transcend into other areas of life.  Working with a dietitian these past three months I’ve learned to create tool boxes to address the challenges associated with eating nutritious meals, and now I’ve created a tool box of strategies to combat bouts of chronic fatigue.  The weather of late has caused flares and compromised daily schedules, therefore I now follow my newly formed tool box to help tolerate chronic fatigue flares, these are some of the things that have helped me when I’m struggling with fatigue.

 allow extra time to complete simple tasks and accept that some days you will be able to do more than other days     

balance how much I do with the amount of rest I need

exercise is helpful but I must be aware to not overdo it and pace myself accordingly

wear a mouth guard when I sleep

 avoid caffeine and sugar that may spike my energy level 

 avoid or limit stress if possible and keep a record of stress triggers to avoid

 stay positive

Sometimes it feels like a full-time job tracking and addressing my needs when chronic fatigue takes a hold on me.  The weather certainly causes an immense effect on how I feel and it becomes a need to prioritize what I to do versus what I’m able to do!  Tomorrow is the first day of Spring and an excess of six inches of snow is predicted to fall.  The past three weeks have been quite a rollercoaster of weather and today in anticipation of the storm to come the buffleheads were enjoying the mild weather and having a great day, I should follow suit!