Page38 is proud to introduce Adaugo Akaluso!
Hey there Beautiful People! My name is Adaugo Akaluso. I’m a Lifestyle Transformation Coach, Personal Trainer, and Fitness Competitor. In 2012, I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis and more recently, Blood Negative Rheumatoid Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, and Undifferiented Mixed Connective Tissue Disorder. Basically, my immune system is a tad bit overactive causing inflammation all over the body, pain, chronic fatigue, and more not-so-fun stuff.
With the body being unpredictable, how does one stay active, strong, and maintain a healthy body fat percentage? Here are some tips that hopefully can help Spoonies (a term coined by Christine Miserandino for people living with chronic illness) and anyone living in chronic pain. I understand that with certain medications, the weight gain is inevitable, but these tips may still help with your overall well being.
A common saying in the RA community is, “if you don’t move, you fuse”. Cute, right? But it’s very true. Whether it’s RA, fibromyalgia, lupus, etc. try your best to get moving! Some days are better than others because chronic fatigue can be associated with these illnesses, but for me, I think “Well, I’m going to be in pain or tired anyway. I may as well be those things AND do something good for my body.”
Depending on how your body feels, go for a walk outside, walk on the treadmill at an incline for a bit more of a challenge, ride a stationary bike, take a spin class (go at your own pace, but make sure to push yourself). I like spin class because my joints don’t typically feel as bad as they would with running. But, if you’re up for running….go for it!
Lift Weights, Build Muscle
In my opinion, this should be number one. It has absolutely changed my life, both mentally and physically. You don’t need to train for a competition, but getting stronger definitely helps. Studies have shown a direct and positive relationship between resistance training and bone density. You might have to work twice as hard as a normal person and you’ll definitely have to be smart with your training. It seems counter-intuitive to inflame the muscles while dealing with a disease that causes inflammation, but in the long run it will be helpful. If you’re not sure where to start, consider machines at the gym. That’s how I started. There’s no need to hurt yourself by starting at the squat rack if you’re not well versed in proper form. The machines at the gym usually have simple instructions and there’s no shame in standing there, reading instructions, studying the machine and then attempting to do it. Just go for it. Start with lighter weights and stick to the 12-15 rep range.
Eat for YOUR Lifestyle
Okay…let’s be real, the majority of us will have some sort of “lax” (I don’t like using the word “cheat” because that insinuates that one should feel guilty about eating something) meal or snack at some point in our lives. If you’re like me you’re probably eating something “lax” right now…Mink Taj Masala chocolate may or may not be currently melting in my mouth as I write this.
For the most part, as someone with an autoimmune disorder, you know how certain foods react with your body and you’re certainly aware of the ones that cause flare-ups.
As a general rule of thumb, go for foods with Omega-3’s, like fish, flaxseed, or walnuts. Omega 3’s have been shown to help immune health to reduce inflammation. Make sure to eat more greens and more fruits, too.
Here’s where it might get a bit complicated for those with autoimmune disorders. There are certain foods, including veggies, that can affect people with autoimmune disorders. Some feel worse when they eat nightshade vegetables (i.e. tomatoes, potatoes, peppers) and yet others are not affected. Which brings me to my final point:
Treat Your Health as a Full Time Job
It’s up to you to figure out what works for you and what doesn’t work. What causes inflammation? What causes flare-ups? Your mental health is included as well. Stress is detrimental to your well-being. Try to make your surroundings as peaceful as possible; rest when needed, meditate, do some breathing exercises. Whatever you need to do to reduce the external stress is worth it.