Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Power of Positive Thinking

I woke up pain-free this morning!

Now as you runners know, "pain-free" is a relative term. But considering that I spent this week recovering from my recent flare of rheumatoid arthritis, I'd say that today I am 99% pain-free. I took a couple days off work to rest, recover, and process the changes in my treatment plan. I saw my rheumatologist on Monday. While I am going to continue on the same regimen I've been on for a while, including the steroids and methotrexate injections, she also started me on Humira.

The time off work gave me a lot of time to recover, but also to think. Once again, I am feeling overwhelmed. One step forward and two steps back. I have a stack of bills and medical statements to go through. I am worried about the cost of this new medication. I have a house that needs attention and a husband working 6 days/week. I have a marathon to train for. Oh, and I have a job that requires me to be healthy. It's all a bit much.

As the week went on, I started to feel much better, both physically and mentally. I made my workouts my priority. Worked on some blogging stuff. I enjoyed the sunshine. Hung out with the dog. Made dinner for my family.

And I focused on the positive.


I also educated myself on my new medication this week. You've probably seen the ads for Humira and other similar medications. Humira, along with all the other "biologics", is really expensive. These medications aren't first line treatments for any of the autoimmune diseases. It takes a treatment failure, similar to what happened to me, to qualify for these meds.

A nurse "ambassador" from the company that makes Humira called me this week. We talked for quite a while and she had all kinds of information and advice for me. One piece of advice made me pause. She told me that I might find it helpful to "keep a symptom diary" so that when I have a good day, it will really stand out for me.

Cocoa, my dog "ambassador", reviewing all the educational materials sent to me regarding Humira.

Maybe I'm not as bad off as other patients. I can't say that I've had any bad days. Sure, I've had days, like this past Sunday, where I don't feel well. I was hurting pretty bad and had a really tough run. I spent most of that day resting on the couch. But I reminded myself that there was a run--even a bad run is better than no run, right? The sun was out and it was warm. Both my boys were home for dinner and I made strawberry shortcake for dessert. There was a lot of good happening in my life that day.

Maybe it's because instead of focusing on how I feel, I choose to focus on the good. I'm a glass-half-full kind of gal. Things could always be worse. I'm afraid that if I kept a symptom diary, I'd focus more on the negative. Writing down all my symptoms? Focusing on how I feel? By doing just that, can you see what might happen?

I said all of this to the nurse. I also told her about my background as a runner and that I had a marathon on the calendar for June. For a brief moment, she was speechless. She then told me was going to send me a welcome kit and an information packet. There would be that symptom diary, in case I wanted to use it. I listened politely. Maybe what she was suggesting would work for most other patients. But I'm not most other patients.

I refuse to be defined by this disease. I can't control what is going on inside my body, but I can control how I react to it. I'm afraid that if I succumb to focusing on my symptoms and defining my days as "bad" and "good", that there will be more bad days than good days. After this most recent flare, I can see how this could mess with a person's thinking.

Kind of like running, right? Running has taught me so much about staying positive. You don't line up for a race, thinking about how bad you feel or how it's going to be a bad race, do you? I don't. Prior to the starting gun, I think about my preparation, my experience, and my goals. That's how I plan on approaching this disease. I could focus on the bad, the pain, the fatigue--or I could think positive thoughts. Maybe I'm not going to win this race, but I'm going to run my heart out.

This past week, I stuck to my workout schedule. As I recovered from my flare, on Monday I skipped my yoga class at the studio and did a Yin practice at home. I found that holding the poses for the 3+ minutes was really helpful and calming. Wednesday, I went back to the studio, where our class focused on the 3 warrior poses. How perfect was this? It was as if the instructor knew what I needed. If you follow me on instagram, you know that I've been loving my warrior poses--the grounding, the stillness, the strength, and balance--it's all beneficial.

Becky is wrapping up my strength cycle. Next week is my final week and then we move on to marathon training! This week we did all three lifts: squat cleans, back squats, and deadlifts. The weights were lighter than they have been to "rest" me for next week when Becky will have me max out on my lifts.


I didn't miss a run this week. I pushed my distance to 6 miles both Tuesday and Thursday. Mentally, I needed these runs. They weren't fast--since my goal was to finish, not to fly, I'd tell Marcia that I used 2d gear for these. Tuesday's run was warm and humid. I can't remember the last time I ran in shorts in February!


Thursday's run was interesting for the dramatic weather change that occurred in the hour I was on the path. I headed out into the sunshine and wind. When I turned around at the halfway point, the sky was clouded over but I had the wind at my back. I flew home. But before I finished, I kicked up into a handstand. It took a couple of attempts but they felt easy and when I landed it and held it, I felt strong!


On Saturday, only Steph was brave enough to run 8 miles with me in the blustery, cold conditions. We ran up Payton's Hill twice and circled around the suburbs, stopping once for a pit stop at a clean gas station bathroom, and twice for some Tailwind. Our mile splits were all over the place, depending on our position in the wind. This was a tough, character building run, and we were thrilled to get it done! I felt great the entire time.


This week ends on a high note. Today was a gift. I don't know how long this will last, but I'm feeling better and my optimism is returning. Even if I'm not symptom-free, as long as my symptoms don't affect my activities, I'm good. The lessons I've learned from running apply to managing my rheumatoid arthritis. Fingers crossed that I am on the road to remission, or at least an intermission. Positive energy!

How was your week? Did you experience all 4 seasons like we did here in the midwest? What season are you in now? How do you deal with adversity? Are you a glass half full or glass half empty person. By the way, I'm married to Mr. Glass Half Empty! Opposites do attract.

Have a great week! I'm linking up with Tricia and Holly for their Weekly Wrap as well as Ilka and Angela for their Sunday Fitness and Food Link Up. Be sure to show our hostesses some love.





94 comments :

  1. I am happy for you, Wendy. I think you're so right. Enjoy the good days as they come, deal with the bad without focusing on it. Brilliant. Just like you.

    I feel like an old curmudgeon these days. I need to take a page from your book. Stuff at work has me down, as is not running. I need to put the work b***s*** aside, focus on the good in my life, of which there is much (including a late-in-life grandchild on the way), and maybe, just maybe, step lightly and slowly into my running shoes. March is coming.

    Plus, using among others the many photos you posted in your challenges, my yoga instructor built a half-hour sequence for me to be able to practice at home.

    Love you, my friend. May the days ahead be pain-free and filled with joy.

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    1. How wonderful that your instructor built a home practice for you! I do love my studio classes, but when I can't get there, I have a few go-to home sequences I like.

      Thanks for all your love and support. It keeps me going.

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  2. I love the Warrior poses...all of them! I've never thought of holding for three minutes...hmmmmm. We had all four season in Iowa this past week as well. Today? We're back at "early spring" LOL

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    1. Yin yoga is fantastic for recovery! I highly recommend it.

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  3. You are so inspiring. I could and never am as positive. But I do say when things are though (work and other life stuff), at least I can run.

    I hope this new drug works for you. I am confident that you will beat this and if not, you will find a way to run inspite of RA.

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    1. I hope the Humira is the magic bullet for me. But I'm enjoying feeling like myself again today!

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  4. My husband and I are both glass half full people. One of my brothers was born with hemophilia and he lived an amazing life in spite of pain almost everyday. He has always been my hero and when I'm tempted to whine I think of him.

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    1. I can see how you could let a chronic illness get the best of you. I'm determined not to do that. I hope I can stay the course.

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  5. I love your positive attitude. Most people would only focus on the negative but your determination is really inspiring.

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    1. I'm going to try hard to stay positive!

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  6. I can see how being a runner can help you with staying positive. Glad you are not letting this define you. And most of all, I am happy you can still run! Im sure that helps a lot. I hope you continue to see improvements.

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    1. I'm sure I wouldn't be feeling quite so positive if I wasn't running! That is the barometer for all things...

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  7. I love that you are a glass half full kind of person. Perhaps you could use the journal to record all the positive things that happen each day, you know, the things you are able to do IN SPITE OF having RA, like your runs, your yoga, and your hand stands, etc! That way on days when you are down, you can look back and see al the things that RA has not kept you from.

    I can understand the nurse's reasoning for wanting you to keep a symptom journal though. It might be a good way to perhaps track when and why flare ups are happening.

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    1. I like the way you think. I wish I had thought of that before I wrote this post. Keeping track of my symptoms would help me figure out triggers, etc.

      I guess I'm having trouble accepting this!

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  8. Even though this week was tough for you, you still pulled through like a warrior! :) I'm envious of your handstands! Great job! Must be all that strength training with Becky!

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    1. Thank you! Yes, that strength training has been the key for me. We're going to do another strength cycle in the fall.

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  9. How lucky are you that you can still run through all of this because that's got to be huge in keeping you sane! I'm glad that you were able to run this week, and are having a good day today.

    Like you, the glass is always half full for me.

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    1. Today was a gift! I'm glad I've been able to keep running, but this was really nice. I'm glad to know that there will be days like this!

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  10. I think the power of positive thinking is so strong and can go such a long way. It sounds like you have a great positive view on everything and are appreciating what you can still do. Hoping this medication works for you!

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  11. Yes on the crazy weather -while visiting Indiana we went to sleep w temps in the 70's and woke up to snow and 20's. how does that even happen?!I see where you are coming from with the symptom diary. I have to think about it a little. I used to use them w Eating disordered clients years ago but totally different. My first answer would be if you are not feeling it or thinking it would help at all then maybe hold off.

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    1. I like the suggestions of a couple of people who thought I could use it to track my symptoms and triggers, rather than focus on a day as bad or good. That fits more in my wheelhouse!

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  12. That positive attitude makes such a difference! Isn't it crazy how much you have to advocate for yourself in the health world? Sounds like you're really on top of it... and yay for waking up pain free!

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    1. It's a whole new perspective, being a health care provider with an illness! It's tougher than I imagined. But I'm grateful for the knowledge that I have. It helps.

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  13. Your warrior poses look so great! I love your attitude about living with RA, too. It's one of the reasons I subscribed to your blog. :-)

    I see your point about keeping a symptom journal and how that could lead you to increased negativity. On the other hand, it could help you determine if Humira is working for you or not.

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    1. That's a whole other perspective I hadn't considered! I may have to rethink the symptom journal!

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  14. When the going gets tough, the tough dig in a little deeper and stare that adversity down. I'm proud of you for seeing the silver lining in all of this. And yay for 2nd gear! :)

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  15. That is exactly what I love about you Wendy. It's not that you have a perfect running life no its that you have a near perfect attitude. You inspired me so much to strive to take control of your life. None of us have a crystal ball but we can be more in control than we think. Hoping this is a great week for you an I can't wait to see what you do with Becky.

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    1. You know what? As long as I can run, as long as I can pose, as long as I can lift, the rest will fall into place. If I'm stuck on the couch or can't get out of bed, that's a problem! I got this.

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  16. My good friend Melody came up with a theory--there are 2 kinds of people: positive core people and negative core people. Positive core people will find the strawberry shortcake through a bad run. Negative core people won't remember the strawberry shortcake for the bad run. Melody has a negative core kid in her grade one class. They had an epic fun day one day and all the kids were cheering and so happy about what a fun day it was and one little boy called out with a pout, "Yeah, but it wasn't as fun as Halloween." That's the difference. I'm glad you had strawberry shortcake. You deserve it. xo

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    1. Almost made it again today but my husband was in the kitchen all afternoon cooking for the week.

      That's a win in my book! The shortcake will wait.

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  17. I love your positive attitude and your approach to what is a difficult thing to deal with. I think positivity goes a long way. and positive people are always better to be around.
    Your pup makes a cute ambassador!

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  18. Attitude is everything and yours is amazing. So glad you can still run and are feeling better! Keep up all of the good thoughts and good work!

    The weather here was INSANE this week. Last Saturday was beyond fab and this Saturday was f-f-f-freezing.

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    1. Pretty sure if I couldn't run, I'd be singing a different tune!

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  19. I'm glad you ended your week on a high note. I do think being a runner changes our pain threshold and view of things. On the other hand, maybe you could focus on journaling your GOOD days so you know what is working for you -- not just the meds but also everything else you are trying?

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    1. I don't know why I didn't think of that but yes! That's a great idea. Wouldn't it have been great if the nurse framed it that way?

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  20. It sounds like you had a great week! Attitude really does make a difference.

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    1. I'm happy that the week ended on such a high note.

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  21. I'm with you on focusing on the positive. Mindset is everything. Love your warrior pose pics! You are so strong!

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    1. The warrior poses have taken on a new meaning for me!

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  22. You truly are a beautiful Yogi Wendy! I wish I could just snap fingers and be able to do the poses you do. :)

    I think you have a fabulous attitude regarding your RA and the ups and downs that go along with it. I think I am, by nature, a glass half-empty person who tries really really hard to be positive and I"m married to a glass is always full guy! He always lifts me up way higher than I could ever get on my own :)

    And as to your crossfit ...lighter weights, huh? Those look like some pretty seriously heavy plates you have there! Strong lady ....physically and mentally!

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    1. That strength training has been the best thing for my mindset. Talk about feeling strong!

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  23. You know that this is why we get along. We aren't defined by what is "wrong" with us. Humira is a great drug--it didn't work for me, but it has been great for others!

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    1. It's amazing to me how people around me try to bring me down. Especially some of the people I work with. Why would someone do that to a person?

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  24. You are fucking amazing, my friend. I can say that here – – yes?? :-)
    This reminds me of a conversation I had over the weekend with a friend. We are both working to reminder selves the power of I AM______ phrases. What we say we become

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    1. That's a great mindset. You are how you fucking define yourself. :p

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  25. Positive thinking really is so powerful. I'm sure you will have days that it's harder to find the positive note (and that's totally ok)... but come back and read this post when you do. So inspiring!!! xoxo

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    1. I'll take the good days right now! It's great to feel so good. I hope it lasts for a while.

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  26. As someone who has been in a literal battle with her thyroid for 12 years, I totally get the spiral downward. I have weeks when I don't think about it and then I have times where I can't stop. Even with glass half full people, it's tough when you're dealing with this "thing" day after day. But, in an attempt to try to stay positive or as simple reminders when I'm not feeling so positive, I have three quotes taped to my computer screen (since that's where I stare the most during the day)
    "Everything is going to be all right. Maybe not today, but eventually.
    "The mind is everything, what you think you become.
    "Don't lose hope. (You never know what tomorrow will bring.)"

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    1. I love these quotes! Every day I wear 2 of my Momentum wraps on my wrist: "Positive energy" and "just breathe". Since I see my wrists all day as I'm examining patients, It's a great reminder to me and it really works!

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  27. I am also married to a half empty glass guy.

    I do think there is benefit to knowing how different things might effect you -- doesn't mean you're focusing on the negative, just educating yourself further on your body, but hey, do what works for you.

    We are back in winter. Briefly. Then warmer . . . .then colder. . . well, it's gonna be March & you know what they say about March. Right now I am very happy that the snow is gone. I endured some brutal runs last week & also got to run in skirts . . . yes, life is good. :)

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  28. On the one hand, a diary would be helpful so you could see if there are any environmental factors or foods triggering a flare. On the other hand, it could certainly drag you down. Maybe you could make it a really vague journal -- similar to a training journal -- with what you ate and how you felt and the weather. Those all impact arthritis as you know. Then you don't have to go into detail but if there's a pattern you can see over time.

    But I think staying positive is DEFINITELY the way to go. You're a runner. You are a strong, beautiful, amazing woman. You can be an RA patient but it won't take over your life because you won't let it. xxoo

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    1. I think I like everyone's take on this diary--wouldn't it have been great if the nurse had suggested it this way?

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  29. The weather definitely swung in Boulder, from temps near 60 to snow on Thursday and Friday. I'm ready for it to warm up just a bit from the 16 degrees we had this morning.

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    1. Brrrr! Today we hit 50---then we are supposed to get snow on Weds. Crazy.

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  30. This weather is just crazy, isn't it?!?!? I am a glass half full, with it slightly tipping at times kind of girl. But I am aware of my negative side, so my positive side tries her best to fight off the bad vibes. This last year has taught me that I truly CAN get through anything, so I am still flying the high of "I did it!" LOL!
    I am so glad you are feeling better, and that things are looking up!! xo

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    1. I'd be flying high that my husband was home!!!

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  31. Yes on all four seasons last week. CRAZY. I think it's interesting how you stumped the nurse - I'm sure she rarely deals with such a physically fit person who also has RA. You probably opened her eyes a bit!

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  32. Great to hear you are feeling good! A positive attitude definitely helps! Good week of workouts for you and I hope Humira works out! Stay strong and amazing!

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  33. Your "focus on the positive, forget the negative" mindset is spot on. Yes, the reality is that there will be bad days. But if we spend too much time focusing on those instead of on the positive then we won't get anywhere. You can do this, Wendy!

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    1. It was so surprising, waking up and feeling good--because I never felt "that bad". Ok then!

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  34. You are killing it right now! Way to go! I'm definitely glass half full but like you, my husband is glass half empty :) What would they do without us?

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    1. Right? That's what I always say to him!

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  35. Stay Strong WEndy! you got this! You can make your diary about what you did when things got painful and putting a "let's deal with this" spin to it.

    I'm a "at least I have liquid in my glass" passive aggressive personality... it's a new lever... we make a lot of sarcastic comments.

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    1. Haha! It's a good thing to have liquid in your glass!

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  36. Drug companies have ambassadors? I like Cocoa much better. Maybe you should write down only good and positive things in the diary. Instead of a symptom diary, call it a successful diary (or some other "S" word I can't think of!!). I can't help but believe you have nothing but sunny days ahead, regardless of the weather. Thanks for linking, Wendy!

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    1. I thought the same thing, and then I thought maybe I should look into that job! Hmmmm....

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  37. Yay for pain free! I think the power of positive thinking helps a lot... I think it helps more than some people will give it credit for. This week we had 2 seasons in H-town... spring and summer-lite :-)

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    1. There's no other way to think, really. Because that would mean giving in.

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  38. Couple things. Glad you were able to work with the Humira / AbbVie folks. Also check into their program for helping with the costs of medicines. I know my company offers assistance and I believe most do. Even if you think you may not qualify find out, it never hurts to ask. These programs should be utilized and discussed. Although you may already know this... sorry for redundant information.

    Love that you are willing to track your symptoms, I think even the goods and the bads help form a picture of what is going on with your disease and your body.

    Definitely Positive is the way to go!! I needed that reminder this morning, your post came at a perfect time.

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    1. My insurance won't "let" me use the Abbvie assistance. They said it's not part of my plan. I have to suck it up with the co-pay. How's that for a kick in the pants?

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  39. So glad you woke up pain free and are focusing on the positive instead of the negative things going on with your body! The weather has been all 4 seasons here for sure! It's raining today but I'm good with that. I hope you have a great week!

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    1. It will be raining tomorrow! Can't say I'm good with that since I have a run scheduled!

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  40. This is great news! I really like how you are approaching things and being realistic. Also, we had the same crazy weather. Shorts one day, heavy fleece shirt the next!

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  41. You have a great attitude and are doing amazing! Progress is not linear so it's always a challenge but you are so strong! I am married to glass half full person--Rick has taught me so much about keeping a positive attitude. I have to work on it more but it gets better with practice :) Yin yoga will always be my favorite but lately I have been doing 3-4 sessions of flow each week (I only practice about 20 minutes) but perhaps I am needing a good 45 minute yin class. It's so wonderful and I always feel amazing!

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    1. I just love all the limbs of yoga. The yin practice was perfect for how I was feeling that day! But I love my flow practice too.

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  42. :hug: Positive thinking is always so powerful. Clearly, I am a glass-half-full kind of girl (also married to a negative nelly). No matter what is going on, I always try to find the good in the situation. Sometimes it's a little idealistic, but it helps me take things in stride. When faced with adversity, I get one day to wallow, and then I dig in. Because we all need a day to sit on the couch in a robe, eating cereal out of the box with a wooden spoon. But then self-pity is over and we need to get on with it. Or at least, that's how I roll.

    We do not get four seasons here. We get summer, summer, kind of fall/maybe winter, summer. Right now, we are in pre-summer. It comes with its own annoyances and challenges.

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    1. What is it with all these negative husbands?

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  43. We only have a super long and humid summer, and a sprinkling of cooler days here and there. I find it boring and I miss the beauty of autumn leaves that I experienced in my childhood. But, since I am a glass half full girl I try to look on the bright side.
    I handle adversity pretty well I think. I always remind myself of the silver lining, and that so many other people are worse off than I am. I count my blessings, come up with a plan of attack, and put one foot in front of the other. I'm so glad I found your blog. I'm currently counting you as one of my blessings. Your positive attitude is infectious and I look forward to seeing your IG photos. The jumping/handstand photos always make me smile. I hope you are headed into your week feeling strong, pain free, and peaceful.

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    1. I can be negative and that's why I work so hard on positivity. After this past week, I can see how people let their illness get the best of them. I think it would be easier to do that than to keep moving forward. But the rewards are plenty. I'm feeling good this week and I smiled when I looked at my running calendar for February. I didn't miss a run!

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  44. I swear we had all four seasons on Saturday alone. And we'll have all again this week, complete with "summer" thunderstorms.

    What was the point to the symptoms journal? Could you learn anything from it that would help you? I've been tracking my headaches and finally figured out my trigger, which was super useful to figure out, even if I may not be able to avoid it. Hope your good days outnumber your bad days and that your bad days aren't too bad.

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    1. I'm re-thinking that symptom journal, like you and others have said, to use it to track my symptoms and triggers. Glad to hear that it has worked for you and those headaches.

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  45. Stay positive on those good days, I think they will out number the bad ones! :) WE both know the feeling of being overwhelmed, it does hurt to stop and regroup. See you soon!

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    1. I'm so glad you inspired me to take a few days to regroup. It helped immensely! Next up, beach therapy...

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  46. Wendy I have always said attitude is everything and I just love yours! Keep focusing on the positive as much as you can. I truly believe it will make a big difference.

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  47. Yay for being 99% free! Positive thinking is such a powerful thing! When I was first diagnosed as diabetic, it was immediate pity party of 1...but slowly, but surely, I am beating this and I'm keeping my eye on the prize and trying to remain positive, even on the hard days!

    Jen
    jpabstfitness.com

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