Monday, March 30, 2015

Exercise can be a part of fibromyalgia healing; plus healthy frosty ice cream

Running the Race to Robie Creek in 2004, pre-fibromyalgia
Never say "I'll never be able to do that again" because I have fibromyalgia. I used to say that all the time in the darkest days of my illness. Now, I'm having to "eat my words."

You see I'm signed up to do the 13.1-mile Race to Robie Creek, Saturday, April 18. http://robiecreek.com/ I used to do the Race to Robie Creek every spring pre-fibromyalgia.The last time I ran it was April 17, 2004, with my husband, pictured above.

Then, my world began unraveling as the symptoms of fibromyalgia took hold of my life. At the time, I was convinced I'd never do things again that were my passion, like hiking, snowshoeing, backpacking and definitely, not running. I was having trouble just standing and walking.

Now, my belief is you can do whatever you set your mind to do as long as you realize you may have to make some modifications. As an example, start walking short distances every day. Never go beyond that "feel good feeling." If you do it right, there's nothing that exercise can't benefit.

These days, I still don't run except for a little speed walking or run walking. I do ride my bike; go hiking, snowshoeing and backpacking. I've had to make some modification to do these things. I definitely don't go at race pace. I do these activities at a pace that feels good.  I go shorter distances. I do what feels good on a given day. Since fibromyalgia muscles tend to stay contracted, I spend a lot of time stretching after exercising.

My last T-shirt from the Race to Robie Creek

For a decade plus, I haven't even considered participating in Robie Creek. It's billed as the toughest half-marathon in the Northwest. Fibromyalgia has prevented me from running, something I used to enjoy. This winter, a close friend said, "Why don't we do the Race to Robie Creek?" I thought she was kidding but she wasn't.

She has done the race almost every year for the past 17 despite her own health problems. I kind of laughed and shrugged it off. But soon, it was time to register which is no easy thing because all the race spots are usually taken in less than one hour.

She was successful in registering herself because her computer works faster than mine. I didn't get a spot but entered for a chance to win one in a drawing. I never win anything so quickly forgot about it. Surprise, surprise. Last week, I was notified I had won a spot.

Well, here's the part where I have to "eat my words" about never running again. Actually, I don't plan on running. I'll be walking, another modification because of fibromyalgia. I might have to speed walk a little here and there in order to complete the event in about four hours.

So, is exercise good for individuals with fibromyalgia? Yes, I believe it should be part of your healing. Movement/exercise can make just about any health problem better because you're getting oxygen;  preventing muscles from atrophying; getting Vitamin D; and helping alleviate depression.

Admittedly, you're probably going to need to get your sleep problems, vitamin deficiencies, thyroid problems and gut issues on the road to mending before you feel like exercising a lot. But any little bit you do can help as long as you stick with this rule: never go beyond the "feel good" feeling."

I admit I have always been an avid exerciser. If I couldn't exercise, I got depressed. I started making modifications so I could keep on going. But exercise still hurt until I found this program: http://classicalstretch.com/ Classical Stretch has been on PBS for 15 years so check your listings to see when it's on in your area.

I like it because Miranda Esmonde-White leads you through exercises that help rebalance your body, increase mobility, and keep your joints healthy and pain-fee. It's not difficult, last about 23 minutes, and is suitable for all ages and fitness levels.


 Give me a healthy ice cream frosty after exercise.
And pretty soon you'll see me behaving like Nika (red malamute on right) here who has finished her food and is trying to take everyone's food.

Frozen milk ice cubes
 The frosty making process is easy.
The finished product
 You need frozen milk ice cubes (about 1 cup of your favorite milk beverage), 1/2 cup of yogurt of your choice (lactose free or low lactose, no sugar), 1/4 tsp.powdered stevia, 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract and pinch of salt.
 Blend up a storm in your vitamix or other heavy-duty blender. You may have to tap it down a bit. Pretty soon, you'll have a delicious frosty.
Now you can see why I'd fight like Nika for seconds.