I got into running for one major reason: to be more healthy so in the future I can continue to be fully involved with my family and friends. I have a disease called Psoriatic Arthritis: one that does not afflict many people in the global population and is not common among the arthritic diseases. If you have psoriasis, you have a 15% chance of getting this disease (so it is unlikely to occur for most people). The cause of PsA is unknown though I believe if autoimmune problems are in your family genes and psoriasis is evident, then this disease is in play.
Those with psoriatic arthritis can range from having no pain or occasional bouts of pain a few times a year to constant pain 24 hours a day. I myself was in the latter group in my early 30s 10 years ago when I got diagnosed but as I have begun to “fight back” I have pushed myself to the group that suffers less pain and inflammation (my inflammation levels are the lowest since my diagnoses). For those with constsnt pain every day, speaking from that personal experience, PsA’s effects and attacks can be demoralizing and keep one from being engaged with family and friends which creates an unsound mind leading to depression and other problems (such as obesity).
So how have I taken PsA on beside running? Like my ecosystem for running, I have one for PsA as well. Here is the major features of the plan I am using these days.
- Gluten Free: The gluten free wave is one that has spread among the health focused over the past few years for a variety of reasons. The thinking among the health community with gluten is this: with the massive amount of fertilizer that is being poured into the fields of farms everywhere to speed product to market (in other words, create more sales), the gluten protein has changed “genetically” and our bodies in some cases cannot handle this change! Before our bodies could handle it as production was not so much about speed but quality but now they had changed and some can’t handle this protein In their system with yours truly being one of them. By removing gluten from my system, inflammation levels in my body have plunged! Inflamation is what PsA feeds off of – remove such and PsA has nothing to attack in the joints!
- Exercise of the Joints: This is why I run and work out. With certain exercises, I am constantly working out the joints so they are flexible. I work on muscle formation around key joints as well so each joint has support. And this constant stretching of the joints has further pushed back inflammation and PsA’s attacks on the body! If joints are in good shape, PsA has no reason to attack.
- Enbrel: I would be foolish not to admit that Enbrel has helped me. It has. I was takin one shot a week when I first started this drug 5 years ago and I now I take one shot every 4-6 weeks (shorter in winter, longer all other seasons). It is a powerful drug and works for me though the side effects can be troublesome (memory, fatigue, etc.). In the end though they are minor and something I will deal with to push back PsA.
- Vitamins and Chia: I take a dose of Chia seeds (2 tablespoons) each day. I mix them with a small amount of Endura and water (20oz). I have gained more energy from this mix and I believe it helps on the health side as well. I got the idea for this mix from the runners in the book “Born to Run.” As for other vitamins, I take vit D 5000, Fish oil and Merieva when I feel I am catching cold or around Enbrel shots – Enbrel depresses the immune system and these Vitamins do the opposite!
- Weight management: All of the above contribute to weight management but I wanted to add the following: less weight on the joints is important to keep PsA away. Excess pounds creates stress on the joints which attracts PsA to “work” on the joints to fix them. Less weight then equals less stress. It is not a coincidence that with my weight loss of 35lbs in the past year, I have seen a massive decline in my inflammation levels. Eat better, exercise more and keep a positive mind to remove the weight! Always keep a POSITIVE mindset!
As with my running ecosystem, it is constantly in an “updating” mode as I look for better ways to run and improve my health. Well for the health ecosystem, it has undergone some changes as well as PsA changes – I am a firm believer that the disease adapts to my bodies changes over time. It is like running the same flat route over and over – at some point the marginal benefits of running that route begin to fall. Change is necessary! So what you see above may change somewhat – but the main tenants of exercise, eating well and positive outlook are never going to change. These are definitely needed!
So what is “Racing for a Cure?” Well if you follow through on the link, you will find it is a community of runners who are out to raise money and awareness for arthritis research through their running of various races everywhere. As a member of that community, I am running for not only myself but those who cannot run and are dealing with daily pain preventing such; I am running for future generations of people who should not have to deal with this disease; and I am running to inspire others to fight back against the likes of PsA because it can be done!
In 2016 I will be running several races for this organization – hopefully the weather starts to cooperate! They will include half marathons, marathons and others. These challenges will be focused on the goals mentioned and from a personal standpoint, to push PsA away so it never has control of me and my life again!
Thanks for Reading