“Trash or TREASURE? A limitation or a CAPABILITY? An obstacle or OPPORTUNITY? A bump or a BLESSING? Only you can choose your perspective. Understand that your perspective will decide your actions, and your actions will define you.” – Me. And you can quote me on that because I firmly believe it.

I started this blog to inspire people. 90% of the people who read this probably won’t agree with me, but since I am only averaging about 1,500 views per month at this time, I’m okay with that. It’s time to get real.

I woke up today at 6:45 am, texted my friend I was supposed to do cardio with at 7 and told him I was going to ride instead. My ankle and knees were so swollen before I went to bed last night, I could feel that my ankle was still stiff, and I was utterly exhausted. I slept for three more hours, woke up, forced breakfast, laid down on the couch, and struggled to get a few words in when my roommate spoke to me, I was THAT lethargic. Literally laid around all day, not to mention the pain I was in (Fibro kicks in when the RA does, conveniently). If it’s a muscle, it was hurting today. I EASILY could have continued to lay in bed all day. I honestly wanted to. My long term goals are big but I really didn’t think I could make it through any workout today, I couldn’t even dry my hair. However, I had an appt with my trainer at 3 and I won’t cancel on him. So I showed up for the gym before I showed up for life today. 2:50 sharp to warm up.

The first 8 sets were daunting. I barely said one word to him. He could tell I was lethargic but he knows how far he can push me and he did. By the time we got about fifteen minutes in, the blood started flowing and I started doing better. My focus became 100% on whatever I was doing – chest up, squeeze the shoulder blades together, work, work, work, focus, work. And boom, no more muscle pain (other than the fatigue that came quickly from pushing them so hard, but no Fibro pain as some of you know it – feels like someone is digging a corkscrew into the muscle and opening it like a wine bottle), finally started communicating, and maybe cracked a smile or two about 40 minutes in. Crushed it and finished with 20 min on the bike for cardio (not even ideal but I was over it and my legs are still sore from every other day).

Why am I telling you this? Because when I changed my focus from “I’m tired. I’m sore. My muscles hurt.” to “chest up, feel those shoulders burning, work, focus, work” my body and mind shifted to a positive state of accomplishment rather than a state of defeat.

I cannot tell you how many discussion boards, message boards, blogs, etc. I see on the internet that are supposed to be “support groups” for people with autoimmune diseases that are a bunch of people posting about how sick and tired they are of being sick and tired, what side effects they are so worried about on their medicine even though they are doing fine, how no one understands what they are going through… tired of reading that sentence already, aren’t you? It’s negative and I think that when we constantly feed our mind with that, we succumb to it and feel defeated before we even have a chance to thrive.

Someone commented on a post of mine and said something to the effect of “As a fellow RA sufferer…” and immediately I stopped reading. Sufferer? I am doing a lot of things but suffering is most definitely not one of them. The only reason why is because I choose not to. Think of one thing you wish you could change about your health or whatever it is that you can’t control. Use it in these sentences – I’ll practice for you.

“I suffer from Arthritis.”

“I survive with Arthritis.”

“I thrive with Arthritis.”

I would prefer to use the third statement and that, my friends, is why I have had the success that I have. It isn’t that I’m not in as much pain as Cindy Lou or Joe Smith. On the contrary, often I am in more. I focus on what I can do and not on what I can’t. And when I don’t think I can go on anymore, I go for ten more minutes. When I can’t do any more reps, I do four more. When I feel like giving up, I take every negative word out of my vocabulary. And if I EVER caught myself saying I was “suffering”, I would visit a hospital and spend some time with terminally ill children or paraplegics and count my blessings.

This life is what you make of it. You can survive or thrive. I choose to thrive.

Stay PERSISTent.