Thriving & Achieving with a Chronic Condition
Hello! As some of you may know, my name is Angie McCormick, and I have rheumatoid arthritis (RA). What most of you do not know is that I am also an IRONMAN! A month ago, I completed Ironman Wisconsin—an endurance event that requires you to swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and then run 26.2 miles! All in all, this took me 14 hours and 4 minutes to complete, which was better than I had anticipated. It was an amazing day—perfect weather, calm waters, safety on the bike course and the energy and focus to finish the race in the allotted 17 hours.
Now some of you may think this sounds like fun and others will call me crazy. But it was a really FUN day! Yes, that’s right, I just said that working out for 14 hours straight was FUN! How can that be possible?????
I will tell you how it is possible. Because there have been days, weeks and even months when I was unable to exercise more than just a gentle walk or slow recumbent bike ride. There were days when my hands were so swollen and sore that I couldn’t pick up my baby or push my girls in a swing. Three years ago, during my second RA flare up, it took all I had to get dressed because my hands were so swollen I could hardly pull up my pants. I couldn’t make a fist to fully grab the steering wheel, and if I tried to workout, my joints would be so painful an hour later that I couldn’t move.
This is why the Ironman was fun for me. Because the ability to exercise, move and do what I love is a privilege and a gift that has been given to me at this time. Because of those days when I couldn’t do it, I appreciate each day now that I can swim, bike, run, and do any other crazy thing that I decide to try because there may be a day when I cannot do it again.
Outside of the emotional motivation to exercise and do triathlons, I also made a lot of changes in my diet and lifestyle that have allowed me to complete such an extreme event without the use of medications to control my RA. More than 5 years ago, I did a complete diet overhaul, getting rid of processed foods and many other foods that were causing my immune system to attack my body. I began Pilates, which helped me with relaxation, a mind-body awareness and core stabilization. I did well for 2 years and then crashed again when I became overworked and over stressed. After that crash, I learned the value of further lifestyle changes, including minimizing stress, prioritizing sleep and other self-cares. These changes, though it took time, allowed me to recover to the level that I was able to complete the Ironman in a safe and healthy manner.
I am not telling you all this because I think everyone should do an Ironman. Nor will I tell you that I have no pain. I occasionally have a joint flare up, but nothing that requires traditional medication. I tell you my story to inspire you. If you have an autoimmune disease, chronic pain or a chronic disease of any sort, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, etc., I want you to know that THERE IS HOPE. There are changes that YOU can make to take YOUR life back and get back to doing whatever it is that YOU love, whether that be gardening, playing with your kids, traveling, performing a sport, etc. I would love to help you on this path. Contact me today so we can get you started on a plan to help you not just survive this life but to THRIVE in this life!