Have you exercised today?

At any given point during the day, someone is bound to ask, “Have you worked out yet?” Cue the sheepish face, rolling eyes, and “no…..” Then comes the “Ok.” And they walk away. The deed is done, the guilt trip is complete. Nothing more needs to be said, because you secretly know you should have busted your butt on the elliptical hours ago. You see, my family is incredibly supportive. They have two teenage daughters with POTS and honestly know more about it than we do. Everything is pretty easy to do (albeit annoying). I mean, medicine, is something you automatically do at some point. I finally finagled and only have to take it twice a day, morning and night. It’s a regimen, and quite an easy one to follow. And thus, almost impossible to forget. My morning protocol is the same way.

First I hear the alarm. Sigh accordingly. Reach over very ungracefully and text my family good morning (knocking over a water glass in the process). Then I get up, microwave a cup of bullion broth and drink that under my covers. I pop a pill, then get up and have breakfast (usually oatmeal with craisins, walnuts, and cinnamon). I go to get changed and remember I haven’t done my stretches/exercises/thingymajiggers. So I do the following:

1. 25 tip toes (there’s probably a real name for this somewhere). My doc at the Mayo clinic coached me into making it a stretch with four beats. You life your heels up, one two, back down, three four. This is probably the easiest stretch to do but it will make you wicked dizzy if you take is fast.

2. 25 (I usually cheat and do 20…) squats. Don’t look at me like that, you can start out in small increments. You just have to take them reeeally slowly and make sure you don’t hyperextend your knees. This means if you look down your knees should not go past your toes. They made me really dizzy when I started out, I could only manage five. I worked my way up, you can too. And I freaking love that picture. So appreciate it : )

look at that smexy broccoli lifting weights. Gosh, this is what happens when I’m allowed to choose my own pictures…

3. Lifting weights in increments of 25. I do 2-3 each morning mostly because I really hate how weak my arms are. Between roping, swim, and tennis I used to look like pop eye the sailor, now, not so much. Anyways, only one set is required (ask your dad or someone who works out, it’s pretty easy).

1. Know your schedule. Make a list of free hours you have during the day, what days have more homework, and take note what time of the day it is. For some reason, POTS kids have more energy in either the morning of afternoon. For me, its usually the morning. But that’s a bit unusual. Apparently everyone else feels less than stellar in the morning. So take that into consideration. There’s no point in scheduling a workout session that most days of the week you can’t complete because you feel terrible. Also, if you know you have class right before, wait half an hour. We’re not bunnies that can go jumping from one activity to the next. I usually need 30 min to an hour to relax before I can even think about working out.

Here’s the tough part. Working out. It’s a huge mental block, whether you want to count walking to class exercise, or even just putting on a clean shirt in the morning. No. This is an addition to normal daily activities to ensure you can do them in the future. My parents motivated me at first, but as I got better and able to self-function a little I made a chart. Mine  had flowers and doodles on it, bribery for making it in the first place. Just say how many minutes a day you’re going to do, and then add about five each week. Keep adding until you get to 30-45 min. I’m at about 45 min of run/walking. I run for half and walk back. I generally walk up hills because I don’t want to look like this:

It also helps if you stretch and warm up your muscles for five minutes of working out. It’s less of a stress on your body. One thing Dr. Papa often tells me to do is to wear my anti-embolism stockings while run/walking. I wish I had in the beginning, my calf muscles had gone kaput. The stockings keep your calves taut and increase your blood flow to keep you from getting dizzy. And as awkward as it feels when you put them on, people generally are impressed (especially if they’re a cool bright color!). Oh, sock update, I got AMAZING anti-embolism stockings at Fleet Feet. They’re colorful, comfy, and they make sure they fit perfectly. No one questions them when I wear them to pick up Ultimate Frisbee games either, I suppose because they’re considered “Athletic” now. No one needs to know they’re also for old people. And POTS people. So be proud and wear your socks high!

When you’re done, drink a huge glass of water an pedialyte (maybe two!) and sit down. Don’t lie down or sleep. Wait a bit before you take a warm shower (not hot, hot water can cause your veins to dilate and you could faint). It’s also a good time to do facials because you will be in one place for a time and can then wash them off in the shower. I dunno, I like masks and stuff like that because my skin is a finicky creature. My favorite to use are from LUSH because I know all the ingredients (they use nothing synthetic) and they leave my face all glowy. Cosmetic Warrior (good for acne), and Mask of Magnaminty (it’s cool and makes your skin tingle. Plus I really like the smell!).

Working out is an every day struggle. But if you aim for every day you will probably end up with approximately 4-5. That’s the reality of our situation. This is the one way we can really see a tangible result besides just waiting out a bad day. You want to get better. You can get better and you WILL get better. But instead of feeling useless, put your mind to working at it. My parents used to say working out is a job, it truly is. It ranks above friends, homework, work, everything except sleep and medicine. This is well within your power. You are strong enough to improve your body. Pie and I both have. It gets better.

There’s this last thing. I was trying to encourage a friend recently and I told her to celebrate every accomplishment. I think that is the most important. Have your best friend or little brother buy you flowers when you work your way up to working out for fifteen minutes or a half hour. You aren’t working out to become normal again. You’re working out to become extraordinary. You are worthy of flowers. You are fearfully and wonderfully made, and completely adept at dealing with this. We have a saying as Christians that God never gives you more than you can handle. It’s true. You can handle what would break most, the loss of everything that formerly made them proud of themselves. But there’s something else inside you, something indomitable.

“Here and there does not matter
We must be still and still moving
Into another intensity
For a further union, a deeper communion
Through the dark cold and the empty desolation,
The wave cry, the wind cry, the vast waters
Of the petrel and the porpoise. In my end is my beginning.”
– T.S. Eliot

Be well,

Teddy

Food+Workingout+Exercises = Energy? Say what?

Pie: Hello world (or any awesome person reading this) I must admit I was never really interested in blogs until I watched the movie Julie and Julia. After watching that movie I realized how amazing blogs are, and how they can affect people without being acquainted with them. Also Teddy thought this could be a really cool way to share our ways of dealing with POTS. In this post I want to talk about some of the things that physically make me feel better since Teddy and I have mostly talked about the mental medicine ❤ With POTS it’s very hard to control your symptoms, I still have yet to find the miracle to make it go away. But through hours of research in our own personal high tech lab (….our house!) we have experimented with foods and workouts that truly help.

  1. PEDIALYTE (okay, I know what you must be thinking, this random blogger is recommending baby Gatorade. Crazy wouldn’t you agree?) Pedialyte is a drink with electrolytes (snails and puppy dog tails) with POTS drinking fluids is a must to help with your blood flow (G2 is also good, and is better for you than Gatorade). For some reason pedialyte makes me feel a lot better. I’m not going to go to the extent that after I drink this magical elixir I turn into a superhero with super strength and the power to fly. No, I just feel a bit of my fatigue and dizziness wash away. I normally drink this before I workout, hang out with friends, or when I’m having a plain ol’ bad POTS induced day. They sell it at groceries stores and isn’t hard to find. Oh! Before I go to number two, pedialyte tastes a lot better when mixed with water…(you will be thanking me for warning you about that)
  2. Tea ❤ I adore tea! I love feeling like you have your own personally hearth inside your tummy. Teddy sometimes compares tea to drinking flowers….(she really likes flowers) she has this amazing orchid tea that we drink on special sister days. We just curl up, talk and watch our favorite movies and t.v. shows. Some teas are caffeinated (as I’m sure you know) and I’ve heard that caffeine isn’t great for POTS. I normally try to drink non-caffeinated teas but I’ll admit I do cheat this POTS rule and enjoy peach green tea.
  3. Water. I mentioned earlier the importance of blood flow for us who are…how do I put this…lacking. I drink tons of water! The only problem with this method is if you are like me, and you are cursed with the smallest bladder known to man. Imagine a human water fountain and you will understand where I am going with this. Always bring a water bottle with you wherever you go. I went to the mall today and I drank three bottles full of water. It’s my fuel source (if you don’t count cheese).
  4. SALT. That’s right you heard me! S-A-L-T no wonder my horses lick me. With great salt comes great responsibility (to drink enough water to counteract it). For a person who doesn’t have POTS, having a lot of salt in you’re diet isn’t a good idea. But since we POTS peeps already have a bad heart the doctors are telling us it’s good for us. Eating salty snacks like pretzels, nuts, and cheez-its are really great snacks. My doctors made it clear that I also have to drink lots of water with the amount of salt I take. You can’t just eat the salt 😦 Salt and water help create better blood highways. I don’t know, maybe like well-oiled cars? I know nothing about cars, so if I ever pretend I know anything about cars I am telling you now, I am not to be trusted when it comes to them!
  5. Cardio. Something that has always baffled me is when I went to doctors they told me exercise was one of the best medicines. As a 10 year old who was as tired as an old cat I thought that was a crazy idea! But they were right; cardio is another one of those things that helps. It doesn’t always help but it’s a good feeling to know you have done something productive. It also makes you feel better afterwards. Cardio can be swimming laps, playing tennis, taking a run/jog/fast walk, or running on an elliptical or treadmill. Basically anything that gets your heart rate up for around 20 minutes or more (you start small and add time as you get in better shape) I alternate from tennis and working out on an elliptical. (don’t recommend stair masters or jump-roping it can make you really dizzy)  Before I workout I drink a big cup of water and a big cup of pedialyte. Drinking beforehand makes me feel less out of breath. Teddy and I need to be distracted while we work out on the elliptical so we watch t.v. shows to entertain us. I normally watch shows that I can space out to. Here is a list, Gilmore Girls (<3 this show IS AMAZING), Americas Next Top Model, Ouran Host Club ( a hilarious anime that will steal your heart away within seconds), Project Runway (really cool show!) Endurance (it’s on discovery kids, it’s basically like survivor but with kids), Survivor (bet you didn’t see that one coming), Bachelor/Bachelorette/Bachelor Pad, The Biggest Loser ( It’s nice to see I’m not the only one in pain while working out), Drake and Josh, Degrassi (this show sort of scares me, but in the past week I have been watching it and I think I’ve become a bit…addicted), GLEE ( I love Glee! My parents bought me the first season when I went to the Mayo Clinic and my Dad and I watched it a lot haha ❤ and HE ENJOYED IT!), American Idol, and Hayao Miyazaki films (If you have never seen any of his films you have been deprived.) I think this list could go on and on but I am experiencing a brain fart.
  6. “Brothing” every morning. When Teddy and I wake up we get broth(bullion cubes) and go back to lie down. This is our first intake of salt that we need to start up our day. We lay there for about 15+ minutes. When we are done we do twenty-five arm lifts with 6lb weights, squats, and toe raises. This is how we jumpstart our salt filled day :]
  7. Leg lifts, one thing that is so hard about POTS is when you sit up abruptly you get really dizzy, which makes sit ups really difficult. Teddy and I both gained weight when we first got sick because we were too sick to do….basically anything. With POTS you aren’t supposed to lie down during the day but I still do leg lifts. Leg lifts are when you lie down on your back and hold onto something (bottom of bed, table legs, really anything that is stable) I love leg lifts because they don’t make my head spin and I feel like I am doing something to help get rid of my tummy fat (storage for winter…tomato tomAAto)
  8. Pelvic Curl….I looked up the name and it sounds more like a poke’mon attack then a stretch, wouldn’t you agree? A … pelvic curl is when you lay down on your back and your knees are in an upside-down V shape  -^–o    that’s you! Aren’t you as cute as a button? Then you lift your REER off the ground ( I have no idea how to make a stick figure to look like that… fail XD )
  9. Planks (a gift from the devil) if you are anything like me you probably hate planks. I love the idea that someday I will be this buff woman with abs (but we both know that’s not going to happen until I am really motivated) To do a proper plank you can go into push-up position with your palms on the ground OR with your elbows to the ground. If you do attempt this (I dare you) you will feel it working instantly. This is why I like it, because you can feel it working. Planks can make me a bit lightheaded if I don’t breath enough while I am doing it.

10. Humor, make sure to keep things in your life that make you happy. In our earlier posts we have talked about things that make us happier. It can be as simple as reading a cute book to watching a hilarious youtube video. “Make em’ laugh make em’ laugh! Don’t you know everyone wants to laugh? … You start off by pretending you’re a dancer with grace, you wiggle ’till they’re giggling all over the place.

And then you get a great big custard pie in the face!

Make ’em laugh

make ’em laugh  make ’em laugh” -Singing in the rain ❤

Life is amazing and don’t let POTS take over your life. It’s a part of your life, not your entire life. We have learned to refuse to let it take over. Fight it because we are going to beat this. Teddy and I just want to thank-you saints for reading our blog so far. If you have anything to add to my list of foods and exercises please comment! Share your knowledge! We really appreciate it and hope that we can help in anyway we can to make your POTS trip as enjoyable as possible :] Until we meet again ❤

*Pie*