Author: Brian Greenberg
Recently, I was walking my dog around a park and saw a group of kids running around a merry-go-round. There were multiple times that everything was going smoothly, kids were running properly, and it was moving fast. Then, there were a few times when the merry-go-round came to a stop and it was incredibly difficult to get everything going again.
This made me think about how I’ve lived with Crohn’s disease since I was 11 and how I’m managing my IBD now. It always seems like once I get my body moving and keeping a good routine, everything feels better. When a flare hits or when I get lazy, everything seems to head downhill. There are times when people ask me how I keep moving and doing so much with my Crohn’s disease; well, it’s all about keeping my merry-go-round moving, and when it comes to a stop, getting back up and getting it moving again.
Many times a flare can cause our entire lives to get turned upside down. We don’t know what to do and we try everything we can in order to get things back to normal. This is usually an uphill battle and one that almost feels impossible to catch up on. Same thing happens when we don’t take proper care of ourselves: our bodies hurt more, the arthritis kicks in, fatigue keeps us from going out, and the quality of life is generally low.
This is why I have always told people to do everything you can to live a healthy lifestyle for your IBD and give your body the best chance it possibly can in the fight against your IBD. When you do this, you can gain momentum and things have the ability to improve. It’s true that this take a lot of work, but isn’t our health worth it?
When you keep a routine and your body is able to have some level of stability, your health has a better chance to improve. This helps the momentum work in your favor and shows how IBD can almost be like a merry-go-round. Once you put in a large amount of work to get things moving in the right direction, it can take less energy to keep things going. Once everything is working in our favor, all we have to do is get off and run a little bit with minimal pushing to keep things going smoothly.
With a good routine, things can improve and then we just have to stay on track. This is almost like running along side of the merry-go-round, which allows you to keep it going with less effort. Once you find a routine that works well with your body, add it to your life and make it mandatory. You’ll find that it allows you to do more.
For me, this is broken down into three categories: diet, physical, and mental.
Diet – Now I’m not saying that diet is a cure for IBD. It’s far from it! But if we eat healthy foods, we’ll naturally have a better chance at living healthy as well. Eating the proper amount of calories with the right nutrition can’t hurt, right? Staying hydrated with low sugar beverages can’t hurt, right? Eating well overall can’t hurt your IBD, right? So why not give it a try? We all have to find our own diets and sometimes it might be taking a combination of all the diets out there that help with inflammation. But when we find something that might work, it can’t hurt to stick with it.
Physical – In order to keep my merry-go-round moving, I have to keep my body moving. Now there are morning when I wake up and my body doesn’t move. The arthritis causes too much pain and just getting out of bed hurts. But on mornings when I feel a little energy, mornings that my body doesn’t hurt quite as much as it can, I have to workout and give my body the best shot. This normally includes a morning workout with swimming, cycling, running, or weights, followed by stretching and foam rolling. Then, at the end of the day, I stretch and foam roll again while hydrating my body for the next day. This takes work, but it’s your health! In my mind that’s worth the effort and time.
Mental – Recently, I’ve stopped neglecting an area of my life that I normally didn’t pay much attention too. Now I make sure I have time to work on my mental health. This includes breaks during the day while I’m working, meditating before bed or even during the days sometimes, and allowing myself time to reflect and recognize the good and bad things that might be happening in my life. This has allowed me to have a better understanding on how to manage an overactive body and brain which many patients with IBD have.
Now I didn’t say this is easy. It’s not. It takes time, effort, and relentless work ethic. But it’s your life; isn’t it worth it? If things can be better than they are right now with your Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, wouldn’t you want to give it a try? It will take time to get the merry-go-round moving in the right direction. There are going to be times when you think you have it going and, boom, it comes to a stop. But we have to get back up and keep trying to get the merry-go-round moving again. Once we can get into a routine and once have the ability to keep our lives going with less effort, that’s when we begin to really see the benefits.
To read more about creating a routine of little changes that can potentially help manage your IBD, check out the Compound Effect.