Lifelong Fitness

She has changed the way in which I will exercise the rest of my life. I started to love my body as well as gained confidence through my experience with Betsy.

~ Jiyun Lee

For almost 30 years, I have lived with pain. I was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis at the age of 12 and was told that physical activity was too much of a risk for potential joint injuries. My life of athletics, and pretty much anything physical, ended right there. The damage to my joints continued to increase over the years. Eventually, it was discovered that exercise and physical activity are exactly what is needed to keep arthritic joints healthy…but the damage, for me, was already done. I accepted a life of almost daily pain, exhaustion, and limited range of motion. Many people don’t realize how much pain I have endured because I choose to ignore most of it to live a somewhat “normal” life.

In December of 2011, I had a right hip replacement. Given the years of inactivity, I am lucky that this is the only surgery I have needed. Honestly, the only reason I agreed to do it was to be able to function as a wife and mom. I was no longer able to ignore the pain which caused me to not be able to keep up with the demands of my family. It was the best thing I’ve ever done…or so I thought.

I was told that my left hip would eventually need to be replaced and about a year ago, I started to feel some of the familiar pain that I had in my right hip. The rest of my body was continuing to to be my “normal” with daily pain, stiffness, and swelling.

A few months ago, I started to have fleeting thoughts of trying to start an exercise program. I was at my heaviest weight and I was unhappy. I’ve tried joining gyms, but I am too self-conscious about people watching me workout. My joints don’t move like everyone else’s and I just don’t want to deal with the looks, stares and questions. I prefer to not workout in groups. Even with the best of intentions, I don’t appreciate when someone corrects my form or pushes me through the pain. I get tired of saying, “My arms don’t bend that way, “I can’t get down on the floor to do those sit-ups,” or “Buddy, you couldn’t handle my pain on what I consider a good day!” I thought about dragging out some old exercise DVDs and the Wii fit, but I knew that I just wasn’t motivated to stick to it. Then is saw Betsy’s Challenge.

A mutual friend of ours had been working on a training program with Betsy and had AMAZING results. I admit, I was skeptical of the idea of an online personal trainer. How could Betsy possibly help me from half way around the world? But the evidence was staring me in the face…I could see it in my friend’s results. Then I realized, this is perfect! There is no way Betsy can stare at me or judge me while I work out because she is HALF WAY AROUND WORLD! I decided to take the leap and ask Betsy for help. THIS is the best decision I have ever made!!

In have known Betsy for several years and she knew of my history with arthritis. When I shared with her my concerns about my limitations, she was willing to adjust the program to my needs…NOT force me to do it her way! She provides the workout plan and I tell her what I am capable of doing. She gives me alternatives to the exercises that I am unable to do because of my limitations. I can watch the workout videos to see how the exercises should be done and adjust them to fit my range of motion, Since I’ve started working with Betsy, I’ve increased both my speed and distance while walking. I’ve slimmed down and gained muscle mass. I’ve even been able to try new workouts that I was unable to do when I first started. I can go to the grocery store without hip, knee and ankle pain…that’s a big deal for me! I have more energy and I can do more activities with my son. I can even get down on the floor and do those sit-ups! After 3 weeks, my rheumatologist was amazed at what I had accomplished. Wait until he finds out that after 9 weeks I completed a 5K benefit walk!!

And don’t forget the meal plan! I know what the healthier food choices are, but I had convinced myself that I didn’t have time to eat healthy. I allowed myself to think that quick, convenient meals for my family meant clean eating was not for me. I couldn’t have been more wrong! Betsy’s meal plans are not just for me, but my family is eating healthier, too! Just ask my 7-year-old son about my secret recipe for the best steamed broccoli ever! (Who knew that coconut oil could make broccoli a delicacy?!?)

My arthritis will always be a part of who I am and there is no way to predict when it will flare up. However, I have significantly more days where I feel good and I am no longer going to allow myself to just live with pain. And I’m not the only one who sees the difference that Betsy’s program has made for me. My husband not only notices the physical changes, but he sees that I am happier with myself and that makes our relationship stronger.

I know that I was the one that had to make the commitment to the program and that I am the one who has gotten me this far. But honestly, I never could have done it without Betsy’s expertise, knowledge, motivation, commitment, and support. Not only has she provided me the flexibility to fit the workouts to my needs, but she has never once judged me for what I am unable to do. I still don’t have the desire to workout in front of other people, but I feel good about what I am capable of doing, not ashamed of what I can’t do. Betsy continues to cheer me on and is only an email away when I need her support.

I am not done yet. I still have weight and inches to lose, more toning to do, and personal goals to reach. But I believe that I can do all this because Betsy has given me an opportunity to believe in myself…even from half way around the world!

-Natalie Mullholand