My “Masters”, my fountains of infinite pride and love.

There were few motivators when I first started taking control of my life and body after having been diagnosed with AS.

In this post I want to thank and in a way honor them.

It was a weekend and we were leaving in Istanbul, it was freezing cold and snowing like never before. My husband wanted to go skiing, I didn’t want to because first of all I cannot ski only snowboarding and every time I went I couldn’t move from my bed for days, sometimes even weeks, I had to take VERY strong painkillers, cortisone and my whole system collapsed for weeks. So I said no, I don’t wanna go… at that exact moment my middle son Christian came and hugged me and said “Mami I wish so much that you wouldn’t have so many pains and aches, because you are so fun! We love to play with you but I know how much pain you have afterwards, that’s a shame…” He didn’t noticed, I just (as usual) made a joke about it and we all ended up laughing, but the truth is that I had to hide in my bathroom pretending that I took a shower because I couldn’t stop crying, I wished SO MUCH to be able to be more active and to be with them! But I didn’t know at that moment what to do.

After finding my way around, and starting to get control of my body, I had a breakdown. I felt guilty for being “selfish”. But one morning…

This time was a Saturday morning. During those days on weekends I used to wake up at 6 am, make breakfast for the three kids, took my board and went to the beach for a quick run and to do paddling, when I got back the kids just woke up and were having breakfast. Then we decided what they wanted to do and we did… Well that morning as usual I was just getting my board to put it in the roof but my eldest son walked into the parking when I was thinking about my “selfishness” and he said to me “Mami I love it how you look now” I looked at him surprised and ask him what he meant I thought he was talking about my tan and been more fit. He said “oh no mom, yes you look more pretty now, but I was talking about you! You look happy and I do not remember when was the last time that I saw you happy” My jaw dropped, I couldn’t believe what I just heard! He also said that seeing me happy he feels happy too, I hugged him so hard, and kissed him and promised him that from now on I will always be happy. And that has been my direction since then, my search for happiness.

That search wasn’t easy nor fast, and there were very tough days. Days were I wondered if I was doing well or regret my past, and blamed myself for things I did or didn’t do, and…

It was a Friday and my little girl, Nicole, loved Fridays! After school when she didn’t have a play date or a party we used to take long bath together, I will massage her feet and do “beauty treatments” to her. And there we are, in the bathtub, I had a horrible and sad day before they all came from school a day filled with regrets and suffering for the past, and out of the blue she looks at me and said “mami I am so happy that you are my mami! And that you have always been a stay home mami, because I am who I am just thanks to you and I LOVE who I am” Can you imagine how I felt??? This tiny little miracle of mine, this gorgeous pretty little thing that I brought into this world, said the right thing at just the right time. I love her so much, I was and I am so proud of her and having heard from her tiny little lips that it is thanks to me made me forget all the crap that I was into that day!

There are SO MANY other stories that I could share about my three miraculous and beautiful “masters”. Yes, I brought them into this world but they have kept me alive and filled with love, joy and yes fun!

They are my reason, my pride, my world and Universe and…

I thank whatever Gods might be for my three beautiful fountains of infinite love.

To my kids, Marco, Christian and Nicole.

Ankylosing Spondylitis has probably turned me into an “Endorphin’s junky”!

People who don’t know me, say that I have to have a problem, that I am obsessive, that how is it possible that exercise has such a big role in my life, that I might have an eating disorder, that I am obsessed with my body and appearance, they have also said that I have a lover because they never see me around. What do I say to them? Nothing. Over the years I learned that the way a person speaks, acts or reacts says more about themselves than about me. It is like when you look in a mirror and you see your own reflection. There are many others that really want to know why, to those I tell my story and I have to say that most of them get inspired and sometimes they even end up giving me a call trying to get some advice, and I love it. I am always in the seek of playmates! And come on, let’s keep it real, I am 46 years old, with scars, three c-sections, I have cellulitis and stretch marks training hard is not gonna make me get any sexier nor younger.

When I just got diagnosed with AS the rheumatologist prescribed me really strong medicine. He advised me to try to engage in any kind of physical low impact activity, but my body was in so much pain that I didn’t even consider it. I started taking medicine but after few weeks I felt worse, the side effects were horrible for me, yes, it took the pain away but it always came back and on top I was feeling emotionally destroyed! Low impact activity as the doctor suggested, was way too boring for me and I am the kind of person that needs challenges, the bigger the better, that is the reason why I first started with running and eventually moved into triathlons.

The first triathlon was, to be honest, just for the challenge I didn’t even considered that it will be part of my life at all, but after I finished I realized how much I loved it. When I am training my pain goes away, I sleep so much better, and it makes me feel young and healthy! on top of it keeps my body strong, I get to connect with a community of focused, healthy people and being part of it helps me forget everything. So yes, I do have a problem, I carry AS inside of my body for the rest of my life and triathlon is the only natural way that I have found to fight the pain, and stay healthy, active and focused.

I don’t know for how long I will be able to keep it going, I have no idea but as long as I enjoy it and my body allows me to, why will I stop? I am a happy me.

Even though it is said that there are not enough scientific evidences to prove the role of endorphins some reports affirm that when you exercise your body releases endorphins, these endorphins interact with receptors in our brain that reduce our perception of pain and act similarly to drugs such as morphine and codeine. In addition the secretion of endorphins leads to feeling of euphoria, modulation of appetite, release of sex hormones, and enhancement of the immune response. I am not a doctor nor a scientist, but this is exactly what I feel when I train and lets not talk about the race days… it gets even higher! I might have become an “Endorphin’s junky”.

Exercise has worked for me and for so many others, give it a try, look for an activity that helps you get your own dose of endorphins. I know that it is hard to start, but there is always a reason within our hearts that will help us get and keep motivated. Get into your heart and look for it, and don’t stop until you make yourself proud!