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8 Tips for Hitting the Gym with Arthritis

8 Tips for Hitting the Gym with Arthritis 

This blog post is sponsored by Planet Fitness. In exchange for this post, I may receive perks and/or compensation; however, all opinions are my own. Click here to view our disclosure policy.

8 Tips for Hitting the Gym with Arthritis, Chronic Illness Autoimmune Disease - Sponsored by Planet Fitness -

1) Get the go-ahead from your physician

First and foremost, if you have any sort of temporary or chronic health issue, always get the go-ahead from your doctor(s). They can recommend the best plan of action for your fitness plan, including how often, at what intensity and the types of exercises that will fit your body best now and in the future.

For someone dealing with arthritis, low-impact exercises like yoga, light weights and machines like the elliptical are perfect ways to get started in the gym.

2) Work with your physical therapist or personal trainer

Much like working with your doctor, if you have a physical therapist, they can recommend great exercises for you to take part in at the gym. They’ll also give you handy stretches that you can use before and after your workout!

It never, ever hurts to bring a personal trainer into the mix, either. They can help you learn the ropes if you’re new to the gym, the machines or even fitness classes, suggest workout plans that fit your medical team’s suggestions and your lifestyle. Plus, having a personal trainer is like having a personal cheerleader, pushing you and cheering you on along the way!

Planet Fitness gyms in the United States offer free fitness training with their memberships. It’s amazing, since working with certified trainers can get eeeeeexpensive! Learn more about their personal training here.

3) Take it one step at a time, don’t push it!

After working with your doctors, physical therapist and even a personal trainer, you should have a good idea of how often you should work out, the types of exercises you should do and at what intensity. Trust your team and stick to it! Pushing yourself further can bring upon injury – temporary or permanent – and with that, can ruin the fun of building up to your fitness goals.

Start with shorter, less intense sessions and work your way up with supervision from your medical and fitness team. Trust me, having patience in this area is well worth it when you meet your goals and stay healthy the entire time.

8 Tips for Hitting the Gym with Arthritis, Chronic Illness Autoimmune Disease - Sponsored by Planet Fitness -

4) Find a time that works for you

Finding the time is one of the biggest hurdles to overcome when trying to make it to the gym on a regular basis. Personally, I love Planet Fitness because of the number of locations across the United States and they’re staffed 24 hours a day.

I’ve been a member of 24/7 gyms before, but was always totally weary going in the early, early mornings or late evenings due to the fact they aren’t actually staffed. Planet Fitness is key on safety and makes sure they always have someone in the building at all times to keep you safe, answer questions and help you meet your goals.

And even better, if you’re a PF Black Card member, you can visit any Planet Fitness location in the United States – at any time! – which makes it a perfect little companion whether you’re traveling for work, visiting family in other states or want to get a little workout in on vacation. In the Tulsa-area alone, there are six Planet Fitness locations, which makes it easy to stop in for a workout when out and about or running errands.

Pssst, check out the bottom of this post for current Planet Fitness specials — you could save big right now on a membership!

5) Bring a workout buddy

You’ve probably heard this advice before, but I’ll add it because it’s true: Find a workout buddy. Not only will they help hold you accountable – and vice versa! – it’s nice to have someone to chat with while you’re working out. Plus, they can give you a few pointers on your form, right? And here’s something fun: If you’re a Planet Fitness Black Card member, you can bring a guest for free as many times as you want. Goodbye, gym boredom… hello, endless exercise pals!

6) Try a fitness class

I love fitness classes for the fact that I can find a time that works for me, pop it in my calendar and I am way more likely to show up than if I were just going to do a regular workout on my own. It’s like a little can’t-miss-date in my calendar!

For those of us with chronic pain, yoga classes are a great way to stretch out those muscles and loosen up those joints. Most places that offer yoga classes offer a variety of levels. Start with the beginning classes, let your instructor know of any injuries or pain you currently have, and they’ll help walk you through the rest!

8 Tips for Hitting the Gym with Arthritis, Chronic Illness Autoimmune Disease - Sponsored by Planet Fitness -

7) Find a gym or facility that’s judgement-free

For those of us with chronic illnesses, especially those that can impede our physical capability, we can sometimes be a little self-conscious. Have you ever been to a gym where everyone looked like a supermodel and folks were lifting hundreds of pounds with muscles bulging? While there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, it can be incredibly intimidating for those of us who are just getting back in the swing of things or aren’t there to win awards.

I’ve had memberships at many other gyms and frankly, Planet Fitness has been my favorite. They pride themselves on being a Judgement Free Zone® (no, really! It’s even their tagline!). You’ll find folks of all ages and abilities working out at any time with staff that is there to encourage and support your goals and success.

8) Take advantage of those end-of-year and new-year sales!

This is the time of year that people are making New Year’s resolutions to get fit. Why not join in at a great price?

Gym memberships can be expensive, but if you keep an eye out for special promotions and sales, you can join a gym that suits your needs best for a fraction of the cost. That means you can save a little (or a lot ofmoney and put it toward cute new exercise clothes and comfy tennis shoes, right?

Right now, Planet Fitness locations in the Tulsa, Oklahoma area are offering a year membership for new members for just $99 until Dec. 14 (when paid in full) and $0 enrollment fee and then $21.99 a month for Black Card membership through Dec. 31. Use code DaltonPF to activate your Black Card membership for 2018 with no enrollment fee when you sign up here!

Black Card memberships cover all of the basics, plus you’ll get access to more than 1,400+ clubs in the United States, guest (aka bring a friend!) privileges no matter what club you’re visiting, unlimited use of HydroMassage chairs, half-price cooler drinks and so much more. Learn more about Black Card perks at Tulsa Planet Fitness locations here.

8 Tips for Hitting the Gym with Arthritis, Chronic Illness Autoimmune Disease - Sponsored by Planet Fitness -

This promotion is available for Tulsa, Oklahoma-area Planet Fitness locations only, including:

Broken Arrow | Claremore | South Tulsa | Tulsa (Admiral) | Tulsa (Riverside) | Tulsa (Memorial)

Click here or one of the locations above and use promo code DaltonPF to activate your Planet Fitness Black Card membership for 2018 with $0 enrollment fee!

How to Make Hosting Stress-Free & Easy During Holidays

Please note: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small compensation if you choose to purchase any products linked below at no extra charge to you! Click here to view our disclosure policy.

How to Make Hosting Stress Free This Holiday Season

As with most, the holidays often include hosting at least one event, whether it is at your house or helping others prepare a glorious meal or fun little event to celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s and everything in between.

Unfortunately, for those of us with chronic illnesses, hosting can be a daunting cloud, filled with worry as to how everything will actually get done.

Before I was diagnosed with chronic illnesses, I loooooooved hosting get togethers and entertaining friends and family. Whether it was a holiday, shower or just a fun little party, I loved every aspect: The planning, the mood boards, the shopping, the prepping, the celebrating – everything!

However, now that my energy levels have decreased and I have to choose wisely on how I expend energy, I’ve come up with lots of shortcuts to make hosting stress-free and easy during the holidays.

Make lists

I’m the over-preparer in my family and lists are an absolute lifesaver for me when I’m hosting any sort of get-together. For example, for Thanksgiving, I have several lists:

  • Menu
    • By appetizers, main dishes, sides and desserts and who is bringing
  • Shopping lists
    • Broken down by perishables, freezer items and non-perishables
    • Broken down by store, if applicable
    • This makes it easy to break shopping into several trips over the course of a month!
  • Preparation timelines
    • I make my timeline over the course of the week or two (see the next section on preparing in advance!)
    • Timelines include food prep and cooking, plus things that will need to be done around the house, like cleaning, organizing, pulling items from storage and so on

Prepare in advance

Just as I mentioned in my baby shower post: prepare, prepare, prepare! When you have limited energy, this is key. The week before, I start pulling out utensils, platters, crockpots and store them in a corner of my dining room. Wash table linens early and store in a clean area.

Take advantage of shortcuts

Over the years — and thanks to technology, too! — I’ve found a number of shortcuts that have saved my life:

You don’t have to make each dish from scratch. This is by far the easiest time saver. Pick up a frozen pie or two, add a can of whipped cream and I guarantee your guests will be just as happy as if it was homemade! Frozen vegetables can easily be put on the stove with your choice of seasonings. And of course, frozen rolls, biscuits or bread can be ready in the oven in a matter of minutes.

Try online grocery shopping or delivery. Our local (and my favorite) grocery store in northeast Oklahoma, Reasor’s, offers online shopping and pickup at the curb.

When I have an especially large load of groceries, heavy items or I’m short on time and energy, I take full advantage of placing my grocery order online or through their app. I pull up to a designated parking spot, call the store and they bring my groceries out and load them into the car. This is such an energy (and pain) saver, especially when my arthritis flares up.

Most services have a small fee per order (Reasor’s is $5 for orders under $100) or charge a monthly or annual fee. I just got started with Shipt, a grocery delivery service, and can’t wait to report back on the experience! And a bonus: you can get $10 off your first order with Shipt when you click this link.

Start cooking early

You would be surprised at how many things you can cook or prepare in advance and/or freeze! This is such a lifesaver, because who wants to be mashing potatoes and slaving over a stove over relaxing and enjoying time with guests?

For our family, we make the cranberry sauce and applesauce as far as two weeks in advance and both freeze beautifully. Pull them out 48 hours before guests arrive and it tastes like it was made that morning.

Many folks like the presentation of a beautifully cooked bird and carve right at the table. I like to make it a bit easier and cook and carve the turkey the day before. About 30-45 minutes before serving, pull the oven-safe platter with your turkey out, pour a little stock on top and reheat until warm. Place on a beautiful platter and you’re ready!

I also like to prepare any sides in advance, a day or two before, then place all of the ingredients in plastic bags. For example, the bacon is cooked a day or two early, placed in a large bag with green beans. I then place any seasonings in a smaller plastic bag and ta-da, everything is ready to be dumped into a Crockpot or slow cooker to cook the day of.

Slow cookers are a miracle!

Speaking of green beans in a slow cooker, this is a major thing for me for any gathering, holiday or not. From appetizers to reheating main dishes, slow cookers can save you time, hassle and space in the oven.

Slow cookers may technically take longer, but it cuts prep time and worrying in half when you don’t have to check on items in the oven or worry something might boil over on the stove.

All in all, thanks to my shortcuts I’ve mastered over the years, holiday dinner prep comes to about one hour per day the week of Thanksgiving or Christmas and with the help of guests, less than an hour of prep and active work the day of!

Tell me in the comments: How do you make hosting or preparing for the holidays easier?

First Trimester Pregnancy Essentials

Please note: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small compensation if you choose to purchase any products linked below at no extra charge to you! Click here to view our disclosure policy.

First Trimester Pregnancy Essentials

First Trimester Pregnancy Essentials

Wait, why would I be an expert on first trimester goodies for pregnant women? That’s right: surprise! We’re expecting our first child in early 2018. We’re over the moon!

However, it didn’t matter how prepared I thought I was for pregnancy and all of its symptoms… It still surprised me the severity of some, especially while dealing with autoimmune disease like arthritis and thyroid disorder. Here are some of my favorite tips and items that made things go a little bit smoother those first 13 weeks!

Rest, nap, sleep, breathe… When you need it

The hardest thing for me to cope with during my first trimester was my guilt surrounding my need to nap… every single day. Even when my rheumatoid arthritis was at its worst, I had never felt more exhausted by simply waking up once I was pregnant.

It was a definite shock, but after I came to terms with the fact that is is more than okay to not only need a nap, but schedule one into each day, the easier things became. A sleep mask doesn’t hurt for those mid-day slumbers either.

Keep your doctors in the loop

If you’re like me and have chronic illnesses — most specifically autoimmune diseases — that you are currently on medication for, always make sure your doctors are in the loop. Personally, I have four specialist doctors who communicate between one another and decide the best treatment for my rheumatoid arthritis during my pregnancy.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t one of the women who goes into remission during pregnancy, so I’ve remained on injections during pregnancy. In fact, my doctors were second to know (outside of my husband and I!) that I was pregnant so we could decide the best course of action. Always make sure your medications are approved by all your doctors, especially your obstetrician(s). And don’t be afraid to do your own research and ask questions. It’s now about you and your baby when it comes to your treatment!

A wedge pillow

You’ll see so many people tout how wonderful maternity pillows are, but if you’re early in your pregnancy, it may be a little too soon to jump into the full body pillow. I’m a lifelong stomach-sleeper, so to get myself prepared to sleep on my sides, I dipped my toe in the water: I bought a pregnancy wedge pillow.

And you guys, the hiccapop wedge has changed my life! Not only is it great for pregnancy, but it is awesome for arthritis, too. It’s primarily marketed mostly for sleeping at night, but I use it when driving as a back support (hello, tailbone pain), when I’m at my desk, on the couch… everywhere! There are so many ways to use it, too: between the legs, elevating your feet, behind your neck to sit up comfortably in bed. This is definitely my favorite first trimester purchase, hands down.

Belly band

I genuinely didn’t think I would need a belly band until well into my pregnancy. You can imagine my surprise when, at 11 weeks, I would pull on a pair of shorts or jeans like usual and when I would attempt to button them… no dice. Ingrid & Isabel belly bands have been my favorite so far and they come in a variety of colors.

Early in pregnancy, you can fold the band down (in half) for a little extra support for your tiny growing bump. As it gets bigger, simply unroll it to cover your whole stomach!

Pregnancy bath salts and thermometer

These two little babies go hand in hand. Experts say no hot tubs during pregnancy due to how hot the water can get, but I absolutely love taking baths, especially for my arthritis. I invested – ha! – in an incredibly affordable bath thermometer I found off Amazon. Works quickly, is accurate and gives me peace of mind when I take a bath.

My other favorite pregnancy bath product is Pink Stork Flakes. I originally picked these up because they claimed they could ease morning sickness… and it helps! Salts are a great way to relax your muscles and ease pain in your joints, whether you’re an arthritis warrior like me or dealing with regular pregnancy pains.

Preggie Pops

I admire and I’m a little jealous of women who go through pregnancy without any sort of morning sickness. Luckily for me, vomiting didn’t come around too often, but the nausea was almost debilitating for the first 10 weeks. While I was given prescription medication, I would still pop a Preggie Pop if I was having a particularly nauseating afternoon or driving somewhere… anywhere (oh yes, I had pregnancy car sickness!).

Now that I’m off the medication, I use these every now and then to combat the errant nausea. They last a long time and are easy to keep in your purse or pocket!

What are your favorite tips on getting through the first trimester of pregnancy?

In Health

It’s World Arthritis Day!

You guys, it’s World Arthritis Day! I’m currently part of the Cure Arthritis Crew, which helps bring awareness to and support research to help fight arthritis diseases. Check out the awesome resources from to learn more about how you can make a big difference on World Arthritis Day.
Last year, I was finally diagnosed with seronegative rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis after several years of mysterious pain and frankly, it has changed my entire life. Since then, I’ve learned a few things:

1) Invisible illness is real, y’all.

You may think the healthy-looking young man or woman taking up a seat on the bus, train or even a bench in the park is being selfish or parking in the handicap spot is wrong, but you may not know the pain they’re in. Someone may be super bubbly and seem totally physically capable out and about, but when they get home, they’re out of commission for an entire week because of pain. We’re good fakers.

2) It’s okay to be a “flake.”

I’ve lost touch with people because I either don’t have the energy to hang out, because of an arthritis flare or the activity is something I can no longer physically do. Some days are great days and some days are no-way-not-happening – you never know until it’s go-time. It’s also really difficult to see people you care about struggle – silence is sometimes how people cope with seeing others change with chronic illness.

3) Girl, you gotta rest.

Before my joint pain started, I used to do yoga, bike, run 5Ks and want to go-go-go on trips. I was even training for a half-marathon! Now, I’ve learned that I need to space out my physical activity (yes, even running errands, traveling, getting dressed up or social activities!). This was the hardest thing to learn and probably the most life-changing. I recommend looking up the spoon theory, if you’re interested in how this works!

4) Needles aren’t so scary anymore.

Now, I inject my arthritis medication myself on a weekly basis and have bloodwork done every 3-6 weeks. Even after several months of being on injections, sometimes when it’s time for me to inject, it’s almost impossible to find the courage to do it, but… it gets done. You can, too.

5) People with chronic illnesses of any kind are SO INCREDIBLY STRONG.

And when people reach out to others about how they’re physically feeling, it’s most likely because they can’t do it alone anymore. Finding the strength to reach out and ask for help is difficult, but makes you a total badass. For those of you with loved ones reaching out for help, lift those people up, support them. Everyone is fighting their own battle and we especially can’t compare our battles – physically or emotionally – with someone else’s. We all must speak up and support one another!
So, raise a glass to all of those folks battling arthritis diseases today – young and old! They’re some of the strongest people I know.

Sensitive Skin Beauty Products

Best Sensitive Skin Beauty Products

Please note: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small compensation if you choose to purchase any products linked below at no extra charge to you! Click here to view our disclosure policy.

The Best Sensitive Skin Beauty Products by including The Honest Company, CeraVe, Caudalie and more! Visit to read more.


One of the biggest battles for ladies with autoimmune diseases and sensitive skin is finding the best sensitive skin beauty products that don’t irritate!

As I’ve probably mentioned once or twice or a thousand times here on the blog, I have a gluten allergy. The thing is, for the longest time I didn’t realize that beauty products that had some sort of wheat or gluten had a negative effect on my skin, too.

I was all about the oatmeal scrubs and shampoos for their sweet smell, even if they were approved for sensitive skin, no parabens and other nasty stuff, or even products marketed as safe for babies, yet… I was always breaking out. Soon enough came the epiphany: duh, gluten was in my hair products!

When looking for the best beauty products for sensitive skin, always keep an eye out for sulfates, parabens and gluten (the latter only if you are, in fact, sensitive/allergic to gluten, of course!). Reach for those hypoallergenic brands. Here’s a rundown of my top five favorite sensitive skin beauty products:

TONYMOLY I’m Real Sheet Masks

When I pair these heavenly smelling sheet masks with an epsom salt bath in my jacuzzi tub, everything is right in the world. Sure, you look a little scary when the sheet mask is on, but I use these 1-2 times per week to add a little extra moisture, soothe and rejuvenate my skin.

It also doesn’t hurt that these smell heavenly! My favorites of the TONYMOLY I’m Real Sheet Masks are the red wine, tea tree, and rice. They each have a specific purpose and even the more strange scents like tomato are surprisingly relaxing and lovely to smell.

Caudalie Micellar Water

I wasn’t sure what to think of the Micellar Water trend when it first hit. What happened to soap and water? Why do they call it water? How is it even going to clean my skin? Y’all. This little product is now in my nightly and morning routine. I have combination skin, so I never know when I’m going to wake up oily or dry.

As long as I use this micellar water, I have no issues. It’s gentle on my super sensitive skin, yet is still powerful enough to take off waterproof mascara at the end of the day with two cotton swabs. It has a very light, soothing scent and as a bonus, it boasts toning properties as well.

Baebody Eye Gel

I’ll be real: I have a little bit of a love-hate relationship with the Baebody Eye Gel. I’m 30. I know I need to use some sort of eye moisturizer on a daily basis, but there’s something about putting more things on my face after I cleanse. But, I notice a massive difference on the mornings after I use this Eye Gel. It’s a little sticky when you first put it on, but after about 5-10 minutes, you don’t feel a thing. It is tremendous in clearing up puffiness and under-eye circles.

My eye wrinkles are hardly existent (thanks, Ray Bans), but I do think this eye gel has played a massive part in it over the last year, too! I’ve tried dozens of different brands of eye moisturizers and this is the only one I’ve encountered that doesn’t sting or break me out — and breaking out on the sensitive skin around your eye is the worst!

Honest Company Orange Blossom Shampoo & Body Wash and Orange Blossom Conditioner

Not only did I find a gluten-free shampoo and conditioner duo from The Honest Company, but it’s made without silicones, parabens, synthetic fragrances, dyes, formaldehyde carriers, ethoxylates or PEGs. And it’s vegan! They now have a scent-free version if your skin is sensitive to any type of fragrance, but the orange blossom is my all-time favorite since it leaves a subtle scent in your hair that isn’t overpowering one bit. I just love this stuff.

Pssst, you can get 30% and free shipping on your first bundle from The Honest Company through this link! I set mine up to deliver every 6-8 weeks with shampoo, body wash, and sunscreen!

CeraVe Moisturizing Lotion

This one is a beauty staple for anyone with sensitive skin. It’s mild, no fragrance and doesn’t leave your skin feeling gooey like a lot of lotions. My routine is jump out of the shower, CeraVe it up, and within just a few minutes, my skin is dry and smooth and ready to get dressed. In my opinion, trying to put clothes on when your lotion is still wet and hasn’t soaked in is the absolute worst, especially if they leave streaks on your clothes. None of that with CeraVe lotion. I even keep the travel sizes in my purse!

Sensitive skin beauty products honorable mentions:

Disclaimer: Not all beauty products may be a good fit for your skin, despite claims of hypoallergenic, sensitive-skin safe, etc. These recommendations are an opinion only and is not liable for any reactions or outcomes by purchasing products listed. Always test on a small portion of skin and check with your doctor for professional advice!