How I Manage My Auto Immune Diseases Without Medication

Date: Fri 15th April 2016

Well! It's not easy but I have managed it with a few changes over the years to my nutrition and a good exercise plan.

I was diagnosed with Raynaud's in my 20s. In my 30s along came systemic lupus, and 4 years ago in my 50s I was diagnosed with my third auto immune disease, Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome (or LEMS). Ok so I'm just plain greedy…!

The strange thing is that I am actually grateful for these illnesses as I have achieved so much more than I think I would have if I hadn`t been challenged.

I was told when I was diagnosed with lupus that I would have to 'modify my lifestyle'. I don't think the doctor meant 'take up running' but that's exactly what I did. I knew that taking steroids was going to have a huge impact on my bone density and I thought that I just had to do whatever I could to combat that loss. So I started to look at nutrition and exercise to help me. I actually trained as an exercise teacher with the Keep Fit Association so that I would have the knowledge to work out a suitable exercise plan for myself.

I`m not saying it was quick and easy. It took me 6 years of gradually building up the exercise I could manage along with changing one thing at a time in my diet but it worked wonders. After 6 years I was off ALL medication and I was now a runner… My rheumatologist was amazed but quite frankly not as amazed as I was.

I have managed with my Raynaud's and lupus to stay medication free for 16 years. I had to take medication for 2 years to get the Lems under control but I have been 2 years medication free now. So I have managed 18 years drug free with a blip in between.

My Top Tips for keeping active with an autoimmune condition:

1. Set yourself reasonable goals

2. Take one step at a time

3. Think positive

4. Find an exercise that you enjoy

5. Keep a diary of what you do and how you felt afterwards


Before starting an exercise programme or changing your diet please consult with your GP or consultant. Scleroderma & Raynaud's UK does not recommend stopping medication unless this is discussed with your GP or consultant.

Low-impact exercises can improve your health and fitness without harming your joints.

Walking

Walking is by far the most popular low-impact exercise. It works the cardiovascular system and burns calories. To get your heart rate up, walk faster than a stroll. Picking up the pace can increase the intensity of your workouts. Add short bursts of speed or walk up an occasional steep hill.

Swimming

Swimming works the whole body. It's a great way to tone up and get trim. Swimming a few lengths involves most of the muscle groups, and you'll get a good aerobic workout if you increase the pace. Swimming can also help you lose weight if you swim at a steady and continuous pace throughout your session.

Cycling

Cycling is a low-impact activity. But you can still injure yourself if you have the wrong size bike, or if the saddle and handlebars are at the wrong height. Cycling is an aerobic exercise that works your lower body and cardiovascular system. Start slowly and increase the length of your cycling sessions gradually.

Yoga

Yoga can improve both your physical fitness and your general wellbeing through a series of postures and breathing exercises. Regular yoga practice helps develop strength, balance, and flexibility. It can also lift your mood.

Pilates

Pilates focuses on rebalancing the body and improving posture through slow, controlled movements and exercises. Regular practise can help you improve muscle strength and your overall sense of wellbeing. It can be helpful for people who can't or must not jump around too much.

Dancing

One of the best things about dancing is that while you're having fun moving to music and meeting new people, you're getting all the health benefits of a good workout. From Ceroc to the foxtrot, there's a dance style to suit all tastes.