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A change in lifestyle often happens not because of a want or a need, but because of an unforeseen condition.  Such is the case with me.  My life has changed dramatically because of my diagnosis with Fibromyalgia and the beginning signs of Rheumatoid arthritis.   I have good days and bad days because of the pain and this has certainly taken a toll on me.  On the good days I work hard to get everything done I can and on the bad days I basically just suffer.  Most of my symptoms began when I was in my late teens and early twenties getting worse with age.

Sometimes a change of lifestyle is not always because of a health condition but because of a need or desire to change. Such was the case with my son Ryan. Ryan was born on a chilly October 21st, 1991, healthy and screaming out loud. It wasn’t long before that would change though. For the next few years Ryan spent most of the time fighting constant ear infections, bronchitis, and several cases of walking pneumonia. He even had five sets of tubes placed in his ears. By the time he was six, he just seemed to magically get better. He spent his time running and playing just like every other kid.

Ryan, 5th grade

Then came middle school and so did the pounds. Ryan became more interested in video games and food than running and playing. He did play football in the 7th grade, but wasn’t able to join the team when 8th grade came around because he had just had surgery for a benign tumor in his nose. It seemed by the 9th grade that Ryan was doomed. This time he had surgery for a large cyst in his groin just before the football season started. He did join marching band, but it just didn’t give him the exercise he needed.
By the time Ryan was a senior in high school, he weighed well over 300 pounds. While he did have friends, he was having trouble with depression and was also starting to feel the symptoms of the syndrome that I suffer from, Fibromyalgia. His job at a fast food restaurant was also obviously contributing to his weight.  He said recently that he was at the point where he figured his depression didn’t matter anyhow because he was going to die from being fat.  All the encouragement in the world from his Dad and me didn’t seem to make a difference.

Ryan, Senior in High School

Finally, about a year and half ago, he decided he had to do something.  It was basically live or die for him.  He stopped drinking pop and eating fast food at work along with beginning to exercise just a little bit at a time. It was hard for him, but he kept at it. Not only did he give up fast food, but he did a lot of experimenting with his diet, even becoming a complete vegan at one point. Recently he incorporated meat back into his diet, but everything that he eats is either organic or healthy.  He even uses only organic products for cleaning, showering, and laundry.

Over the last year and a half Ryan has gone from a couch potato to a healthy eating person that exercises regularly including cardio, weight lifting, and jogging.  He has currently lost over 130 pounds.  A couple of weeks ago he even ran in the Warrior Dash in Kansas City, MO with his sister.  Sometimes when I look at my son now, I don’t even recognize him. Change in lifestyle or not, Ryan would always be much loved by us, but I can honestly say that I am very proud of him.  Change isn’t easy, but with a little willpower, it can be done.

Ryan Today After Running the Warrior Dash