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Celebrating 1 Year of Movement and Healing with Lupus: A Journey of Strength and Resilience

This month marks a significant milestone in my life - the one-year anniversary of my movement journey recovering from a massive lupus flare. I'm celebrating my resilience, strength, and determination to take control of my health. In this blog post, I'll share my transformative journey, the lessons I've learned, and empowering tips for optimizing your own healing process.

A year ago, I was struggling with debilitating lupus symptoms, including a life-threatening flare that left me hospitalized for a quarter of the year. I was bedridden, on disability, and reliant on a home health aide. I was reluctant to share this part of the journey, but it's a case of the classic ego and sense of embarrassment, especially with an "I-can-do-it-all" A-type attitude. Despite feeling guilty for needing help, I knew I had to reclaim my body and my life.

Genny released from hospital lupus flare
Genny released from hospital after 4 months in and out

As spring arrived in April 2023, I was released from the hospital on my birthday, 4/11. I felt like I was starting over after being in remission for over two years. This time, I lost 1/3 of my body weight and muscle and was down to a thin 110. I was battling not only a lupus flare but also spinal stenosis, pleurisy, pericarditis and muscular-skeletal inflammation. I was in constant discomfort with chronic pain, fatigue, brain fog, and anxiety. But through it all, when I stepped outside, I saw the world around me come alive and knew I had to do the same.

Although it felt impossible at times, there was something deep inside of me that whispered, "Keep going." At first, movement was a daunting task - I was so weak that even simple tasks like opening a jar felt like climbing a mountain. So, I started with small, achievable goals - moving my limbs and taking daily walks in the park, where I was greeted by purple-blooming grape hyacinths that symbolize rebirth and renewal. On top of self-motivation, I also committed to the doctor's orders and practiced physical therapy three times a week. I also discovered my childhood joy of dance and practiced the liberating power of moving my hips to release built-up tension. These small victories ignited a fire within me, fueling my determination to keep pushing forward. And so I did.

Genny foraging grape hyacinth's
Genny foraging grape hyacinths that symbolize rebirth

Oh, and I also fed my body nourishing food to heal. That's a different story.

So, what was my motivation?

I have many, especially my mom who overcomes lupus. I also was motivated by my community who encouraged me to keep going.

My experience with growing GrillzandGranola, a fitness business that served over 500 women globally during the pandemic, was a powerful reminder of the importance of movement and community. Although I had to step back from the business because of burnout, the inspiration and motivation it provided continue to drive me forward in my own movement journey.

That was phase 1 of movement. Move regardless.

Genny walking
Genny enjoy her walk, even through the pain

I realized that movement was a barometer of my health, just as my cardiologist had told me. When I could move freely, I knew I was improving. So I kept going.

Phase 2 kicked in. I could wake up without fatigue. I could consistently move my limbs. Now, it was time to rebuild my strength. Get stronger and protect my vessel.

In October, I started strength training, eager to build muscle and regain mobility, muscle, and flexibility. It was important for me to protect my joints and bones, especially since I had to take an aggressive course of steroids to help stabilize the lupus flare.

Genny practicing strength training
Genny back in the gym practicing strength training

But something happened as I pushed myself harder, I suddenly felt the weight of everything hitting me at once - the trauma, the pain, the fear. I began to suffer from anxiety and depression, because I suppressed my emotions for far too long.

But I refused to give up. I sought help, leaned on my support system, and slowly began to rebuild. I incorporated yoga into my practice, learning to listen to my body and honor its needs. I went to therapy to talk it through and strategize how to maintain positive thoughts. I started to feel better mentally, too, day by day.

In February 2024, I began working with movement coach Daniela Spear, who helped me unlock even deeper levels of self-awareness and trust in my body's wisdom. It was remarkable after just two weeks. I continued to feel less pain and more confidence in my body's ability to heal itself. Here I am today, grateful to share my story and to honor a season of rebirth. Lupus ain't got nothing on me.

Genny strength training
Genny celebrating 1 year of movement and resilience

Reflecting on my journey, I am reminded of the significance of the spring season and the symbolism of rebirth. Just as the earth awakens from its winter slumber, I, too, have awakened to a newfound sense of purpose and strength. My movement healing journey has been just that, a journey filled with challenges and triumphs. I've learned that every small victory is a testament to my strength, and seeking support is a badge of honor. I hope my story inspires you to embark on your own movement journey, to celebrate your small victories, and to never give up on your healing journey.

If I can do it, you can do! #movementheals Check out Genny's movement journey on TikTok

Genny Mack


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