7 Products to Crush Your 2022 Health & Fitness Goals

Happy New Year! As many of us start putting into practice our New Year’s resolutions for 2022, I wanted to share seven products that will help you crush your health and fitness goals this year.

1. Stainless Steel Water Bottle

Stay hydrated with a high-quality, stainless steel water bottle that you can bring with you anywhere- whether that’s to the gym, work, school, going out for a hike, or a jog around the neighborhood. I love this water bottle from the Austin, Texas-based company YETI, which makes high-quality stainless steel drinkware for those with an active lifestyle.

YETI Rambler 18 oz Water Bottle

2. Weighted Blanket

Everyone knows the importance of sleep, and how getting adequate levels of deep sleep can make or break your health. That’s why I highly recommend using a weighted blanket if you suffer from insomnia, including both poor or disrupted sleep. A 15-lb blanket like this one below from Amazon will weigh your body down in bed, helping you to not only fall asleep quicker, but stay asleep too!

Waowoo Adult Weighted Blanket

3. 23andMe Genetic Test Kit

Your genetic makeup has a huge impact on your health; that’s why it’s important to learn about how your genes can contribute to the development of health issues later in life. With a genetic test kit like this one from 23andMe, you can learn about your genes, including if you have a genetic predisposition for or if you’re a carrier of any health conditions. Thanks to my 23andme results, I learned four years ago that I have two genetic variants for early macular degeneration, and since then, have been religiously taking lutein and omega-3 supplements to improve my eye health.

23andMe Genetic Health Service

4. Running Shorts

A solid pair of running shorts is a must-have for anyone looking to add jogging to their 2022 fitness routine. Plus, running shorts are loose and comfortable, perfect for not just jogging, but practically any kind of physical activity, from playing a round of tennis to hitting the gym. Here is a highly-rated pair of running shorts for both men and women from Under Armour.

Under Armour Women’s Fly By 2.0 Running Shorts

Under Armour Men’s Tech Graphic Shorts

5. Yoga Mat

A yoga mat is a must-have for doing mat workouts, like yoga, pilates, or even when performing certain floor exercises with free weights, or when using a workout ball or band. I’ve owned my yoga mat since I was 12, and I’m now pushing 30 – so think of your mat as a long-term investment. A thick, non-slip mat that’s lightweight can easily be carried to your yoga studio, gym, or around the house.

JELS Extra Thick Yoga Mat (2/5″)

6. Rowing Machine

With the advent of working from home, at-home fitness equipment has become increasingly popular. At the beginning of the pandemic, my husband and I got a rowing machine, which is great for a simple, at-home workout, especially if you want to tone up your arms, shoulders, and upper back. I would recommend getting a water rowing machine, as the resistance it provides imitates the feel of rowing through water in real life. While pricier than other home workout equipment, a good rowing machine will last you for years to come.

Xterra Fitness ERG600W Water Rowing Machine

7. Airpods

Staying motivated and ‘in the zone’ is an important part of maintaining your fitness routine. That’s why, when I’m working out, I like to listen to fast-paced music or to an interesting podcast on Spotify or Pandora. According to the Scientific American, listening to music or other entertainment while exercising can distract us from pain and fatigue, elevate our mood, increase our endurance, and reduce our perceived effort, among other benefits. That’s why I would recommend getting a solid pair of earbuds, such as these airpods, to become your best fitness buddies to accompany your workouts.

New Apple Airpods Pro

So there you have it, folks – seven products to help you up your game and crush those health and fitness goals in 2022! What are your go-to companions for your workouts? Let us know in the comments below!

My #ThisIsSjogrens Awareness Campaign Submission

Did you know that April is Sjogren’s Awareness Month? That’s right, according to the Sjogren’s Foundation, April was declared Sjogren’s Awareness Month in 1988 when New York Congresswoman Louise Slaughter read it into the Congressional Record.

The 2021 theme for this awareness campaign is Coming Together to Conquer Sjogren’s. When you post on social media or other digital platforms about Sjogren’s, use the hashtag #ThisIsSjogrens to highlight your personal experience as part of the campaign. The purpose of the campaign is to raise awareness about the complexities of the disease, and provide a voice to the 3 million+ Americans (and many more worldwide) who live with it every day.

As April is fast approaching, I wanted to share my personal #ThisIsSjogrens submission with the Autoimmune Warrior blog followers. Read my submission, below!

Name: Isabel

Current age: 28 

Age when diagnosed: 20

Please finish with the following sentence: “Since I was diagnosed with Sjögren’s, I have learned…”
Since I was diagnosed with Sjogren’s, I have learned how important self-care is. Although you can’t let the disease rule your life, you must also learn to listen to your body and take the needed time to rest and recharge.

What are your 3 most difficult symptoms?
My three most difficult symptoms are eye dryness, mouth dryness and joint pain, although I also experience fatigue, brain fog and peripheral neuropathy. 

What are ways that you cope with your most difficult symptoms?
For eye dryness, I use artificial tears eye drops several times a day, and I also take prescription eye drops to reduce inflammation in my tear glands. I also had punctal plugs inserted in my tear ducts to increase my tear retention. For mouth dryness, I use artificial saliva and take pilocarpine, a medication that stimulates saliva production, and I drink plenty of water throughout the day. For joint pain, I take a prescription medication that reduces inflammation and pain in my joints. 

What is one of the ways that you’ve been able to effectively cope with symptoms during this past year in the pandemic?
During the past year of the pandemic, I have taken more time to rest which is helping to reduce my fatigue levels. Also, since I now work from home, I’m able to use a humidifier to humidify my home office environment, which helps with my dryness symptoms.

What is the best tip you would share with another Sjögren’s patient?
If I had to give a tip to another Sjogren’s patient, I would say to find a team of medical professionals who are familiar with the disease. Many medical professionals think that Sjogren’s is just dry eyes and dry mouth, and don’t realize that there is a lot more to the condition and the other symptoms it can cause.

How does the Sjögren’s community and the Foundation give you strength?
The Sjogren’s community and Foundation help to connect me with others who have the disease, so I can build a community around me of other patients who understand what I’m going through. 

What do you wish people understood about Sjögren’s and how it affects you?
I wish people understood how much having a chronic illness like Sjogren’s impacts my health and day-to-day wellbeing. I might not be able to do things that I once could due to this disease, but I won’t let that stop me from achieving my personal and professional goals.

To participate in the #ThisIsSjogrens campaign, answer the questions in the Sjogren’s Foundation questionnaire and email your answers to etrocchio@sjogrens.org.

Did you enjoy this post? Be sure to like and comment below! Also, don’t forget to subscribe to Autoimmune Warrior, for autoimmune disease news and stories delivered straight to your inbox!

Pro Tennis Player Caroline Wozniacki Describes Battle with Rheumatoid Arthritis

Caroline Wozniacki, a professional Danish tennis player, found herself embroiled in a match against her own immune system

From Grand Slam Champion to Bedridden

Caroline Wozniacki, a professional tennis player and Grand Slam champion from Denmark, was at the top of her game in 2018. At 27 years old, she had just finished playing in the Wimbledon, when she found herself feeling extremely ill.

“After Wimbledon, I just feel like I had the flu and wasn’t feeling well. I took some time off from tennis and training in the gym and was just going to relax, but I wasn’t feeling better. So I decided to go back to training and to see what happens,” the now 30-year-old tells Health in an exclusive interview.

She continued to play in tournaments across North America, but only continued to feel worse, and ended up having to withdraw from the Washington Open in Washington, DC as a result. “Day to day, I felt exhausted and was dizzy on the court,” Wozniacki explained. “I also had pain in some joints.”

Unbeknownst to fans, Carolina Wozniacki was battling an undiagnosed autoimmune disease through the later part of her tennis career

At the next tournament—the Rogers Cup in Montreal—Wozniacki was devastated to lose her first-round match. She put the loss behind her, though, and decided to focus her energy on preparing for her next match in Cincinnati. The following morning, however, Wozniacki couldn’t even move her arms or hands.

“I was in so much pain and felt exhausted. I went to see a doctor, because I felt extreme pain in my shoulders, elbows and hands,” she recalls. Her joints were swollen, but since her doctor didn’t see any damage to her ligaments, she chalked her pain up to her demanding travel schedule and athletic regimen. Strangely enough, her vocal cords were also inflamed and her voice became raspy.

Her symptoms continued to worsen, and because doctors couldn’t determine the cause, “They said, ‘Maybe you’re in bad shape. Maybe it’s mental. Maybe you’re pregnant.’ They basically called me crazy,” Wozniacki said. She found it extremely frustrating, especially considering she was in tip-top shape and had just won the Australian Open and a Grand Slam title the year prior. “I was 27 years old and the number two tennis player in the world. I’m in great shape and eat well. I do all the right things,” she lamented.

She insisted on getting multiple blood tests and consulting with various specialists. Finally, it was when she visited the fifth doctor in New York City, that it was discovered through a blood test that she had an autoimmune disease. However, it wasn’t clear which autoimmune condition she had. After a series of additional tests, she was finally diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disease affecting one’s joints.

Life After an Autoimmune Diagnosis

After being diagnosed with RA, Wozniacki is determined to live a full life

Wozniacki says that to her knowledge, she has no family history of RA or any other autoimmune disease. From what she understands, the condition could have been triggered due to her exhaustion and her immune system being compromised. Now, she keeps her RA symptoms under control through conventional pharmaceutical treatments, combined with lifestyle tips like consuming a healthy, anti-inflammatory diet and maintaining a consistent exercise routine. She also believes in getting enough quality sleep and avoiding stress in order to prevent arthritis flares.

Though the diagnosis was shocking, Wozniacki was determined to continue playing tennis, and even went on to play in the US Open and the China Open, where she won one of her biggest tournaments. She has since retired from playing tennis professionally, and now works to encourage other women living with chronic inflammatory diseases to share their stories through the Advantage Hers campaign.

Wozniacki describes her struggle with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) as part of the Advantage Hers campaign.

“It takes a long time for a lot of women to get diagnosed, and a lot of doctors don’t take their symptoms seriously at first because autoimmune diseases aren’t on a lot of doctors’ radars. I want women to know that if they have pain in the joints and feel exhausted, they should talk to their doctors about getting tested for RA or other autoimmune diseases,” she says.

Finally, Wozniacki credits her family for helping her to get through the difficulties of living with a chronic invisible illness. That being said, she also believes it’s important to connect with others living with the disease; “I really think it’s important to be able to speak to other people going through the same thing you are. It really makes a difference,” she said.

To learn more about Carolina Wozniacki’s journey with RA, check out the Advantage Hers campaign and share your own story on social media with the hashtag #AdvantageHers.