We discuss in this interview:

  • How Britany Williams has been able to become a highly successful fitness instructor despite her RA
  • Her first diagnosis at age 13 and her decision to continue her fitness training anyway
  • The risk of holding ourselves back
  • Fitness as a tool for mental and physical health
  • The role of medications and finding the right ones
  • Balancing the amount of exercise
  • The difference between pain and discomfort
  • Celebrating small victories
  • Britany’s SWEAT program and app
  • Simple exercises for the knees

Clint – Thanks for joining us again for another episode of the Rheumatoid Solutions podcast. I’ve got a very special guest today and really excited to introduce you to her in just a second. She came into our attention sphere via my wife Melissa, who was scrolling on Instagram. She then said you have to check out this girl called Britany Williams. She has rheumatoid arthritis and she exercises at the highest possible level. She’s amazing, got great energy And you should interview her for the podcast. I checked out Britany’s work and I’m like, my goodness. You would think that she hasn’t had a physical ailment in her life. Her workouts are very high-energy and she is extremely physically fit. She’s engaging, captivating, and amazing. Britany, thanks for joining us today.

Britany – Thank you, what a wonderful introduction because it got me hyped. Thank you so much.

Clint – Well, that’s how it came about. I wanted to talk with you about today is the fact that you were diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at age 13. You’re now 33 and you’ve been an incredible transformation in that you’re living a life of high fitness and inspiring a lot of people. To be exact, tens of thousands of people on your Instagram platform. Also via the app, which is a sweat app, a business originally developed by Kayla Itsines and her partner at the time. Also, you’re doing amazing things. I wanted to talk about your rheumatoid arthritis history, how you managed to be so active with the diagnosis, and things that we can learn from you about fitness. Also, how we can get started if we’re not doing much exercise? Let’s start with your story, how did this all unfold?

Britany Absolutely. My whole life was never gifted, but I would say an average teenager growing up until I hit 12. Wherein, I started having a lot of growing pains, what we thought were growing pains in my wrists. As I think anyone who’s been diagnosed with autoimmune disease, it starts this very long journey of 1000 tests, doctor’s appointments, bloodwork, and to kind of figure out what’s happening. I think that I was having a lot of pain as a child, and eventually at age 13 was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and it completely flipped the script. Here I was an athletic child who loved playing soccer, basketball, or all of the things. Then grew up certainly a tomboy to be told, I don’t know what your ability to run is going to be. I don’t know what your ability to write or what your handwriting is going to look like when you’re 30. I think getting introduced to those ideas, open my mind that I’m going to have to do things a little bit differently. But I also think very early on I recognized that my athletic ability may be short-lived. With that, I did the opposite approach that I think my doctor wanted me to do at the time. My doctor, I think, very much wanted me to settle down and stop working out or working out as a child. However, I instead dove headfirst with sports and fitness. With that, I continued to run and play soccer. I ran track and cross country collegiately at Rice University in Houston. After that, I joined the corporate world where I worked in wholesale sales for Under Armour for 12 years, so stayed in the fitness world. However, behind the computer and in crunch numbers until in 2017. I got the itch to become a fitness instructor and I think it really was my arthritis that at first almost held me back from becoming one. It is because you doubt yourself when you’ve got an ailment, a disease, a disorder, or whatever you want to call it or an obstacle in front of you. Then you’re going to say, I want to help other people be at their physical peaks. It’s a little intimidating, but I think that I saw that intimidation as a sign. I think I was tired of seeing so many women and men, kind of like you alluded to during your intro on Instagram and on social media that are perfect. They are who seemingly have never had a problem in their life. I’m sitting here saying, I can’t do a push up because I don’t have the range of motion in my wrist and there is no one out there who speaks to those people. I think there is now, but I think at the time it was very hard to find not perfect when it came to fitness leadership in fitness professionals. I dove in headfirst and I really have always taken fitness from an approachability lens. Now I have really high or intense classes that are high impact cardio and all of the hard things. But I also have those classes where I recognize that some days you don’t feel 100%. You don’t even feel 50%, and you just need slow and inviting movement. Maybe you’re just starting fitness for the first time after years away from a gym or a weight or a yoga mat. I really try to come into fitness with an open mind and I did that part-time for five years. Then last year I quit my full time corporate job to pursue fitness full time. It is because there’s an itch inside of me that truly believes no matter who you are or no matter what kind of background you have, fitness can be a tool in your mental and physical health. I just think that I would much rather spend my time showing that tool to the world and helping women and men, but women specifically on the sweat app. Also, learn how to use fitness to their benefit and not just think of it as something that they have to do. In which certainly, I think landed me to the Sweat app, where now I have multiple bar programs that help women feel better about themselves, as I said physically and mentally. Then it’s kind of grown and exploded from there.

Clint – It’s not your typical story from diagnosis. Can you explain what path you went through with perhaps medications, for example? We’ll talk about that first and then I want to ask you about, how exercise enabled you in parallel to medications to keep symptoms at bay? Let’s just talk about, what did the doctor recommend? If there was friction from you about up taking medications, what you eventually did, and what you’re doing now?

Britany Of course, I think medication I always tell people I would not be where I was without it. I have to stop there and give a nod to the doctors of the world or the medical field. It is because I think it’s been amazing but it’s a hard journey. I think finding the right medications for you. I started initially on methotrexate and I’m sure I started kind of a daily pill as well that I can’t remember what it was. But certainly, the go-getter was methotrexate and was on that for a few years. I think at that time my pain was very localized to just my right wrist and I’m right handed. It was something I felt every day, but I felt like it was managed. Then I think within a year or two, blood work wasn’t coming back so great. I think methotrexate obviously is a very powerful drug to be on, especially at that young age. Then, we started trying a whole slew of medications. I think as anyone who knows this journey, you try one medication and you have to wait 2-3 months to see if it kicks in and it doesn’t work. Then, you got to try the next one. I’ve been on so many, but eventually, I would say by the time I hit middle of high school, Let’s say 15 or 16 years old, I settled on Enbrel as my drug of choice. Also, the biologic that I took in that process was hard even with methotrexate.

Britany I vividly remember the first time back talking about methotrexate. Then sitting with a doctor in the nurse saying, we’re going to have to teach you how to give this to yourself. Back then it wasn’t self auto inject, so you had to pull the syringe yourself and mix up the solution. I remember the nurse pulled my mom into the room and I was like you need to learn how to do this. Then my mom was like, you’re telling me there’s no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, right? Then she or the nurse was like, there’s no cure for rheumatoid arthritis. Then my mom said, you’re telling me she’s going to have this for the rest of your life? She’s like, yes and she needs to learn how to do it herself. From the very first shot to the ones that I take today, I’ve given them all to myself that I think is a 13 year old. It was super scary at the time, but also, I think glad that my mom did it. It is because it empowered me to always feel like I was in control and that maybe they were going to be days that were hard, but I could always pull myself up. I guess I didn’t need someone else to help me with this disease other than, of course, my medical team. Anyways, I digress and I went from methotrexate to Enbrel. Enbrel was by far the most successful that I had. I was on Enbrel while I ran track and cross country. We’re talking about the true peak fitness in terms of running 60, 75, 80 miles a week. I’m putting in a lot of time or a lot of effort and I was able to do that. Then when I was in post-college, I had what I call my invincible phase where I thought that I didn’t need any medication and I was bigger than this disease. I completely got rid of all medications and I stopped going to the doctor for like 18 months. I don’t recommend that to anyone because I was in a lot of pain. I also probably did a lot of damage to my wrists and the pain was bad enough that I went back to the doctor. Now, after trying another slew of medications and back on hydroxychloroquine and Enbrel, which I’ve been on now for a few years, the journey is hard. It’s hard finding a medication that works for you and ut’s hard finding doctors. My doctor, not the one that I have now, but one previous didn’t want me to be on Enbrel. She was like, you’ve been on it for such a long time. We don’t want you to get tolerant, but it was also the only thing that made me feel good. It was one of those Catch 22, but it’s been a process. I’m glad I found a doctor that is willing to listen and doesn’t want to change my medication just because it’s been 20 years.

Clint – Thank you for sharing. Also, for being so honest, open, and talking about that with us with regards to these sort of cycles we go through. We feel invincible as you said at times and at other times we feel very vulnerable. Then we walk with our tail between our legs into the doctors. Then say, I’ll do whatever you recommend because I’ve sort of essentially felt like I’ve failed everything else and it’s not working. Where are you in that cycle at the moment? Especially with regards to positioning that with reference to how good your career is right now. It would appear right now that whilst things are steady and stable, that’s probably something that you’ve can put back in your mind. Then say, let’s work on all these great things that I’ve got going on right now and just let medications be medications for the time being. Is that sort of where you’re at?

Britany My answer might change every day And I think that’s the truth when it comes to these diseases. One day you’re riding high and everything’s wonderful and the next week is really hard. I think for me, I’m in a really good space when it comes to most of my joints. My arthritis is spread to most major joints, my ankles, my toes, my knees, and both wrists. I have it in a lot of different places rather than just my right wrist. I think I’ve gotten to a good point where my doctor and I don’t really have to worry about my left wrist, but my right wrist is significant. I think in the amount of damage that I have or the amount of range of motion that I’ve lost. While I feel very constant in my medication and my doctor’s trips are quite easy. There is still every once a month, where I feel depleted or where the pain in the right wrist still feels like it takes over. I love my doctor, for this reason. I went in to her and I said, I feel 95% good, but there’s still that 5% in my wrist that I just can’t get to be great. She smiled at me and she goes, Britany, how long have you had this disease? I said, 20 years. She goes, what do you do for a living? Then I was like, I’m a fitness instructor. She was like, you have defied all odds in becoming a fitness instructor who works out a lot every single day. You are doing planks, push-ups, you’re lifting weights, and you’re lifting barbells. Then she’s like, that is your decision and I don’t think we can ever get you to 100% if you’re going to use your body that much. This is a reality check of if you are going to push yourself to the level that I am, I think that there’s going to be paid. I think that’s the decision that I have to make for myself. But I think with everyone else who doesn’t do fitness as a career, I think it’s about finding that happy balance of doing what you need to to be able to live your life. But also not being afraid of that pain. It is because sometimes you’re going to have to go through some pain to see changes or to be able to get an increased range of motion. I had to do a lot of exercises and a lot of stretches in the morning that were painful. Then, you get stiffness in the morning and you have to get up and you have to walk. You cannot sit still and it’s painful. But on the other side, there is so much growth, beauty, and pain-free days. I think it’s a give-and-take scenario.

Clint – I completely agree that exercise is far more beneficial than detrimental. In fact, the detrimental aspect of the exercise is almost insignificant. If we’re being extremely mindful as to how we move our body. In your case, you’re pushing the boundaries with that wrist, maybe by doing some things that otherwise. If you didn’t have it as a career, you might not do it.

Britany For sure.

Clint – As your doctor said, which was very insightful, there’s maybe one thing you do each week that might stir it up a little bit. I think you and I can agree that every other minute that you’re exercising, it’s pure benefit.

Britany Exactly and that’s exactly what she meant. I really appreciated her insight because she’s right that I’m pushing my limits. As a result, I think I’ve seen so much growth from that. I tell my clients whether they have arthritis or an autoimmune disease or not, there’s a difference between pain and discomfort. I think the most important thing that you could do in life, but mainly in fitness, is to understand the difference between discomfort and pain. When something is painful in an exercise, you always need to stop and you never want pain. However, you cannot avoid discomfort. When you are looking for a change in your body or in your mind, it’s going to be uncomfortable. If I write you a workout that’s not uncomfortable, it is not a good workout. It is maybe for a rest day or recovery day. But once I think, people can understand that difference, I think the world really unlocks in terms of what they’re capable of.

Clint – What insights or thoughts OR maybe attitudes do you think are helpful? If someone is right now thinking, this sounds good but it really hurts me just to get up and move around. Drawing upon when you were in those situations, what would you say to yourself? How would you get up and get into some physical activity and how would you speak to someone in that situation now?

Britany I’m really big on habit changing, I’m kind of obsessed with the topic, and I’ve read a lot about it. I think that at the end of the day, when you’re looking at any obstacle it would be the fear of that pain or the fear of that discomfort. It’s about doing something that you can look back on and pat your back. Then say, I did this no matter how small it is. Then you have that one little pebble of positivity. If you can just have that one pebble on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and maybe you don’t have it on Thursday or Friday. You don’t beat yourself up about it, but then it picks up again on Saturday and on Sunday. Those little pebbles eventually will turn into a glass jar of rocks. I think that it’s amazing what you can do. A number of people come to me and say, you work out for an hour and six days a week. Then I said, cool. But there was the time when I just walked for 10 minutes a day because that’s what my body needed. I would much rather that person, instead of thinking of the entire journey or a fitness journey or health journey can be. You shouldn’t worry about the seventh, eighth, ninth lap, or 10th month that you’re going to be on this journey. With that, all I want you to start with is a 5-minute walk. If it can’t be a 5 minute walk, maybe it’s sitting on the couch and it’s doing leg extensions or squats at the couch or maybe it’s the wrist circles or wrist stretches. Let’s dedicate 5 to 10 minutes a day and let’s call it 3 to 4 times a week. I don’t think there’s a special number or formula but build that habit. Once you’ve built that habit of doing it, the fact that you’re doing it for 3 to 4 weeks or 5 weeks, 6 weeks. Again, I’m not big on the number of times because I think it varies per person. Then maybe that 5 to 10 minutes becomes 20 or then maybe that 20 minutes becomes, I’m going to pick up a dumbbell or I’m going to do a workout program like the Sweat app. But until you’ve first built that habit and you can look back. Then you can say, for the last month, I have gone on a walk four times every single week. Who cares how long it was? Who cares how fast it was? You have to celebrate those milestones that you made. I look at my clients and I say, if you can come to me with that prep work already done, I don’t need you to have lifted a weight, or I don’t need you to be able to do a plank. However, I do need you to have built this habit of celebrating your successes when it comes to your health. It is because that’s a foundation that anyone can build on no matter how big their obstacle is.

Clint – Absolutely. Love it. You and I have had sort of parallel teachings over the years, even though we haven’t crossed paths yet. I have a saying it was very similar along the lines of every small victory is an enormous victory when you have arthritis. I celebrate it like crazy exactly as you say. You can tell it to other people or write it in your journal. We should celebrate it because we’re teaching our brain and that’s what matters most, which getting those results. Another thing that you said exactly overlaps with what I teach as well, which is with exercise the objective is the habit. The goal is not how far, how long as you say. The goal is the habit because the repetition of just doing it brings the results for you. Nothing else you need to do more than just show up, do it and schedule it into consistency.

Britany I think once you can be consistent with it, I think the rest comes. But I think it’s very common for people to worry about, how much weight do I need to lift, how often, and how long they worry about. I think the minutia of it, but if you just worry about building someplace for you to walk down. It doesn’t matter what that road is paved with because we’ll get there eventually. We’ll go to the store and we’ll get you some bricks that will pave you a really nice road. But for now, I just need you to get on the road and don’t worry what it looks like. Let’s just keep moving, even if it’s just a few minutes a day and I think it’s still forward progress.

Clint – For people who are already very excited about taking some action and wanting to immediately do a little bit more. I want to just even though we’re not at the end of this conversation, talk about your involvement with the Sweat App. For people who really just want to do something immediately. Britany is part of the Sweat App and you can download the app from Google Play or iTunes. When you install the app, you can join and I believe there is a free trial period you can explore. Then, what can happen inside there is that Britany will actually become your coach and she will walk you through workouts right from the very beginning. Then, she will meet you where you’re at, correct? So even if you’re just beginning, perhaps just speak to that for a minute or two and we’ll do more at the end. It is because just in case people want to take action right now.

Britany Of course. My sweat programs are Barre programs. Then a little bit of knowledge about Barre for those that don’t know and it is a workout that was inspired or was created by a dancer who got injured. This dancer who got injured wanted to rehab herself back to health. She built a program with a group of physical therapists in London to basically rehab her back so that she could dance. Those rehab exercises are kind of rooted in dance, it’s still rehab. Also, it blossomed into this workout that is low impact not always, but mainly low impact. It is also super joint-friendly and uses really low weights. Out of all the classes tend to use less than 5 pounds or a little less than 2.5 kg, which is really nice. I think our approachable way of getting back to mobility, flexibility, strength and muscular endurance. My programs are Barre, which I love because that is exactly how I got back into shape. After that, I’m invincible and I can do anything period of time. It allowed me to get back into shape and my programs, they are two of them. One of them is called Barre with Britney and that one’s going to be most likely the most approachable option. It is because the other one is called high-intensity Barre and is more of a high-impact cardio-based option. So Barre with Britany is certainly where I recommend most people to start. Then, what’s great about that is that the workout program starts literally with week zero. It starts knowing that you may be a complete beginner to fitness. Not only is Barre potentially going to be a new type of workout for you, but this might be your first time doing something doing movement in years. We have multiple weeks that are dedicated just to getting back into the groove of things. You can repeat those weeks, it’ll ask you, do you want to move on or do you want to repeat? Some people will stay in those beginner weeks for a little bit longer until they’re ready to progress. But what’s great about the app is that it’s progressive. Then, anyone who knows about improving your fitness is you have to continuously challenge yourself over time. You can’t just hold a plank for 20 seconds every day and then expect to have a six-pack in six months because you have to continuously adjust. Then, what’s great is that I’ve done the hard work for you and there’s no guesswork. If you continue to move down the path throughout the program, it continues to get harder and it continues to get more complex. You’ll notice I’ll go from doing pushups on my knees in the videos to push-ups on my toes eventually. Those are things that you don’t necessarily have to follow, right? You can always do push-ups on your knees, but you start to see that progression. In general, the Sweat App is great and there are 3-4 workouts a week. Then, all of them vary from 30 to 50 minutes per workout. There are two express classes we call them, which are workouts that are 15 minutes or less. It is because we’ve certainly recognized that there are people out there who do not have time for 30-minute workouts. With that, we provide that option too but really the goal is to progress you and to allow you to be comfortable. All of the workouts are pre-recorded, but you do see me working with you the entire time. I’m doing every single exercise with you. I’m sweating, shaking, and all the things with you. Then you have my audio overlaid on top of the workout. So what I love is that we film the workout and the audio separately, so that I can actually focus on giving you good information. It is because I’ve taught plenty of live classes and when I’m sweating and I’m thinking, this is really hard. It’s really hard to remind you to do all the things. You get my calm and clear voice, providing modifications and providing motivation. It is because sometimes I think we just need you can do this in our ear, especially with at-home workouts, and my programs are built for at home.

Clint – Check it out and that’s the Sweat App and you’ll find Britney in there. She’s one of about 10 trainers that you can choose from. Now, I just want to remind people of the importance of exercise just across the board. I’ve just been working on this chapter late last night in my book, which will come out in a couple of months. In that chapter and I’m in that exercise chapter, across the board Rheumatoid Arthritis patients exercise less than national guidelines in every country. The reluctance is generally around concerns about exacerbating symptoms regarding pain during exercise and also chronic fatigue. People are concerned or fatigued and it’s just all stems too much. There’s just also a position of inertia in that as well. If you’re not exercising and you’ve got enough going on and life is enough challenging, you don’t think you want to add something else to your day that takes a little bit of an effort. The position of most people with R.A. is not enough exercise. However, the benefits are so endless and limitless that it’s hard to even know where to start. One of the things that I talk about a lot is the concept of oxidative stress. When we have an engaged immune system in a chronic way, we’re constantly generating free radicals and that’s what the immune system does. We deplete our antioxidant enzymes of glutathione, catalase, superoxide dismutase, and all of those increase during exercise. With that, meaning we basically systemically are able to reduce more inflammation that comes from our own autoimmunity. Then beyond that, we have muscle atrophy when we have inflammation on a constant basis. This means that typically people with rheumatoid arthritis have difficulty maintaining muscle mass. Then to compensate for that, we need to build muscle mass to protect ourselves from becoming weak. In which, one study turns out that you are 50% more likely to die if you are in a weak body than a non-weak body. This is an incredible, profound, and scary statistic. We have to stop being weak. Then another one and I’ll stop at this because we could go on forever. But the last one is that in human muscle, these same inflammatory cytokines that are addressed using JAK inhibitors are also resolved using engaged muscle tissue. Now, what this means is that you can reduce inflammation directly in tendons via tendonitis and muscle atrophy via stimulating that muscle with engagement. The same processes involved, as I said, as the JAK inhibitors are used generated by your own body and inflammation is directly reduced. Engaging muscle tissue suppresses inflammation. With all those benefits we have to get active if we have inflammatory arthritis, it’s not optional. It’s an absolute must to protect our joints, to protect our muscles from atrophy, and to protect ourselves from becoming weak. With all that said, let’s not project anything negative. Let’s say a person is having trouble with their knees. Are there some exercises that are safe and simple that we could do for our knees? I’m just going to run through a couple of joints if you don’t mind.

Britany Yeah, absolutely. I think the first things first, it’s funny, I was literally just working on a video about knees earlier today in lunges. I think when people think about knees, you think of a big range of motions like squats or you think of lunges, which can be really hard on the knee. One of my favorite knee-friendly exercises to do, which you can do at your own home, is squats to your couch. Now, if your couch is really low, maybe to a chair because you don’t want to go too low. However, you should have that support and just come up and down from a seated position is a really great place to start. You can certainly do to the edge, have your hand on kind of the railing or the hand rests. I guess just should save your couch to kind of help push you up. The next one that I love is Bridges and they are really great for the glutes. You would lay on the ground and your feet would be flat on the ground with the knees bent. Then, you would contract your glutes to lift your hips to be at knee height. Those are two and both of those exercises are really two great ones for the glutes. Isolate the glutes because a lot of people who sit all day, whether that be because they are inactive throughout the day or because of their jobs tend to have very weak glutes. Those are two that I love to start with and I think that those are wonderful examples of exercises that are going to move the knee. I don’t believe in avoiding knee movement at all. I think about all the points that you just said. I think those are two exercises where the knee isn’t going to have to go through the uncontrolled movement. I think it can stay controlled on both feet and stay on the ground. Also, you can stay low impact and be helpful.

Clint – Yeah. Love it! For these big joints for me because I’ve had a lot of my own obviously. My experience with this over many years and I’m in my 17th year with rheumatoid arthritis. I’ve found, especially for the big joints, you’ve got to engage them. You can’t just let a knee be a swollen knee and then think it’s going away. Let me tell you, it never ever just goes away on its own and you got to work its butt off.

Britany Yes. I actually think now that for some reason I just remembered a third one that I would give. If you let’s say you have really bad inflammation in that knee and I think standing up and down on that squat can be hard. I think another great one that works the quad specifically is to stay seated on your couch and then lift your foot off the ground. Then just extend and bend it to extend that leg completely straight out and then bend it back in. Then, contract flex that quad when the leg is completely straight and that’s going to be hard if you’ve got knee pain. But that is one of the most wonderful exercises because of what I find when I work with clients in person. When the leg is completely straight or when you have inflammation in the knee or when you have pain in the knee, coming it completely straight with the leg is something people will hesitate. Even if they have that ability, being able to fully go through their range of motion. Also to be able to kick your heel all the way towards your backside and extend it all the way in front of you, I think can be really helpful and that can be done. I didn’t mean to interrupt you, but I wanted to get that out there third.

Clint – Let’s just brainstorm that one a little bit more and let’s go back even further. When people’s knees are swollen, they can barely walk. Would it be fair to say that if they were to stretch their legs out onto sort of an across the couch so the legs are completely supported? Then, put a rolled-up towel under the knee for them from their very slightly bent knee with the towel under to try and extend it.

Britany Yes, that’s actually something that I do with my clients in person with meniscus tears or ACL tears. Also, that’s certainly not what we’re working on. But that is one of the things that you will work on in physical therapy. Finding ways to contract a quad while the knee is in an extended position. I think that if that full range of motion from bent to extent doesn’t work, meeting your leg where it’s at by flattening the surface underneath works. Even if you don’t want to necessarily kick your legs all the way up on top of the couch. Also, even if you have an ottoman or a bench or something that you can put in front of the couch. You can just straighten your leg that way as well.

Clint – Yeah. The concept again, is just generally being engaged in each one of these with all of the connective tissue around that knee. They are working hard to maintain the positions that we’re putting it in. We’re squeezing and then releasing, whether it be into and out of a squat or these physical therapy things we’re talking about as well. But it’s engagement, at least of some kind, and we’re getting that contraction and release. Let’s say someone has problems with elbows, is it something that you’ve ever had trouble with elbows?

Britany I haven’t had too many elbow issues. With that being said, I think I have some I’ll call them secondary or indirect issues. It is because my wrist range of motion is really not great and it’s definitely limited. I think I have over time held dumbbells and kettlebells with improper form. So sometimes I get pain in my elbow and that’s always my sign. For example, I don’t think I’m holding my wrist properly or I need to decrease weight. I think one of my favorites to work on the elbows is called a tricep kickback and it can be done with weight or without. I think certainly it’s best to start without weight, but you can even hold a full water bottle. You could hold just something that has even an iPhone, something that just has a little bit of weight to it. Think about hinging forward and pulling your elbow back. Pull the elbow kind of so it’s above your waist or above your ribcage and then extend your arm behind you. It is almost like you were in a track race and you were reaching for a baton behind you. Then, that bending and extending motion from that elbow is doing the exact same thing. The leg extension would do it to really help me. You go through a range of motion and you may not be able to get that arm completely straight at the very beginning, but it can certainly help you build that range of motion. It is because that might not be something that people are doing if you have rheumatoid arthritis. I certainly understand reaching for something at the highest point in the cupboard might be a little scary. I think that just going through that range of motion, extending the elbow and I think not being afraid. Also, by doing it in a place where you feel safe and stable. As I said, reaching for something heavy on the top of the counter may not be the place to do it. However, if you’re just sitting on the couch, lean forward and find that extension to the elbow.

Clint – I love it. I have had a lot of trouble over the years with tendonitis. I’ve been a few years without not a single detectable piece of tendonitis in those elbows. I developed into doing pull-ups, chin-ups, and so on. But I had to start with the exact process you spoke of, which are those sort of tricep kickbacks. I was just doing them with a pull-down elastic from above with my elbows tucked into my side, but it was the exact same movement.

Britany I think that’s the one thing that I like people to understand. Exercise doesn’t have to be complicated because you can find a better range of motion and you don’t have to go to a gym. Yes, I do think it is helpful to have a physical therapist or a doctor who’s comfortable helping you through that process. I don’t think you need to spend yet another $100 membership to go into the 70th place to help you. I think sometimes it’s about finding those 5 exercises or those 5 movements that you can do at home and just do them. As I said, 5 to 10 minutes a day to help build that foundation so that you can then go do the workouts that you want to do.

Clint – I love it. What’s an area of the body that you have found you’ve been able to really gain control over through some movements that you’ve developed? Wherein, you’re really proud of yourself. When it comes to say, the ankles or the shoulders or whatever it might be, and you’re like I’ve just nailed that.

Britany Have you been hanging out on my Instagram account? Because I feel like you’re just paying me up for my favorite story, which is it’s my wrist. I know I’ve alluded to that a few times, but the pain in my wrist and the range of motion in my wrist were at an all-time high in early 2010. I’m not sure what we’re calling that decade, but that sounds right. I was coming off of my “I’m invincible phase” where I ended up doing a lot of harm by coming off of medication and my range of motion was nothing. I mean, I could not really move my wrist at all. With that, walking into a boutique fitness studio for the first time and being asked to do a plank was out of the question. I could not hold myself up at all. Certainly one, because I didn’t have the range of motion in my wrist. Then two, I didn’t have the strength. It is because if you can’t hold a plank or if you can’t hold a weight in your hand, you don’t have the ability to strengthen the arm. By far my favorite is elevated planks with your hands elevated on something. You put hands on the back of a couch, think even hands on a wall, something that takes your chest to be higher than your toes. What that does is take a lot of the pressure out of the wrist. It also sends that weight distribution across your full body versus just being on the wrists. I started just planking, just holding a plank and I was in those fitness classes. It was so embarrassing to be in a fitness class of 20-30 women who are busting out your pushups.

Britany Then, here I am holding a plank and my hands are up on a bar. I’m not even holding a plank on the ground. Over the course of a couple of years to be able to hold the plank, then be able to do a push-up or to push up on my knees, to now be able to do push-ups on my toes. There are very few exercises that I can’t do, but my push-ups I by far hold closest to my chest because no pun intended since they’re chest exercises. But I just couldn’t do anything in the plank position at all. To be able to get to the point where I can do a push-up with confidence is just proof to me. It is proof that you can do anything you set your mind to. It might take years, as I said, it did not happen overnight. It took 2-3 years to be able to get to where I am now. The feeling that you get when you can look back and say, I couldn’t even hold a plank or I couldn’t do X, Y, and Z, and now I can do it. I mean, my wedding day was nice but other than that there are some nice things. I’m sure one day when I hopefully have children, I’m sure that’s going to be a great day too. But like the day that you realize I just did that and I couldn’t do it yesterday or a year ago or whatever. I mean, those days stick with you.

Clint – I love it, that’s awesome.

Britany Don’t tell my husband that I just compared our wedding day to that.

Clint – But no, I absolutely love it. It’s just so satisfying, isn’t it?

Britany But honestly, that is why I think I do what I do. It is because once you have that idea or that moment you just keep watering it. It’s not a plant, but it’s a weed and it takes over. I mean, that idea of I can do this. Started replicating in all aspects of my life, not just in fitness. Any time that there’s a hurdle, I’m just going to keep watering this plan. I’m just going to keep feeding it and I’m going to keep celebrating it. Then tell it. you got it, buddy. Then, you see how successful you can be and hopefully you can overcome your goals. You thought you couldn’t do X, Y, and Z. You can find out you can do way more than that, but it has to start off with the willingness to get a little uncomfortable.

Clint – Hmm. What closing thoughts would you have regarding what we’ve talked about today? Is there something we’ve touched upon that you’d like to emphasize more or is there something that we haven’t talked about? In which, you feel is important for someone who’s been engrossed in our discussion?

Britany Yeah, I think the first thing that comes to mind. In which, I think hopefully anyone who’s been listening to your podcast for a while knows is that you’re not alone. I think a lot of times when I have my flare-ups and when I was going through chronic daily pain, it feels defeating. I think that while yes, you have to be like my mom wanted me to be, you have to be strong. Yes, you have to be willing to pull yourself up by the bootstraps. You should know that there is an approachable way for you to feel better, both mentally and physically. It is because I think you have to work on both. But you have to be willing to ask for help and you have to be willing, unfortunately, to put in some work. I wish I could sit here and tell you it’s really easy to become pain-free. You don’t have to work at it at all. I would be rich if I could figure out a way to do that, but I think to be kind to yourself. Then, recognize you’re not alone and recognize that it’s going to take some positivity. But I think that the woe and the attitude are okay to have. I’m going to start there and I’m not going to say don’t have it because I think that’s unrealistic. I think it’s okay to have bad days and to cry or to feel defeated. But the next morning you need to pick yourself up and say, how am I going to make this life that I’m living a little bit better slowly but surely. Knowing that so many of us have gone through it. I think that’s one of the reasons I love social media. It’s so easy to find people going through what you’re going through and it makes the world feel a little less daunting when you know you’re not alone.

Clint – Tell us your social media handle so people can follow you.

Britany Yep. You can find me, @Britney Williams, on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok

Clint – Fantastic. You’re very active on social media. You respond to a lot of questions that people post on there. You’ve got quite the following and quite the community. If people are on Instagram who are following this, go head over and follow Britney. Britney, we did mention the Sweat App and let’s just close out on that. Everyone listening can access either on Android or on Apple the Sweat App and there’s a free trial. As I said, you’ll find Britney on there. Britney does not get compensated for her special link or anything. But we will put a link to join the Sweat App on our page. Just head over to www.rheumatoidsolutions.com/blog/ and you’ll be able to find this episode. If you do join, then it looks good. Britney is bringing people into this and it does help her in that sense.

Britany Do let me know too, I think if you do try a class if you do follow me on social media, please send me a direct message. I would love to connect with you and I think help be a resource for you even if you don’t work out with me. While I would love for you to work out with me on the Sweat App. I think just being able to have a fitness instructor who gets it or who understands if you have a question. Also, if you’re maybe afraid to ask and you do not need to be. I get asked every question under the sun and there’s no such thing as a silly question. While I certainly want you to click on that link and download this one app and work out with me, even if not, I’m certainly here as a resource for you.

Clint – Well, thank you very much for your time today and it’s been super great to have you here.

Britany Thank you for having me and I really appreciate it.

Clint – Yeah. Thank you, Britany. We’ll see you online! Then, maybe you and I could do an Instagram live together sometime. I hope that some people have enjoyed listening. Thanks so much.

Britany Thank you.

Clint Paddison

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  1. Love your phrase, “We need to stop being weak.” 😆 That tickled me. Amen! Thanks for sharing these interviews.

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