By Karen Fritzemeier
I gave up sugar and started swimming.  In the process I’ve lost 24 pounds. I found swimming is much sweeter than eating sugar. Sugar and other foods contribute to my inflammatory arthritis and the now extra pounds on my body. Swimming, though, helps me lose weight, have more energy and is an activity I look forward to.
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Although it took a while to get into this new habit, swimming and moving in the water has become one of the favorite things about my new healthy lifestyle. Three times a week I go to our local fitness center and do my stretches, walk and exercise in the pool.
Finding out I had inflammatory arthritis was one of the gifts that started me on this journey. With my weight and arthritis, I cannot walk or ride bike long distances. That’s why we took the step as a family to purchase a membership.
Benefits of Swimming
There have been so many benefits, and I can’t think of any drawbacks. The monthly cost has nearly paid for itself, and in ways I didn’t expect.
1. This is a physical activity I can do with my kids. It’s hard for me to play outside with them, take hikes or bike rides, but we love being in the pool together. We play ball, race, twirl around and generally have fun when I’m finished with my exercise routine.
2. We are homeschoolers so swimming is part of their physical education. Both of them have gone from wearing floaties to swimming in the deep end.
3. Going three times a week, every week has caused me to meet others who are also struggling with arthritis and other health issues. There are some inspiring people improving their health. It’s an informal support group.
4.  My reward is sitting in the whirlpool when done. The jets soothe my muscles and I relax. I’ve had and listened to great conversations while in the whirlpool. There are diverse and interesting people I’d probably never met any other way.
5.  With swimming three times a week, the kids and I rarely bathe at home because we shower at the fitness center.  It saves tons of water and also a load of laundry towels each week.  My water, electric and gas bills have all decreased.
6.  My husband can join us.  He has taken up running.  So he runs laps or on the treadmill while the kids and I swim, then he joins us in the pool.  He has wanted to get back into his running habit the past several years, and this has made it possible. He did an indoor duathlon this winter and is training for a 5k this spring.
7.  How could I forget the health benefits? I feel less stiff, I can move freely in the water, I notice I feel worse if it goes too many days in between trips. But when I go, I feel better during the day and sleep better at night.
 
Quitting Sugar
I think besides quitting sugar, swimming is perhaps my favorite part of my journey to health. It really is a stop-start like Teresa Shields Parker teaches in Sweet Change Weight Loss Coaching Group and #KickWeight coaching class. I stopped eating sugar and I started swimming. I put firm boundaries around the sugar. I focused on swimming. I didn’t know I’d love it so much. It’s a habit worth keeping and one that is moving me forwards, instead of backwards on my weight loss journey.
 Karen Fritzemeier is a homeschooling mom to two children. She and Dean have been married for nine years and live in Michigan.  For other posts by Karen, go here. She blogs at  http://blueandgreentogether.com/
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Karen Fritzemeier

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