How Slow-Motion Strength Training Saved My Life

By Taru Fisher

I am living a life today that I use to consider impossible. But this miracle is one I created for myself – by making new choices, I have made a new life. I hope by sharing my story, others will realize they can do this too.

My Choice? – Change or Die

Right before I turned 60, I felt deeply depressed about my life. Actually, I felt I had no life and realized I had to change my health or die. I had developed Rheumatoid Arthritis at age 36 while living in the religious commune of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh in Rajneeshpuram, Oregon.

I had watched it progress from some intermittent right hand pain to full-blown Rheumatoid Arthritis, eventually claiming my right hand, left hand, neck, jaw, elbows, wrists, knees, ankles and toes. It seemed as if there was virtually no place in my body that wasn’t on fire with a toothache-like pain that was unremitting.

With its accompanying constant feeling of weakness, depression, and loss of life energy, I began to over identify this illness as who I was. For more than twenty-five years I existed in a living hell, with no real hope of ever emerging again. I tried every known, and many unknown, remedies! All failed me, creating an ever-deepening cycle of despair and hopelessness.

Asking for help from a professional

In 1999, I was somehow managing to hold down a full time job at Stanford University, but the disease had progressed to the point where I was unable to walk even half a block, and I was in bed by 6:00PM each evening. On Mother’s Day the year I was 59, I was so sick I had to cancel a visit to my beloved youngest son in Albany, a mere 50-minute drive. I touched a depth of sadness I had never reached before, and had thoughts that death was a preferred alternative to the life I was living.

My dearest friend, Katrina, had been telling me for several years about a nutritionist who had helped cure her of her allergies, but I hadn’t actually been ready to pay money to heal myself; I guess I didn’t feel worthy. I had also tried so many different methods to cure this nasty disease that I no longer believed that there was any cure out there.

But now I was morbidly desperate and willing to do anything to feel better so I went to see Dr. Harold Kristal, a Metabolic Nutritionist in San Rafael, CA. After a series of lab tests and psychological assessments, he determined my metabolic type was a “Slow Oxidizer”, and recommended very specific dietary supplements and foods tailored to me.

He also told me that sugar was poison for me, something I actually knew because every time I ate sugar-laden foods my joints became very painful. However, I had lapsed into emotional eating as my only real pleasure in life, so I had continued to eat foods that I knew intuitively were bad for me.

Committed to change

I began my new dietary regimen immediately upon leaving his office and actually felt better that same day. I was at least 65 pounds overweight at that time, and lost 9 pounds the first week. I finally had energy and could walk more than one block! My joint pain decreased so that I was able to cut my arthritis medicine injections in half. I followed his program religiously and to the letter. Once I began to feel more energy and less pain I knew I could never go back to the old way of eating and living – healthy living is now an absolute requirement for me.

I had to learn all about metabolic nutrition in order to fully accept this program. I had previously failed so many other so-called “diet plans”. I bought Dr. Kristal’s book and proceeded to learn all I could. Once again, necessity and the drive to learn kicked into high gear. I became so knowledgeable, and was so successful in losing weight (50 pounds and counting), increasing my energy level, and ameliorating my arthritis symptoms, my example inspired many friends and acquaintances to go see my nutritionist as well. I learned that I could inspire and motivate people to change, both through example and knowledge of the subject.

I needed exercise, too. Enter slow-motion strength training.

Now that I had energy, my Rheumatologist recommended I start doing slow motion, low impact, high intensity strength training, something I never thought I’d be able to do — the standard gyms and spandex-clad exercisers years younger than I were not at all appealing. However, I wanted to be able to open car doors, reach into cupboards and get plates, get in and out of a bathtub by myself, so I decided to put my objections aside and start the strength training.

I was very gratified to discover that this particular type of strength training was done one-on-one with your own trainer, usually in private sessions. The results have been nothing short of amazing, even to my physical therapist. Over a span of two years, I went from not being able to walk half a block to walking more than three strenuous miles, leg pressing 340 pounds (more than twice my body weight), and back pressing 140 pounds. I also gained 10% bone mass!

A new life because I was willing to change

This inspired my husband to learn how to train others in in this method, which in turn led to a mid-life career change for him. Once again I learned the power of inspiration and example in changing lives. We both wanted to share this safe, effective and powerful strength training method with others so we opened Alive! Fitness Studio where we specialize in private, one-on-one slow motion, low impact, high intensity strength training we call SafeStrength®.

Now, instead of being crippled by my arthritis and depression, I have so much energy and excitement about life that I can’t stop thinking about the things I want to do.

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