Saturday, August 3, 2019

Saturday WOD in the Park - SLEDGE HAMMER TIME

Regular warmup
(3 rounds of 10 each):
Sit-ups
Push-ups
Pull-ups
Squats
Good Mornings 
Samson Stretch

Followed by flipping and dragging a 300lb. tractor tire up and down the park, and swinging sledge hammers into said tires. 

Coach taught us a new swing - a sideways version (like swinging a baseball bat at a ball, but instead we swung it at the side of the tire, where the tread is). 

We also did overhead swings (where we bring the hammer down from above on to the part of the tire facing up as it lays on the ground), and we practiced technique. Trust me, you don't want to have the hammer bounce off the tire and hit your foot - ouch!

I love strength training workouts like this; They make me feel like a warrior, like I'm fighting back, and they make me feel so strong!

That action, that fighting back, it helps emotionally, too. Working out is us fighting back against Lipedema, trying to stay as active as possible, for as long as possible. That action is so healing emotionally, letting us know we are NOT victims of our condition!

You know what else I love?     Looking at this photo of myself!

That might sound weird, my inner voice is singing "You're so vain, you probably think this post is about you", but it shows all of me, my lipedema legs and arms, and it shows me that I am strong.

When we first started training in the park, I would seek out big trees to workout (hide) in front of, then after we had done so many workouts there I forgot to seek out "shelter", and eventually I didn't just forget about it because I was so into the workout, I wanted my community to see me doing the workouts

That is real change, and I am so thankful to all the body positive folks that have shared their lives with us online and in our own communities.

Together we change the world!

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Lipedema and Body Positivity

Lipedema becomes very disfiguring in later stages, which can make it extremely difficult to “fit in”, and feel good about ourselves. The psychological distress can be overwhelming.

Early on in my diagnosis I felt this way, it was gradual, and got worse and worse as I listened to the advice being given to newly diagnosed, to not exercise, as they thought it would make our condition worse.  Then in 2013, realizing I was already worse by listening to that advice, I began training in CrossFit (with my husband, a CF instructor).

I have gotten a lot stronger, and reclaimed all my mobility that was lost due to following the advice, but the shape of my body has not changed.

So what did change?

I changed. Emotionally, I changed. I began joining plus size fashion and fitness groups, and following body positive (bopo) people on Instagram. I soon realized I really liked seeing folks my size doing sports, working out, moving their bodies, and taking up space in our world.

I began to realize that I would not say anything negative about any of the bodies I saw in these groups, so why was I saying them about myself? And that began to change how I thought about, felt about, and talked about myself. 

I began to thank my body, I began to love my body. I have no control over having Lipedema, but I do have control over how I respond to it, how I live with it, and I’m so thankful my body is such a fighter.

This artwork came about after I shared a video of my lifting a heavy bag during one of our workouts to a body positive fitness group. A group member, Kristen Pednaud  commented on the video with this incredible picture she drew of me. Kristen is such a wonderful artist, I highly recommend checking out her page on Instagram (@kristenpednaud), or her website: www.dobbydoodles.com - she does pet portraits, too!


I was so touched and fell in love with the artwork, I think I look like a character from the movie The Incredibles! I talked to another Lipedema artist friend about this, how moved I was by it all, and she loved it and asked me to be her muse, which started another series, which I will share soon.

Having someone turn you into art is such an honor. Seeing yourself as art, is life changing.

My journey with Lipedema has been an interesting one. Filled with self discovery, and growing self love, and I’m excited to see where it continues to go. I’m not healed, in fact I’m progressing, as Lipedema is a progressive condition, but emotionally I’m healing more and more every day.

Monday, July 1, 2019

We Did It - Finishing the 4th Annual Lipedema Triathlon


On June 29, 2019 my family and I headed out to the Saratoga Regional YMCA to meet up with friends and training mates, to once again take on the Sprint Triathlon event that has been held there for four years running!


The event would begin in the pool, for a 750M swim - which is 15 laps in their Olympic size pool. It was myself in lane 1, Coach/Hubby and Joel in lane 2, Phylise in lane 3, and Amanda (a YMCA member who has joined us every year) in lane 4. My friend Shawn had to go at 6:30am to do his swim, as he had other obligations he had to get to.

The swim took me 26:15 minutes, shaving 1 minute and 15 seconds off last year's time of 27:30.
Typically in a Triathlon the transition between events counts as part of your time, athletes practice transitions just like the physical parts of their events. The transition between the pool and the bike for me is a long one, because as someone with Lipedema and Lymphedema, it is important for me to shower off right after the swim (to get any chemicals off my skin that might cause irritation; and to then get dried off, apply lotion, and then attempt to quickly put on my compression for the next two parts of the challenge, the bike and walk).

I'm not entirely sure when I started the bike, but after adjusting my seat to position 10 (thanks Annie for the help), I began to try to catch up to my friends and family (who didn't have to go through the transition like I had to).

Last year it took me 55:06 minutes. Because I started so late, I didn't have anyone next to me, and so I just put the headphones in and went to town. This year my girl Phylise was next to me (she has been my weekly gym training mate all year), and her lovely Sister Annie came to cheer us all on (all the way from England). 

You can imagine we did a fair amount of talking - and as such my time was 61:38.

The first couple years going over 60 minutes was a big deal, because the gym equipment actually turns itself off after an hour, I guess it feels you have done enough, or maybe it is to make sure others have a turn, but either way I have learned to watch the time and if it looks like I will not finish in under an hour, I let Gen & Beth know (they are the YMCA employees that help out Ilene, the Aquatics Director). They can make sure to write down the distance when the bike hits 60 minutes, then we wait for it to reset itself and I finish off and any amount is added to my time.
On to the final event, the dreadmill (no, that is not a typo); it is not typically my favorite event on a day when that is all I'm doing at the gym, and is most definitely my least favorite at the end of a Triathlon. I try to play mental games to psych myself up for it, and try to warn others I'm least like myself during this part of the event. We will just leave it at that LOL

This year I was in a pretty good place emotionally when I hit the treadmill, I am always so surprised by how quickly I bounce back after the swim and the bike, and last year Joel was smart enough to figure out that if you select the 5K option on the treadmill, it doesn't time out at 60 minutes.

I grabbed a pink lemonade G2 (gaterade drink) and some gaterade chews, and made my way to the treadmill reserved for me, most were still running, so I was not totally alone, and began the countdown from 5K to 4K, at which point I was going to pause the machine and stretch, take a drink and see if I needed a chew.

Within a few minutes I was trying to make my way from 4K down to 3K, when I would do it all again, pause, stretch, take a drink, assess the need for a chew (they are really sweet, so I try to avoid them if I can). Then more friends showed up to cheer us on, and it was good timing, I was so tired and it elevated me up a bit just seeing them.

3K to 2K and 2K to 1K were brutal, I'm not going to lie, I was totally exhausted, but thankfully still no pain (sometimes my ligaments like to act up and cause awful pain - they are loose, which is pretty normal for Lipedema). I did the same pause, stretch, drink at each interval, and then had a great idea for that last 1K...

I would go live with my Lipedema Fitness group! I had not planned this, so unfortunately they had no idea I was going to be popping on (all sweaty and breathing heavily), but none the less, that is exactly what I did and let me tell you, I will be planning on doing that every Triathlon moving forward because it totally saved me. 

Only a few popped on, but their cheering and telling me how they had done (virtual racers in our event) really kept me going, and we literally counted down every part of that last 1K. I finished this year at 76:42 (vs. last year at 75:57).

So the really incredible part about this year? VIRTUAL RACERS!!! We are officially an INTERNATIONAL event, as we had Lipedema ladies all over the world participating virtually. We had a couple from Australia, from Germany, and even the Isle of Man! Plus a bunch of states all across the USA. 

It was what I dreamed about when I started this race four years ago. I wanted to get as many Lipedema ladies as possible participating in any way they wanted to. Some did just the 5K, some just the swim, others did a couple events, and some did all of them! All badass in my book. 

We want everyone who wants to participate to be able to, no matter their ability - they could choose any part, or a modified version of any part and we would be cheering them along with us.

Next year is going to be our 5th Annual International Lipedema Triathlon and we hope to get even more participation. You don't have to be local, you don't have to have Lipedema, anyone can participate and help us spread awareness.

We want others to know what Lipedema is sooner, to be diagnosed sooner, to start treatments sooner, and hopefully prevent advancing to later stages.

In addition to awareness, I created this event to remind others how important it is to stay active, to fight for your mobility. Lipedema is a progressive, debilitating condition that tries to take your mobility, so while the work we do to stay active cannot be seen visually like someone without Lipedema who would see a loss of weight, muscle definition, etc., we do so to stay mobile as long as possible.

Hopefully by slowing down our progression we give the medical world a chance to find better treatments and one day even a cure!

Fight on Lipedema Fitness warriors - we are stronger together!!!

A huge thank you to Juzo USA for sponsoring us this year, and the awesome shirts they provided every participant (local and virtual)! This company has been so amazing to work with, they share our desire to spread awareness, and there is no way I could participate in this event without my Juzo dynamic 30-40 graduated compression knee highs!

As I sat in my car after the Triathlon, tired beyond belief, I caught a glimpse of myself in the review mirror and started to cry a bit. It is always so emotional for me to realize just how far I have come over the past six plus years (since deciding to stop listening to advice that exercise will make my condition worse, and to start taking back my health). I could barely stand for a few seconds, let alone walk. I am humbled every day, and remind myself when the pain might be creeping in that this life is so amazing, our bodies, our spirits are so amazing. Never give up, never surrender!

A special shout out to all who supported us along the way, who donated on behalf of the event to either FDRS or SRYMCA - both very worthy causes.

We had a few friends not able to join us, one welcomed a new granddaughter into their family, one had a medical emergency of a loved one (luckily he is doing better, wear your bicycle helmets folks), and one was sick herself, all were missed, and we hope they know how much we treasure them all!

Thursday, June 20, 2019

June is Lipedema Awareness Month - Fight For Your Mobility

June is Lipedema Awareness Month and I created the Lipedema Triathlon four years ago to help spread awareness and to remind us to keep fighting for our mobility.

Next Saturday (June 29) @srymca is once again hosting us locally, but it is also a virtual race, you can do in your own hometown!

And this year @juzocompression is sponsoring us! We even got official race shirts!

Sign up here: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/5080448abad2fa57-lipedema3

#lipedemafitness #srymca #juzocompression #lipedematriathlon #wearestrongertogether #lipedema


Wednesday, June 19, 2019

June is Lipedema Awareness Month - More than a Diagnosis

An important thing to remember: while we may have been diagnosed with Lipedema, we are so much more than our diagnosis.

The ongoing maintenance of our progressive condition can be overwhelming, so remember to still take time to do the things you love.

I love art, and for a long time I forgot that. I was so immersed in my own self care that I forgot what a wonderful gift making art is.

Make time to do what you love, to spend time with those you live, and to keep on living your life to the fullest.



Tuesday, June 18, 2019

June is Lipedema Awareness Month - Kinesiology Tape

There is currently no cure for Lipedema. It is a progressive condition, and requires lifelong management.

Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT) is a key element in the management of Lipedema, and Kinesiology (or Kinesio) Tape is a great tool to assist with that care.

There are many brands on the market, the one shown is Juzo Therapy Tape. It is an elastic, 100% cotton, tape that simulates the elasticity of human muscle. Thank you Juzo!

The theory is that the tape mimics MLD (manual lymphatic drainage), lifting the skin as you move to open up the lymph system. It can also be used to support injuries, muscles and tendons, etc. (professional athletes have been using the tape for years). And it speeds recovery.


Monday, June 17, 2019

June is Lipedema Awareness Month - CBD

I learn new things every day, a fellow Lipedema lady talked about CBD oil and creams, I picked this up off amazon to give it a try. It is Hemp, not CBD, but had great reviews, so here goes. 

I do lots of daily care, vibration, dry brushing, MLD, exercise, and sometimes my ligaments get easily twisted and it can add to my pain, I’m hoping this does the trick.

What do you use for painful swollen Lipedema legs?



Sunday, June 16, 2019

June is Lipedema Awareness Month - Spread the Word

Saturday WOD in the Park, warmup (3 rounds of 10 each: sit-ups, pushups, pull-ups, squats, Samson stretch, and good mornings) followed by some Frisbee throws and a one mile walk.

Getting ready for the 4th Annual Lipedema Triathlon (June 29) and feeling so supported, not only by my Juzo dynamic graduated compression, but also because Juzo is sponsoring our Lipedema Triathlon! Such a wonderful company, thank you @Juzocompression.

#ILoveCrossFit
#CrossFitSavedMyLife


Saturday, June 15, 2019

June is Lipedema Awareness Month - Progressive & No Cure


People with Lipedema are constantly managing their symptoms, and it gets overwhelming some days. 

Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD), dry brushing, vibration, rebounding, bandaging, compression, supplements, elevation, nutrition, and fitness.

Not to mention the toxins in our bodies, that our compromised lymphatic system cannot effectively eliminate, which causes us to feel run down before we begin to even attempt to manage our condition.

Christine Miserandino wrote a blog post (https://butyoudontlooksick.com/articles/written-by-christine/the-spoon-theory), where she explains her spoon theory, and it is a great way to explain what it is like to live with Lipedema and other chronic, progressive, and debilitating conditions.


Friday, June 14, 2019

June is Lipedema Awareness Month - Rebounding

Staying active is critical to keeping your mobility with Lipedema, and rebounding is one of the best ways to do so.

It is a weight-bearing exercise that is easy on your joints, really gets your lymphatics pumping, improves your balance, and it is loads of fun!

Weight limits vary on each model, so check the specs. I use the one pictured, it is the Rebound-air Ultimate (it folds up, and comes with a case, and an airport dolly). The weight limit for it is 400lbs. I purchased it years ago, when it was the only one I could find with an upper weight limit. 

You can purchase an additional stabilizing bar, which I highly recommend if you are just starting out, or balance is an issue. We set mine up in the basement and my husband installed hand straps in the rafters above me, which also works well, and adds another dimension to your workout.




Thursday, June 13, 2019

June is Lipedema Awareness Month - Stress Triggers

Did you know stress can make your Lipedema worse?


Stress is a huge trigger for me personally; if I can’t get to the pool, or take a walk, I like lavender oil for helping me deal with my stress. 

I recently was reading about some other oils...



Wednesday, June 12, 2019

June is Lipedema Awareness Month - Heavy Legs

The weight of our legs, and all the fluid we carry, can really knock you off balance.

Staying active is a great way to move your lymph, and ease heavy, painful limbs.


Monday, June 10, 2019

June is Lipedema Awareness Month - Consistent Swelling


When I was diagnosed with Lipedema in 2007 it had taken so long to get properly diagnosed that I was at a stage 3, with secondary Lymphedema. 


Spreading awareness is critical; treatments to ease our symptoms are less effective at upper stages. 

For example, I have constant swelling at stage 3. My feet are spared, unlike primary Lymphedema. Lower stages may not have swelling at all.


Sunday, June 9, 2019

June is Lipedema Awareness Month - Stay Active

Fight back against Lipedema, stay as active as possible, and find fun new ways to do so. 

You not only build physical strength, but by fighting back you build emotional strength, too!

We are stronger together ♥️💪🏻



Saturday, June 8, 2019

June is Lipedema Awareness Month - Water Fitness

Water fitness (aqua aerobics, aqua jogging or walking) is such a great option for those with Lipedema (and Lymphedema). 


Standing in waist high (or higher) water acts like gradient compression, which is so good for improving our lymphatic and venus functions. 

The buoyancy is easier on painful joints and improves your balance. 

The resistance the water provides is great for muscles, and the resistance works our muscles in pairs, for a more balanced workout. 

The water also cools you down, and eliminates excess heat, which is something to be mindful of with Lipedema/Lymphedema. 

So much good stuff going on in the pool!


Friday, June 7, 2019

June is Lipedema Awareness Month - Compression

Graduated compression is part of my daily routine, and 30-40 grade is the level of compression I require. 

I have been wearing Juzo Dynamic knee highs since I was diagnosed, back in 2007. 

Tip: folding down the top of the garment (towards the heel) makes getting them on a lot easier.



Thursday, June 6, 2019

June is Lipedema Awareness Month

Help spread the word, so those in need get diagnosed early and treatments like CDT (complete decongestive therapy) can begin.

The longer it takes to get properly diagnosed, the later the stage they will be diagnosed at. It is critical to spread awareness, and get them help sooner!


Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Hidden in Plain Sight - Healthy Saratoga Article, Summer 2019

I was absolutely thrilled when I reached out to Saratoga TODAY Editor, Chris Vallone Bushee, about the possibility of including something about Lipedema in one of their publications, and she said YES!

It has come full circle! I started this blog in 2013 after trying to get my local paper to print something, and instead of letting it just be a rejection, I decided to post it online myself (here) in the hopes of reaching others who were trying to find answers as to why their legs looked the way they did, and that is how Lipedema Fitness got started.

Writer Megin Potter did a wonderful job, thank you both for helping to spread awareness about Lipedema! Perfect timing for June is Lipedema Awareness Month...



Tuesday, June 4, 2019

June is Lipedema Awareness Month - Dry Brushing

The longer I have Lipedema the more I realize taking care of my secondary condition of Lymphedema is critical. We need to keep trying ways to move the toxins out of our bodies, dry brushing is a great way to do so.

Lots of videos online, and it can seem too time consuming, one more thing we have to do in our already time consuming self care routine, so if you only have two minutes every couple of days, do your abdomen and groin areas. I really like this video, but there are lots of them out there... 



Monday, May 13, 2019

4th Annual Lipedema Triathlon


June 29 will be our 4TH ANNUAL LIPEDEMA TRIATHLON, and I am happy to report that the Saratoga Springs YMCA once again is hosting us locally for our event, and the company that manufactures my compression (Juzo) is sponsoring us! But you don't have to live in Saratoga Springs to take part, it is a virtual race, and can be done anywhere!

As I found out in our first year, triathlon races vary in distance, the one we focus on is the Sprint: 750-meter (0.47-mile) swim, 20-kilometer (12.4-mile) bike, 5-kilometer (3.1-mile) run/walk. 

Here is a break down of what we will be doing come June 29:

Swim - The most common pool sizes built today are either 25 meters or 50 meters (Olympic size) so 750 meters will be 30 lengths in the smaller pool and 15 lengths in the Olympic.


Bike - Most bikes (road or stationary) calculate mileage, but if not, just calculate your speed (MPH) by your duration to get you to 12.4 miles.


Run/Walk - Most treadmills calculate mileage; or if using a standard indoor track (200 meters), you would need to do 25 laps for a 5K. If using a standard outdoor track (400 meters), you would need to do 12.5 laps.

A big part of our efforts to include as many people as possible, is to make the event virtual (meaning you can do it anywhere - in your own hometown, in your local gym, in the park, etc.). You can choose to do it as a relay as well. Just get a friend or two and each take a section of the race. Or get a group and each take a lap of the swim and/or a portion of each section of the race. 

It's a virtual race - you can do it anywhere!

If you want to do the entire race, but not sure you can complete it in the 9am-1pm time-frame, spread it out over the entire month of June. However you want to be involved, we want you to do so.

Here is a link to sign up: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/5080448abad2fa57-lipedema3

Want to help, but not able to participate? You can donate to either the Saratoga Springs YMCA or Fat Disorders Research in honor of the Lipedema Triathlon. Both are great charities doing a lot to help us spread awareness and fight back. Thank you!


Thursday, May 2, 2019

Flying with Lipedema & Lymphedema - Part II

Juzo Advocates with Annerose (President) & Petra (VP) 
In March my family and I flew to New Orleans for the 2019 Power Symposium conference, where I was part of a Juzo panel of advocates, and talked about what it is like to live with Lipedema, and how compression plays a big part of my ability to keep moving and living my best life.

In my Flying with Lipedema & Lymphedema - Part I post I talked about the research I had done to get prepared to fly (it had been almost 20 years since the last time I flew), and that research was incredibly helpful, and the advice given in the flying groups I joined, and in the Lipedema Fitness group, were key to my feeling I could do it.

Like all new movements coach wants me to do in our WODs (workouts of the day), wrapping my head around the movement is always the first step. Initially my brain is like YOU WANT ME TO DO WHAT? Then we break down the movement, I slow down the movement, I try the movement, and usually I am able to do the movement. The initial shock might always be there, but so is the desire to try new things.

Flying is no different. The research I did beforehand enabled me to wrap my head around the experience of flying; knowing what to expect, and having inside information from others who had gone before me, enabled me to let go of some of the stress, and fears, associated with getting my body to my destination (and back).

Here is how my experience flying went down (and up)...

First things first, Compression. Wearing compression is even more important when flying, because the cabin pressure decreases as we rise, so our blood and lymph circulation slows down even more, making compression garments vital.

I was compressed everywhere, except my head and hands, and I chose to wear my workout clothing over my compression, as it helped me to feel comfortable and able to move about pretty well - another reason to be thankful for all the WODs we have done. Not only did the workouts make my body stronger and more mobile, they also taught me how to wear full body compression and still be able to move my body in all manners. If I can be fully compressed and get up and down off the ground, flip tractor tires, even do Turkish get-ups (a recent movement coach had me scratching my head over), I was sure I could get on and off a plane.

Our flight was at 5:50am, and being there 2.5 hours early made no sense, as Southwest didn't even open until 4am, and our airport is small; so we planned our commute to the airport to arrive right around 4-4:30am, which meant waking up at 2:15am for me, which gave me time to use my vibration machine, get all my compression on, and finish up with any last minute packing.

To my surprise, the airport was buzzing, many travelers checking in, and our first introduction to Southwest, was a great one. I mentioned I would be utilizing the COS (customer of size) policy to the woman at the front desk, and that I had purchased two tickets. She smiled, checked our luggage in, and printed out our boarding passes, explaining that I would use the second boarding pass to reserve the extra seat, it says "seat reserved" right on the ticket.

We left the desk and headed to TSA (Transportation Security Administration), which is literally the gate keepers (you must go through TSA to get to your gate). This is the reasoning behind the arriving 2+ hours before your flight.

There was a line, even at 4:30am, but it moved pretty quickly. They announced that we should have our boarding passes and IDs out. Your boarding pass gets scanned and your ID checked, before you move to a conveyor belt with bins next to it. I noticed everyone putting personal items in the bins (iPads, anything metal, jewelry, any liquids - this is where my research did not fully let me know something, you can bring any liquid 3oz and under in your carry on, but be prepared to pull out all those containers during the TSA check, no liquids can stay in your bag during the check, they must be put in the open bins). This took some time, as I had a fair amount of them, and slowed down the process a bit, which is not what you want to do. I made sure on my return flight that all those 3oz bottles were in my checked bag, which was much faster).

Most folks were asked to go through the metal detectors, but they asked me to go through the full body scanner, where there are footprints for you to stand on, and you are asked to raise your hands over your head. As suspected (based on my research) I was then asked to move over and a female TSA agent told me she was going to pat me down from mid thighs to toes, and asked if I had any pain before she proceeded. I told her I have Lipedema and Lymphedema, but a pat down with open palms should not cause me additional pain, she was gentle, open hands ran up and down my legs and feet, turning a couple times to get the other side of me. I was glad I wore the workout clothing, and not a long dress.

It was quick and before I knew it, I was heading back to the conveyor belt to gather up my belongings and put my shoes back on - I opted for sneakers, maybe some slip on sneakers for flying would be better next time, but the slip on shoes I own are not as comfortable as my sneakers, and there is a lot of walking and standing when flying. I now know why some choose to ask for a wheelchair. I was grateful all the WODs over the past six years had me able to do all the standing and walking, especially in the Chicago airport (which is huge, so huge they actually have conveyor belts you can stand on, so you don't have to walk as much, but be prepared, the right side is for standing and the left side of the belt is for walking).

Changing planes does not require you to go through TSA again, just once at the beginning of your flight there, and once at the beginning of your flight home.

The first flight had 50 empty seats and no one questioned the empty seat between my daughter and I, but the rest were all packed, literally sold out, and the flight attendant on the second leg of our trip asked me if the seat was reserved, and when I told her yes, she had me slip the boarding pass that said Seat Reserved under the latch that holds the tray table in place on the seat in front of the empty seat. It also has your full name printed on it, so i just folded the name portion to the back. Photos below are from my seat forward and behind me.


Be prepared, people still asked if the seat was taken, especially when a plane was full, and the flight attendants were announcing "the plane is full, no empty seats, sit in the first empty seat you see, there are no reserved seats on the plane." Think I'll write a letter to Southwest about this, you can understand why people don't believe you when you say the seat is reserved, after they just heard otherwise.

Thankfully most looked at the seat reserved ticket and kept moving, but one lady in particular did not like my response, and kept making remarks about my comment (of the seat being reserved) as a "new one to her", and as she stood in line right next to me, and kept loudly saying it over and over again, I finally turned around, looked her in the eye, and said "I paid for two tickets, that is why the seat is empty." That was enough to finally quiet her concerns.

Southwest does not require you to purchase two seats, but it ensures you get two seats, and after this experience I will always buy two seats.  Southwest refunds the purchase price of the 2nd seat, you just call or email after the flight and request it. Even if the plane is sold out, they will refund your purchase.

Purchasing the 2nd seat lets them know of the need for the extra space, so all customers are as comfortable as possible. If the plane sells out, and you don't purchase a 2nd seat, there will need to be someone sitting next to you, and if you are hippy like me, you will need the extra space.

On one of our flights, my husband sat next to someone that should have purchased the 2nd seat, they did not fit into their seat, and took up almost half of his, which meant he had to have half his body in the aisle. I know these seats are narrow, and until the airlines enlarge them, get the 2nd seat, you will be more comfortable, and so will the person sitting next to you.

There was no room on our flights for me to comfortably stand up to stretch, so I did so in my seat, ankle rolls in both directions, flexing and pointing, windshield wiping my feet, etc. Our flights down were 2.5 hours each leg and home was a little shorter; if you are on a longer flight I would highly recommend finding a way to stand up and stretch more. I would hope on longer flights the plane is bigger, and maybe easier to do so.

You are told to drink a lot, as you can get dehydrated while flying (air is dryer at higher altitudes), but it is a double edged sword, as then using the bathroom becomes more needed, and I didn't even attempt that after hearing other Lipedema ladies saying it was difficult to fit, and you are fully compressed, so using a rest room is difficult already. I sipped water throughout the flights and seemed OK, but again, my flights were not that long.

The Vibration Machine, my husband insisted we bring, was a lifesaver. We had it in the original box (with Styrofoam) and taped it up really well with a large label on the box with our name/address. It was obvious TSA had to open the box, but they nicely sealed it back up, and thankfully arrived with us (it was with the luggage at baggage pickup). Upon arrival to our hotel room, I took the compression off (although research found leaving it on for a couple hours after the flight was recommended), used the machine, took a nap and was ready for the conference meetings later that evening.

The conference was absolutely amazing! It was really nice to be able to speak in front of Doctors, Therapists, Dealers, and Employees of Juzo. It was even nicer to have one on one conversations with them, and hear how sharing our stories helped them see what it is like for the patients they serve.

There is a lot to do in New Orleans, a little less with a 15 year old daughter and a non drinking husband LOL, but we still managed to have a wonderful time; eating amazing cuisine, like Charbroiled Oysters at Drago's (a must, even if oysters are not your thing, ask for extra bread for dipping in the buttery garlic juice), and District Donuts (amazing coffee and donuts obviously, but those sliders and sandwiches looked amazing, too, next time.)

I am beyond thrilled to have been able to experience this trip, and this travel. Knowing we can do it, opens up the world to us! I hope you get out there and experience everywhere you want to go.

#WhatMovesYou #JuzoCompression #POWER2019