11. Riding the Autoimmune Condition Rollercoaster – Jennie Maurer

We talk about the rollercoaster ride that often accompanies life with chronic illness. Whether the ups and downs come over the course of a day or a month or a year, most of us experience relapses and remissions or periods of improvement and flares. Our podcast guest this week, Badass Jennie Maurer, is no stranger to that rollercoaster.

Jennie: Fitness Manager | Autoimmune Hepatitis Fighter | Half-Marathon Crusher

As Jennie shares, her recent experience with autoimmune hepatitis was predated by a battle with Graves’ disease years ago. After adjusting to and learning to manage her thyroid condition, Jennie had found her baseline, participated in Ragbrai, and gone to grad school. While writing her comprehensive exams for her kinesiology master’s program, doing two internships, and working full-time, Jennie became ill again. This time, it was her liver that was affected.

Jennie candidly shares the challenges that she’s experienced, from the problems of being diagnosed with a rare disorder (with a stigmatized name) to the imposter syndrome she felt as a fitness professional who struggled to find the energy to workout. 

In this conversation, we talk about stress and chronic illness, since stressful situations preceded both of Jennie’s diagnoses. She explains that focusing on belly breathing, doing yoga, and committing to a sleep schedule are important strategies for managing stress.

Now, Jennie works as a personal trainer and fitness manager. On our podcast, Jennie shares her passion for her career, as well as details about a runcross group she’s taught. Jennie used the connections she’s made in the fitness world to restart her own training in a mindful way. She eats an anti-inflammatory diet and focuses on liver-cleansing foods, noting the benefits of meal-planning. As she worked to ramp back up her activity, she incorporated a lot of cross training into her schedule and found that swimming, cycling, and strength training agreed with her body.

In August, Jennie received her medical team’s green light to run a half marathon. Last month, Jennie ran her first 13.1. While any finish would have been a PR, she blew away her expectations and time goal—completely crushing her first half! She shares the way that finish felt, given the ups and downs of the previous couple of years.

Links from our discussion:

To contact us about the podcast or your own Badassery, email podcast@chronicallybadass.org. And, for your daily dose of Badass athletes who are redefining what it means to be chronically ill, follow @chronicallybadassclub on Instagram and Facebook.

Podcast music by: Caleb Ritchie

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