Lupus is a lifestyle. In order to have control over my disease, I need to be completely in sync with my body at all times. To do this, I impose strict diet and exercise regimens upon myself, and these lifestyle changes have helped me live a relatively normal life. Exercise is the best thing I can do for my body and my mind, especially when I'm in the middle of a flare-up. I generally strive to work out four times a week ... but I usually make it to the gym two to three times instead. I focus on achieving at least 30 minutes of cardio exercise: I walk on the treadmill at an incline (no higher than level 5) and sometimes do interval training, where I walk briefly, run briefly, and then repeat the pattern. I alternate using the treadmill with the stair stepper and elliptical machine. When using weights, I stick to low-weight, high-repetition exercises. I avoid doing any heavy lifting because personally, I wouldn't be able to lift my arms the next day if I hit the bench press, since the joints in my shoulders are so sensitive. And I always make sure I stretch before and after each workout, so I don't feel any unnecessary soreness on top of my everyday lupus aches and pains. My diet is also specifically tailored so that I'm in control of my lupus. I don't eat red meat or pork – only chicken, turkey and fish. I'm currently weaning myself off of gluten, which is hard, because I LOVE bread ... but unfortunately it's not loving me back. I usually eat lunch and dinner, with a few snacks in between, averaging around 1,250 calories a day. Living with lupus is restrictive, but my healthy habits keep me in control. Meredith Rich Emery is living with lupus, works in property management and is desperately trying to wean herself off bread. She lives in Atlanta with her husband and dog, Coco.