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Staying Active and in Control Despite Their Allergies

Meet four people with allergies who combine medication, alternative therapies, and the right attitude to maintain control over their lives.

Sylvana Sok: Not Limited by Allergies continued...

Growing up in Indiana, Sok spent summers on Lake Michigan, most of the time engaging in outdoor activities. But when she turned 19, her allergies began to develop. Her immediate remedy was medication. But adding yoga and Pilates to her exercise routine also helped her breathing immensely, she says. "I'm not asthmatic, but I felt I wasn't getting enough air," Sok says. "Yoga helps a lot, and Pilates strengthens your core. You can feel the difference."

Altering her diet to eliminate bothersome foods and adding nutritious ones also aided her well-being. Alcohol makes her symptoms worse, so that's a definite no-no. After her runs, she immediately showers to rinse off any allergens or pollutants that might have gathered on her skin. She also monitors the daily allergy forecast on the news to determine when she should head outside. If conditions appear too risky, she goes to the gym instead and exercises indoors. "It's a good balance with the running and just makes me feel better overall," Sok says.

"I'm the poster child for people who shouldn't be outside," Sok says. "But you shouldn't be limited by allergies."

Laura Jakosky: Controlling Allergies Holistically

Whenever it becomes too challenging to inhale, Laura Jakosky has a mantra she repeats: "The universe provides me with the ability to breathe abundantly." It's a mantra Jakosky has repeated since childhood, and it serves as a mental and spiritual antidote to the allergies that have plagued her for years.

When Jakosky was a child, her mother would come to her bedside and help soothe her by reading, taking her through breathing exercises, and helping her to conjure visualizations. For instance, together they might imagine a secret place. "She got me to learn to relax, and that was a big part of training," Jakosky says. "I could calm myself down on my own and I could command it." Now, when her allergies ignite, she often relies on these same tools.

Jakosky’s holistic approach -- combined with more traditional approaches -- has enabled her to take charge of her condition. "It's about being able to keep my body and my mind in control," Jakosky says. "If the environmental factors get to you, then you start to panic. If you have a couple things in your back pocket, you know how to turn off the negative trigger. That makes a difference -- the mind and the spirit part of it." This approach has helped her overcome the punishment that allergies dole out and remain extremely active.

Growing up in southern California, Jakosky knew that allergens, which often made exercise a struggle, were plentiful. A competitive runner in high school, she excelled, even when she had to gasp for breath. On home videos, she can be heard wheezing while struggling for air. But that didn’t stop her. While attending the University of Arkansas, she continued to run competitively.

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