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5. Set Goals for Your PT

The first few years after her diagnosis, Mills felt she was in too much discomfort to manage any physical therapy. Her pain and mobility got worse until the once-active young mother was using a cane. "I was a 30-year-old trapped in a 90-year-old's body," Mills says.

Determined to "get better for my kids," Mills began working with a physical therapist and vowed to do her exercises every day, even through painful flare-ups. "I was especially motivated because I saw how rheumatoid arthritis affected my mom's ability to get around and enjoy life," she says.

Let family and friends know about the goals you've set for your physical therapy. You'll be more motivated to follow through, and loved ones can cheer you along the way.

In addition to keeping up with her kids, Mills' other goal was to get back to the gym. Today, she teaches indoor cycling three days a week and competes in body-building competitions. "People say they'd never guess I have a debilitating form of arthritis," Mills says. "I wouldn't be the active person I am today if I didn't make physical therapy for RA a priority every single day."