The first thing I let go of was the definition in my head of consistent exercise meaning everyday and 30 minutes to an hour of exercise. It was the beginning of a breakthrough. Each time I didn’t exercise daily or didn’t make the 30 minute mark I was disappointed. In the chronic pain world I live in it may not happen every day and it certainly may not happen for 30 minutes. Consistency is any 3 days or more. Time is whatever my mind and body agree upon.
The second thing I did was stop assigning days, exact times i.e. at noon and what exercises I was going to do that day in stone or at all. I realize my body may not want to walk on Monday if I my hips have given me the blues all night or the soles of my feet are tender and swollen. My shoulder blades may be on fire and I can’t do butterflies with light hand weights (3lbs). Knowing in your head that your exercise days are flexible and interchangeable relieves you of the pressure to do what you said you were going do at 5:00 A.M. before you head to work or get the children ready if you took a painkiller at 1:00 A.M. it’s not going to happen! And it’s okay. You can choose a different exercise. You don’t get to say well can’t walk oh well. You say can’t walk…let me do some hand exercises or upper body exercise…let me stretch. You can you tube and google hand exercises, feet and toe exercises, chair exercises, yoga for flare days. Give yourself options.
Next, I set a goal and then I set “realistic” goals. You see, in my heart I want to set a lofty goal and then when I fail at it I will be disappointed. So I set a lofty goal and then I set a realistic goal. I am going to do 100 butterflies because I think I am the old me but, then I say if that doesn’t work I will settle for 10. So when I do 10 or 12 I am happy! If shoulders start to hurt at 5 I am happy. I will do 5 more another day. See???? Win-win.
The one thing I wish I could have done first was STOP COMPARING MYSELF WITH OTHER PEOPLE EXERCISING OR MY OLD SELF. However, I will tell you the truth: It is something I STILL from time to time. I will say I have learned to think “Wow, that’s awesome she or he is doing 10 miles. Great job!” and I keep going and taking my breaks as needed. I can be happy for others and I can be grateful my body is still giving me her very best under strenuous circumstances. I often thank my body after I am done or if I can’t finish I thank my body for trying. In therapy, I am learning to move on from the old Nikki and embrace the new reality of Nikki. I was fabulous doing 5 miles and I am fabulous doing 1 mile no matter how long it takes. Somethings in the past do not serve me in a positive way and reflecting on it does nothing for my new reality. I have many things I can still be grateful that are not physical. And so do you!
*We have flares and they can last a day or weeks or months. Do what you can and get the rest you need but, just keep going at your own pace.*