My body hasn’t been well for a long time now. Ever since October 2020, with the double whammy of a bad medication and an injured foot caused massive inflammation, weight gain, and chronic pain/fatigue, I’ve struggled to just exist day to day. In that not-quite-two-years’ time, I’ve gone through periods of pushing myself to crippling levels, and periods of crashing down and doing nothing for months on end. I’ve been in the ER/hospital more than once, had multiple surgeries, had over 175 doctor’s appointments/tests/etc, gotten multiple diagnoses, and generally had very little success at getting my body into a better place. It has sucked.
When I got my RA diagnosis in late December, I knew that one of the big things I needed to do was slow down. The pushing myself until I crashed was only doing more damage in the long run. I spent January through early March trying to find a good balance between doing enough but not doing too much, and tbh, it wasn’t working. I gave up for several weeks, and started over again in late March. The first weekend of April, I injured my bad foot, and said f*ck it. I had those kittens anyway, and I was going to take some time off to heal. Heal my foot, tend to my mental health during the toughest months of the year for me, let my body rest. And what happened? I just felt worse, and worse, and worse.
Last week, I saw a TT vid from a fellow spoonie who talked about how she shifted her mindset away from workout plans and toward daily movement. She had a long list of options that would satisfy a daily movement requirement on days when she couldn’t manage an actual workout. Some days, she may do a full body strength training regimen; others, she might manage a single stretching pose, and she had to shift her mindset to accept that both were equally valid, rather than one being better than the other. She included a specific statement in her video that sliced through to my core:
Before I sent this goal, I spent a year or two “only workout when I felt great” and let’s just say I missed A LOT of days and consequently felt even worse.
THIS. When I saw this post last Thursday, I hadn’t done any exercise in two months. And I felt like garbage. The longer I rested, the worse I felt. The more “jammed up” my body got. And before that, when I’d exercise, I’d push too hard, and then just stop to rest, and nothing ever improved. It was a never-ending cycle of pain, constantly too much or too little. That video opened my eyes, and right then, I made a choice to do the same as this woman. Whether I felt up to a six mile hike or only a few cat-cows and spinal circles, I would move my body in some way every day.
This is, of course, a work in progress. It’s been five days now. For two days, I did yoga first thing in the morning, and honestly, I felt brilliant. The yoga was tough and I had to modify a lot, but afterwards I had more energy than I’d had in ages, and my body felt really good. Then the third morning came around, and I decided not to push things too quickly, and instead of doing a full workout, I did some basic mobility work on my shoulders and neck. It felt good, but also didn’t give me that boost of energy. And maybe it was too little, or maybe I overdid things the first two days, or maybe it’s that my cycle started, or maybe it’s the grief of missing Shai and Hulud that hit me on delay, but whatever it was, I spent the last two days doing nothing at all, miserable and depressed and on the edge of a panic attack, binge-watching shows and putting together puzzles and generally Not In A Good Place. Clearly, I still have a lot of room for improvement, and today I plan to start again with some yoga.
Progress, not perfection, right? The whole goal is a mindset shift away from an all-or-nothing perspective. So I move on.