I met with my physical therapist this week and was bragging to her about doing my stomach and hip exercises and actually asked for more. Can you believe I asked for more exercise? I used to hate exercise. I actually asked her for more. She told me no. She said to stay at this level for another month. She doesn’t want me to do too much too fast. With fibromyalgia, you have to work out at low impact and build up slowly. So, I can’t add exercises willy-nilly. I have to be methodical.
But I was pumped, man! She put me on the exercise bike and I was bragging about how well I am doing. I love physical therapy and I love yoga. I have been doing so well. I am forty-one and for the first time in my life I have an exercise habit. A habit.
The amazing part is that it’s working. I haven’t lost weight. This isn’t that blog. I’ve never in my adult life seriously put effort into losing weight. I was told over and over that I needed to lose weight for my health. I was told over and over exercise will help me lose weight. That really didn’t resonate with me because I’ve always been fabulous even plus size. I’ve seen people lose weight, it takes over their whole life and in my experience, they always gain the weight back. Somewhere in the back of my mind that always seemed fruitless.
So here I am on this exercise bike telling my physical therapist how wonderful I’m doing, like a five-year-old explaining stuff to her momma. With just six months of these exercises I have not only gotten the pain down to a measly two or three days of my cycle, I’ve also fixed my knee and can walk upstairs normally. I am freaking wolverine! I have healed myself in six freaking months. That, my friends, is astounding. I am not just being hyperbolic because I was in so much pain that I thought my life was officially a deep pit of despair.
While I am sweating on the bike talking about how awesome it is, the conversation turns (like it usually does) to how I wish I had known how all this worked before. Then I talked myself into being frustrated again. Why did I not know that this would be so easy to get the other, I feel more important, benefits of exercise.
People can’t stop talking about losing weight. Lose weight for better health. Exercise to lose weight. Oh my goodness people can’t shut up about it. In magazines, books, newspapers, on TV, in school, at home, all I have ever heard about exercise is that it helps you lose weight and it’s good for your health. That’s great but extremely, excruciatingly vague.
You know what happens when I read? I learn something. It is a very specific something. If I read a book about snakes I learn about snakes. For the fast six months, I have been walking a mile – two maybe three times a week depending on my fibromyalgia and every day I have been doing warrior pose. In just six months, I have healed a knee that has been unable to do stairs for years. The only reason I have found this out is because I had to start exercising to fix my pelvic pain. So doing these things, these small exercises fixed my knee. Do this specific exercise to strengthen where you are weak and in this much time you will have this capability? I don’t know the specifics but I am sure athletic people and physical therapists do.
Why don’t we talk more about capability based goals? Why aren’t we talking about how easy it is to build up muscle. I feel like this physical therapy is voodoo it’s so amazing. I have followed my therapist’s instruction religiously, and that is the reason it is working. It is small things. I haven’t been doing super aerobics. I am not working out two hours a day or anything. I’m not running up stadium bleachers to Chariots of Fire, or running down the road pulling an old man to Eye of the Tiger. I am just walking and doing light yoga.
Our body is an amazing thing. As a child, my ankles always turned me off exercise. Even now I have to worry about turning them if I don’t concentrate. I am working on them with my yoga. I am working on my arches too because I have some super flat feet. As a child, if I complained about my ankles I was told I was just lazy. As a chubby little fourth grader that is all people saw in me. What if someone had saw a little girl with bad ankles and taught me how to strengthen them? Could I have become that BMX trick biker I wanted to be? Probably not, but at least I might have had a regular exercise practice all these years.
If we worried more about our bodies capabilities than what they looked like on the outside, maybe someone would have helped me with my ankles. I’m not abdicating guilt in my weight. I am just saying that now that I know what I can do, I have been working very hard for the first time in my life. If it hadn’t always been about my weight, if it hadn’t always seemed so insurmountable, perhaps I could have started this earlier. Maybe I would love other types of exercise besides yoga and swimming, or maybe not. I just think this is another reason why the weight issue needs to be discussed differently.