Friday, September 13, 2013

Having a Ball through Exercise!

I have learned something very important - the longer I go without exercising my muscles, the worse my tendonitis issues become. This is nothing new for me; I developed tendonitis in my thumbs when my son was a baby (apparently I wasn't holding him properly... who knew??) Then I developed it in my wrists and elbows from working on computers. It took me almost five years to learn that delicate balance of rest and exercise.

Keep moving!

There are lots of great ways to exercise. I used to love going to the gym, but that eventually became impossible. Unfortunately, the less mobile I became, the worse my tendonitis issues became. Not only that, but it was spreading throughout my body! Needless to say, I was freaking out over this systematic breakdown of my connective tissues. Then I remembered when my arms had recovered through strength training! I started out with VERY light weights and, yes, my arms did get worse before they got better. But, by working with my physiotherapists recommendations, I was able to get the strength back in my arms and get the tendonitis issues under control. So when I developed tendonitis in my ankles and hamstrings, I knew what I had to do. Again, thanks to working with a good physiotherapist, I learned exercises to strengthen my hamstrings which allowed the tendons to settle down.

Baby steps

I used to be a bodybuilder. I used to boast that I could leg press 350lbs! Now I get exhausted from talking on the phone or trying to make dinner. My new reality is light years away from my bodybuilding days. I wish I could say that I made this transition easily. No, I fought it kicking and screaming which I'm pretty sure made my situation worse. I do believe that had I been willing to accept what the doctors were saying and get the treatment I needed, I wouldn't be as sick as I am today. I was like a broken down car trying to find a good mechanic, but the harder I looked, the more broken I became.  It has taken my body over five years to collapse. It will take time to rebuild it.

Losing the fear

I think one of the biggest challenges through all this has been learning how not to be afraid - afraid of the debilitating pain, fatigue, brain fog, etc. I try not to think too far into the future, knowing that anxiety awaits me there. I do believe that all my physical issues are for a season in my life and won't be here for the rest of my life. I could be wrong, but I prefer to live with faith rather than hopelessness.

Keeping the faith 

I have noticed that the less time I spend with God, the worse my fears become. I don't know why I do this, but sometimes I go through times when I just feel too exhausted do my bible study, or spend quality time with God. I also go through times when I don't feel I can face God and what He expects of me - or, what I think He expects of me. To be perfectly honest, I think it's more related to facing my own self-critical judgments. This is not how I expected to be at this stage in my life. While I am still learning how to navigate the waters of chronic illness, there is a part of me that feels I should be better at it by now. See, there I go again, being all critical and judgmental with myself. It doesn't have to be this way!

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."  Matthew 6:34

It's a daily, sometimes minute-by-minute, decision to trust God with it all, but when I do - oh my, I am filled with blessed peace -

"And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:7

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Where are you in your journey? What have you learned along the way? What would you say have been your biggest "ah ha" moments?

Blessings and gentle hugs,