Today I had another one of those “all or nothing” exercise days, like the kind I wrote about last month at Refuse to Regain. I thought I’d address it here to see if ya’ll have similar kinds of issues.
Here’s how I woke up today, as I do most days: I sat up, moved my neck in a circle (crack, crunch), twisted my lower back side to side (crack, crunch), stretched my feet (cramp!), stretched my arms over my head (oh THAT’S where that rotator cuff tear is!), and asked, “How do I feel today?”
I’d optimistically laid out my workout clothes on the dresser last night because, according to my Excel spreadsheet, I was scheduled to do 30 minutes on the elliptical and 35 minutes of strength training and core work.
But my plan didn’t take into account the pain in my left shoulder and worse, restlessness. My mind’s been going in all kinds of directions lately, and Advil doesn’t touch that.
Just to be clear, I realize when physical takes precedence over the need to exercise. I take pain and inflammation seriously. But in every instance I have to honestly assess if it’s real pain or my head making excuses for not wanting to work out. It’s that double-edged sword of arthritis. On most days, however (and once I press pass that initial discomfort), moving is of more benefit than the heating pad.
Convincing my brain of that before a workout is 99 percent of the battle, however.
Today I implemented the strategy I tried last month. Instead of doing everything or nothing I’d planned on my nifty spreadsheet, I’d do a little.
I told myself before I started that if I only got 5 minutes on the elliptical and half my strength training in, it would be OK. No beating myself up, no regrets.
I hopped on the elliptical and put “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!” on the iPod. Last week’s Lucy Lawless “Not My Job” segment got me to 11 minutes on the elliptical – a full six minutes longer than I’d planned. Success! Old Me would have kept going even though I felt fatigued (having been a staunch supporter of the old “pain is weakness leaving the body” bullshit). Today’s fatigue had more to do with SAD than arthritis, and New Me was OK with that.
I moved on to push ups and some leg work. No problems. Got back on the elliptical for another 10 minutes. Felt much better than the first time. Finished up the workout with only a minor modification to the Thera-Band exercise that is killer on my shoulders. I logged 10 less minutes than I’d planned on the elliptical, but I felt, in a word, good.
Here’s how I see it. My old workout formula was:
“Lynn + Laying Off = You’re Weak and Lazy and Will Gain All Your Weight Back!”
This formula for “success” often left me in pain. Stupid, I know, but I’m still (after how many years?) coming to terms with arthritic reality.
So now I’m slowly adopting this formula:
“Lynn + Laying Off = No You Won’t Gain 170 Pounds Overnight AND You’ll Feel Better The Rest of the Day and Tomorrow AND You’re No Longer Causing Irreparable Damage!”
The same holds true with restlessness. Compassion is the common denominator. I can only concentrate for 10 minutes? No problem. After 10 minutes of cardio, do a strength training circuit. Repeat when willing. What I’ve found is that not only does this break up the workout, it demands more concentration, thus disrupting that restlessness, at least for an hour or so.
Never thought there was a middle ground between pain/restlessness and doing nothing/ doing everything. I think it’s because I have an over abundance of leftover fervor from my weight-loss phase. I was DETERMINED to lose weight and now I’m HELL BENT on not gaining it back. Even though in March I’ll mark three years at goal, I’m still that 300-pound woman who decided five years ago that, by god, she was going to lose weight. I appreciate her chutzpah, but 130-pound me needs to tell her it’s OK to ease off just a bit.
Whatever gets you to your weight, it’s alright, it’s alright…