01 November 2014

Strength For The Journey -- Exercise Regimen

Within the past month, I have joined the YMCA down the street and signed up for eighteen 30-minute personal trainer sessions. I thought I might blog about the process of getting into better shape, how it affects my pain (chronic migraine mostly, but also degenerating discs in my spine) and what it all means for life and spirit and body and me.

I'll blog about the usual things as well, but will post maybe once a week about how the new exercise regimen is going. I hope it's helpful and informative to others. Although the particulars of our lives with chronic pain (physical, mental, spiritual) vary, our responses to it are often rooted in the same things, like grief, vulnerability, frustration, self-esteem, and productivity, among others.

So here are a few random thoughts to begin the new series.

Photo by William Marsh
The Time Is Right

 I notice that I've had to purposefully let go of all the "why did I wait so long to do this" kind of thoughts, which are never productive or helpful, and focus on the "why the time is right" affirmations. For me, the timing has to do with (1) finishing my degree and freeing up time; (2) finishing my degree and freeing up money; (3) a couple years' regular practice with exercises to strengthen my back and core; (4) a YMCA opening up three blocks away; (5) recent treatments for occipital neuralgia pain.

The Bikes Have These Cool Videos
I cannot ride the upright bike because the posture exacerbates my back problems, so I'm really glad for the row of six recumbents near the windows up front. But the real excitement comes from the video bike rides through France that are programmed in the monitor. I can't tell you how excited I was when I discovered this feature, but I now have a habit of sending braggy texts to my husband: "Went biking this morning through the Col de la Colombiere."

My Personal Trainer Is Awesome
I've been leery of exercise because activity almost always makes my headache pain worse. But I've also noticed that purposeful exercise, like walking, improves my mood, which  makes the pain easier to take and helps my pain management practice. It's sort of a compromise, one I've become more willing to make. And Veronica makes the compromise so much more do-able. She keeps the pace slow, checks and double-checks my pain level, allows me as much time as I need to get over dizziness or throbbing pain, and tailors every moment of our time together to the realities of my physical capacities. Which are not impressive but which she accepts.

So far so good. More later.

Thanks for reading my blog. You can leave a comment below or email  me at carold.marsh@gmail.com.

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