Reconditioning my life
by Christy Sillman
I’m not doing this because I think I’m fat. But I will admit to dreams of my own abdominal “situation.” This is a cardiovascular thing. In fact it’s doctor’s orders. But when you can barely make it up the stairs, how in the world are you supposed to start exercising?
Atrophy. When I hear this term I think of wheelchair bound people with their shriveled up legs. Loss of muscle tone is essentially what it means, and apparently I have it. It makes sense.
A little over a year ago I was bed-bound for seven weeks and even after my son Noah was born, I spent a lot of time in bed recovering from the cesarean section. At first I got into exercise with plenty of walks around the block, trips to the gym and even a few aerobic classes — the baby weight and a looming Bahamas trip was the main motivation. Then last April, I suddenly couldn’t get up the stairs without taking a break halfway. After months of testing, it appeared that my heart had also experienced some atrophy, and there was a serious loss of tone in the most important muscle we have. Now my doctor is pushing me to push myself. The problem is… I don’t like to exercise.
Now, I know most people don’t like to exercise, so it’s not really a good excuse. But actually, I know several people who not only like exercising but they are a bit obsessed. Ranging from marathon runners, bikers, to even yoga masters, these friends amaze me with their athleticism. The question in my mind is how did they bridge the gap from disliking exercise to becoming Lance Armstrong? When does the enjoyment kick in?
I want to join this exercising club. I want to crave athleticism. But I really like TV, and the internet, and basic vegging out. Can I find a happy place inside exercising?
I’ve been a gym member in the past. I find it intimidating and almost like a spectacle. I relate working out to singing or dancing — it’s something that when done in public can be really embarrassing if you’re not good at it.
I’m not good at exercising.
I’ve had my fair share of treadmill and elliptical tumbles. The key is to make it look like you were so into your workout that you literally got carried away, then pop back up, chuckle at yourself, and keep on going… when inside you are pretty sure you just broke your femur.
I’ve tried group classes such as dance, aerobics, yoga and Pilates. I easily get lost in these classes and tend to fall behind and generally don’t do well in group situations.
I once took a stress management class which included a meditation period where 40 students would lay silently side by side in the dark for 30 minutes. The anxiety that I would do something embarrassing such as fall asleep and snore or have to fart really loudly was enough to induce a half hour of diarrhea, sweats and an internal monologue that was not the least bit relaxing:
Breathe. Mantra is tantra?
Meditate. Don’t fart.
You’ll be ok.
It’s been at least 10 minutes, only 20 more to go.
Breathe. Meditate. Meditate. MEDITATE… oh crap was that a rumble in my tummy? Please don’t let that be gas forming.
Maybe if I cough at the same time I fart no one will notice?
WHY DID I HAVE EGGS FOR BREAKFAST?!?!?!
That stress management class was one of the most stressful classes I’ve ever taken! But I did learn that I’m better suited for solo meditation.
I’ve tried running outside in nature, and the idea of hiking sounds enjoyable. But I trip easily and have this fear of mountain lions and bears. Maybe if I was being chased by a mountain lion or bear I would have the motivation to keep going, but every time I try to “go for a run” I end up turning around and heading home before I even break a sweat. I am SO not a runner.
I guess the key is to keep trying. Avoid giving in to my slug-like existence because now more than ever my health really does depend on it. Mostly, I just want to have energy to feed my soul and chase my son.
So, my current plan is to start slow with long walks pushing my son in the stroller, and maybe even work myself up to a power walk or, yikes, a jog. I’m going to try another Pilates class tonight at a small local studio with a class size of four to six people. I’m hoping I’ll get the one-on-one experience to give my novice atrophied body the support it truly needs.
Now I just have to avoid all egg products and typical bowel peristalsis-inducing foods for the rest of the day. Wish me luck!