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Wednesday, May 09, 2012

In July I will be celebrating my second year with SparkPeople. As I think back over these last months I realize that my general approach to increasing my fitness has been one of experimentation. In other words -- I’ve been trying many approaches to exercise, and nutrition, and wellness in order to find out what works well for me and what moves me toward better health.

EXPERIMENT def.: to try out something in order to find out more information -- or to make a test of a principle or assumption. Is it true? Does it work for me?

I’ve read articles, listened to friends and experts and then proceeded with my “experiments” (aka “setting goals”).

Most of my experiments have been with exercise since I began this journey at virtual zero activity level. I had a series of accidents which left me with chronic migraines and fibromyalgia pain. I was unable to walk without assistance. I read that exercise might help me but I had no idea how to begin. Two years ago I hadn’t met a physical therapist and my knowledge of exercise was limited to “no pain no gain type” calisthenics. Since then I’ve come a long way.

Now while I would like to start this blog telling you all about my fabulous exercise “successes” (and I have had many) I feel compelled to begin with the one issue that got in my way more than any other – Fear of Exercise.

Fear. The one thing no one wants to face
AND the one thing that was keeping me from making progress . . .
because when people told me I needed to exercise I felt like I was walking into the mouth of an enormous gray-haired-old-lady-eating crocodile!

I felt dread at the thought of exercise. And for good reason. Every movement I made brought me pain. Why would I want to do more of it?

So First I had to face my Fear of Pain ---
Picture it: I’m going to physical therapy for the very first time. The therapist introduced herself and, as though she read my mind, the very first thing she said to me was, CJ, “Let me assure you, Exercise doesn’t have to hurt. Let me say it again: EXERCISE DOESN’T HAVE TO HURT.”

Wow! What a relief. I actually started to breathe again. Then she showed me some “micro” movements that I could do without pain. They were gentle stretches that actually helped my body relax. She showed me how to “experiment” with just how far my body wanted to stretch and to not push myself beyond that point.

Those gentle beginning movements helped prepare my muscles for more physical exertion. And gradually, with more activity, I noticed less pain in everyday tasks. I am now not only walking again, but doing so without assistance and WITHOUT pain. In fact, I’m hoping to enter a 5K in the fall.

Best of all I’ve learned that I can be free of fear when I pay attention to the cues my body gives me. Now I can experiment with new exercises because I no longer fear that what I am doing will lead to more pain. I am aware of my limits (and they change from day to day) and I’ve learned to respect them.

This is where I am now. Some days my experiments feel good and I amaze myself with my progress. Some days I learn that the particular exercise activity isn’t for me – at least not today! Meanwhile, I’ll keep experimenting.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • NICKI109
    CJ, what an awesome story. So glad you had the PT you did, I think she made a big difference in your life, just with that first sentence.

    I don't think I ever knew just how far you had come in the almost 2 years here. Wow, is what comes to mind. Keep up the awesome progress!!!

    2141 days ago
    emoticon emoticon emoticon Good for you CJ! You've made a lot of progress and am glad you learned that exercise doesn't have to hurt and to not be afraid of it. Fear can keep us from doing a lot of things in life but I'm glad that you've overcome your fear. That's so great that you are planning on doing your first 5K! Keep up the great work!
    2142 days ago
  • JILL313
    CJ, What a fabulous inspiration you are to all of us! I think pain is what really holds me back and also afraid of falling, etc. You sound like you have a great physical therapist but frankly when I went to PT it really didn't help that much. I'm now again trying to get my Medicare Blue Shield Silver Sneakers plan to approve a rehab gym with a pool with senior aerobics. I will be checking back with them soon as I was told this gym has applied to be a provider but has not been approved yet. I also want to enjoy life more and when I do lose more weight I need 2 knee replacements, sigh. I am really happy that you've made so much progress in spite of all the pain you had. Have fun at the 5K coming up!


    2143 days ago
    Cj, like you I have done quite a bit of experimenting with nutrition and exercising to find the right fit for me. I still am working on the right exercise. If I could just keep the sweets out of the house I would be fine. Though I do better than I used to. Keep it up you will find your way.

    2143 days ago
    Awesome blog! How inspiring! I know when I worked with my PT I had great success. Now not sure what happened. Reading this brings me back to those days and how I can do this. Thank you!
    2143 days ago
    How wonderful that you had such an insightful PT. Fear keeps us from doing all kinds of things. Way to go thinking about a 5K! You can do it!
    2143 days ago
    This is a great Blog and Thank You so much for writing it. It is inspiring. And I know I am going to be referring to it often.

    2143 days ago
    Wow, that is an amazing blog! Very inspiring!! I've had back surgery and was constantly told "You can't do this. You can't do that." Well I do the "this" and "that" but I do it at my own bodies pace. You are so right, fear holds us back from sooo many things.

    2143 days ago
  • BARBIE176
    What an awesome and inspirational blog CJ! How exciting that you are planning to do a 5K! I have thought about it, but that is as far as that has gone, so to know you are planning to do one is awesome! Thank you for sharing your journey with us and providing motivation and inspiration to others. Keep up the great work my friend! emoticon emoticon
    2143 days ago
    Oh, CJ, how exciting about the 5K! That's always seemed like such an unattainable distance to me. But when I really thought about it, it's not that long. Especially when I started measuring some of my walks. I understand now -- it wasn't the fear of distance for me as much as the fear that I just wouldn't be able to ever do that. I'm starting to learn how to stare down that type of fear -- that I just can't do whatever it is that I'm facing. Hopefully some success here and there will help convince me to change my own attitude.
    Thanks for sharing your journey! emoticon
    2143 days ago
    Loved your blog and was inspired! emoticon
    2143 days ago
    Way to go CJ!!!!! You are inspirational!!!! emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2143 days ago
    emoticon I wish everyone could read your blog! There are so many people who need to know the truth of this. Beautifully expressed as always and I love your roses too! emoticon
    2143 days ago
    What a wonderful blog, CJ! I totally enjoyed reading your experiments with exercise and finding out how you have evolved since joining SP! You are truly a testament of how far you can come one step at a time, conquering your fears and learning that exercise doesn't have to hurt, despite all the pain from your fibro. I am excited to hear that you are going to try a 5K in the future. You must feel so good and proud of what you have accomplished! I am happy for you! emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2144 days ago

    Comment edited on: 5/9/2012 2:15:27 AM
    i also trying to find the exercises I can stick to.Also fitting it into my lifestyle along with eating healthier is a daily stuggle for me.i do good for a while and than I fall off the wagon.But I won't give up trying.
    I like your site background design
    2144 days ago
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