The last month of my life has been an emotional roller-coaster (and a particularly nauseating one at that). I saw my only baby graduate from high school and a week later I finished college and became the first person in my immediate family to receive a college degree. I still have some lofty goals regarding my education and plan to go far beyond my associate’s degree, but for now I am going to bask in the glow of my accomplishment. I actually have another accomplishment I want to tell you about!
This one is not as big as graduating from high school or college, but it is still a pretty big deal. Last week (meaning Monday Through Friday, with today off) I worked out for an hour each day five of seven days! I have been building up to this goal and it has not been easy. It has taken me a very long time to find workout routines that are safe for me to do with my balance issues AND are effective.
I told you all about my adventures in Aqua Aerobics in my last post and I am happy to say that I am now doing this three days a week. I love it! I tried counting how many times I stumbled in the water during one of my recent classes and lost count. I am so thrilled to be moving in ways that I cannot move on dry land. Each stumble would be a fall were I doing those exercises in my living room. I actually get caught off guard by how good this movement feels once in a while and get weepy in the pool (thankfully my face is dripping in sweat and splashed water).
I have been working closely with my physical therapist this month in an attempt to find out how I can be working out safely because this is all related to the edema I have been battling for nearly 10 months now and circulation. I started noticing that on the days I was in the pool working out my edema was a little better (and the ankle pain was also a little better). He added some weight training exercises on the Nautilus machines a couple of weeks ago (actually, maybe close to three weeks) and I have been doing those before getting in the pool. This is working really well! It all comes back to circulation… by doing the weight exercises I am using those big muscles and making them “squeeze” the excess water out, then I get in the pool and do my work out and that circulates the fluid. It must be working because I piss like a racehorse when I get out of the pool.
This is all working great and I have been doing the Wii Fit Plus free step thing with my walker on the off days but because I am having so much ankle pain my physical therapist would really like me to be trying less weight bearing activates. He had me on the recumbent bike at my appointment last week and that didn’t bother the ankle at all but I can’t get to the gym at the community center five days a week right now due to transportation issues. I am working on it but until I get that taken care of it isn’t realistic to do the recumbent bike there. I do have a stationary bike that my friend Betty gave me a couple of years ago and I went to the garage and decided to dust that bitch off.
My ass has been protesting this new development quite viciously (seriously, how in the hell do people ride bikes for miles! The seat kills my ass!!!) So the ass and the ankle have reached a compromise. I do the bike for 30 minutes and then the wii fit for 30 minutes with the walker in place. This seems to be going pretty well although if I am going to tell the truth here I must admit that I was only able to do 20 minutes on the bike Thursday and Saturday… 30 minutes is my goal. My poor ass is going to have to work up to that.
The good news is that this really seems to be helping the edema a lot! Also, I finally ran out of reasons to avoid wearing compression stockings and got a pair. These two things combined with the water pill and drinking tons of fluids have brought the edema in my ankle down so much that I had to go down a size in the compression stockings in less than a week! The bad news is that I have been wearing old lady socks in 90 + degree heat and when I was sitting in my office in my undergarments and compression stockings with the fan blowing on me today, the stark realization that any thought or fantasy I have ever had about lounging around in my under-things and stockings with the shades drawn in the middle of the day looked NOTHING like this situation. Being 40 is fucking RAD!
I didn’t really mean to get into so much detail with you about this but I feel like this is an important hurtle to get over for me and documenting my struggle here may be an important thing for those of you who feel like you just can’t do it (by “it” I mean exercise regularly). I will not sugar coat this shit (that is not how I roll). It is hard! Really hard! Every day I wake up and try to talk myself out of working out. It hurts me physically on most days and it wears me out. My physical challenges make it even more work. And it isn’t pretty. There is no way to look cool when you feel like you are going to die of exertion. No way at all.
In fact, I have broken two of the longest standing cardinal rules in Katie Town by venturing out into the world in search of safe ways to get exercise. The first: Never be seen wearing a bathing suit on U.S. soil. The bathing suit rule came about immediately after I gave birth and realized that I had gone from a 21” waist to a size 18 jean in 9 months. The foreign beaches clause was added for the cruise we went on several years ago and has since been used on beaches in Mexico. The Second: Never be seen sweating due to physical exertion in public. This rule was enacted after the folly that was my first attempt at gym membership after having my son. The gym was an all women’s gym and I mistakenly thought this meant it would not be full of mean bitches. I was wrong.
Anyway, making life changes sometimes calls for drastic measures and adjustments to rules. Do I look pretty when working out? Not even close! In fact, I look most heinous! Do I look cool when working out? Not even a little bit. Am I embarrassed when people give me strange looks walking into the gym with my cane? Yep. Totally. Am I embarrassed to be nude in the locker-room? Absolfuckinglutely! Am I embarrassed to be seen in my bathing suit in public? You bet! Do I want to stay in bed and dream a little longer rather than getting up and making an effort to change my life? YES! Is this hard? Yes, one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life! But you know what? None of that matters. I don’t give a shit what anyone thinks about me while I am doing my best to make positive change in my life. In the grand scheme of things, a little bit of embarrassment sure as hell doesn’t outweigh the benefit of getting healthy.
My point is, and I am making a point here, that if I can do this shit then so can you! I am 40-year-old woman who has been overweight for close to 18 years. I have struggled with a physical disability for the last seven years and I am finding a way to make this work. You can do it! And you know what? It is going to be hard. It is going to hurt. It is going to be embarrassing. But you know what else? You are going to feel so fucking good about yourself for doing it! And you are going to start feeling better. Slowly but surely, you will feel better. Just to make it a little easier for you to get started, here I am, in all my no makeup wearing, sweaty, swamp-ass having glory after my Saturday workout.
I am not sure if you remember me talking about my friend’s “Validation Jar Experiment” a couple of posts back or not but I wanted to close with an update about that because it has actually helped me when feeling down about developing new exercise habits. In short, we were to write something down that we love about ourselves every day for the month of June and put it in a jar. This was great! I struggled to come up with new things to love about myself after the first week or two and on days when I was feeling especially self-critical, it made me think of something positive about who I am. I didn’t think that it was really making a difference at first, especially because I was having such a rough month, but I have noticed an attitude change in myself that I don’t think can be solely accredited to the exercising.
I challenge you to create a validation jar for yourself this month. Or next month… shit, whenever you want to do it! Just get a jar and start. I think you will learn some pretty great thing about yourself by doing so. This is getting a bit too lengthy but I am going to go ahead and leave you with my list of things that I love about myself (there are a couple extras… I must have lost track a couple of times).
- I love that I stuck to this challenge
- I love that I know how to do “boy” things.
- I love that I can joke about serious things.
- I love that I can get completely lost in books… even comic books!
- I love that I am learning to overcome fears that have been holding me back a little bit at a time.
- I love my creepy dark side. Finding beauty in unusual things is rad!
- I love that I rarely take the easy way.
- I love that I know how to ask for help.
- I love how much I love my pets.
- I love my idea filled brain!
- I love that I can stick up for myself.
- I love my hands and feet… they are cool looking.
- I love that I have a strong sense of right and wrong and that I always try to do the right thing. Ethics are important to me.
- I love that I don’t let others change my mind through bullying or pressuring me and that I am not afraid to take the “right” path just because it is hard.
- I love that I am totally OK with being alone with myself.
- I love that I can laugh at myself.
- I love that I am an empathetic person. Being able to understand and identify with what others are feeling can be burdensome but I think it makes me a better person.
- I love that I can just decide that I want to know how to do something and then figure out how to do it.
- I love that I am braver than I think I am. When I do something really scary, I always discover that I wasn’t nearly as scary as I thought it would be and it makes me proud when I tackle those things.
- I love that I am a good cook and baker.
- I think I am funny and I love that about me.
- I love that I am able to think quickly and effectively under pressure. I couldn’t have made it through school otherwise!
- I love that I can have a conversation with almost anyone.
- As embarrassing as it can be, I love that I am tenderhearted.
- I love my curly hair, even when it is having a Sideshow Bob kind of day.
- I love my lips.
- I love that I am smart and after not thinking so for nearly all of my first 25 + years, I now recognize this.
- I love that I can write and creatively use words and language.
- I love that I can find an artistic or practical use for almost anything.
- I love that I can usually speak my mind when I feel I need to.
- I love my tattoos.
- I love that I can sew my own clothes.