|Posted on August 1, 2018 at 11:00 AM|
Photo by R.K.Martin. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
I went cycling on a local trail with my hubby this past weekend. The ride started off tough for the first 3 to 4 miles. My legs burned badly. “Stop it!” they screamed. But I pushed through anyway and the burn went away. Walking 1 to 3 miles a day is good, but doesn’t help me stay in shape. Cycling for 20.82 miles fit what I was looking for. After all, fibromyalgia and autoimmune disease knock me down often. It had been 3 weeks since I last rode my bike due to fatigue and summer events. The ride 3 weeks ago was 24 miles, but we didn’t intend to go that far. The need for a rest room and getting bottled water pushed us that extra 4 miles. I decided that was not a smart decision since I felt my heart squeeze peddling back to our van. We needed to plan better, which is why we picked this particular trail. We could pace ourselves with more places to stop as needed. Besides, there is a great park that signals our stop to rest and turn around. As I write this to you, I feel better after this last ride than the previous one. Admittedly, I’m plenty tired. It’s a good thing. Getting back on track with exercise can be tough, but well worth the effort.
Has it been a while since you worked out? Did you have too much celebration from May to mid-July with graduations, weddings, birthday parties, and cookouts? Do you have health conditions that knock you down? Whatever the reason, you aren’t alone. In most states, the ideal time to work out outdoors is 3 to 5 months, during milder weather. The other months are either too hot, too cold, too rainy, too something. During the not-so-great weather, we have to discipline ourselves to workout inside, whether we have home gym equipment and space or a gym membership. At any rate, when the weather is nice, we start out great! Walking, cycling, yard work-- whatever gets our heart rates up and works up a good sweat. A party invitation or a really bad week can easily upset our goals. We try again, and then a setback happens. After a while, we just give up. Your health and well-being are too important to throw in the towel! You can get back on track and stay in your groove; it requires determination and planning.
Getting Summer Under Control
Too much summer fun? It was great, but now working out seems daunting. No problem! Follow these steps to get back on track with your exercise:
- Make appointments with yourself. Set certain days and times for your exercise that work well with your schedule. Give it a distinctive ring tone with advanced notice so you can quit what you are doing to get ready and go.
- Have a visual reminder of “No Excuses”! Have your exercise clothes in a bag hanging in a prominent place where you will see it begging you to work out. Put a picture of yourself in your "Before" pose where it can remind you that you don't want to go back there.
- Post motivational quotes or Bible verses that help spur you on to good works. Remember the Ephesians 2:10 passage? It's not just about you, but about God and others, too. Another is 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. How about Proverbs 12:24? People who workout regularly always do well, but those who don't will have to workout due to lifestyle-related health problems eventually. Feel free to share some verses that stand out to you in the comment section below.
- Use an activity tracker to see your progress. Most will let you set goals for yourself. As you exceed your goals, bump up the goal.
- Plan to get going after you fall off the track. If you know you will be off your workout plan for a few days, set a reminder to exercise for the day after you can do it. No procrastination!
- Buddy up! Get a friend who is trying to get back on track, too. The mutual accountability and some fun, friendly competition will help you both get moving and keep moving.
Working with Chronic Pain and Fatigue
For someone with chronic pain and fatigue, setbacks are a regular part of life. It takes patience, planning, and perseverance to develop a regular exercise plan. If this sounds like you, the idea of exercise makes you cringe and pull the covers over your head, “Ha! It will make everything worse!!!” Most doctors will tell you light to moderate exercise as tolerated will help reduce your fatigue while making pain levels more tolerable. Ask your doctor what types of exercise would be best for your condition and any limitations you need to observe. Follow your doctor's guidelines! It has been a yo-yo for me because it has taken several months to tweak my treatment plan. This could be true for you. If you are newly diagnosed, it may take a while before medications begin to work and for your doctor to get your treatment adjusted to fit you. Be patient and only do what you can. With that in mind, here are some ideas, with your doctor’s approval, to help you get up and moving:
- Set an appointment with a distinct ring tone on your smartphone. Your peak time to be up and moving is the best time to exercise lightly. Most people like late morning or early afternoon. For example: Start by walking, say 5 minutes, then rest. Gently stretch when you are done.
- Prioritize what you need to do in your day and week. Let the small tasks slide or delegate them. Work and rest intervals will help you prevent being sidelined early.
- Know that you will have setbacks and plan for them. You can usually predict a bad day by the weather forecast, a special event you attend, extended family visit, whatever. Do light exercise 2 days before the expected flare-up, rest during and a day after the flare-up. If you are down for more than two days, it might be worthwhile to try walking for a couple of minutes to find out if you will feel better, the same, or worse.
- Keep a chart or use an activity tracker to watch your trends. If you have fallen off track, it shows you how long your downtime has been. I find it to be a good motivator to move again.
- Extend yourself some grace. Remember that you are ill, even if you don't look like it. You may not be able to make your illness go away, but you can work with it. At first, exercise will seem counterproductive, but with perseverance, you will begin to notice you feel better and want to exercise. "I can do all this through him who gives me strength." Philippians 4:13 NIV is an appropriate verse for you because Paul was limited by his health and his circumstances.
- Celebrate! Give yourself a big pat on the back when you meet your exercise goals. Any treat that is non-food and won’t break the bank is good.
I want to encourage you in your journey to total health. Below is a picture of me after riding the trail. I am a bit thicker in the middle than before, but that will change as I keep working toward regular exercise. I am the Setback-Rebuild Queen. You can do this, too, whether you got carried away with summer fun or health challenges sidelined you. Let me know how I can encourage you with your goals. Let's do this together!