I would have never said I was fit five years ago. Far from it. I thought I was quite unfit, almost sedentary in my movements and activeness. Yet, it has become quite clear to me as time progresses and my life becomes glaringly more sedentary, I see I was mistaken. Greatly so. My health issues were almost a case of ‘seen and not heard’. Sure, there was pain, and inflammation wasn’t uncommon, but I never thought too much about it. Looking back now on my life from ten years, to five years ago, I can see I was just wrong. I was physically active, and the balance of fitness I maintained was just enough to keep my autoimmunity at bay. But how…?
Let me Describe What Kind of Fit I was
My work role required me to walk a bit. I won’t say a lot, because I know how much some occupations demand in activeness. What I will say is that if you put a pedometer on my waist, I would hit near 6000 to 8000 steps a day. Probably. This is about 4km or 5 km a day. I would wear shoes that would not support me as they had minor heels or wedges. This put my back and hips out a lot. I would resolve this with two classes each week. The first would be a mat-work Pilates class. It is important to note the sessions were on the mat, as there is also a style of Pilates on a machine called a Reformer. Reformer Pilates involves impact movements and I certainly did not do those!! The other class I would do was a Yoga class. This yoga class was run either by a physiotherapist or someone familiar with the challenges faced by people with chronic inflammatory illnesses. Walking and two low-impact core strength stretching activities seemed to have my health woes sorted. For me, I was just on the higher end of average fitness. Not overly fit, but enough to keep my figure.
Why Did I Stop These Activities?
It was during my yoga classes that my seizures began. As the medical professionals examined my practices, they came to determine the specific nature of my practice was not conducive to positive health outcomes. (They thought the exercise exacerbated and was hazardous for me and my Central Nervous System.) As the seizures increased, so too did the probing tests, hospital visits and cognitive impairments. I grew afraid for my life, and as this grew, so did my fear of doing things required too much ‘activeness’. Of course, the first thing to go from here was the degree to which I kept fit. One can’t be getting up from their hospital bed to undertake an hour and a half of Asanas without drawing the curious eye of their doctors and carers. My career as an amateur Stand Up Paddle Surfer was as short lived as a 200-meter sprint. Thus began my sedentary life.
I Discovered my Potential for Chilling Out
The life of a person with a chronic illness, or an autoimmune illness (I can never tell which!), demands a particular level of bedrest. Whether that is because of the symptoms themselves, or the lethargy that comes from with living with these symptoms. No doubt the sheer volume of time spent in hospital establishes this unspoken agreement between your body, your disease and your daily or weekly schedule has something to do with it. Whatever the cause may be, the result was an almost brain-washing effect, altering my mind from craving fresh air and regular movement, to accepting the suffocating clinical mustiness of the wards and bed assignments. Even when I wasn’t in the medical world, my body was behaving like it wanted to be and no motivation I mustered could change this.
I have been ‘well’ for a while. Well, when I say that I mean my disease has been managed and maintained for an acceptable time now. It seems to be under control in a way it is expected to stay until some unforeseeable point in the future. There is no reason for me to keep hiding myself away under a rock and avoid getting fit. The truth of the matter is I am a capable adult that has no excuse to be as lazy as I am. Even 93-year-olds with macular degeneration, low blood pressure and a pacemaker are more fit than I am (one of the ladies in my class).
What Am I Doing About It?
You will know I have been attending a gym regularly since the latter few months of last year. This is not just a fitness gym, but also a lady’s wellness and lifestyle club. There I have the opportunity to work-out in a safe and supportive environment. Further to this, I am offered options to join in with a number of targeted fitness classes in a range of styles and degrees of difficulty. I have proved to myself that I can maintain my attendance, which is largely due to the ladies in one of my classes (!). But now it is time for me to get serious. It is clear where my positive engagements lie. My physical capabilities have been outlined for me and I am comfortable and confident in my movements. My Low Impact class with the ladies is brilliant from muscle strength and the small muscle groups. The only step now is to work out an enticing way to safely and effectively bring core fitness and cardiovascular exercise into my life. Running is out, I use the elliptical at the gym, but I find I lose motivation on it often. I think I have become too much of a petal and just prefer to avoid sweat(??!!).
This is how I have come to make my decision to try swimming. Yes, it will be a nightmare on my skin. And it will cause trouble with my asthma and eyes. No doubt it is also going to give my hair some grief and bring tight muscles into the mix. But, you know what? There are good moisturisers available to me, as well as goggles, inhalers, swimming caps, and I will just keep an eye on my shoulders.
I’m going to get fit baby!!!