Unlike volleyball players, SCUBA divers, and horseback riders, we book readers don't find our hobbies lend to a particularly impressive level of physical prowess. Rather, we tend to sit for long periods of time and grow progressively more attached to our couch or bed. Without taking some sort of preventative action, we stand a solid chance of becoming permanent blobs.
So like most people in the world, I long ago made the decision to get active. It often directly conflicts with my book reading love (have you ever tried jogging and reading at the same time?) but still, getting moving is important and well worth the time spent. Here are some reasons I stay in motion:
1. I suffer from an absence of thyroid (thyroid cancer), use replacement thyroid hormones, and have an autoimmune thyroid disorder that consistently F***s with my health
2. I have frequent injuries, such as a stress fracture in my foot, tendon rupture in my elbow, collapsed and herniated discs (three of them!) in my lower back, and a knee that aches and cracks when I go up steps
3. I had really difficult pregnancies that caused me to gain a LOT of weight (more then 120 lbs for the first one alone!)
While I would love to lose some weight and get to a healthier place in terms of BMI, my thyroid issues all but guarantee it won't happen, at least not on any sort of normal time frame. Losing weight messes with my hormone levels, which affect my appetite, sleep, and energy, and in turn, cause me to gain weight! It's an endless yo-yo cycle that never ends in a good place.
So I made the decision long ago to focus on the alternate benefits of healthy living. Here are the goals I work toward:
1. Keep from breaking myself. With my long history of considerable injuries, just staying out of a doctor's office is a feat. I want to keep myself off the DL for the long term.
2. Improve my range of motion. With a bad foot, elbow, back, and a knee on the fritz, any kind of movement is a success. I want to be able to bend over and reach things off the floor without pain, walk for long periods of time without needing a break, and picking up my kids without breaking in half.
3. Increase my cardio. Ever have that feeling of going up a set of stairs and feeling winded at the top? I HATE that feeling. I really want to be able to do everyday things without feeling like I'm running a race.
4. Hope and pray and do a rain dance that all my hard work will somehow cause my body to reshape from blob to badass. Hey, a girl can dream right?
While my physical aspirations may seem grandiose, my methods for getting there are pretty low brow. I'm limited to things that don't have ANY impact of any kind: no running, burpees, mountain climbers, jumping jacks, or the like. I also can't lift crazy weights because of my back/elbow injuries. So I'm stuck with light weights/bodyweight.
A few months ago, when my elbow injury was fresh (surgery to repair in Feb 2017, recovery through May), I knew I wasn't going to be able to do what I wanted at the gym, but wanted to make the effort and get into the routine of being active. And maybe I'd improve in some other ways?
When I started:
1. I could only do 14 minutes of elliptical at super slow speed and super low resistance before jumping down and gasping for air.
2. I could only lift 2 lb weights when doing arm exercises
3. I couldn't even bend over to 90 degrees during yoga
Other notable issues: When doing yoga, I fell face first to the mat during Crocodile when my elbow gave out. I did two sets of twenty for each of four floor exercises (chest presses, chest flys, bicycles, and hip raises).
1. I can do 32 minutes of elliptical at faster speeds and high resistance without getting down for a single break.
2. I can lift 10 lb weights when doing arm exercises, and increased the number and kind of exercises.
3. I can bend over well past 90 degrees during yoga
Now I can do every yoga move with complete confidence in my muscles. I do three sets of twenty for each of: lunges, squats, curls and overhead presses, chest presses, chest flys, bicycles, leg extensions, and hip raises!
Overall, my fitness level feels dramatically improved. I feel stronger, I have more energy, my body is listening to me. But that doesn't mean I've lost weight. The only thing I have to show for it is an inch lost on each thigh and an added quarter inch on each arm. Otherwise, to look at me, nothing has changed. However, on the inside, everything has changed. And feeling great is well worth the effort!
Next up, I want to be able to do the Wheel! This picture is almost five years old. But I could do it before, and I'm determined to do it again!