I was talking with my hubby last night about how far I’ve come with my Fibromyalgia and exercise. Just the idea that I can run (ok, jog) for 1/8 of a mile at a time is pretty cool. A year ago at this time, just the idea of walking across a parking lot wore me out. When I first got diagnosed, I remember the Drs telling me that I needed to exercise, get walking, they’d tell me. They said this as if it was some easy task, but they had no idea how hard it really was. When it takes everything you have just to get out of bed in the morning, the idea of spending any of your energy on something extra, like walking any further than you had to, was just mind-blowing. I don’t think anyone who hasn’t dealt with Fibro can really understand just what they are asking you to do when they tell you to “get moving”.
That said, it’s a year later and I did get moving, but it wasn’t an easy task. I attribute it to several steps over the last year.
1. Stretching. If there’s one thing I love about my Rheumy it’s that he seems to understand that asking you to walk might be a little much (at least in the beginning), so he started with just getting me to stretch. And, there are still mornings where I have to stretch just to get my blood flowing enough to get out of bed. On those mornings where I wake up feeling completely paralyzed, I have to start slow. Sometimes I have to start with just stretching my toes and fingers and working to bigger and bigger things. On days like that it may take an hour of stretching (with breaks for rest) just to get me moving enough to get out of bed. I still stretch every morning before I get up and a little at night before bed (as well as before any other exercise I may do).
2. The Right Meds – it took almost a year for me to find the right combination of meds to make me feel better. A big part was treating the depression that set in over time with dealing with Fibro. I don’t think depression is always a part of Fibro, but I do think that after enough time of dealing with “can’t do” you do get depressed, and when you don’t have the right meds, or at least when I didn’t have the right meds, I’d just have soon stayed under the covers and done nothing at all. Screw stretching, screw walking just let me lay here and die.
3. Walking – Last summer I’d gotten myself up to walking a full 30 minutes. It was usually a slow walk, just 2mph, but it was something. Then life interrupted and I stopped walking like I should. Life interrupted more and depression took hold. I knew I should walk. I knew I felt better on days that I walked, but it really didn’t matter. Unless I was already feeling good enough to do something, I wasn’t going to walk. That’s where the right meds came in. Once I got on the right meds and started feeling better in general, I could walk again. I was able to add some speed to my walk (ok, 3pmh isn’t all that much for most people, but it was a lot for me).
4. More Exercise – Once I was able to walk regularly at a good pace I felt like I wanted to speed things up a little. I can’t just walk aimlessly on a treadmill for 30 or even 20 minutes. I get bored. I have to watch tv while I do it. One of my favorite shows to watch while I work out is The Biggest Loser, it motivates me to work out (and always has). If you can sit still watching that show, you are really depressed (JMHO). So, I started watching that again and it got me motivated to do a little more. During commercials, I started trying to up my speed and jog or run for just 30 seconds. After doing that for a couple of weeks I knew I could try a little more. That’s when I pulled the Wii back out and started the EA Active. I feel so good after I work out that I don’t want to miss a day.
I’m still tired and I still can’t do half of what I was doing 18 months ago. Occasionally, I still have really bad days where I don’t even get out of bed. I need at least 9 hours of sleep a night, and sometimes that’s not enough. But, at least during the 10 hours (most days) that I feel alert enough to do something, I can get some things done. I have energy to at least try to work, something I didn’t have before. I’ve come a long way.