Hello, happy Wednesday! I’m jumping on the blog today with a post about fitness, injuries, my relationship with exercise and my goals moving forward.
I never was an athlete growing up. I absolutely dreaded P.E., especially after dislocating my kneecap in 6th grade and then spending three weeks in a straight leg cast to prevent it from happening again. NOTE: it has dislocated several other times over the years, but I digress! It made running less fun (not that it ever was for me), and it also made me more fearful of hurting myself again. I don’t think I ever did another cartwheel after that fateful gymnastics P.E. lesson back in ’96.
But not being an athlete, or being afraid to push my body too much, never seemed to be that big of an issue for me. I never really had to exercise to stay in somewhat decent shape. And never really had to watch what I ate either. Until I hit 30. Whomp, whomp.
On top of what I presume was a slowing metabolism as I neared the big 3-0, I also suffered another physical setback. In June of 2013, I hurt my back lifting a suitcase into my dad’s SUV after a very lovely vacation to San Francisco and Cabo san Lucas, Mexico. NOTE: two disparate climates in one trip equals a bigger, and thus heavier, suitcase. My dad has a bad back and had had surgery two years prior, so rather than us doing it together (smart), I twisted and heaved my suitcase by myself (not smart). At least it happened after my vacation…
The next morning I could not move. The stiffness across my low back was so intense, and like nothing I’d ever felt before in the realm of back pain. I’d had a twinge here or there. This was no twinge. I spent the rest of my 29th year in various degrees of pain, with numbness and sciatica down my right leg. I went to the doctor, was prescribed Naproxen a couple of times, Prednisone once if I remember correctly, and I tried physical therapy, but nothing really helped. Not long term anyway. In December, after getting an MRI, I was diagnosed with a herniated disc and degenerative disc disease. Yay.
Fast forward five years. After two MRIs, many cortisone shots and a few rounds of PT, I’m still not back to my pre-injury self. I had a two year period where I was pretty much pain free. And then I did a very Lisa thing to do. I moved my queen-sized bed to install a headboard without any help. No, not me! My mom put two and two together when I started complaining about my back again. Duh!!! Mom’s are so smart.
After two rounds of oral steroids my family doctor ordered a second MRI. The herniated disc had shriveled up (or as the doctor said, resolved itself), and the one that previously had degenerative disc disease was now herniated and was causing the pain (now radiating into my hips rather than down my leg). The hip pain made me feel really old. And that made me sad.
This injury has limited my range of motion and what I can do physically without pain. Normal activity, and exercise. I let it dictate if I go to the gym or not. I feel good while I’m there and then sometimes it hurts afterwards. Mix that with what I think is the slowing metabolism of my 30s, and I’ve been gradually gaining weight that I just can’t seem to lose as easily as I once could. And I like food. So there’s that. So I need to exercise. And I want to. But without pain would be nice…
So the recommended treatment was pain management again (more cortisone shots). Better than needing surgery. But the shots didn’t help this go around. I think they actually made it worse. So I decided to try PT again late last year. And this time it was really good, and I “graduated” feeling much better than I had been.
My issue is when I’m feeling good, I forget that I need to keep doing the work to maintain that feeling. I need to be better about doing my at-home PT exercises, because when I do them, I definitely feel better. So this week I’m trying to do them every day. I did them on Sunday. Today is Wednesday and I haven’t done them between. I said I’m trying…
Next week I plan to start a modified version of BBG (Kayla Itsines’ Bikini Body Guide), doing the exercises that are low impact so as not to aggravate my back with jumping rope, mountain climbers, burpees, etc. Something is better than nothing, right? I think so. I’ve attempted this program several times. It’s hard. But it’s good, so I’m trying it again. My last attempt I did a low impact modification and it was better for me. Also, I’m very good at saying “next week” I’ll start something. So I’m saying it here, so that I am accountable to more than just myself this time.
And I plan to start up cardio again, as BBG says to do on the days between the strength circuits. This year, up until rather recently, I had been quite good about going to the gym on a regular basis. And then sickness happened. And busyness in my 9-5 like I had never experienced happened, and with it extreme stress and anxiety that paralyzed me at times. And then more sickness. But I’m getting myself back into it. I need to.
My family doctor, my pain management doctor, and my PT all said to avoid the treadmill. It’s high impact. But I like the treadmill. I don’t run because of my knee, so I walk. And I do the elliptical and the recumbent bike, all set to Rolling Hills, and it makes me sweat, and I feel relatively good when I’m done. So there’s that. That’s the plan.
I used to do Pilates on a semi-regular basis, and I like that as well. And I noticed results. I haven’t really done it too much while my back is healing (“healing” means my disc is dying a slow death), but I’d like to get back into it at some point. Soon. Very soon. Or maybe after the 16 weeks of BBG.
I’m going to go take some before pictures now… but I’m probably going to keep them to myself.
Wow! Who knew I had so much to say, not me!
If you made it this far, you deserve an endurance medal!
Many thanks and much love,