In the last two years, I’ve slowly integrated more exercise than I did before my physical crash. I do around 50,000 steps a week, pilates at home once a week, exercise biking a couple of times a week and now swimming every two weeks. The art of rebuilding something as precious as one’s body, and healing the self, reminds me that we must be patient with ourselves, yet never give up. I’m far away from the wheelchair times, and I’m thankful for each phase of the journey.
I recently took a fun, yet challenging trip out to a local shipwreck, “The Mulberry” in Southend on Sea. I hadn’t walked out to this area for years before my crash, and it was on my goal list to see if I could do it.
It wasn’t a particularly long walk, I’ve done much longer walks on a trip to Spain this year, (it was only around 3.5miles in total) however I knew the walk would include added extras.
On setting off at low tide, with our Sea shoes, we got stuck into the muddy walk, literally, and then reached the section where we would need to walk through some water. The water was only up to my knees, however it added another dimension to walking. Looking out to the black outline of the mulberry in the distance, and Southend Pier, to your right, it’s deceiving, you think “oh it’s only a little way!” After a mile in, my legs got achey from the constant pushing against the water, and I thought, “god I must have been young when I last did this”, however, as is normally the case with me, there was no room for giving up. So my husband and I carried on, despite the challenge that was occurring. We watched all of the people tredding out with families, pulling kids on lilos, and felt the beautiful, intense sun on our backs, continuing to discuss how we were “nearly there”, but then realising, yet again, we weren’t 🤣
After a lot more walking, and realising we had now marched to the same distance as the end of the pier, we entered the “drop zone”, we needed to go through some deeper water before we could come up closer to the wreck. Now I was excited as I knew the end was near. The water came above my waist, and once waded through, it dropped away, leaving a flat bed of sand and a thin layer of clear, glistening water. I forgot how beautiful it was. It was like being out in the desert.
At that point we almost jogged to the mulberry and spent a lovely few hours exploring and enjoying our success, before an easier walk back.
I was pleased I’d taken the effort to re-do this trip which I had last done in my twenties. It showed me, yet again, how far I’ve come on my health journey, how resilient my body is, and how strong my mind is, leading to a very happy inner child.
What goals do you have for your body and adventure? I didn’t mention it above, but this trip, was in fact our second attempt. The day before we had started to walk out, and we’d got the tide times wrong, after walking for some time in the water, we realised we were walking toward our deaths and had to turn back. This made reaching the mulberry the second day, all the more glorious.
The art of goal work, is to hold the aim, even if our particular goal falters, gets lost, or meets challenges. You will triumph in the end 90% of the time on most things you desire from the heart. Performance is about playing. Passion, focus, dedication, genuine inquiry, and vision will get you there. Do what you love.
- What movement can you do?
- What exercise do you wish you could do more of?
- How do you feel about movement
- Do you go with a cognitive aim or ask your body – “how much?”
- How do you feel after exercise?
Above are some questions for you to consider.
Rebuilding, with any type of fatigue related condition, or atrophy can be hard and confusing. Sometimes things are deceiving, for example, you may need to do more, or push a little to get to the next level of fitness. Other times you will need to refrain from stretching yourself.
Getting an initial baseline will take time, knowing what you can do for example, and then doing it continually, taking in to consideration the days you can’t.
Your baseline will then change, and only you will know when it’s time to add more, or drop back. This can happen when you are busier elsewhere integrating new things in your life, this will take up energy that would normally be used for your exercise.
I actually had this mulberry trip on my goal list for the last three years, I’ve learned I can be overly optimistic, which is equally unhelpful. I don’t know how I thought I could attempt this in the earlier stages of recovery, however it may have been important for me to simply have it written down as an aim. You will get round to it when you are ready, focusing on the things that are more realistic for you to do at the time, this I’ve learned.
It takes an enquiring mind, and a good ability to listen to body wisdom to find your answers.
There were a number of points, looking back, where if I hadn’t have taken a risk, I wouldn’t have reached a new level of physical ability.
In the last year, transcending a flight of around 60 steps from the seafront to my home seemed too much of a stretch at one point, yet I tried this one day after my walk. With POTS symptoms, stairs can be difficult, meaning the heart rate can really get abnormally high, however I’ve now incorporated these steps, after a long walk, into my daily regime, sometimes doing them twice a day.
Sometimes my heart rate still reaches above 165 beats a minute, it’s still generally an abnormal high on exercise, so even walking, however it rebounds quickly and I don’t have the serious pay back or same level of symptoms. This is why I wanted to integrate steps to challenge my body to find a lower rate eventually. The aim is to raise the blood pressure over time. Although, taking it to consideration the adrenal aspect, which means that based on your daily quota of activity and any life stress, your tiredness will impact your heart rate on exercise.
Support your adrenals and energy levels by practicing all of the other inner techniques I discuss elsewhere, and you will create more energy for exercise. When you are tired, don’t push. Remember “life balance.”
My steps journey has made me fitter and I can sometimes easily bounce up them, and even jog. You need different things on different days, but to stretch your regime means, on the harder days, after a busy day at work, you can still have a great exercise baseline.
When you have been very inactive for a long period, it’s natural to fear the impact of exercise. Starting with “movement” will get your body used to moving around and you can adjust to its needs. Exercise was not possible for me for a long time. Staying mindful of your worries and “mental filters” around returning to exercise will keep you aware of your likelihood of pushing or resisting.
I would love to hear about how you have experimented with a return to exercise, or how you feel about movement. Leave your comments, and don’t loose hope – before you know it, you could be Rocky, running up those steps 😂