"Success in Life comes when you simply refuse to give up, with goals so strong that obstacles, failure, and loss only act as motivation" - Kushandwizdom
Well, I thought it's about time I checked in with an update on my fitness journey, as I promised to share with you some of the 'highs and lows' along the way.
For those of you who have read my previous blog "Happy First Day of Winter- New Goals for a New Season", you will know that on the 1 June I decided it was time to join back up to a gym to try and regain my fitness again after two years of lying low due to the pandemic and having psoriatic arthritis (a condition that I have to take medication for which suppresses the immune system).
The gym has always been my "happy place" and has always served me well in keeping me healthy in both body and spirit. A self confessed "gym junkie", I was thrilled to be back in a gym setting and really looking forward to beginning all sorts of classes again. I'd even gone out and splurged on a top quality yoga mat in preparation for my very first class.
Nothing could burst my beautiful bubble of positivity and commitment . Well, almost nothing. As you know, I mentioned I'd be sharing the 'highs' and 'lows' of my fitness journey as I'm wise enough to know by now, I'm no longer invincible and the journey would most likely be a rollercoaster ride.
I just didn't expect the 'lows' to come about so quickly.
Its so easy to set goals and stay on track when all is going to plan, but life has taught me, circumstances can change in a heartbeat. An Injury, illness, work and family commitments etc can all get in the way of reaching our goals from time to time and we can quickly become discouraged because the path to reaching those goals no longer seems manageable or
And sometimes this is true, a change in circumstances may not allow us to reach our goals using the original route we had planned on taking. Sometimes obstacles block our path , just like a fallen tree that blocks the trail when out hiking, and we have to find a way to either go over, under or around that tree, or in some cases, even plot a completely different course in order to continue and reach our destination. (press play below to see the humongous tree that had fallen across our path whilst out hiking)
So, I guess you must be wondering what happened to cause me to have to re-adjust my route so quickly? Well, a couple of things - life is funny like that, isn't it? When something happens it always seems to happen all at once, or at the least inconvenient time, right?
Well, I can tell you I didn't take kindly to the universe sending me these obstacles so soon. I was frustrated and angry . Why did these things happen the minute I'd taken the necessary steps in order to reach my goals? Why had the universe thrown this my way, when I was 100 percent committed, with no holds barred and ready to go , with full steam ahead!
Well, once I'd calmed down a bit and stopped feeling sorry for myself , and started to think rationally, I acknowledged that the question really was "Why not"? Why wouldn't life continue to throw curve balls my way? ( I'm ultimately a firm believer in that everything happens for a reason, and nothing in this life worth achieving comes easy) Obviously the universe still thinks I have many lessons to learn and teaching me patience has definitely been high on her list over the past few years. I just wish she'd hurry up and get it over with as my patience is starting to wear a little thin (ha ha) please excuse the pun, but I just couldn't resist.
So first, let me explain the sequence of events:
Covid was the first thing to throw a spanner in the works . Yes, the dreaded 'virus' finally got around to paying me a visit just two weeks after signing up to the gym. Not unusual I know, to catch Covid, so many people I know have had the virus now, the question seems to be more "Who hasn't had it?" However, it was initially stressful due to my compromised immune system and not knowing how my body would react to it. But I'm happy and thankful to report the anti viral medication (in addition to vaccination) and care from the doctors and nurses who admitted me to the 'virtual ward' and contacted me daily, made the journey so much less scary , and I came through the ordeal surprisingly better than I ever would have imagined. It was almost a relief to have finally caught the virus, and come through it safely, as now I feel I can travel overseas and not have the fear or catching the 'unknown' and the worry of how it will affect me.
So Covid didn't set me back for too long (I was back at the gym after only two weeks) I just had to ease myself back into exercise as I was quite fatigued and still experiencing bouts of breathlessness.
"Brain fog" was another left -over symptom of the virus that stuck with me for quite a few weeks, but didn't hinder my workout plans in any way. It did ,however, make life amusing for a while. I just couldn't seem to focus too long on any one thing, and the forgetfulness was quite funny at times . People would speak to me and it was as if I was having an outer body experience ( A little like being on the happy gas when going through labour) I knew people were having a conversation with me, but I couldn't seem to focus or retain much of the information at all. It felt as though I was floating by on some sort of "happy cloud" - not a bad place to be , I know! I started to wonder how long I could getaway with using "Covid brain fog" as a valid excuse for a condition that perhaps already pre-existed to some extent.
The nurse advised me to try and concentrate on a crossword puzzle or something that required brain attention to help me refocus. It was a little hard at first, but it did the trick, and it seemed my worries were short lived. After about three weeks my concentration and short term memory fog started to lift and return to normal - well , as 'normal' for someone who usually has their head in the clouds anyway!
So, in the days leading up to attending my first yoga class, I started experiencing pain once again in my right elbow. A few months prior to this, I was diagnosed with tennis elbow but was hoping this was starting to heal. However, overuse (aggravated by moving house) caused me to tear my tendon further and now made it impossible to put any weight on my right arm. I was devastated as I was excited to be attending my very first yoga class and to using all the fancy fandangle machines once more.
So, a trip to the specialist was in order. And the news that greeted me was not the news that I had wanted to hear. The advice was to get more cortisone injections and to have a brace fitted to keep my arm still for six weeks, including wearing it to bed. Well, to say I was speechless at first is an understatement. I could literally see all my hopes and dreams of regaining my fitness wash down the gurgler as he spoke.
I quickly went into panic mode and started asking a zillion questions ( and negotiating) as there was no way I was giving up my vision and plan without a fight. I tell the Doctor that doing this course of treatment really isn't an option for me, as I have just pre-paid a year's gym membership and signed up to an 8 week art course. The reply I received was not one I had hoped for. "Well then, he calmly explains , "Just as an athlete has to miss a season because of injury, you must too if you are wanting your arm to heal"
"A season- how long are we talking about?" I ask, holding my breath. "At least 12 months , this type of thing can be very slow healing, it could take 12-18 months to heal properly"
By now the walls are closing in, and my heart is racing at what feels like a very unnatural pace within my chest.
"Can I still drive"? I ask in desperation
(The fear of being housebound for 6 weeks is running through my mind)
"Yes you can, well - short distances" he explains "Well, I'm sorry, I just don't see how that's going to work -, what other options do I have?" "Well, there is surgery but then you will be back to doing the same things I have just told you to do just now. I would suggest you do the first option and then we'll see how it goes" he finishes.
"Hang on a minute - are you saying I can actually take my arm out of this brace "? I ask feeling a glimmer of hope. To which he sighs and rolls his eyes "Well, I can see your not going to keep it in there, so yes, take it out to do what you must do, but try to wear it as much as you can so it will heal"
Well now my wheels are turning, and I start rolling off a list of activities that I still wish to do, in order to get his seal of approval. I also explain to him that using the Cross Trainer at the gym doesn't aggravate my arm at all, so can I use the Cross Trainer?
"Ah, I see what you are trying to do - you're trying to negotiate a list !" he laughs "Yes, you can do things that don't aggravate it or cause pain, but you must rest it as much as is practical"
I laugh too at his description of me negotiating the terms and relax a little in knowing
I wont be completely confined to wearing this brace 24/7 for the next 6 weeks.
After returning home though I got to thinking. Why should I give up the gym just because I cant to do all the classes and use all of the equipment? Does an athlete give up training if he's broken his leg ? I'm sure he still exercises his upper body, right? He does what he still can to keep his body and mind in the best shape possible. So, after discussing more with my Occupational Therapist and Doctor's advice I've gone ahead and got the necessary devices (arm splint and brace, and list of strengthening exercises ) to help me on my way .
And yes , while its true, I have to give up most of the classes I was wanting to attend and the machines I was hoping to use, it's only a temporary setback. I can still use the exercise bike and cross trainer (which happens to be my favorite machine) so I will keep doing what I can do for now. I'm also going to get a new program drawn up that takes into account my injury and stops my routine from becoming too mundane.
I also came to the realisation after my moment of panic, that I still have two perfectly good legs and knees right now (which is a huge blessing for me to be pain free in that area) so I can still head out on my beautiful sunrise walks.
Hubby and I are also heading out on an easy hiking trail next week as its a show holiday, and I'm super excited to get back out into nature once more, no brace is going to stop me doing that. So you see, not all is lost - I've just had to create a different way and means of navigating the trail for now.
Yes, I have had a couple of set backs, but it has made me even more determined to not let anything get in the way of ultimately reaching my goal of becoming fitter and stronger.
It may take longer than initially planned, but stepping back a little and being careful and listening to my body for now is a small price to pay in the grand scheme of things.
I will wear my arm brace and wrist brace for six weeks, as often as I can, and do the exercises necessary to give my arm the best possible chance of healing.
I will also heed the advice my daughter gave me quite a while ago now when I was
going through tough times physically with my arthritic flares: "Consistency is key Mum - just do a little each day, or every second day if that's all you can manage, and listen to your body" Very wise and sound advice ! They point is to just move what you can, when you can, and be kind to yourself.
I'm fifty one years old now, and whilst I will never let age, and having psoriatic arthritis define me and stop me doing what I love, I have to also remember I do have an autoimmune condition and my body is also changing. I can't put it through the wringer and bounce back the next day like I once could. It has been a bitter pill to swallow these last few years, but I've finally come to terms with this now.
The Occupational Therapist also helped put things into perspective by explaining to me : "We all have a bubble: When we're younger, that bubble is huge - we can do just about anything we want to do - run, jump, cartwheels etc. However, as we age that bubble does start to grow smaller and we have to adjust our bodies as the " bubble" changes. Ping! - there was the lightbulb moment for me, so simple, yet I think I just needed to be told this out loud by a someone who treated people with injuries (including professional athletes) as a profession. There's no reason to stop moving, we just may have to adjust the type of movements we do and the intensity depending on what our bodies can handle.
So, while I've had to take a different pathway for now, I'm focusing on the journey ahead and making the most of what I 'can' do, which I've realized is still an awful lot, even if it isn't quite the path I'd imagined at the start. Life is always going to throw us curve balls , that is inevitable, and sometimes its a good thing even though we may not think so at the time. Without obstacles we would never have to think outside the square and come up with new creative ways to reach our goals. Overcoming obstacles is how we change and grow, and is all part and parcel of the magnificent journey that we call life:
I always like to finish on a positive where I can, so I'll leave you with a few
motivational lyrics from one of my favorite songs that always comes to mind when I'm needing motivation, whether it be out hiking a trail, or going through a challenging time in life.
(Do you have a positive affirmation or song that inspires you? If so I'd love to hear it!)
There's always gonna be another mountain
I'm always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be an uphill battle
Sometimes I'm gonna have to lose
Ain't about how fast I get there
Ain't about what's waiting on the other side
It's the climb..
Keep on smiling and chasing your dreams.