Monday, 11 August 2014

back to the beginning

Confession: I am probably the most out of shape skinny person you have ever met (not that we've met, know).

There was a time that I was in shape - went to the gym three or four times each week, could hold my own in almost any of the classes there, was starting to maybe just maybe become a bit of a runner, took a hip hop dance class once a week, and actually saw muscle definition on my small frame.

Then life happened.  My grandfather spent over six months slowly dying in a hospital, work became a lot to deal with, I started dating a new guy....time for the gym fell away.  And then I got hurt.

I'm leery to even admit what happened because it's so lame, but in an effort to be honest.....a vacuum cleaner did me in.  Long story short, I moved and the base that weighed down with water stayed still.  I twisted as I moved and (since I had already fallen out of shape) something in my back didn't like the motion and subsequent jerking backwards.

I was in physiotherapy for months trying to relieve the pressure on a nerve and get all the parts of my lower spine back into place and working with one another instead of against one another.  It started to affect the muscles in my upper legs and even my knees started to have problems.  I was a mess and pretty much in constant pain.  This was about seven years ago (I actually had to do the math on that just now and feel even worse about this whole situation knowing just how long it has dragged on).

Eventually, my body returned to a semi-normal physical state.  Although I didn't realize at the time that after injury, muscles are incredibly weak, and it wasn't long before I was back to see my physiotherapist for another prolonged amount of time.  I swear that I helped her to build the new house she's living in.... This injury was slightly different and really boiled down to having little to no core strength left.  I couldn't carry things that I thought I could and expect all of the pieces of my back/hips to stay in proper alignment.  But this time, I bucked the system.  I didn't do the exercises and stretches at home that I was supposed to.  I foolishly believed that a good stretching and some strengthening once a week would get me by.

Not surprisingly, it didn't.  But I didn't change my ways until a random conversation with a coworker.  We were talking about his former job as an athletic therapist, and he commented that part of the reason he changed professions was the frustration with clients who lied about doing their "homework" between sessions and then wondered why there was no change.  "You guys could tell?" I asked (horrified.....he had no idea that I was one of those people).  I started stretching at home that night.

The last four or five years have been the same cycle - go to physio when things hurt, get back on track and back into place, stop physio, attempt to work out, get hurt, go back to physio, and repeat.  In there, I've had an MRI (just to make sure this all is in fact still muscular) and realized the power of a really good anti-inflammatory on a really bad day.  I don't do things that I know will aggravate my back - like pushing a full shopping cart, and in pain or not, I have a stretching routine that I do every morning.  A chiropractor has always been off-limits for me...I don't like when my bones crack involuntarily, let alone pay someone else to make it happen.

My nemesis for years now has been squats.  I don't actually hate squats, in fact I used to really like them.  But I no longer have the muscle strength to do them without injury.  Believe me, I've tried (and ended up in physio each time).

This summer I've been slowly working to change this path.  I've talked to my physiotherapist about the progression of exercises that need to happen before I can actually "work out" again.  I'm hoping to get some sort of actual long-term plan in place with her this week.  Or at least find out where and with whom that should happen.  But it going to be a long, slow road.  Right now, I am absolutely the person who needs the 2 lb weights for most upper body exercises (this long without physical activity and everything loses power).  Three sets of ten rehab-type exercises on my lower body is an unreachable goal some days.  Hell, if I walk too quickly on a treadmill, things fall out of alignment (I'm good walking outside though where I control my speed).

The fact is, I'm tired of feeling the way that I do on a daily basis (weak, physically incapable, and only moments away from injury).  And while annoying, these problems with my lower back/hips are not unsolvable.  I just have to consistently and carefully do the work.  In no way is this going to become a fitness blog, but maybe there is something to the idea of making a public declaration - public in the sense that my guy and maybe one or two others will read this.  I want to be strong.  I want to know that I'm strong.  For vanity-sake, I want to look strong.  Due to my job, I will never post progress pictures here, but the "before" ones have been taken.  I am starting to work towards the "after".

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