After two doctors told me that my “condition” could not be helped by medication or other measures, and that I just needed to exercise, I went and joined a local gym. It is a cost that I cannot afford, but I needed access to a pool and something that was close. We have a new, really awesome gym that just opened nearby, so I took a tour, and signed up. I told my husband afterward, and he is all for it. In fact, he encourages me to go to the gym every day, which is nice. His support has made a huge difference.
The actual workout is really good for me, and doesn’t tax my system to overload, like most workouts do. My pain management doctor advised me to walk in water that is chest high and just do that everyday for a month and then let him know how I feel. I am on week two.
There are some things to remember.
- I have an invisible disability. I had brain surgery in February of 2013, and slipped discs in my lower back later that year. I have fibromyalgia, chronic migraines, chronic fatigue, and a host of other ridiculously hard to diagnose and treat disorders.
- I look like I am maybe in my early 20’s. I am actually 34. (Gasp! I know I just revealed my age online)
So I go to the gym in a swimming suit that I stuff myself into since I gained 20 lbs after I bought it. Then I walk. Back and forth. For an hour. I don’t swim. If I use my arms too much, it will trigger a migraine, and it really hurts my neck. I am slowly working on ways to incorporate them. I tried swimming laps, and it about killed me. At first I could barely get out of and into the water. I am not that overweight, but I do need to lose about 70 lbs for my doctors and me to consider my weight as healthy. I have high cholesterol, and was recently checked for insulin resistance as the doctors expect me to develop diabetes soon due to the other medications I take. I refuse to give in to that. I know diet and exercise can help. I studied that for years as I laid in bed and had no idea what was wrong with me. I also hate counting calories! So, exercise is the better option.
The reason it is the worst workout is that I used to be able to do so much more! I could swim laps for hours. I was able to run, and do all the weights. I could keep up in Zumba classes, and loved all the group workouts. I have never been much of a runner, but since they diagnosed and started treating my asthma, even that is getting better. Then I gained weight. I got sicker, and I got heavier. The combination of weight gain and health problems make even walking difficult. I cannot do the laundry, load the dishwasher, or vacuum because it hurts my back too much. I cannot walk around on land for an hour without being bedridden for days afterward. I can push myself to hang out with family, but it isn’t pretty. So, all I can do is walk in the water. An hour is a long time to think, to longingly watch others, and to wonder why!?!
I also get stared at by the others in the lanes, sauna, and hot tub. I am walking with older adults, and people with more obvious weight gain and injuries. Most avoid me, or don’t talk to anyone. Many come with a spouse, or friend. I walk alone. I usually end up with the pool to myself, while the men in the Sauna stare at me as I walk. I look young. I look overweight, but not in a terrible way. I may even look attractive. I am at least the youngest person there who just walks. Back and forth. For an hour!
I am getting stronger. The weight is starting to drift down instead of up. I feel better when I go. My depression is better, my anxiety is lower. It is sometimes all I accomplish in a day, but it is a start.
I know I am not alone. That many are starting a weight loss journey and find themselves embarrassed or frustrated at the pace of their ability to work out. I know that it is hard for everyone to go to the gym at first and that comparing yourself is always a bad idea. I know that there are probably people in my city, at my gym doing similar workouts who could use a workout partner. I wish my gym would act as host and help us get together. I have a degree in Psychology, and am a Licensed Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. I am also a Certified Personal Trainer. I know what I need to do, but fear, frustration, and pain often stop me. I will keep walking, just to see if my doctor is right. I have everything to gain, and really nothing to lose. Dignity must be for the weak.
If you are now enduring your worst workouts ever, I feel ya. Join me, and eventually we may be the people leading the groups, and being featured for our come back stories. Or, if you haven’t started yet, let me know if I can help.