I've started something new over the last few days and I've decided to share my experience so far because it's a topic that I think can be a tough one for those with chronic illness or pain.
When you live with chronic pain, the every day tasks that we do can be daunting. We know it's going to be painful and we'll have to push ourselves just to do the regular things we do. Many of us end up losing the body we once had, we lose muscle and gain weight. It's a natural process when you aren't moving as much because you're in pain and when you're in pain (especially during a flare) the last thing you want to do is stand for 2 hours to make a nice home-cooked healthy meal. Many people with chronic illness end up being over weight. Which adds a whole other level on to our pain and our health.
If you regularly read this blog you'll know that I've made some changes in the past month or so including seeing a councellor, taking a break from work, pursuing new doctors and looking for a proper diagnosis, etc. One of the changes that I have been trying to make for a long time (over a year now) has been to get back into good physical shape. I know that I will never be that "healthy-healthy" person. It's not me. I hate working out. I would much rather eat a poutine than a salad. I would rather lay on the couch and watch netflix than go to the gym. BUT, in my time of change, I have decided that right now is the perfect time to challenge myself. What have I got to lose?
The challenge I have given myself is a little something called The 21 Day Fix (this is in no way advertisement for the program, I'm just recalling my experience thus far). I had already made a change and begun eating better. I added more vegetables and would prepare them ahead of time so they were ready to go when I was hungry, I added more healthy protein and was making fruit smoothies with spinach every morning. My dad saw me making these changes and ended up ordering The 21 Day Fix for me. I was nervous when it first arrived. This box full of these colourful little containers staring me down and a work out DVD with Autumn Calabrese on the cover looking completely jacked. But, I decided to give it a try.
One thing I will say, if you decide to start the 21 day fix: Pick a time when you will have as little disturbances as possible in your schedule. If you are new to working out or haven't worked out in a while, or if you have chronic pain, you will be SORE. My first workout was three days ago and my legs and glutes are still burning. I am actually waddling like a penguin. And don't even get me started on stairs. BUT the good thing is that I know that I'm working and pushing myself. My muscles are feeling it and I am doing something good for my body. And maybe, if I experience this pain now willingly, I will experiences less chronic pain that is usually worse and lasts much longer and is completely unwilling (hopefully!). But back to my point: make sure you pick a time to start when you know you will be able to commit. COMMIT. You might want to quit when it starts hurting just to sit on the toilet because your legs are so sore.
OKAY, So it's day three now for me and other than being sore: I'm feeling good and really encouraged. I also feel determined which I haven't felt in a long while. I've already lost 2 pounds! Physically I cannot see a difference so far but it's still super early. I think the physical differences will be an even bigger encouragement though. Something that always ends up screwing me over when it comes to healthy eating is CRAVINGS. I like bread and salt. A lot. The 21 Day Fix has a meal plan that allows some of those things in moderation which I find amazing. Over the last two days I haven't felt hungry the entire time. It includes a lot of protein to help you build muscle and to keep you full. It also allows for one small amount of healthy fat a day and 2 smaller containers of "carbs". For example, I used my carb container yesterday to crush up multi-grain tostitos and used them in my taco salad! You will not go hungry and because you aren't depriving your body of some of the foods that it's used to -- you're less likely to get cravings that will throw off your diet.
I think I'll keep you all updated on my 21 Day Fix journey as I go but so far I am loving it! It is important for us to push ourselves sometimes even when it hurts and even when we're scared to do it. Something that helps me when I'm nearing the end of a work out and feeling like I can't go on I think of the reasons WHY I'm doing this..
Reasons Why I'm Working Out and Eating Healthy:
- To feel better physically
- To not have my heart race just from walking up the stairs
- To be proud of my body and what it can do every step of the way
- To love my body more and take care of it
- To control whatever aspects of my health that I can
- To feel GOOD mentally and physically
- To look in the mirror and love what I see
If you're working out or starting to, making a list like this can be super helpful and motivating. When you remember WHY you're doing it and what a huge difference it can make when you commit; it'll help keep you going and stay on track.
Thanks for listening! Wishing you all a pain-free day!