I’ve been working hard on trying to stop viewing things as “all or nothing.” In truth, I’ve made a lot of progress in that regard in the past few years.
Except when it comes to exercise. I beat myself up a lot for not being more hardcore about exercise. Few other things make me feel like such a failure. I actually love the way exercise makes me feel, but I only like wimpy types of exercise.
I know that part of it is that I was super triggered by the neuropsych telling me I should consider bariatric surgery. But I also know that a major part of it is that somewhere along the way, I got this idea that only more extreme types of exercise “count” as enough.
I also know that dates back to my days in roller derby. I wasn’t good at it because of what I now know to have been early signs of my MS-related balance problems. But the fact remained that many of the women on the team were serious athletes in addition to playing roller derby. Many had already been serious athletes before coming to derby.
It’s not surprising that serious athletes would gravitate toward exercises like running, CrossFit, powerlifting. Given the fact that they both enjoyed and were good at roller derby, many also likely had an interest in other adrenaline-junkie kinds of activities.
Meanwhile, I’ve never been a serious athlete. Other than my brief foray into roller derby, I’ve always been more the type for walking, yoga, and using the elliptical when my balance was better.
I actually like the treadmill, even though it is oft-maligned by more serious athletes (who call it names like the “dreadmill.”) But I’ve convinced myself that it doesn’t count as real exercise. Even though I walked six miles in 90 minutes last night, I still diminish my efforts.
I have to remind myself that with my disease, the fact that I can walk at all and don’t even need a cane is really remarkable. I’m at high risk of heart disease due to family history and I really need the cardiovascular exercise, too. The fact that I’m doing it is important.
I have to stop chasing perfection. The point of the exercise is that it feels good and is good for my health. I know it’s unlikely to make me thin in itself. My body really holds on to weight, especially because I tend to gain weight on virtually every medication. It’s not that the meds make me eat more; they seem to change my metabolism. When I’ve stopped taking all meds before, I instantly started losing weight.
I’ve decided to go the mainstream medical route to treat both my MS and my depression and anxiety, after trying so long without it. Exercise also helps both conditions. But when my depression was untreated, I couldn’t get the motivation to exercise, which in turn increased my anxiety.
I need these meds unless I’m going to try to take the alternative medicine route. For the time being, that’s not happening. I wasn’t doing the right things to get better. I seemingly couldn’t make the effort and I’m sure that was due to depression.
I’m trying hard to convince myself that being fat is better than being completely untreated for my health conditions and that some exercise is better than none.
In an average week, I’m spending about 5 hours walking at a 4 mph pace. That may not be very extreme but I’m doing my best. But the fact that I’m still so easily triggered about fitness means I still have more work to do in being nicer to myself.