First Day Back Exercising

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Today was the first day I did any real exercise since I threw out my back six weeks ago.  I can tell I have gotten real rusty and out of shape in the six weeks I spent mending my back.  I walked for only ten minutes, enough to get the blood moving but that’s about all.  I’m not sore from walking but I can tell I am out of practice.  It is quite hot in my hometown as late July and August are always the hottest times of the year.  I’m still not quite adjusted to the heat as I haven’t been outside much while my back was mending.  And it was quite a cool and wet spring this year, so I was used to exercising indoors this spring.

I’m going to start lifting arm weights again.  I’ll start that tonight.  It has been kind of an odd tradition for me to lift arm weights and do stretching while watching Star Trek reruns. A friend of mine got me started on that last summer.  I’m most of the way through Season 3 of Star Trek: Enterprise.  But when my back was healing I didn’t lift any arm weights or do much for stretching.  I’m sure I’m going to be just as rusty with the weights as I was the walking.  I’ll have to use the light weights for a couple weeks until I’m back to normal.

I also starting tracking what I eat again.  I got discouraged for the last few months and was lazy about tracking.  I was especially lazy when I couldn’t exercise outdoors and then after I hurt my back.  Before I hurt my back I had some unexplained foot pain that limited my walking for over two weeks.  So I haven’t been able to exercise hardly at all since the weather warmed up.  And I had to exercise indoors this spring because it was chilly and rainy almost every day.

When I was at my psych doctor last time, I had gained twenty pounds since the start of the year.  That was one month ago.  I’m sure I’ve gain some more as I was not exercising because of my back.  But my back is good again.  I can sleep in a regular bed again after weeks in a recliner.  I get more sleep in a regular bed but I fall asleep faster in my recliner.  I can’t figure that one out.

Because of my back pain and lack of activity I’ve been more depressed and irritable than usual.  I’m sorry I don’t make a very good patient.  But in the handful of times I’ve been in a hospital I make it a point to never get irritable with the nurses and doctors.  I force myself to be on good behavior I suppose.  When I’m healing on my own I can be more short tempered and depressed than usual.  I got angry with two of my best friends over a week ago.  I’m still embarrassed about that.  One of these friends I got mad at I hadn’t ever had an argument with and we’ve been friends for fifteen years.  Another was my best friend from high school and we have raised our voices to each other only a handful of times, mostly when I was in the grip of a mental breakdown.  I’m embarrassed I let those things happen.  I grew up in a family where we rarely yelled at each other and never had instances where we stopped talking to people.  We may not talk to each other every day but we will drop everyone for one of our own in crisis.  Even my extended family is like this to each other.

I’ve mended from my back issues, finally.  It was one of the longest six week stretches I was ever part of.  I’m beginning to exercise again.  I’m starting to socialize again.  I’m beginning to track what I eat again.  I haven’t yet got my blinds fixed but that is coming.  I might even get new carpet by summer’s end.  After months when almost nothing seemed to go right I think I’m starting to turn the corner.  Maybe things will start to get better.

 

 

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Finding the Motivation and Places to Exercise in Winter

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In the middle of winter it can be difficult to find the motivation and places to exercise.  There are ways around this.  One of the things I do to exercise in winter is to walk in places like malls and large stores.  Since I tend to be a night person I sometimes go to the all night Wal-Mart or supermarket and just walk the isles for twenty to thirty minutes at a time.  I like to walk in these places, often between 9 pm and 7 am, because they are well lighted and I can often find if things are going on sale.  It is also easier to find things during slower hours since I’m not going against crowds.  It can also be fun to chat with the night clerks and cashiers as overnight shifts tend to be less formal.  Get to exercise, find bargains, and get good conversation in cases like these.  While it wouldn’t work for those with family and work responsibilities to be doing exercises at night, it works well for me.  I’m merely throwing a few ideas out.

I also sometimes dance in my apartment.  I use an iPod and headphones as to not disturb my neighbors.  A good half hour of dance can burn calories, often better than just walking. If you are concerned about being seen through your windows, you can always close the drapes.  Yet, even if you are seen dancing in your own home, dance like no one is watching because no one really cares.  Other people are quite busy with their own concerns as to pay much attention to what may cause paranoia and embarrassment to us who have mental health problems.

Another thing I do is just simple arm weights.  The weight shouldn’t be so heavy that you have to strain at lifting it.  I’m quite strong and the most weight I do for my arms on basic curls is 10 pounds.  I mainly go for numbers of reps as opposed to weight.  I also don’t do it every day.  I do it only twice to three times per week.  I also stretch before and after each session.  Most sessions last only five to ten minutes.  I do mine when I’m watching tv, often during commercials.  If you do decide to go this route, start small and throughly stretch before and after the sessions.  I have found stretching after a lifting session lessens muscle pain the next day. I have also heard of football coaches and trainers using this method of stretching to lower muscle pains and injuries in their players and students. Never work the same muscles two days in a row.  Right now I’m just doing arm muscles as I don’t have any real fancy equipment or a gym membership.

You actually don’t really need metal weights. I had a grandfather who, rather than buying arm weights, used empty milk jugs filled with sand and/or cat litter.  Did this for years until he was at least eighty.  Push ups and stomach crunches can be done anywhere with some open floor space.  It simply doesn’t take a lot of cool equipment if you have the desire to get into better health and are on a tight budget.  It does take some creative thinking and a good fitting pair of walking shoes.