Three and a bit years ago I fell apart mentally. When this happened my brain took out my body, I would probably guess to make me sit up and notice that I really needed help. Because the truth is I was falling apart mentally for a very long time before that. I lost the ability to walk without a stick and use my arm properly. Anyway, to recover the use of my arm and leg I had to re-train my brain to trust that I could walk and lift and carry things. This began the very long process of me becoming friends with the gym. And I use the word ‘friends’ very, very loosely.
For me a friend is someone I love, care for, and loves and cares for me back. The gym and exercise is not this for me. Well I certainly don’t love or care for it at all! Exercise however, that does care for me, it has made a difference in my body over the last three years.
Initially according to my journals I went about three times a week for about eight or so weeks to rehab to train my brain to trust that my body knew what to do and would just do it. The reality is that it took much longer for my body to recover. From my writings I think I was still using a stick through into 2016 but I can’t be totally sure. I do know for certain that I wasn’t running anywhere in 2016.
These are some things I have learnt about exercise along the way. Brené Brown really does capture my feelings in this quote because I have certainly learnt that there is far more to exercise than just exercise.
Everyone likes to tell you that exercise is the miracle cure all for mental health. If you exercise then you will get this release of happy hormones and then you won’t need your anti-depressants and you will be magically cured. A quick google search will confirm this. Except and here is the kicker that isn’t the case for everyone! It certainly isn’t for me!
I really, really dislike exercise. I don’t get that feel good happy surge after I do it. I often feel worse emotionally after I exercise than before I started. I think though there is a release of emotions that happens while I exercise so that could be why I feel worse afterwards. It leaves me feeling drained. The rush that people get after exercise I think is probably like I feel after having a drink or two or maybe going shopping with carefree abandon, though both of these things also leave me feeling pretty shite afterwards too.
I have learnt that I need to accept that like I take tablets every day, exercise is just that. Another prescription of medication I add to my list. It is not in place of them, it is in addition to them.
I am also not a fan of exercise in terms of the numbers on a set of scales … I haven’t seen a drop in the overall number! In fact I have only seen an increase. Though I do know that my overall fat:muscle ratio is changing so that has to be a good thing right? I also know that my worth is more than a number!
Surprisingly though, I have discovered there are some pretty amazing side benefits to exercise.
Because I needed rehab for my balance and walking etc I went to my physio clinic to see if they could help me. Guess what they could! They have accredited Exercise Physiologists there which means that I can get some of my gym sessions covered through medicare and also my private health cover. Because I do my exercise through my Physio clinic I have a tailored exercise plan for me and I have a team around me supporting me and celebrating every win with me. Even the really small wins are wins.
I attend group sessions with my EP and these group sessions are an amazing source of support in the most incredible ways. I attend every Tuesday morning have been doing this for close to a year now and have been doing Saturday mornings for a couple of months now. For a while at my Tuesday sessions we would just get in, get it done and get out. Now though I would like to think we have become a little family, I miss my Tuesday mornings if I can’t go and I certainly miss seeing Pam & Kathy they sure do brighten my day (even if the exercise doesn’t). We even go for the occasional coffee session after the gym now.
My EP’s are just awesome! I am lucky there are amazing ones at my clinic. They know when to push me and they also know when they need to come along side me and just be gentle to get me moving. Because all movement is good and any movement is better than none at all. In fact all the clinic staff at PhysioHealth Corrimal are so bloody awesome that I actually feel guilty if I can’t make a session! Never in my life did I think I would feel guilty about not exercising, I do though, I know how important it is for me and I know that even if I am not up for it they will get me moving.
I never, ever thought I would voluntarily get out of bed before the kids left for school to go exercising but that happened (only once so far!) In fact not only did I get up early to go walking my Tuesday group and our EP. We all met at the gym, carpool karaoked our way into Wollongong Harbour and punched out a 2.5km walk/interval run and then went back to the gym for a full exercise session! This is what I mean about loving my group and EP, it truly isn’t the exercise side that gets me out of bed it is the social and emotional support we give to each other.
Who would have thunk it that one day I would punch out some interval jogging and jogging on a mini trampoline in the same day! I am pretty well known for my line if I am running check behind me to see what I am running from! There is even video footage to prove it!
I don’t know if you are like me and really dislike exercise but do it anyway or are one of those other people who seems to really love exercise. What I have learnt though is that the more you do it the stronger you feel and the easier it gets.
PS. In the interests of full disclosure I attend PhysioHealth Corrimal and this is NOT a sponsored post at all just my honest thoughts and I have linked the clinic for anyone in my local area that might be looking for a safe, supportive environment for exercise or physio. They also run the only private Cancer Rehabilitation program in the Illawarra.