Sunday, 22 July 2012

The Day I Got Off My Ass

It has been 40 1/2 months for me now.

The year 2012 has so far has been a year of new challenges, breakthroughs, taking leaps of faith, and new levels of frustrations for me. The one thing that has been constantly consistent from the month of January till today is me being continuously, faithfully, diligently, and at times psyching myself to get off my ass. Yes, getting off my ass everyday made a huge difference!

I have been continuously moving everyday. I have to drive nearly 50 kilometers every Monday to Friday. I have to cook. I have to go to the market. I have to get the laundry done. I have to maintain the garden. I have to do the grocery shopping every week. I have to be a mother and a wife everyday. On some days, my ass don't get a rest until it is time to hop into the car to go pick the little boy up from school. And then once we reach home, I'm on my feet again 'till it is time to go to bed.

Being constantly on the move was the switch that switched off the severe depression that I was in and the constant reaction to everything and anything.

I am not asking you to start by running the 20 kilometer run this weekend, be a triathlon athlete or even drive 50 kilometers everyday. If you were like me, spending most of the day sleeping away and not doing much physical activity, you can start by just walking on the inside of your house or apartment. Or even back and forth from the toilet is great news! At least you're up and out from the bed. Even 2 minutes for starters is good. And when you are comfortable, expand your territory or increase the time.

Candace Van Auken, who is the moderator of the support group which I am part of, wrote a post on her blog which is titled, 'Rethinking Exercise'. I would like to quote a few of her passages here.

'Like I said, I’m neither Jack Lalane nor Jane Fonda. I’m like you. I have some mornings where it takes me a half-hour just to sit up in bed, by which point I feel like I’m ready for a nice nap. If I sit too long in a chair, sometimes my right hip does something so ugly that it takes several agony-filled minutes for me to manage to put any weight at all on that leg. I’ve got a couple of toes on each foot that come (the morning after taking Methotrexate) and go (a few days later), and more than once I’ve been walking along and wondered how a ball of wet newspaper ended up in my shoe, only to discover that what I was feeling were my own numb toes.
So when you tell me, “I just cannot exercise.” I hear you. When you tell me, “I said it’s impossible for me to do that.” I know just how you feel.
But I would also claim that part of your problem is that, like me, when you think of exercise, you envision Jumping Jacks. Or you think of some article you read in the Reader’s Digest about a man who, having lost all of his limbs in a terrible accident caused by his congenital lisp, still manages to perform on a trapeze using only his mouth and a splendid set of abdominal muscles. And you think: “That is definitely not me.”
Well, of course not. Our situation is different, and our definition of exercise and accomplishment need to be different, too. It’s not that you cannot exercise – it’s that you cannot do what you think of as exercise. You think that walking to the refrigerator for a beverage is not exercise – exercise is running a 10K race. You think that standing up from a chair is not exercise – exercise is careening down a hillside on skis at 70 mph.
The first thing you need to change is your conception of exercise. If you have a serious chronic illness, especially one involving arthritis, arthralgia or fibromyalgia, then it’s time to create a definition of exercise as something that you can do.'
I can hear my mother's 'I told you so' when she reads this. She told me over and over again that I needed to get out of the house. That I needed to move. That I needed to push myself. If not for myself, for my son's sake. Because my son started to mimic my depression and did not want to get out of the house at all. He became afraid of leaving the house. He wanted to 'stay-in-the-house-forever' as he puts it.

I would be lying if I said that it was easy-peasy-piece-of-cake. It was exhausting. The amount of will-power+mind-power to just keep going at it everyday was enough to wear out a herd of elephants. But like a new car's engine which will run smoothly only after a period of time of being used continuously or like a new pair of shoes which would not cause any blisters on the feet IF they were worn continuously for a period of time, the body and mind would find it easier as time goes by. IF you do it continuously day after day after day. And then one day, you would suddenly realize, 'Hey! I am not struggling anymore!'

I started pushing myself in November 2011 as I knew that I would be in deep, deep shit by 2012 if I did not get myself up and out of the sink hole that I was in. And then I got the mother-of-all-flus. And then I started reacting to everything and anything again! But I kept myself moving, even in sickness. I have not been sick since November for 8 months. For these 8 months, family members fell sick, Joel was sick, the neighbour was sick, friends were sick, teachers and people working in Joel's school were sick. But I never succumbed. Until July. For a person who has a very restricted diet, who has no vitamins or supplements, herbal concoctions or even medications, I think I did very well in combating viruses and even the Idiopathic Anaphylaxis. And I know being active and on the move constantly contributed to my well being.

There were days where I was too exhausted. There were days where I just slept in and only woke up after noon. There were days where I just gave up for one day or a few days and not move. But then I get up again and MOVE all over again.

Candace also wrote:

'... My point is that just because you are not able to do something the way other people (or you!) think you should, that does not mean that you cannot do it at all.
As chronically ill people, we need to define exercise as the fine art of getting our blood circulating, of quickening – even if it’s just a little – our heartbeat, of strengthening our muscles and improving our sense of balance.
Think of exercise as a chance to commune with your body and the world around you. It can be a way to encourage the release of those nifty little beta endorphins that would make you feel better. It can be an opportunity to reduce perceived pain by lubricating your joints and soothing your muscles.
If your attempts at exercise are not doing those things, then you’re not exercising in a way that is meaningful for someone who has a disabling chronic illness.
The very first thing you need to exercise, is your imagination. You need to redefine physical activity in a way that it’s something you can do.
If all you can do is get up and walk once around your living room. Do that. Set your watch or a clock to beep on the hour, and when you hear it, get up and hobble around your living room, once. Then sit down. Over time perhaps you can increase the frequency or the number of times you walk around the room.
Start small, be kind to yourself, and give yourself an “atta girl” for whatever it is that you are able to do.'

So YOU, get off your ass NOW! Even if it is for just 2 seconds. 'Cos it's a start to getting back your health and life. I am a living example.


  1. Hmmmmmm......I told you so. See who is talking now? I'm very proud of you sweetheart! Keep it up. Love you !

  2. way to go evelyn!

    totally agree with the benefits of exercise and acknowledging ones limitations. i'm so thankful to be back to it. Do you find if you overheat it triggers you?

    I used to be a gym addict but with all of the toxic cleaners in there not sure I'll ever go back!

    1. I get severe migraines when it gets too hot! I overheat easily.

  3. I'm reading a book on depression and it says exercise is one of the keys to mood enhancement. Stress shrinks your brain, exercise makes it grow. The author suggests even for those who have limited mobility, even doing something small and short will help and you can built from there.

    Sometimes I feel guilty because I can't do what I used to do, but I do what I can. I've replaced 100 mile bike rides with gardening...not as impressive but it's better than nothing. :)