Skip to main content

My Journey To Fitness With Chronic Illness

Everyone knows exercise is important to living long and healthy life. With the rise of social networking and TV shows like the "Biggest Loser", more and more of my friends and family are rediscovering walking, running, biking and losing weight. As they say in Australia "good on ya!" but if you have a chronic illness exercise can be more complicated than putting on a pair of running shoes and hitting your favorite trail.

I'm no expert. I'm just sharing my experience. Be sure to talk with your doctor before starting an exercise regimen.

I used to be in great shape physically.  I spent 6 years in the Army in the 1980's and I was no stranger to the 6 minute mile, hundreds of push ups and sit ups.  After the Army I continued to stay active in college - mountain biking in the summer, swimming and weight lifting during the school year.  I didn't consider myself an athlete, I just enjoyed staying fit.

Then I got sick.

Over the last 17 years since my diagnosis, exercise has been difficult even during the best of times.  Exercise was not a the top of my list when it came to getting well.  I focused on raising my young family and staying as well as I could.  Thanks to inactivity, age and medications, I gradually gained weight and my fitness continued to decline.  Early on I could tell it was happening because it would take me longer to bounce back from the inevitable flares.  But it really didn't hit me how out of shape I was until last Fall I was invited with a church youth group to hike a moderate 2-3 mile trail to a beautiful waterfall canyon here in the Rocky Mountains.   My disease was under control and I felt good.... or so I thought.  The first mile went fine.  However, by the second mile I quickly found myself out of breath, dizzy, and a very scary pounding in my chest.  I didn't know what was wrong, but I knew something wasn't right!

The memory of that experience has lingered with me ever since.  Meanwhile, I discovered my blood pressure was skyrocketing and out of control.  My doctor soon put me on medication to help control it.  That was the final straw.  I knew I had to make some changes.  I determined to improve my fitness as soon as the weather improved and my health was stable.

Well, summer is here. The sun is out and the birds are singing here in the Rocky Mountain West after what can only be described as one of the longest, wettest, coldest and most brutal winters in recent memory. It's been hard to shake, even with improving weather. My health has been relatively good and my body yearns for the sun's extra dose of vitamin D to help wipe away the winter doldrums.

So I've decided to become more fit, eat a more healthy diet, and hopefully lose 10-15 pounds by the end of summer.  All of this takes careful planning, pacing, and motivation.  It's been a long time, so I'm making changes slowly to start.

I'll update you of my status and I can use all the cheer leading I can get.  That's where the motivation comes in! That oh so important critical ingredient for success.


Popular posts from this blog

10 Steps For Healing Well With Chronic Illness

Living and coping with chronic illness can be difficult. It often requires stressful changes to your life and the lives of family members closest to you. Fortunately, there are a few tried and true steps for healing well with chronic illness that can make coping easier and your life more fulfilling.  I hope these admonitions for healing help you as much as they've helped me.

The Healing Power of Mindfulness

A little over a year ago I had an awakening.  I realized I had the power to calm and heal my mind, even if I couldn't control what was happening to my body.  I've talked about this before in different ways including  recognizing sources of healing around us, how mindfulness helped me heal, and mindfulness and mobile apps.  Mindfulness is a set of skills for healing, intuition, insight, calmness, focus, resilience and hope that you can develop to counter the stresses that chronic illness brings.  As Dr. Berkelhammer put it, you can literally "train your mind to promote healing".

The Face of Chronic Illness: Kelly

It's difficult for healthy people to understand the challenges chronic illness brings until it gets personal.  Chronic illness can drastically alter your daily routines and chronic pain can test the will of the strongest person.  It brings with it overwhelming emotions, self defeating thoughts, crippling pain, daily heart ache, and so much more.  But words don't translate into understanding until you put a face to it.  I'd like to introduce you to Kelly and her blog Diary of a Sick Girl.   Kelly has opened up to the world her daily life with Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, IBD, and other undiagnosed illnesses.  Her blog and video diary will at times break your heart, but will also give you a rare glimpse into what having a chronic illness really means.  By sharing her story she gives others insight, hope and understanding.  I want more people to hear her story.   So I've selected a few videos that have personally touched me and I hope they will help you too.  Kelly's …