Too Pooped to Punt? Try Another Way!

When the ravages of illness keeps me from working out, I hunt for alternatives to get my heart-a-pumping!  I recognize that even when we are sick we must keep our bodies moving for the benefits of exercise we all know and to prevent further complications, such as blood clots from inactivity.  This is a constant battle for me these days.  How about you?

In times like these I am hoping that even walking the dog to the mailbox and back counts as physical exercise!  Well, almost.  Exercise at the moment sure takes on a different form, gets performed at different times, and gets done with different strategies fer shure!  For example, twice this past week I got on our elliptical trainer for 10-15 minutes at 2 in the morning!  It actually helped me to relax before bedtime and took the noxious symptoms down a notch that can be worse if I am stressed in any way.  I am very grateful to have an elliptical trainer in my living room just for this purpose!

When I am able to do exercise with a little more intensity, I turn to my garden chores.  Digging in the dirt burns tons of calories but more importantly, it becomes resistive exercise for my lower torso and “lifting” for my upper body as well.  O.k. so I’m not recruiting all of the muscle fibers within the limited range of motion of scooping-and-throwing.  I’m hoping that the diagonal axis of movement actually counts more than the up and down motion of most curls, presses, lunges, and squats?  It’s more like a hybrid exercise that combines the core muscles, upper and lower extremities at the same time, right?

A gal has gotta do what she has gotta do for a time such as this.  That goes for you guys too.  If I have just enough energy on a Monday to lift some weights or re-dig a border around our pine tree, the pine tree is going to see me first!  I just make sure that I use the best body mechanics I can muster during the job, like lifting with my legs, keeping the load close to my body, and so on.  After all, I still am an occupational therapist deep down inside you know and this is the stuff I’ve been teaching patients for years.  The stuff applies to me too and preventing injury is important now when I am more deconditioned than conditioned!

And when that extra measure of energy-grace appears, I do not need a reminder to get out the foam roll, 3-10 pound weights, theraband, weighted bar, or therapy ball.  I still crave exercise!  Gratefully I am able to place these exercise tools within reach in our living room for a quick few reps at, well, 2 in the morning!  As long as it’s a shorter workout, those few reps still won’t keep me from going to sleep.  By the way, like most folks battling Lyme Disease, it’s common to be nocturnal.  The noxious symptoms are the lowest in the middle of the night so that ‘s the time I use to make jewelry for Trinity Jewelry by Design or get my office stuff done too.

I look forward to the time when I can have both a traditional schedule and a traditional work out routine.  Just before my time of illness began on October 11, 2011, I was completing the Metabolic Effects (ME) workout DVD a few days per week, kayaking with my hubby, and our local recreational group and either going for long walks or riding my awesome, custom fitted hybrid, cross bike every week.  I was at the highest level of strength, of fitness of my life at middle age.  Wow.  As I posted in a previous blog about returning to my prior level of fitness, I am Counting on Muscle Memory!  Lord willing, I’ll get back there.  Lord willing, I may even exceed my former level of fitness.  And this is entirely possible if I have less chronic pain in the future.  Wow.   This hope actually keeps me going during the trials of “bothering” to recover from Lyme Disease and Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome.  Someday I very likely could be older, wiser, and better than ever.  Cool beans.

I am grateful to my step daughter-in-law, Kate Horney, for introducing me to a way of working out and of eating that has kept me from gaining weight during this time of illness.  She probably didn’t know that I was tracking her work on  Facebook, long before her successful fitness business.  More on that in a moment.  And when I would need to eliminate all forms of sugar in my diet due to Lyme Disease, because of my familiarity with what the ME folks call the fat-loss diet, the transition went smoothly.  Again cool legumes, not beans!

While I had followed a “protein-fat-vegetable diet” many years ago to eradicate a candida infection, the process in the past was very difficult.  I lost a lot of weight very quickly and was weak/shaky/miserable.  Using the ME approach to exercise more recently actually helped control my cravings for carbohydrates because of the hormone-balancing effect of resistive exercise.  This helped when I was exercising more two years ago and it helps now as well because I did not have to go through a rough transition again when eliminating simple carbs from my diet; they were already gone!  I was also already gluten free as well.  To be sugar and gluten-free are both are very helpful in battling Lyme Disease.  The spirochete bacteria of primary Lyme seems to feed off of simple sugars; gluten-laden foods makes everything worse as it can increase inflammation in sensitive individuals.   Wow again.  It’s like the Lord was preparing me for victory two years ago!

For more information on Kate’s work I invite you to check out her website at:  Beyond FitPhysiques.   While her latest book is titled for new moms, I found that it contains incredible weight and fitness strategies that can help all of us ladies who have bodies in transition, hormones adjusting to illness or post-partum changes, and who need a boost to get back on track.  Check out 101 Tips for Post-Natal Fitness and the Metabolic Effects Diet books by using the links under the NEW HOPE FITNESS RESOUCES in the right hand column of this blog.

Just writing this has energized me to do more than I thought I could do earlier today.  Gee Kate, I hope washing the hardwood floors counts too?!  :J

Counting on Muscle Memory!


Completing 30 minutes of the Metabolic Effects hybrid workout DVD with repetitively lifting 5 pound weights, reflected the highest level of fitness I had achieved in my life.  The increased upper body strength provided a great foundation for hitting the kayaking season with my River Bear husband just 2 months later.  We would go out with the local, recreational kayaking group virtually every Tuesday night from summer through the Fall.  I even sampled one member’s cookies after a night of paddling:  a sweet treat, in a peanut butter version for health reasons of course!

While everything was not perfect at that time, I mean I still had chronic pain and needed a couple of days to recover afterwards, life was as good as it had gotten.  I was working part time, enjoying gardening in a real home (not a condo or townhouse), and blessed beyond measure with a loving husband and church family.  My father had died earlier in 2011; that was bittersweet.  My dad died  2 months after I got to see him in person for the first time in 30 years!  So while  I was grateful for the reunion, the healing, and the new relationship with him, I was also very grieved for his passing.  And near the end of that year I had begun the Master Gardener classes at our local County Extension Office.   To become a Master Gardener was a new goal borne out of my mother’s love for gardening passed onto me.  All in all, it was a good and important year in my life.

What I did not count on was contracting viral hepatitis after kayaking in a local reservoir October 11, 2011.  I was deathly sick.  I never fully recovered.  After the holidays, my doctor when looking for other reasons for my illness and backed into a clinical diagnosis of Lyme Disease.  Within a year mold illness would also be discovered and a need to completely remediate our home.  The year and one-half of stress, illness, extraordinary expense, inability to work, and social isolation would take their toll.  My body became severely deconditioned as physical activity generally exacerbated most noxious symptoms.  To complete my basic self care, prepare my special diet, and to keep the house clean became my focus in addition to all of the activities related to managing my healthcare:  16 to 18 hours per day!  The remaining hours were crochity at best.  Dialing a phone and pressing 18,000 times the “1” key is not too far from the truth when you have to call so many health care providers, insurance companies and so on!

Today I am counting on muscle memory.  You’ve heard of that before, right?  Wikipedia defines it as follows:

Muscle memory has been used synonymously with motor learning, which is a form of procedural memory that involves consolidating a specific motor task into memory through repetition. When a movement is repeated over time, a long-term muscle memory is created for that task, eventually allowing it to be performed without conscious effort. This process decreases the need for attention and creates maximum efficiency within the motor and memory systems.

I am hoping that when I am able to work out consistently, the memory pathways will still be there to get me stronger a little more quickly than if I was starting from scratch.  Certainly I have experienced this, for example, when getting back into my kayak 2 weeks ago, for the first time in a year.  I do remember how to hold the carbon fiber winged racing paddle after all!  And I didn’t fall out of my 19 foot Kevlar Stellar SR surf ski.  Wow.  There sure are sweet benefits to being married to a kayak racer, by the way!  My equipment is very cool and exceeds my abilities for sure.  (With the chronic pain, the lighter, more efficient equipment helped me to participate in a demanding sport.)  Thank you Lord for this cool history and the hope I have in You.  It’s all good.  🙂

One week before this journey began