Hello world! It’s been awhile since I made an appearance here. As I sit here this morning with a lap full of cat sipping on my bullet proof Raspberry Zinger Tea (bullet proof anything will change your life folks), I reflect on something me and my trainer discussed a few weeks ago. (1. He would not approve of my bullet proof tea, and 2. He spoke, I stuttered around and tried to make sense of where I was and where I really wanted to go from that day forward — 8/29/18). As you can see I’ve been mulling this around in my head for a few weeks, since August 29, trying to figure out how to address it and my goals.
I started a gym program on 8/8/18. I had been seeing post on Instagram of how this could change my life, just sign up for six weeks. “Give me 6 weeks to change your life, and you’ll stay forever!!!”. I kept thinking to myself, I can do six weeks…42 days. I’ve tried everything else, usually they promoted that it would only take 21 days for transformation (and according to Bro. Dugas, “It takes 21 days to make a habit”). When I say I’ve tried ‘everything’, I mean just about everything. I’ve tried Shape Reclaimed, ItWorks, Weight Watchers, Advocare, Arbonne (this did get rid of a skin issue I was having), Trim Healthy Momma, Adkins, Beach Body (several programs), Curves, Plexus Slim, Gym/Exercise program from previous trainer, and low calorie.
Why have I spent hundreds (if not thousands of dollars) on all the gimmicks to try and better myself? Because society dictates that women should be a certain way; because I am fat (and always have been); and because with an autoimmune disease I want to stay as healthy as possible to try and fight/beat the disease. I was a ‘chubby’ child, weighing in at 145 in the fifth grade; wearing women’s size 14 mini skirts — they fit me around the middle and still was long enough to be considered a normal skirt on my 5’0″ frame. Needless to say I was about as round as I was tall. Fortunately for me, I eventually grew taller. I still wore a size 12/14 in high school but I stood at 5’10”. I kept my weight in check until I decided to become a nurse, and school stress and working nights took a toll on my body that I have not recovered from five years later. Also in that time I hit middle age and was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.
What is Multiple Sclerosis? It is an auto immune disease where your body (your white cells) attacks the myelin sheath that surrounds your nerve endings. What does this cause and what symptoms does a person have? Several things, and no two people are the same. It can cause numbness and tingling the extremities, fatigue (physical — muscle, mental, and emotional), depression, speech difficulties, memory issues, phantom pain, electric shocks down your spine, excessive sweating, heat/cold sensitivity, and internal organ issues (bowel/bladder) to name a few. I was diagnosed with this in May 2010.
The fatigue I experience with this has me sometimes sleeping for 24 hours straight, you cannot physically open your eyes…they feel like they weigh about 500 pounds each. On those days I’m doing good to get up and go to the restroom, much less make it to the gym for an hour long workout. Not that I don’t desire to be in shape and be “my best self”, sometimes my body has other ideas of what it takes to be my best self. Not to mention the fact that sometimes my hand would go numb, or my legs would feel like jelly and they were going to fall out from under me while doing sprints…I may not have the best time, but I completed it…that was something to me.
I currently work as an ER nurse, the night shift. My shifts are random each week, so the days I am available to go to the gym varies, and it depends on how I feel after my shift on if I can go to the gym for an hour. As an ER nurse, we are sometimes lucky to go to the bathroom much less take time to eat (we do try and make sure everyone gets their 30 minute lunch…but sometimes that doesn’t happen until 1:00 am after starting shift at 7:00 pm). Are these excuses, to some maybe…but it’s my life and sometimes my bed calls my name more loudly than the gym (due to the before mentioned MS). Sleep is my friend.
So…now to the big question…”What do you want out of this”. My trainer was getting frustrated with me because I wasn’t at the gym five days a week and I wasn’t eating 8 meals a day packed full of protein. I explained that I had stopped going to MO Baking Company and Vincent Donuts after work (2-3 times a week), I had only had ice cream once in the three week (as a March I would eat ice cream every day, or every other day — it’s a family thing — and I LOVE ice cream), and I had increased my exercise from zilch to at least 3-4 times a week. His response…”That’s what you’re not doing, tell me what you are doing”. He was waiting for me to state that I was eating my 8 meals a day, going to be in the gym five days, and focusing on doing the program that was set out for me.
The program: Eating 8 meals a day of 4 oz protein, protein shakes, some carbs, only 4 cups veggies, and some rice cakes. Around 1600 calories. Working out ‘at least’ 3 days at the gym, and 2 days cardio on the side. Doable right? I thought so when I signed the dotted line and handed over my credit card on 8/8/18. But in reality I couldn’t eat all the food, or space my 8 meals in, and I was unable to make it to the gym (when it’s doors where open) due to my schedule or sleeping (excuses I know!!).
“What do you want?” — when I signed up I had visions of the muscled bodies that were portrayed in the ads I had seen. I wanted to be skinny (something I had never been). I wanted to see my bicep and ribs again (since hitting middle age my bones had disappeared).
In fear, I said “I want to be better”. My better and his better are not the same.
In reality, I want to be healthy. I want to be able to breath when I bend over to tie my shoes; I want to be able to carry my groceries across the parking lot and up the two flights of stairs without becoming winded or my legs feeling weak; I want to have muscle tone to combat the muscle atrophy that can happen with MS; I just want to be my best self at that point in time. If that ‘best self” is just NOT going to the bakery or picking up donuts for three weeks (as of today it has actually been five weeks), or going to the gym twice a week and walk/jogging two times. I got out of bed. I faced the silent demon that is inside my body, the one that I see affecting my brother (who also has MS) daily that I want to keep at bay as long as possible. If my ‘best self’ is strolling around the neighborhood for 20 minutes because that is all I can do that day, then ‘that is what I want”.
My first week at the gym I could not sit down or lift my arms, the muscle soreness and pain was making personal hygiene interesting. I was considering using the hover technique to use the restroom and to just not brush my teeth or wash my hair. But the soreness became bearable. After each workout I stay ‘sore’, but it is manageable and I can just tell that I had a good day at the gym. I can lift a 80 kettle ball, carry 60 lbs in weight on a “farmers haul”, do planks. Do I still struggle with some of the exercises? Of course, I was ‘OUT OF SHAPE’, I was so far out that I wasn’t even considered round. I like to see my progress. I like the fact that my trainer pushes me to do more, and to go past when I want to give up or stop. Do I want to trip him sometimes because he ask for one more sprint…YES. But as I come back to the door heaving from my mini jog…I hear “well done” or “your form is better”. I may go home and be numb from head to toe, or have tingling in my left hand throughout the day, and go to bed hoping that everything is back to normal the next day. But I know that I made changes. I reached small goals. I went out and I did something.
Will I resign at the end of my six weeks…probably not at this gym. Though I love the family atmosphere and the support of the individuals that work out here. I don’t stick to plan well enough. My diet goals are different than what is allowed on the plan here, and I don’t work out enough to be eating as much protein as I was slotted to eat. My schedule doesn’t always allow me to be at the gym when the doors are open. Will I stop and regress? NO!! Not an option. I used to say that I went to the gym so I could eat what I wanted, my previous trainer (back in 2012) used to say “You’re only as good as your diet, and you cannot beat a bad diet”. I am learning through this experience that going to the gym is to make me feel better, I don’t need all the junk food or processed sweets. I can say no and fuel my body to be the best that it can be.
The main thing I wanted out of ‘this’ was a better me, and I have seen changes and progress over the past five weeks…and I want to continue building on these changes. I may not fit the vision that some have for what it takes to ‘make it’…but I am working in the confines of my own vision/life — as a night shift ER nurse that has MS.
Until later my friends…be the best you can be, even if that means just getting out of bed that day.