I’m a fan of technology, especially fitness trackers. I’ve tried several different trackers over the years, landing on one I especially liked, one with a heart rate monitor. It’s not a top end model, but it gives me a general idea of what my heart rate is when I’m exercising. Yet when my health began to decline, I started to see my tracker as an enemy, because I couldn’t see one step forward, just two steps back, and sometimes more than two steps.
Two years ago when my health plummeted, I took the tracker off and put it away with no intention of ever wearing it again. I couldn’t imagine ever needing or wanting to put it back on.
In some ways, I had given up. I didn’t use those words, but I was resigned to the fact that this was just my life now. Though I was no longer walking, I was consistent in doing my physical therapy movements each day.
Two Steps Back
A year later, I fell, and a few months after that, I had a huge dysautonomia flare, so along with the constant migraines, I had to work very hard to recover from the fall. Physical therapy was a big part of each day. Because I didn’t wear my tracker, I missed the subtle changes that were happening.
One Step Forward
Six months ago, I began walking on my elliptical – just 5 minutes.
When did this happen?
I mean, I thought I’d never be able to walk on the elliptical again, but I felt stronger and better than I had in maybe two years. In fact, I dug out my fitness tracker. It felt good on my wrist. And I discovered I could track so many more things than heart rate. I could track my water intake, calories, steps, and sleep (even if wasn’t good sleep, I learned something. For instance, did I go to bed on a schedule?).
Even though the general fitness recommendation is 10,000 steps a day, for many of us that isn’t possible. And while I could have set a small goal for myself, something attainable, I needed a new perspective. Now I had a tool at my fingertips – or rather, on my wrist – to do just that.
While I had decided I would never again exercise, that it was better to give up than to start small, God never gave up on me. I just needed a different perspective.
Perhaps it was about starting small, about choosing to do a little something every day and building on that. Much like my faith life, which at times is strong and vibrant and other times, I must start again doing a little something each day and knowing that the Lord will be sufficient, even when I am insufficient.
Now, at six months in, I’m walking on the elliptical for 20 minutes many days each week, yet on the days I am not well enough, I give myself the grace to rest. Recently, I took many days off and had to start slowly again. But every day I walk is progress, even if it looks like one step forward and two steps back, for every step is still a step.
Executive Director and Co-Founder of Chronic Joy®
Pamela, a leader and a visionary following God's call to inspire those affected by chronic illness, mental illness, and chronic pain, believes that every precious life affected by illness is both vital and purposed.
Pamela is the mom of three married children, a grandma of five, and a wife of more than 30 years. She is diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos, chronic migraines, and a host of other chronic conditions. She enjoys hot tea, reading, and walking her teddy bear dog, Cocoa.