One Step Forward, Two Steps Back
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 is the mom of three married children, grandma of three, and 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.
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With your doctor’s guidance, and a little creativity, exercising with chronic illness is not just possible, but can be rewarding. Log your steps, reps, and prayers.
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