Hi, friends. Today’s disability chat discusses how my relationship with exercise has changed as my disability, Friedreich’s Ataxia, has progressed.
A nagging sense of disappointment
In the past, I’ve written about the importance of exercise for people with limited mobility, shared exercise routines, etc. (All available under the category “Exercise“). I still workout devoutly, but my dynamic with exercise is transforming because the symptoms of my disability worsen with time; limitations such as fatigue, poor fine motor skills, etc. have become more debilitating.
I’ve explained in the past how exercise provokes the body to release an array of feel-good hormones, making a workout beneficial to one’s body AND one’s mental state. But this year, the feeling of “badassery” I’ve always gotten from exercise is often plagued by a nagging sense of disappointment. I feel frustrated because I’ve had to cut down the amount of reps I do in a certain exercise or because things are getting harder than they used to be. For instance, my left ankle has inexplicably gotten very weak very rapidly, so when I walk around the gym with my trainer, it “gives out” repeatedly; about half the time, my ankle rolls so badly that I’m on the floor, grasping it and whimpering in pain, unable to put my weight on it for a few minutes.
Two tips: eliminate guilt & adjust/adapt
A blogging buddy who primarily writes about invisible illnesses, Invisibly Me, has written about things we need to stop feeling guilty for–being less productive when we are sick or tired, etc. I need to apply her advice to myself with exercise. I need to stop feeling guilty that my progressive condition is *gasp* progressing and just appreciate my body for all it can still do. I need to stop feeling guilty for trimming down rep counts and cutting out things I can’t do anymore; instead, I should be proud of myself for working out at all (since plenty of people without my obstacles don’t!).
Aside from eliminating guilt, I need to adjust/adapt. There is a fine line between what I need to just accept and what I can actually change, and I have to quit feeling sorry for myself to find that line. [How many life situations does that statement apply to?!] Given that I can walk (with strong assistance) if not for the ankle issue, I need to find a way to prevent it from rolling–something to stabilize it. Update: I’ve just ordered an ankle-brace-esque contraption, so pray this helps!
My relationship with exercise is changing because my body is changing. But if I want to ditch these feelings of disappointment, I need to:
- Accept what can’t be changed and relinquish feelings of guilt for the inevitable.
- Discern how I can adjust/adapt to the inevitable and enact changes that will make life easier.
Thanks for reading! How is your relationship with exercise? Let me know in the comments.