No Mercy for Maintainers
It was after 7:30 am and I was still waiting for the doctor to arrive. My husband made a valiant attempt at keeping me calm but I knew the longer I waited, the more anxious I was going to get.
The nurse poked her head into the door and before she could say anything I asked, ‘When is the doctor due to arrive?’
‘He won’t be here until 8, but there is a video we like to show new patients so I’m going to put that on for you to watch. He should be here by the time you finish up.’ she said. She hit the Play button and moments later my doctor appeared on the TV screen welcoming me to the hospital’s Pain Clinic. He began discussing why chronic pain plays a part in a vicious cycle for patients. ‘When you’re in chronic pain,‘ said the doctor on TV, ‘it’s difficult to exercise. When we don’t exercise, numerous things begin to happen – we grow weaker, and sometimes begin to gain weight. Because of this, depression can set in, and…’ I could finish the rest of that sentence without the video’s help: when you’re depressed, you have little motivation to do anything, including exercise because you’re in pain. Throw in for good measure one’s tendency to binge eat when she’s under stress and you have a vicious cycle that can be debilitating if not tended to.
When I worked for my dear elderly friend Patty, I watched as pain slowly robbed her of any desire and subsequent ability to perform simple tasks without becoming short-winded and weak. Arthritis had taken over and she lost her will to exercise daily even though she knew if she didn’t make the effort to move regardless, her body would deteriorate which, unfortunately, is what happens to many people. Sometimes the pain becomes such a major player in our lives, everything else seems futile.
This year will mark my 8th year of maintaining a 100+ pound weight loss. I feel confident saying that the past 9 months have been the most challenging I have ever faced as a maintainer. Major surgery and a subsequent degenerative disc issue in my back have been actively threatening my livelihood.
I have always relied on the act of movement to help keep my weight steady and my body strong, but as of late I’ve felt like a swimmer struggling against a very strong current, just barely able to keep her head above water. What does one do when her Golden Key to Success is being threatened? Does she sink, or does she swim?
Some things I’ve noted during this time of transition :
What works today may not work tomorrow. To me this means I can’t always rely on exercising that extra length of time to compensate for that double-serving lemon square I chose to eat. I am constantly re-evaluating what I can and cannot consume. Despite my best effort I am not always going to be able to have my cake and eat it, too; bodies age; we suffer injuries. Adjustments are necessary and crucial in maintenance.
When I was heavy I often thought of my body as my enemy and I have recently noticed these feelings trying to resurface. As a result, I am constantly reminding myself to be flexible. If I am in too much pain to do my regular exercise routine I do have other muscle groups that I can work on (hello, hand weights).
Having something else to focus on is extremely helpful. I built my online business while recuperating from surgery last year. I engrossed myself into my art and the therapeutic benefits I gained from making that decision has brought me so much satisfaction, I cannot begin to describe it. A few weeks ago when I was getting very little relief in my back, I still managed to paint in short, mini bursts throughout the day as much as my body could tolerate. When I called the painting finished, I stepped back and saw that I was probably doing some of the best work of my career:
…perhaps the most important thing of which I’ve noticed is how important it is to have a solid support system in place in the form of friends (online and off) and family – people whom I can turn to when I need to vent, want to eat, or have a hand to hold onto.
It’s now Friday morning and I am attempting to type this while laying on my side in bed. It’s been 2 days since my spinal injection and I continue to wait while the side effects of the shot dissipate so I can see whether or not it will provide the relief I desperately need. I am getting ready to put away my computer and go to my closet where my workout clothes lay. I will do what I attempted to do without success yesterday: walk beyond half a mile. Today, I will aim for a mile; tomorrow, I will attempt to go farther.
I may not be moving on yet, but I’m moving, nonetheless. Right now, that’s what’s important.
Have a good weekend, everyone,