For the past three or four weeks, I’ve been battling the flu. First it knocked me all the way out for several days—then just when I was starting to feel better, it knocked me down again. This pattern has now happened several times.
The flu gave me the typical muscle aches, pains and fatigue, fever, and a nasty cough that has yet to pass altogether, among other yucky symptoms that I will spare you.
I feel weak. And I don’t like it.
I believe at 52 that I’m still young, and I rank pretty high on the macho scale. All right, all right, all right—I’m super macho, I like to be strong, and I hate to be weak, whether that means weak physically or mentally. Right now I feel weak all the way around and it’s making me a bit crazy.
Since the new year, my main form of exercise has been dancing. It’s something I can convince myself to do even when I don’t want to work out. But right now I feel short of breath and limp, even when I just dance. I’m afraid to try something more strenuous like running, even though that’s probably exactly what my wheezy lungs need.
Being sick weirdly tossed me backwards in terms of my comfort zone. When I feel strong, I don’t mind getting in front of other people and pushing my limits at a class or on the track.
When I feel old and frail, that’s the last thing I want to do. I know you know what I mean: I’m certain I’m not alone in this feeling. What distresses me is it feels like I’ve lost every single bit of progress I’ve made since I started my journey from couch potato to an active lifestyle. I’m back to potato. I’m scared of the gym and classes. I don’t want to expose my weakness. I don’t want you to see how far I’ve fallen.
At the same time, I recently watched on Netflix an autopsy of an obese woman—with all of the damage to her internal organs that came along with obesity and contributed to her death from heart disease. I know I’m at risk for heart disease, diabetes and more, but it’s one thing to know that abstractly, and it’s another thing to see a knife slice through inches of fat obscuring a woman’s internal organs.
I’m back to a situation of deciding which alternative is worse, the way I feel when I don’t exercise or the potential consequences of not exercising. It’s stupid and I feel weak for losing momentum.
While belied by this column, by nature I try to focus on the positive and what I am getting done, not the reverse. And I’ve developed strategies to get myself back in the groove.
I still follow my fitness pages online. I still read Runner’s World when it shows up in my mailbox every month. I still think about the races that I want to run in, the Torrance County 50+ Games that I want to play in, the basketball courts and school tracks that I still want to play on.
The biggest part of this journey has always been the mental aspect, especially once I realized that the physical effort is always basically the same if I’m always pushing myself a little bit past what I can do comfortably.
I don’t like admitting weakness or the ways that I miss my own goals. Actually I hate it. But until I get out of my own way, I’ll continue to miss my own goals. That’s a no-brainer. So that means I have to kick my own butt into action even in the face of that wheezing, weak muscles, and reluctance to put myself out there when I don’t feel at the top of my game.
It’s a paradox: The only way to get to the top of my game is to play the game every day, but the last thing I want to do right now is play the game.
Still, I have one superpower in my hip pocket for times like these. I am very, very stubborn, and unwilling to give up. Today I choose to take some baby steps. Even though like most Americans, I want the magic wand and the instant gratification, I always revert back to baby steps. At least they are steps.
How do you stay motivated after disruption of your exercise routine? Contact me at email@example.com or 505-286-1212, or find my Facebook group, “I’m Losing It!” I’d love to hear from you.
Leota started working for The Independent in 2006, working her way up through the ranks. An employee buyout in 2010 led to her ownership of the newspaper. Leota has served on the board of the N.M. Press Association, and is currently its First Vice President. She is passionate about health and wellness, especially mental health, and loves making art. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.