Monday, July 4, 2011

A Little Twisted

I remember being an eleven or twelve year old girl and wondering why my grandmother would rub her wrists to alleviate her joint pain. I remember my parents flopping into the lounge at the end of the day and thinking to myself, “I’ll never be tired like that.” And I remember hearing elderly people say, “At least you’ve got your health” and thinking they were a little demented - of course I’ve got my health, otherwise I’d be dead!

I couldn’t comprehend, at that young, nubile and virile stage of my life, that I could possibly ever be ill or infirmed. It was something that happened to others.

Today I am forty-five years old and often feel like I’m ninety. Over the past few years I have needed assistance in moving around, getting out of chairs, showering and dressing. On occasion I have serious pain - constant throbbing pain and occasional sudden bursts of stabbing pain.

Thankfully, I’m not chronically ill or permanently scarred. I’m just cranky. Two years ago my lumbar 5 vertebrae decided it was time to leave the comfort of my spine and break rank, twisting to the left and causing a chain reaction that has to be felt to be believed.

I’ve always considered myself to have a fairly high pain threshold. While going through labour with each of my three pregnancies was excruciating (18.5 hours, 16 hours and 6.5 hours - just so you know), I felt like I was able to focus, despite the pain and managed to deliver all three 8 pound plus boys without drug intervention.

Now, I’m finally motivated to do something about my health and weight. It’s weird that I am not afraid of severe short term pain, but the discomfort and strain of regular exercise is such a powerful deterrent.

Around five years ago I called my Dad to ask him to cover the cost of a Guthy Renker purchase for me. I don’t have a credit card (evil, destruction-causing piece of plastic) and I was inspired to buy a pilates DVD which was promoted so cleverly on late night television. I promised my Dad to pay him back and he was happy to arrange the purchase with the (completely unnecessary) warning of, “Make sure you actually use it, Jule.” “Of course, Dad. I’m looking forward to getting my fitness back on track. I can’t wait until it arrives in the post!” (14 - 21 days later)

Anyhoo, it is now five years later and today I opened the plastic wrapping on the pilates DVD.

The DVD has 45 minutes of stretching, balancing and body sculpting pilates techniques. The instructor uses odd language that makes little sense “Use your powerhouse (huh?) - press your bellybutton to your spine (is that even physically possible!) - trace the canteloupe with your foot, then trace the barrel, etc, etc”.

I proudly made it all the way to minute #17. After getting a little trapped in the exercise called ‘rolling ball’, where you are the ball, I decided I had to stop. I unravelled my pretzel like position and realised the weakness of my lower back is going to be a problem. Now I recognise a copout as easily as the next person and I was determined not to use my usual adage of ‘I always knew exercise is bad for you” which I pull out whenever anyone gets injured through sport or fitness related activities!

I figure that the pain in my back is more to do with lack of muscles than any long term issue. My chiro once said that your back is like a mast with no strength of its own. It relies on the surrounding muscles, like ropes on a mast. So building it up is the solution!

I’ve decided I’m going to take baby steps (or rolls) and aim to increase my efforts to 18 body sculpting minutes tomorrow. Just got to find my powerhouse and a canteloupe!