Turtle Phase - Day 1
My calendar today says WORKOUT! It’s official – I have graduated from Couch Potato to become, once again, a member of the animal species. Today I will be allowed to take a 25-minute normal-paced walk.
To be frank, when I added this milestone to my calendar last month, I imagined breaking a sweat. For sure I would be on a bike, not on a run, but heart pounding was part of the picture. Yesterday, though, I visited my PT, and when I excitedly told him that tomorrow I was allowed to work out, he looked at me quizzically and told me my idea of a work out was not what the doctor had prescribed.
Jared (my PT) explained better than anyone yet what I am up against. “We are remolding the muscle. We have to let the PRP work it biologically, while we gently ramp up your activity. We now start stressing the muscle and then letting it rest, so the fibers straighten out and work normally.” He didn’t ban exercise, but he effectively gave me a program that looks more like what I would experience walking between airport gates than what I had imagined doing starting today.
Here’s my next week: 25 minutes of normal-paced walking today, then ramp up ten minutes each day until I hit 40-45 minutes. Now I have a choice: I can add a low-tension bike for fifteen minutes and walk the rest, or I can keep upping the walk to an hour or so. If I am slightly sore, no problem. If I am really sore, I should rest a day and either ramp down ten minutes or try the last amount again and see if soreness reappears. I see Jared again in a week, and he said we could discuss fast walking and biking with a little more tension then. Supposedly, at six weeks, I am ready to try a short run. Supposedly.
While I am a little disappointed about the rate of my ramp, I can honestly say it isn’t killing me. Now that’s a change. If the doctor had been this clear about how long it would take me to return to what I really call a WORKOUT before the shot, I would have had serious anxiety. Jared’s revelation that it actually will take me roughly twelve weeks to be back to the kind of working out I did before the shot wasn’t great news, but I am successfully able to process the information without the weighty feelings I described in the early days of my life as a Couch Potato.
Now, I am not transformed. I haven’t stopped caring too much about my body and fitness image, and I am still weighing myself far too often. I guess what I have realized though is that I like a rest sometimes, and it’s actually stress-relieving that exercise isn’t the dominating factor in my schedule. I continue to be pretty rigorous and disciplined about what I am eating, but I did order sweet potato fries at dinner Saturday night, and I am indulging in some kind of dessert almost every evening. In other words, I have figured out food balance on rest day, such that a rest day can be restful for both body and mind. I am not claiming to be sane about weight yet, but it is a step in the right direction.
My reaction to Jared’s slow down shows me that my experience having to swing to the no-exercise side of the pendulum has had an impact on what I want as I start to swing back. I used to think that if I exercised every day, I could pretty much eat what I wanted, so my mind was free of any food-stress, and I was able to stop weighing myself more than once-a-month. I thought I was living in a balanced way, but really, I was living on an extreme where exercise justified my other behaviors. When I couldn’t exercise at all, I thought a lot about what I ate, full of food-stress, even after I realized I didn’t have to change all that much from my prior patterns to maintain my weight. I know this because I have been weighing myself way too often to make sure my hypothesis stays true. If I can move to the middle on exercise and food (my middle, which is probably a little off center) and I can test for a while that this balance works, maybe I can free my mind from such an active management role. Does that lead to caring less and less about body and fitness image? Does it allow me to define my identity more and more outside of those factors? I have no idea, but I do believe it is my only chance to progress further.
So, my WORKOUT will not be quite what I thought I would be doing today. I’ll term the next few weeks The Turtle Phase. Still, I am overjoyed. It’s a step towards the balance I am committed to trying and hoping will be even a little transformative for me over the long run.