I’m Walking, Yes Indeed

This blog site started because of the question: “Why did extreme exercise in the form of Bootcamp significantly reduce my fibromyalgia symptoms – what was it about that type of exercise (moving until you can’t move anymore) that fought fibro?” My theory was the release of chemicals/hormones that were in short supply or needed a boost in fibro patients. That’s still a possibility. Another is that the extreme cardio portion of the exercises allowed the body to pump oxygen more efficiently throughout the whole body, including to muscles and joints, etc. There are really quite a few possibilities, but none of them really got to the core of what causes fibro anyway? Since there is no definitive answer to that question (despite lots of theories), there is no real definitive answer to how to “cure” it or “relieve” it or why extreme exercise alleviates it.

Unfortunately, when bootcamp became more about lifting weights and the cardio component was cut back, my back and joints did not handle it. I switched to yoga, and found tremendous relief, particularly in my hips. And then I learned to swim properly and started swimming laps. While swimming is my favorite exercise, it is conversely the least effective. I walk away in pain and wake up in pain with lots of swelling, and the cardio workout I experience in the pool doesn’t actually build my cardio endurance like the extreme cardio exercises at bootcamp. I’ve now switched to doing Aqua Zumba once a week and try to swim/run in the pool on my own once a week. It’s fun, it feels good, but I’ve gained weight hand over fist over during this time, my cardio fitness is quite low, and my pain levels are through the roof. But I enjoy it, so I’m going to continue it.

I have to supplement it, however, in a quest to reduce both weight and pain. I am associating pain with my weight gain, particularly joint and back pain. It’s becoming very easy to say, well of course you hurt, you’re twice the weight you should be. Also, there are new treatments for sleep apnea which I don’t qualify for because of my weight, and I want to get relief from the apnea. So weight loss it is. I’m dealing with food issues in the Captain’s Log page and finding success with eating better by becoming more mindful about what I’m eating and “talking” about it – the Captain’s Log is like my food therapist. I’m also walking 10,000 steps a day. At first it seemed impossible, but just by changing a few habits I have been able to supplement what I was doing normally at work (a very large facility where you can’t help but walk) and get to my goal every workday. I don’t track steps on the weekend.

So I’m walking. A lot. Bottom line, it’s helping my cardio, which according to my theory will reduce pain, but it hurts. A lot. It hurts everything. Fibro flu is rampant. I’m exhausted, my brain is slow, and my mood is iffy. However, when I started yoga, I had a lot of the same types of reactions until several weeks in, and then one day, it was like someone turned on a light, and there was relief. I’m going to continue this, pain or no, until I finish up a “Greatest Loser” contest at work (ends in May, I think), and then see how I feel. That gives me a deadline to work toward and some goals.

I know I’m one of the very lucky ones to be able to even try different forms of exercise, and I’m always grateful, even when it seems like a very silly thing to do, to keep pushing on. It would be very interesting to hear what effects exercise has had on other people with fibro. Please feel free to comment!

My New Not-A-Bit-Fit

Without realizing it, when I bought my FitBit, I seem to have embarked on another phase in understanding the effect of exercise on fibromyalgia symptoms. Nope, after a few days of tracking my steps and my activities and food intake and calories burned, I have not solved my fibro pain. However, I do feel a difference, and I certainly don’t feel worse. I’ve attached below a screen shot of what the app looks like on my phone. Below this screen shot are calorie and water intakes and weight tracking, and lots of other stuff. It’s easy to use and it reminds me of a videogame, so I’m like one of the Mario Bros zipping around to see how well I can do. I think that’s probably a good thing.

Today, I really didn’t think I’d hit the 10,000 step goal. I went to the store and parked the farthest distance I could to be able to add more steps. I used the farthest elevator at work. There’s a reminder on the FitBit when I haven’t taken my 250 steps in an hour – because I get caught up working – so this guy is waving at me saying, don’t I want to move a little? All that helps to simply get up and move, even when I don’t want to. I start walking and when I want to stop, I can’t – even though my back and legs and hips are hurting – because I have to make it back to my desk to finish out the day.

Having this thing on my wrist makes me mindful of how much I actually am moving. And I’m discovering that I’m not moving as much as I feel like I’m moving. Plus I’m discovering that I can move more than I think I can. It’s a little like getting back into bootcamp. The more I go, the faster I go, the more I push my cardiovascular system, the better I am. Tonight I can make a fist with my right hand – something I haven’t been able to do because of the amount of swelling I’ve had. My knees are more defined – I can almost see my kneecaps, again because of a good reduction in swelling. Unfortunately my feet and ankles aren’t faring as well. My ankles are decidedly swollen and my feet are quite sore, which is probably why I was having such trouble getting up and about today.

So I’m going to keep doing this for a while and see what happens. I need to lose a lot of weight, and tracking my food intake is, again, making me mindful of how well or how badly I’m really doing with eating, both what I eat and how much. Losing weight will definitely help with the joint and muscle pain I’ve been having. I’m tracking my progress in the Captain’s Log page, if you want to peek in. My first weigh-in for a Greatest Loser contest at work is on Monday – I’m giving this until the contest is over, at least. I’m still searching for sustainability, but maybe I need to look for accountability instead.


The Difficulty of Happiness

I haven’t been writing like I should be. I haven’t been researching, reading through articles, and sharing the bits that I’ve learned like I should be. I really do have a mission with this blog, and I’m not abandoning it. The fact is, I’m sicker than I’ve ever been. I’m in more pain than ever. I’ve gained 20 pounds (that I really didn’t need) over the last year. Everything I eat fights back at me in some way – food friends turn into food enemies eventually. There is little, if anything, at this point that is relieving pain, even rest. I hurt walking, sitting, laying down; standing in one place is near on impossible. The fatigue is overwhelming.

But I’m happy. For the first time in my life my personal and professional lives have come together – both are making me happy. However, with happiness comes non-productivity. At work, it’s all good. I’m paid to sit there and work, and I enjoy my job. But my projects, the projects that I’ve always had to keep my head out of my joints and muscles, my projects are languishing. They are a key element to my mental health, and I have to get back on them. This blog isn’t the only project – I’ve been nibbling at a very intriguing mystery too, and those characters are waiting, none too patiently, in the back of my mind.

One of the ways that I’ve cured writer’s block in the past has been journaling. Unfortunately, my fingers are too stiff to be able to write in a way that I’ll ever be able to know what I’ve written. And writing hurts, plain and simple. Holding a pen hurts, and at best I can just make notes and lists. Traditional journaling is out.

Another way of curing writer’s block is exercise. Those endorphins and the oxygen flow gets your brain clicking. Unfortunately, I’ve been using my lunch hours to try, unsuccessfully to write, going home after work and laying down is much more feasible than moving, and exercise has been lagging.

I’m going to try a combination of getting both my body and my brain moving. I’ve bought a FitBit (or as a friend and I call it, a Not-A-Bit-Fit), and I’m going to use the Captain’s Log to journal. I have a goal. First of all, I need to track how much I’m moving and try to stay within my goals. Second,  I need to track what I’m eating, how much, and when. I’ve noticed with this weight gain that habits have changed, and I’m struggling with my relationship with food (which has never been good). The third goal is to get some discipline back in my writing.

I’m not going to post the journal entries, but if you’re interested in following you can look at the Captain’s Log page on this blog. Starting tonight. I know that sounds like procrastination, but I have to go to work! Yep, life gets in the way, and happiness, lovely happiness, comes with a price.