On a Slow Boat to Fitness

“You may be a wonderful doodlekit” is the phrase that opened a February blog post a year ago, almost to the day. It was, of course, an unsolicited statement. In the year that has passed, I have not pursued whether or not I am or have ever been wonderful, a doodlekit or any combination of the two.

In that same February post, I considered my True Self versus my False Self (Mark Nepo) in light of having to cancel family travel plans and wondered whether I would ever be able physically to travel again. It remains a question but because of my progress this past year, there is a trip in the making. Whether it’s the first of many or the last, there is a trip.

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In preparation, I have been increasing my physical activity, which is not to say the trip will require any rigorous hiking or extended walking. That is for most people it will not. For me, just being in airports will be an outing. Although I have made significant progress in mitigating my lupus and Sjogren’s syndrome symptoms, one of the reasons for my success is limited physical activity.

It is no exaggeration to say my exercise program began with walking around one room and then another, eventually graduating to short walks in a park with Cooper. My current recovery is in its third year, and now, my personal best is a thirty-minute walk, with most of my walks right at twenty minutes. Frankly, I’m delighted.

Heron on Turtle Row 0213

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It may not seem like much but on my way to a level of health that is realistic after decades of disease, I appreciate progress in inches. As I have mentioned many times on this blog, the biggest advantage to chronic illness is that it keeps one physically in the moment, for no matter what occurs on one day, the next day dawns as if the previous day never existed. Frankly, I suspect that is true with or without disease but chronic illness provides a 24/7 mirror.

Having achieved a daily 15-20 minute walk for a month without any significant increase in inflammation or stress on my joints has me giddy with success. Now, I am attempting yoga. My introduction is through Peggy Cappy’s Yoga for People with Arthritis DVD. I highly recommend it.

While I have become accustomed to the fact that the line in the sand is in a different place every day, in my eagerness to begin every day anew, I have a tendency to be idealistic, my mantra in almost every project I attempt. Yoga is no different.

What I appreciate about the Cappy DVD is that it is divided into sections of different poses as well as warm-up exercises. In addition, there are great exercises for hands and fingers, perfect for anyone who uses any kind of electronic device. In the short time I have been doing these exercises, there has been a marked increase in my flexibility, so much so that I ignored the line in the sand.

Wood Stork at Waverly 0213

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Rather than allow my body to adjust to the sitting poses and warm-up exercises, I went on to try the standing and sun salutation poses–Warrior One, Warrior Two and even Sitting Dog–within a few days my inflammation increased to a level I had not known in over a year. Not the fault of the DVD or any of the yoga poses just the False Self ignoring the True Self and each day’s line in the sand.

My bones and joints have taken a pounding for decades, first with one disease and then another, yet there is still an optimum level of health available to me. As Deepak Chopra says in Quantum Healing, chronic illness and aging have an effect on what that level of health will be. I see it as progress in inches but it is progress, nonetheless.

As I mark this first year of contemplating my True and False Selves, I have made enough progress to begin yoga, one pose at a time, and to attempt a cross-country trip as an avowed Uni-Tasker–one task, one moment. Maybe someday, a doodlekit….

24 thoughts on “On a Slow Boat to Fitness

  1. Pingback: Thursday Tidbits: Digging Deep for “Meraki” | KM Huber's Blog

  2. Another great post, Karen and as I said before, kudos to you for maintaining your steady road back to balanced health, mindset and physical wellness. Funny, I always thought yoga was not much of a workout until I shut my mouth, opened my mind and gave it a try. All I can say is that was probably one of the best but most challenging workouts of my life. I continue to work yoga into my regular routine but it really is quite difficult for me, which makes it all the more reason to try to move forward with it. Keep up the great work and I wish you continued good health and well being.

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    • As you said, it does “sneak up” on you. I hadn’t considered that for as you say, it does not appear to be much of a workout yet the effects of the workout linger for days. I am just now figuring that out. Thanks so much!
      Karen

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  3. Karen,
    Having only met you recently, I did not know about your physical challenges. You have learned Zen not only from your Cooper, but also from your physical mindfulness. I kept thinking of Thich Nhat Hanh’s Peace is Every Step while I read this post. You are definitely living mindfully. Thank you for sharing this courageous journey you are on. {{{Hugs}}} for every inch of progress. Kozo

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    • Such kind words, Kozo, and thank you. Chronic illness has its gifts, in particular providing new perspectives on the wonder of the every day; however, it did take me decades to appreciate that. Much love to you, Kozo.

      Karen

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  4. A great post Karen, I have just brought a second hand exercise bike which I keep in the lounge and go on throught out the day. I can only manage a couple of minutes but I am progressing slowly and progress is progress as you say. I am working my way back to the yoga, I love the warrior pose it is my favorite.

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    • The warrior pose is a favorite, I agree, but it is definitely more in my future than in my present. Glad to hear you are on your bike and riding toward yoga. We’ll have to keep each other posted about our warrior pose progress.
      Karen

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  5. Karen, we carry our mortality with us always. I have come to think of my aging body as a slightly dotty traveling companion. I cut her slack and thank her for her continued company. Life, even with limitations–and after my truck encounter I had so many–is always cause to be grateful. I’m glad your body is working with you. For airports you will need its cooperation!.

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  6. The inches do add up. You may be on a slow boat to fitness, but look at those fantastic pictures you’ve taken! I admire you for your attitude and vision. Thanks for sharing the Yoga video – I’m definitely going to check that out.

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    • So glad you like the pictures, Lynette. Waverly Pond is a favorite place, as my blog posts attest. As for the video, PBS occasionally runs a special with Peggy Cappy, which is where I first discovered it. For me, yoga is quite a challenge but it seems worth the work and patience. Thanks for your kind words.
      Karen

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  7. I am always so inspired by the attitude by which you approach your challenges, Karen. Thanks for sharing!

    Congratulations on all the progress you’ve made on your walks and reaching a point where you can add yoga too! Yay you! I hope your upcoming trip goes well and that you are able to take it at a pace that works for you and your health.

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    • Thanks so much, KJ. More than once, I have found not only solace but inspiration in your posts. Yoga is a slow go for me but it offers so much emotionally and physically. Again, thanks for your kind words.
      Karen

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    • Hi, Robin!
      I have had the DVD for almost three years and I remain hopeful. What I like the most is that I can do the poses whenever I am able, meaning it’s not like a workout, although it could be. I have found working with some of the warm-up exercises has really helped me on slow days, if I am careful. This summer, I may have an opportunity to try water exercise. Let me know if you try the DVD again.
      Karen

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  8. Keep it up Karen! It is not easy at all to push through the pain when you’re dealing with illness. I too suffer from CFS and MCSD. It is a push everyday to keep moving. I say this as I write in my PJ’s and contemplate a walk while the weather is still nice. You are an inspiration! Thank you for sharing your journey! {{Hugs!}} 🙂

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    • As you know, Karen, there are days…. However, I really do like the effect yoga has on me mentally, meaning it really helps with “monkey or wild mind” but physically, it is quite an adjustment. Thanks for the encouragement. It is so great to have you back on the blogosphere.
      Karen

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