For me, lying horizontal for hours and hours throughout the night is just about the worst thing that my body can do. So I generally start off my day stiff, hurting, crabby, and therefore, anxious.
Invariably, however, when I open up my chronic pain toolbox and pull out what it takes to get me going in the morning (nutritious food, caffeine blast, hot shower), my body loosens up, my pain levels drop, and my bubbly spirit returns.
The thing is, everything I do starts out with an intention — a visualization of what I’m about to do. And when I’m in pain, it’s exhausting to even think about exercising. Or opening my toolbox. Or rolling out of bed, for that matter.
“You need to break it down into steps,” a friend of mine recently said. “First, just start moving. Don’t think about the 9 miles you’re going to bike. Just get onto the bicycle. Once you’re on it, just start biking, without thinking about how far you’re going.”
That’s Dancing with Pain® in action: Start moving what you can, period. The rest is magic that unfolds in its own time, without having to plan or worry about it. Sometimes we need the people in our lives to spoon-feed us our own damn medicine.
This past Saturday, said friend talked me through going from a lying position on the couch to sitting up, to standing, to walking over to my dresser, to opening the drawers and pulling out my exercise gear…
I needed someone to literally coach me through every step of the way from couch to bike. Once I got on it, of course, I had a grand old time, biked 10.5 miles, and felt terrific.
So I am working on emblazoning it in my brain that I absolutely, no exceptions, must ignore my mood — physical, emotional, whatever — when I wake up. Of course, it’s hard to remember when I’m in the throes of pain and fatigue.
Which got me to thinking: I’m part of a spiritual program that offers support for overcoming eating disorders. Through this group, I have a list of people I can call when I’m reaching for a compulsive bite of food. Just the act of calling is enough to stop me from taking that bite.
Through the very act of reaching out to someone else, I make a statement to myself: There is something higher, more important to me, that I want more than that popcorn/orange/extra piece of steak.
On that note, I would love to put together an ass-kicking exercise support group — a list of people who call each other when we need a little kick in the pants to get a move-on. Any takers?