I’ve been thinking about the movement of the body, my body, a lot. Was my daily yoga and stretching enough? Should I be moving more? Different moves? Was what I was doing enough? The frequency?
Could I be better?
So I timed it.
That’s all it takes through my daily yoga and stretch moves.
16 minutes out of a 24 hour day.
That seems to be manageable. Easy. I have a routine. I begin with cobra prose and end with my ankle exercises. Sometimes I add to the routine but the routine is pretty steady.
I can do this.
But most of the time I don’t. I don’t want to move in the morning. I want coffee and Facebook. I look at my yoga mat as if it’s the devil herself. I feel guilt when it gets to early evening and I have not moved. Walking my dog does not count. So, I don’t do it and promise myself I’ll do it the following morning and the cycle begins all over again and before I know it, weeks have gone by.
There are too many studies that show exercise, even yoga, is beneficial to elevating your moods especially depression and anxiety. There are other benefits too: better quality of life, strengthening of the body, less stress, and less like to get illnesses, such as diabetes and heart problems, related to a purely sedentary life.
Why am I not moving?
Last summer, my partner and I both came down with pretty awful colds. We were down for close to a week. I spent my awake time laying on the couch, cough drops and soothing drinks nearby, watching trashy television. I was eating sporadically and I’m betting it was mostly junk. I flipped through TV channels and found My 600lb Life playing on continuous loop. The show is about people who literally weight 500, 600, sometimes more, pounds. The struggles they go through with their daily life, their wants and desires of what would be required of them to have a better life, how they got to be the weight they are now. Ultimately, they go through bariatric surgery so we follow their lives after their surgery too. So many of the people are grateful for a second chance and how much moving and weight loss have improved their lives considerably.
As I was laying there watching these sad stories, it dawned on me how easy it would be to get to 600lbs. It seems easier to do nothing and eat everything. This scared me. I also thought of my mother. She gave up living her life in her mid-60s and decided it was easier to eat foods that were not part of her diabetic diet and sit in a chair all day watching TV. While she didn’t gain weight what she did gain was immobility and more health problems. By the time she died at the age of 74, she was in a wheelchair, out of control diabetes, loss of several of her toes, and congestive heart failure. My brother and I found this to be a wake-up call to our own lives. We made promises to change our lives so we did not end up like our mother.
A year later, some things have changed but not enough. My partner recently found out he has diabetes and we changed our eating habits and the types of food we were putting in our mouths. We now follow a low-sodium, carb, no added sugar, gluten free (me), cow dairy free and no white food (rice, bread) diet. My partner has lost 30lbs in nearly 3 months. I have lost 11lbs but I have the data as to why I’m not losing weight. I cannot be trusted around food and I’m not moving. I have to stop treating food like a stop gap for my emotions and feelings and I need to stop looking at movement as an anathema.
My therapist is a yogi and she’s teaching me to yoga poses that are restorative as well as strengthening my core. She’s teaching me how to breathe. She’s teaching me how to move.
In the last couple of weeks, I have become more mindful of moving my body. 16 minutes is all I need. I hate to say force, but I force myself to do yoga in the morning followed by a shower and the thing is, when I have done these two things, I feel so much better about my day rather than mindlessly laying about in my own filth, staring daggers at my yoga mat. The movement loosens up my hips so my sciatica doesn’t flare and the ankle exercises warms up my ankles and I have greater movement when I walk. I noticed after a week or so of yoga every day, when I woke up in the morning I wasn’t walking like a duck. My right ankle has arthritis from an accident that happened in my early 20s. I have had five surgeries, the last in 2012, to fix and manage the arthritis. Doctors have said if I’m not doing my ankle exercises on a daily basis, I could see more surgeries in my future with possible ankle replacement in five or so years.
I don’t want to be my mother and I don’t want to weigh 600lbs and I want to walk all the places.
Persephone has decided to come back to the surface and spring is finally blooming here. My new goal is to do my yoga in the morning and walk a few miles, with the dog, in the afternoon. If I can’t, for some reason, spend the 16 minutes to stretch, I’ll at least do my ankle exercises and walk. My partner and I are going on vacation in a few weeks and there will be a lot of walking. I don’t want to find myself in the evening with my leg propped up because of how bad my arthritis flared. I may not be able to get rid of my arthritis, and my crazy, for good but I can manage them if I just move my body at least 16 minutes a day.
While I have to talk myself into moving and walking, it’s becoming easier. There is a moment of pride not only that there are nearly immediate results but I have completed something that makes me healthier. I have to keep it up, sure, but I’m slowly moving my body and learning to enjoy the movement. What seems a bit hard in the beginning will become easier.
Move your fucking body.