Moving on. I was doing very well on Paleo and exercising but I wanted to up my game. I went to a nutritionist for a few months. It was nothing that I didn’t know already but the important thing I learnt from the nutritionist wasn’t what to eat but more what groups of food to eat together for maximum benefit. Armed with this info, I joined Equinox – a really cool gym and got a personal trainer, something I thought I would never do again. The gym soon became my favorite place to go! I enjoyed the classes, the workouts and I had a great trainer who worked around all my neck and shoulder problems. Six months in and I felt strong and fit. I still didn’t care for hardcore cardio.I learnt how to use most of the machines and weights which looked so very intimidating when I first started. The mantra that my trainer asked me to follow was that “I am stronger that I think”. A lovely sentiment and very motivational but not something you think of when you are about to pass out after kettle bells and dead lifts! Nevertheless I thoroughly enjoyed weight training.
Things that helped me stay on track:
I made meals in batches and ate them throughout the work week. I made sensible choices when dining out. No not salad, but grilled protein and vegetables. I had wine or dessert not both, so this way I got to enjoy what I wanted to eat or drink the most. If I went out of town, I didn’t restrict myself to eating healthy food. I took my sneakers and either hit the gym at the hotel or walked around the town therefore justifying any indulgences I wanted.
The next challenge for me was to start running. Full disclosure I look like Phoebe Buffay from FRIENDS when I try to run ! I wanted to change that. Its hard to believe- but I couldn’t run as in I had no idea how to. I downloaded the couch to 5K app and slowly started running on the treadmill. I was looking for that running high that everyone talks about. I guess I missed it. I did experience several stitches on my side though!
It was around this time in early August of last year that I took my yearly vacation to India. The day before I was set to return I had the familiar neck and shoulder pain and it was quite excruciating. It turned out that I had 2 herniated discs! The pain was all over my neck (sometimes my ear lobes hurt which I never knew it could ) and shoulder radiating down to my arms. Sleeping was pure torture and I couldn’t get conformable no matter how hard I tried. The doctors didn’t want to go down the surgery route, advising on getting better through exercise and better posture.The problem with having chronic neck and back pain is that it always develops into something like this, you never know what can trigger the pain something completely innocuous and you have to spend the rest of your life with pain management (the medicines do a number on you!) and accept that certain strenuous physical activities are probably off the table for good.
My work was absolutely understanding and gave me as much time off work as I needed. My family spent the next month taking me around to physical therapy and acupuncture- anything that would help with the pain. I did get better in part due to the therapy and the insane love I got from my family and friends.
After I came back to the US, I continued having pain on and off. Mostly on. It got frustrating at times because I couldn’t do simple tasks like carrying grocery bags or wearing a heavy winter coat or carrying a decent sized handbag! I couldn’t be as active as I liked, winter had set in and all I did was eat comfort read junk food. On those days I was a bit of a crank-ball and complained to whoever cared to listen but for the most part I was ok about it.
I look around and see people who have terrible illness and unimaginable pain and they handle it with humor and try to stay positive. They inspire me to not feel sorry for all the things I can’t do but look towards all the things I can do! I’ve been in extreme pain on and off for years and I hate taking the medicines but I feel lucky that I only have chronic pain and not something worse. It does make day to day a little difficult but it has never stopped me from doing all the things I really love. You just find a way to do them if its important to you. Oh and family and friends and soul sisters help.
So this is me now, six months later, still in pain but manageable. I’ve been given the go ahead to exercise, something that I missed terribly. I missed the clarity and the calm that I always felt after a workout. I can’t do all that I used to, just walking. Baby steps. If you are an emo eater like me, you know where I’m going with this. I haven’t stood on a scale in a month. All my hard work at getting healthy seemed to go to waste, but if there is one thing I do know, its that muscle memory lasts for a really long time. So I know I’ll get there eventually, however long it takes.
Do you have a health crisis story? Or struggle with weight loss or eating right and falling off the wagon. How do you deal with it?