Over the past two years I've done my best to stay active and in the best shape possible. Even if it was only a walk around the back yard, or the most basic of stretching I was determined to not let my illness completely take me down. I made it a habit to practice gentle yoga a few times a week (even if it was just seated stretching), and lightly bounce on my rebounder daily (sometimes for only 2 minutes!). I also did the Sit and Be Fit workouts as well, which I highly recommend.
Today was different though. Today I was leaving the safety of my home and going to workout in a public place with plenty of smells and a more intense workout than I've done in a very long time- and most importantly- a place that equalled big time trauma in my brain.
As I dusted off my workout shoes I'll admit I was nervous. All sorts of thoughts and "What If's" ran through my head. "What if I can't do it?" "What if I pass out?" "What if I have a bad reaction to the smells?" "What if I panic?" "What if I'm not ready for this?" All these thoughts ran through my mind as I got ready, got in my car, and got even stronger as I pulled into the parking lot. I almost punked out. I almost let myself turn around and go back home. But thanks to prayer, thought questioning, a couple quick rounds of FasterEFT, and encouraging words from my Dearest I put aside my fear and faced it head on.
When I stepped into the gym I was immediately accosted by the aroma of the cleaning spray that they use to wipe down the machines. I ignored the tingling sensation in my ears and focused on greeting my new trainer, Arthur. As we talked, I felt more and more comfortable. He asked about my medical condition and I gave him the Cliff's notes version. By the time I was finished, Arthur was looking at me in both amazement and disbelief- the typical reaction that I get from those who hear about it for the first time!
He then took my height, weight, and BMI. He said that my weight and BMI were actually perfect for my height and age. And here I was seeing myself looking like a concentration camp survivor. Another prime example of how our perceptions of ourselves can be so incredibly twisted! So that was an unexpected bonus, and a great confidence booster!
We started off with some easy walking on the treadmill for a 10 minute warm up, followed by some basic stretching. There were a few moments I started to get "jelly legs" but I kept silently talking to myself and persisted. We then moved on to the weight machines. We did arms and shoulders first, lighter weight and higher reps. I kept myself moving slow and steady, focusing on each muscle as it worked. Arthur was very encouraging- talking to me the whole time, praising my progress, and steadying me when I got a little wobbly. He was incredibly patient!
After arms we moved onto legs and then abs. After abs a bit more stretching, and before I knew it the session was over. "That's it?" I asked Arthur. "What do you mean that's it? You've been working out for an hour straight!" I couldn't believe that I had already done an hour and wanted to do more! "That's enough for today" said Arthur. "Baby steps...you're just getting back into it." He then went on to compliment my perseverance and said that he couldn't believe what good shape I was in after all that I've been through. He informed me that his sister has Fibromyalgia and that he was going to tell her all about me. Hopefully my story would inspire her to work toward getting off medication and on the track to real healing. Be a blessing to others....another unexpected bonus for the day!
Watch out Agnes! I'm catching up to you!
As I made my way home, I felt the tears well up in my eyes. I've cried so many tears over the past two years, but these were tears of joy and not of sadness. I thought of myself 6 months ago...a time that the idea of joining a gym and doing a real full hour workout seemed like a distant dream. A time that driving my car was an epic undertaking, and even simple housework was enough to exhaust me. I felt like I had just climbed and conquered a mountain. Not even just by finishing the workout, but by facing my fear head on. By not letting my anxiety get the best of me, and by not letting trauma win. It feels so good to experience the positive results of hard work!
I pulled into the driveway of my house and put my car in park. I sat there for a minute, relishing the moment and focusing on the feeling so that I can revisit it later on when needed. I wrapped my arms around myself and gave Me a big hug. "You've come a long way, baby. A long way..."