Sunday, February 21, 2016

Going the Distance: You have to start somewhere!

One year ago at this time I had to build up my running base again and begin a strength training program. I was blessed to partner with Ryan J. Means, DC who, in addition to being a chiropractor extraordinaire is also a personal trainer. He recommended exercises on a stabilizer:

I had to start somewhere working on balance and strength. I am now up to being able to balance on one leg for one minute with two reps. After building up to 1 minute and working at this for a year, I am able to put on my slacks standing up, one leg at a time with no need to hold onto anything for balance! It's very exciting.

I couldn't get up off of a toilet seat or out of a chair without holding on to something. Dr. Ryan told me I needed to do squats to build up strength to be independent in getting up and down from a chair or a toilet seat, otherwise I risked injury from the wear and tear on my upper body. I couldn't do a squat. Yup - I had to start somewhere and so Dr. Ryan started me at the wall showing me the proper mechanics of a squat. I remember the day I was able to move an inch away from the wall as he predicted would eventually happen. I also remember the day when I was able to stand up without needing to lean on anything. There was also an emotional component to my difficulty experiencing independence in standing up and that was related to the violence I experienced from my father. Once I was able to build the strength and confront and heal the abuse from the past, everything came together for me.

Starting to build a running base again was really hard at first. Dr. Ryan taped my left leg:

The MRI showed that the gastroc muscle had atrophied from paralytic polio. We decided we should grow a new one (sounds funny doesn't it?) and the kinesiotape would help to stimulate the growth of a new muscle. He gave me calf strengthening exercises. At first I could only imagine going up and down on my toes. Little by little the power of my imagination combined with using the concept of mirror neurons (teaching my left leg how to move and fire up a gastroc muscle by 'watching' what my right leg was doing) stimulated the growth of a new gastroc muscle. It's still a struggle but I've come a long way from where I started a year ago.

I could have been content to maintain and increase reps with the exercises I was doing and been content with the half marathon distance I am now able to run.

Something has happened inside of me since partnering with Dr. Ryan. as we clear out the debris from the polio and violence I am, in the words of Dr. Joe Dispenza, conditioning my body to a new mind; a mind that believes in all possibilities and sheds the beliefs that were literally beaten into me. I feel this profound stirring in my soul that I need to continue to challenge myself in new ways building momentum in my health and wellness journey to strength train in new ways and to work on my pace in running. I feel as though there is a lot of lost time that I want to make up for. I want to enjoy my body and see just what this body can do.

To that end, I have to start somewhere again. This morning I worked out at Wave Health and Fitness while Tom went on a 10 mile run with our running family, L Street Running Club. Sure there was a part of me that would have loved to go out with them but I know running two days in a row and running a 10 miler this morning would have been tempting fate - for now and only for now.

I did squats using the barre to help with balance but did the last 3 squats free standing. I mixed up my core workout incorporating ab exercises that I've seen others do but didn't think that I could do them. I could only do a few reps but boy did I feel the burn. And then it was my moment of truth...I did my plank and I did my crunches and I decided that I needed to break that mental barrier about not being able to do a dolphin plank:

I held it for 5 seconds!

I have always admired people who can sit back on their heels:

I chose the image of a child here because before I contracted paralytic polio at age 5, I was incredibly flexible, graceful and my mind and body knew no bounds.

While I was on the mat at the gym I decided to move beyond another mental barrier I've had feeling so stiff in my body. I got really close to sitting back on my heels.

I feel that everything is accessible to me.

I've come so far in my healing journey and feel incredibly blessed and grateful ... I have so far to go but I know you have to start somewhere. It's an absolute miracle that at last reclaim my life and experience joy and freedom in my body even as I work so hard and embrace the challenges of setting and reaching new goals.

To your health and wellness!

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