A woman in various stretching poses.

A Realistic Outlook on Exercise

If you read my articles "An Unrealistic Outlook on Exercise" and the "All or Nothing Approach" you'll know that I haven't been successful with finding an exercise program that works for me.

At the moment, I am in week four of my personal training plan with my friend Amy. I’ve worked with a few personal trainers over the past two years, but I have failed, or maybe they have failed. Who knows! Some have lied and said that they understood my condition when they clearly had no idea. And some were my own fault, I was not in the right headspace.

But this time it's different!

So, I wanted to get back to exercise for two reasons. One, we all know that movement and exercise is the best medicine for AS. And two, I have put on a lot of unwanted weight since I became ill. This is due to immobility, medications, and comfort eating. I wanted this to change. I wanted exercise to become part of my routine, I wanted to enjoy it rather than see it as a daunting task. And I also wanted to have a healthier diet.

One of my best friends, Amy, is an amazing personal trainer. For a while now I have wanted to ask her to train me. But I was afraid of mixing friendship with someone’s business. As well as that, I was nervous that because she is such a close friend, I would find it hard to tell her if the plan wasn’t for me.

Oh, how I was wrong, because she is such a close friend, I can be completely honest with her about my plan. What I like and dislike, if I go off plan and if any of the exercises are too difficult or if my energy levels aren’t able for the workouts.

Amy knows me and my illness well

She is a great listener, and I can always talk to her about my illness and how I am feeling. It’s great to work with someone who actually sees how my illness affects me. For my plan, she made me delicious meal plans, gave me exercises that I could do that didn’t hurt my back and she set a realistic weekly step goal. Not a 10,000 daily step goal that I wouldn’t be able to achieve. She also checks in with me about my exercises to make sure that they were ok for me.

Something I never got with another trainer

Education. Amy has educated me on the importance of food, sleep, and exercise. And on how to help my body. On week two of my plan, I had such a terrible week of intense fatigue. I couldn’t do anything, or the fatigue would get worse, and it would make me feel so sick. I wanted to get my workouts done so one day I tried. I did the warmup and I instantly felt dizzy and like I was going to vomit. I knew I had to stop.

I felt so down that my body couldn’t do the things that I wanted to do. Amy reassured me that it’s more important that I listen to my body, and I rest when it tells me to rest. Her kind reassuring words helped me to realize that it’s ok if some weeks I can’t do it, there will be times that I can do it again. And just because I can’t do the exercises doesn’t mean I can’t stick to the rest of my plan.

So, now on the days I can’t do my plan completely...

I stick to the meal plan, water, and sleep goal. And if I can, I will try walk as many steps as I can and maybe try do a small part of the workout. I don’t need to throw everything out the window just because I can’t do one part of it.

I am now on week four of my plan and I feel like I’ve finally found the right way to do it for me. I am eating healthier and enjoying it. I look forward to exercising now. It’s a great feeling waking up with exercise pains that distract me from my AS pains lol. My pain has also decreased, and my energy levels are higher.

I used to have to push myself to exercise and go out for a walk, now I enjoy doing this.

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