I’ve been pretty damned good at following a comprehensive exercise programme since diagnosis nearly seven years ago. The suggestion and indeed the emerging evidence that I may be rewarded with a slower disease progression is a pretty good motivator. Despite this knowledge it can be soul destroying to spend each exercise session acutely aware that despite giving it my all, it can be like running up the ‘down’ escalator. I’m running and running, damned hard just to maintain my position without actually making any progress and in some forms of exercise, I’m actually slipping backwards.
Of course, when living with a progressive, degenerative condition, maintaining my position is an amazing achievement in itself. One which I recognise cannot be sustained indefinitely. However, if running up the ‘down’ escalator at full speed just to maintain my position was a challenge, running at full speed and still sliding backwards had a devastating impact and this is what I’d been experiencing lately.
Add into the equation a good dose of Parkinson’s related apathy, problems with balance, a loss of confidence, a stubborn refusal to admit to myself or anyone else that it is a continual uphill struggle.
So, I stepped off the escalator and stood still for a while. Just enough time to catch my breath, feel a bit sorry for myself and recharge my batteries, I told myself. Then when I knew I needed to get back on the escalator, I found excuses: adverse weather, no-one to train with, not good enough / fast enough / fun enough to be part of a group, no fun on my own, too many other things to do. The list of excuses was endless. Regular exercise is time consuming, demanding, requires commitment, focus and perseverance. It was all too easy to find reasons not to.
So, this week, I put all my excuses aside, got back on my bike and………really enjoyed it. The balance problems previously experienced were hardly noticeable. Perhaps a positive aspect to the variability and unpredictability of Parkinson’s symptoms. I wasn’t fast, I didn’t go far but I loved it. I had forgotten how good exercise (for me, particularly cycling) makes me feel. I’m hoping this is the kick start I need to get back on the escalator and start regularly running uphill again.
In recent months, I’ve been touched that family members and friends who, noticing I had got off my escalator, offered me their support in many different ways. Don’t ever underestimate the impact this has had. I may be stubborn and like to think I can do this on my own but I can’t and I’m eternally grateful for your support. No more excuses from me. A new year = a new start.
Happy New Year!
Wishing you all health, happiness, a lot of fun and of course lots of exercise in 2022.