The past year has been a whirlwind. It’s felt like the quickest year of my life so far, which is partly down to lots of change and scarily, probably just an indication of how life will be from now on. I realise that it’s not over yet either, so there’s room for more to happen, which is good because I can’t decide if it’s been a successful year for my health. I wanted 2016 to be a fitness overhaul, a year where I did everything in my power to turn my bad health around, but also to just feel better.
On top of alleviating symptoms of hypermobility and EDS, I wanted to stop feeling sluggish and tired, improve my posture, get stronger, feel fitter, change my eating habits and improve what I drink on a daily basis. I don’t mean alcohol by the way- I’m not at my desk sipping gin and juice daily, I’m talking cutting back on caffeine, drinking less Diet Coke etc.
I feel like I have made a lot of progress on the fitness front, some on the food and drinks front, but not as much as I want on sleep and I’ve gone backwards on posture. I feel very much in need of a massage 99% of the time at the moment.
It’s really hard to actually take out time to deal with health when life is already so busy. Work takes up most of my time, which is hardly uncommon, and at the weekends I often find myself backed up with plans (and an overflowing washing basket) and generally bad at time management, meaning I still don’t get round to working out what appointments I need and so on.
But having conditions to manage is just half of it. Even if I didn’t have EDS I still think I’d have the same internal battle over finding the will to to do what I so badly want with my fitness. I’m a soft touch.
I also know how to talk myself out of doing pretty much anything. There are times when I am trying to talk myself out of running while I am already out running. I get past the hurdle of actually getting out there and I still try and stop. I’m already 1k down yet in my head I’m like “okay if you just run for another five minutes it’s okay to stop and go home because look at that cloud.” I should probably add ‘stop demotivating yourself ALL THE TIME’ to my list of things to work on.
My actual fitness levels have peaked this year thanks to having my first 10k to train for this summer, a new gym with really good classes and motivation from people around me. I have had a couple of setbacks though, and it’s been so hard to come back from them. It’s like getting out of bed when it’s freezing outside and pouring down and the duvet is the most comfortable, warmest thing you’ve ever touched. You know you need to just do it and stop hitting snooze, but it’s bloody hard. Comfortable is good. Comfortable is preferable. But comfortable seems to quickly become lying in bed fully dressed with a packet of biscuits every day after work.
I finally started exercising again and went for a few runs after a hip injury made me unable for a month, but it took so long to get to the point where I even put my running clothes on. I just stared at them in their drawer and tried to ignore them for a couple of weeks, like someone else owned them. I basically death stared them, because how dare you remind me of how much I’m failing at my 2016 fitness goal, blue lycra leggings. Getting dressed really can be half the battle. When I don’t win the battle, and the laziness wins, all the bad habits, like eating bad, getting the lift instead of the stairs, staying up late and guzzling sugary, overpriced coffee all creep back in.
I feel more like I want to eat better when I’m active. I feel more like I want to get an early night when I’m active. I feel more like I want to stretch and do my physio exercises and guzzle water and eat broccoli when I’m active. I just feel more like a successful human when I’m active, which is hard when health problems mean you just can’t be that person some days, but it is what it is. On the whole, I know what’s better for me, I just need to be better at keeping those things up.
When I stop exercising, or my health stops me exercising, I fall into some kind of black hole where I struggle to do anything that’s good for me. It spirals and it usually takes a moment of sudden extreme frustration at myself to get back out there, which results in an aggressive run where I realise how lazy I’ve been and how good it feels to be moving again, and the good habits all resurface.
This is pretty much the story of my whole adult life when it comes to health and fitness. The battle this year has really been spending more time out of the black hole than in it, because that’s always where I lose. I think I’ve managed that. I think out of the ten and a half months so far, I’ve been on the outside, feeling smug in my trainers and eating courgetti or something else equally annoying. For the rest of 2016, I need stay out of the black hole. I need to not let blue lycra leggings taunt me.