Ah Body Talk, ain’t it grand…
I am going to start at last week, because last week I had one of the Best Moments of my Life 🙂 One of those life defining moments when you know-just know with total certainty that you’ve become the person you wanted to be. And I had this moment on a Treadmill.
If you’d told me 6 years ago I could even have constructed a sentence like that I would have mocked you to your very face. Because I had one very solid belief back then-that if in face there was a place called Hell, it basically consisted of a room with a Treadmill saying “Property of Carrie Armstrong” on it. I would be forced to run on it continuously most likely whilst drinking dandelion & Burdock (what is that stuff, seriously) and whilst listening to Talk Radio (how weird is the job if a DJ though, sitting in a small room talking to yourself, it’s more of a personality disorder than a career per se…)
I hated running, the way most people hate Simon Cowell. It seemed like a pointless waste of time, very hard work, and I was really quite terrible at it. It didn’t help that my gorgeous best mate was a long distance runner and actually made it look good (she still does-damn her…).
During the years of being in the bed and the wheelchair I missed many things-and hand on heart running was never one of them. I did miss exercising though. So when I got Well enough surely I jumped at the chance to make like a gym bunny the first chance I got.
I avoided the gym for years. All exercise actually. My body was a thing I no longer recognised. It looked nothing like the body I’d had pre-illness. In some ways it looked better (cos let’s face it when you stop drinking 10 pints of a beer a night somethings gotta improve) but in other ways it was just one big reminder of what I’d been through. My legs scared me. The muscles were none existent. I really felt I looked like an old lady, or one of those uncooked chickens (oh yes, truly I felt all kinds of hot and attractive.) Really I so badly wanted body confidence-because I didn’t hate my body. Far from it. I’d finally learned to love it and say nice things to it (now before you laugh at me, have a think about all the horrible things you think about your body-and say about it to others-imagine if we talked to our friends like that!) I appreciated the strength of my body and everything it had overcome-but no way did I want to look at it-or show it to other people. No sir. Too many painful memories right there. But perhaps the biggest reason of all-
I was afraid.
Terrified to push myself too far incase it turned out I really was made of glass and would fall apart all over again. Far better surely to just appreciate my less than average body for the miracle of it being able to function again.
That’s no life.
So I bit the bullet and got my chicken-like ass down to the gym. I was so scared I cried the whole time. The. Whole. Time. I went back again the next day with sunglasses on so nobody would see me crying-unfortunately it just prompted comments like “why’s that crying girl got sunglasses on…she just keeps walking into all the equipment”.
Oh yes, good, good times….
I wasn’t ready, so I just left it alone. I actually left it alone for 9 months. Then one day last week I woke up and the first thought in my head was “I really want to go to the Gym” so I did! It felt really different this time. I made a beeline straight for the Treadmill (sans sunglasses) and ran for twenty minutes! And I loved it! I can’t describe to you the pure, undiluted Joy that I experienced. I have never felt so powerful in my entire life. It was a combination of revelling in what my body could do, but combined with the knowledge that I really was a totally transformed person. Because the pre-illness Carrie would have hated it, the ill Carrie couldn’t have done it. So this new Carrie had evolved in the past 9 months without me even noticing!
I will never be finished on this Journey. My work will never be done. I will never get to the point where I finish changing and growing. I get that now. Everyday since my treadmill victory I’ve done some form of exercise and loved it. I’m learning to accept the body I have now, as I know it’s the only way I’ll progress to the body and confidence I want. It’s not about punishing myself. It’s about finding new things I love, that excite me. It’s about my world getting even Bigger still.
So the biggest lesson I learned from this is that everything falls into place when I’m emotionally and physically ready, I hadn’t thought about exercise for months. I never beat myself up about it. I just put the thought down and concentrated on what I knew I could manage and work on in my right now. It just turns out that behind-the-scenes I was preparing myself and didn’t even know it.
So wherever you are in your Journey to Wellness right now as you read this. Don’t force yourself into anything. And if it feels like an effort then you are forcing yourself. If it makes you scared or makes you cry then why do it I say. You have nothing to prove to anyone. We already know how brave you are-you made it this far after all. You are making progress right now that you can’t even see. When you are ready you will definitely know. And it will be Easy. And it will feel like Joy.
I’m not a doctor. The information provided on this site is not a substitute for professional medical advice and care. If you have specific needs, please see a professional health care provider. Thank you.