Weighty Matters

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Simple Joy of Walking

A couple of days ago, I had the first of three Euflexxa injections in my right knee.  The goal is that the substance will replace at least some of the natural material that provides a cushion between some of the bones in my knee joint.  On one side of the knee, that natural material is pretty much gone and the bones above and below are “kissing”.  I’m scheduled for two additional shots, administered at one week intervals.  Getting the injections doesn’t cause pain; maybe just a twinge of discomfort after the topical numbing spray wears off.  The post-shot care calls for icing the knee several times a day for a couple of days and restricted activity.

So, I did only minor walking and no Tai Chi.  Today, since it was now a full 48 hours post-shot, I wanted to walk a little further than I have been, mostly for the benefit of my dogs.  The twice-daily walks are as important to their well-being as they are to mine.

I’m happy to say that the walk was one of the most comfortable ones I’ve enjoyed in the last month.  I believe I’ve mentioned that, in addition to the chronic knee pain, I’ve also been suffering a bout of plantar fasciitis in my left foot.  Right knee, left foot — yep, walking has been a chore when every step hurts.

I hate to complain.  When I do, I think of all of the military veterans who have suffered devastating injuries in the war and are now home having lost limbs, among other things.  Sure, my left heel and my right knee hurt, but hey, at least I have a left heel and a right knee.  Every Monday night, I’m inspired by veteran Noah Galloway and his presence and performances on Dancing With the Stars.   One of his legs was amputated above the knee.  One of his arms was amputated above the elbow.   If he can train, practice and perform with those challenges, I can certainly walk without whining.

Before I had weight loss surgery, I could barely walk a long block without breathing heavy.  Stairs made my heart pound.  If I had to walk too much or otherwise be on my feet for significant periods in a day, I’d need ice packs and 800 mgs of Ibuprofen to recover at night.  Even when I stretched out in bed, my legs sometimes jerked or trembled from the trauma of simple activity.

After the surgery, the doctor said get up and walk.  I was on my feet and trundling down the hall a couple of hours after I got out of the recovery room.  Yes, I was accompanied by a nurse the first few trips, and I had to roll my IV pole along with me, but I did it.  Maybe not far, but it was a start.  Every walk I took over the next day or so in the hospital, I made sure to go a little further.

Once I got home, I walked a little each day of my recovery and, gradually, added steps.  That was the foundation to which I added more distance over time.

More than the physical activity, I grew to enjoy the pleasure of taking a walk.  It’s not just the surroundings, or the simplicity of the exercise.  I began to revel in the simply enjoying that I was capable of walking at all, compounded by going any distance and, in some cases, pushing myself in the occasional 5K event.

There are other exercises that I enjoy.  I loved Zumba when I did it, but needed to give it up because of the risk of really messing up my knee more than its existing arthritic condition.  I love riding my bike, too.  I also derive great pleasure and peace from regularly practicing my Tai Chi.

But there is something so complete, so wonderful, about walking.  I didn’t realize how much I missed being able to do so comfortably until today, when my knee felt better and I’ve also resolved most of the heel pain of the plantar fasciitis.

In marketing terms, I’d say that I get a great return on the investment of my time and effort when I walk.

In regular terms, I’ll just revel in the feeling of simple joy.

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Mary Does Disney

The last time I visited Disney World theme parks was in 1997. While still weighing more than 300 pounds, I was no where near my heaviest weight ever. I was a lot younger, had more energy, and my knee had not yet begun to really weaken. My friends and I had a great time.

A year later, after my Mom got sick, I’d put on about 35 pounds. I went to a theme park in Texas with a friend, got into the car for an old roller coaster and was too fat for the bar to come down securely, That pretty much ended any plans of going to a theme park ever again.

Since weight loss surgery, a trip to Disney has been on the Promise List. I have a conference starting today in St. Augustine and decided to come up a day early with a slight jog inland to Orlando for a Disney Day. I bought a one day park hopper pass and started with an 8 a.m. arrival to Animal Kingdom. Just going through a turnstyle without an issue is a mental relief. Climbing into a ride with a bar or a seatbelt and not giving the slightest, worried thought as to whether I’ll fit is a miracle.

I had a lot of fun. I didn’t do every ride that I wanted but caught different shows and attractions. I managed to hit all four parks at some point. According to my FitBit, I walked more than 14 miles, or 33,000 plus steps. Needless to say I was exhausted by day’s end. I confess that my body was sore and I treated my knee and ankle to an ice pack before going to sleep.

Unfortunately, my eating wasn’t stellar. I received some sad news about a foster dog that I care about while I was eating lunch. I was shocked to see that I’d eaten the entire sandwich completely mindless to what I was consuming. I so need to keep working on this! My mind blanked about my food as I was swept up in the emotion. I ate some other junk later in the day but I have to think that the day-long physical exertion will balance it all out.

Today I’m giving my body a day off to let it recover and I’ve begun the day with a mindfully-eaten, healthy breakfast. There were many yummy, off-plan choices that I could have made, as well as some overly abundant but healthier options. I actually spoke to the servers about the large quantity of food on the offered breakfast platters and asked if we could customize something smaller in portions. To my pleasure, they agreed and worked with me.

So, check Disney off of the Promise List. I’ve shown that I can do theme parks again and am looking forward to returning in the future. Booyah!

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Getting Moving

For the last week, I’ve been sluggish. Even though I got out on the bike several times, I fell off on my steps and didn’t get in my longer walks for a few days. I was exhausted at the end of every evening and craved even an extra half an hour of sleep in the mornings.

When I fall off of my game for even a few days, it affects how I feel about myself. Not only does my body weigh down, but my mind and emotions also experience their own kind of sluggishness. The more days that I go without significant, or at least fully adequate, exercise, the more I feel like a slug and the more difficult it is to self-motivate.

This morning, my alarm went off at 6 a.m. and I completely did not want to get out of bed and exercise. I scolded myself, laced on the sneakers and went out for a 40 minute brisk walk, followed by another 12-15 minutes of more leisurely walk with the pups. One the way home I realized how good I felt emotionally. My whiny ‘tude evaporated, I had more of a spring in my step, and I was smiling while I sang along to the tunes on my Nano. I not only no longer felt tired, I was rejuvenated.

After so much time, it shouldn’t surprise me that positive energy first thing in the morning sets me up for less stress and more energy throughout the day. The better I feel about my body and my self, the better I do with everything or anything that comes my way.

I’m really glad that A) I got my ass up and out of bed for the walk and B) that I was aware of how I felt when I started and then how great I felt with the endorphin release. I’m going to remember this tomorrow at 6 a.m. when the alarm goes off. Getting moving is a positive on which I can, and need to, build.

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