Exercise, More Than Just Weights and Gyms

Okay, okay, I’ve been a bad blogger! I’m sorry! I know I have so many posts to write, including a recap of the Hope is Coming 5k and everything about Camp Care 2010. They’ll come, I promise! Right now though, when I can’t sleep, something else is coming to my mind…exercise.

This has been on my mind a lot lately. I’ve always loved exercise! Okay, maybe not loved, but it’s always interested me at least. Even when it wasn’t really something I was good at. And even when it was just annoying stretches, that seemed really pointless, the school PTs I had would give me. I knew there had to be some benefit. As I got older, exercise went from being more of a chore, to really becoming a hobby for me. Whether it was karate, horseback riding, spinning, lifting, and now running, I always have loved the concept of pushing my body to a point where it isn’t a body with a neurological condition anymore-it’s a body. Period. A body that needs to tap into it’s mental strength to get through the workout.

Running, well walking, has been at the forefront of my hobbies lately as most of you know, and I’ve been toying with the idea of becoming more serious with it. And by serious I mean actually training for prolonged periods of time instead of the week before a race. 🙂 I decided to google CP, exercise, runner, and blog to see what came up and came across two wonderful bloggers and their blogs: Katy over at Teen Cerebral Palsy and Greg over at The Casual Vegan. Both have CP, and both are very much into exercise. On one of Katy’s posts, Greg commented with the question of how many of us are into serious exercise, so I thought I’d add my two cents.

Even though my history with exercise has been pretty much on going in some way or another for my whole 21 years, it really has begun to pick up recently and I consider it to be at an even bigger starting point right now than it ever has been.

For the past few months, after my treatments at Crossroads I’ve been going downstairs to work with Dan in the gym. If you’re reading this, hey dude, you’re famous. 🙂 The whole concept intimidated me at first. It took me years-literally-to join a gym, and I’m still not fully comfortable doing any form of organized exercise with another person. This was going to be a whole new test for me. Sometimes even the little tasks that you wouldn’t even think would be an issue for me if you knew me, like shooting a basketball, are tough. It’s not something I really like to make an issue of, so letting someone who I consider my best friend see something like that was not something I was looking forward to.
Painfully long story short, thank God that Dan has this job, because it definitely helps to have someone you trust and who believes in you working with you (Side note to my new special needs parent readers: listen to your child if they tell you they don’t like their PT. Chances are it’s more than they just don’t like the exercise itself. The relationship is THE most important factor in success!!).
Some days are harder than others, just like they would be for the average person in a workout. Some tasks are harder than others. As me to do a push-up? Done. My arms are beasts. Ask me to practice walking using only a giant physio ball as my balancing aid? I’m sweating and exhausted after 3 steps.

No matter what it is I’m working on though, that same feeling of pushing my body comes through. I have goals just like anyone else. And I need to work to make them happen. I think this has really started to hit me between Camp this year and last week’s workout.

Phase One: I’ll get more into this when I get the time to write a true Camp post, but one night afterward, a bunch of us decided to do a Crossfit workout (read between the lines: INSANE!). I don’t really know what pushed me to want to join everyone that night, I still say it was divine intervention, but here I was in a room of people that I look up to immensely for their physical and mental strength and I was about to workout along side them. I was all set to have my own little Molly workout somewhere off to the side while they did their thing, when I was pretty much told that wasn’t happening and I was doing the same workout. Okay, so I didn’t do the 50 pull-ups, but that was purely for logistical reasons. I did 50 pull-downs instead. 🙂 For the first time, I was completely comfortable and completely in this element. The mental overtook the physical and I was just pushing to get to the goal. Which happened to be girls vs. guys, so clearly I needed to do my part.

Phase Two: This week I was working with Dan and I was walking with the ball. I was getting completely exhausted super quick as usual, but I needed this week to be different. I’ve been selling myself so short lately with so many things and I needed to push through being tired and scared that I was going to fall any second and just keep working toward my goal literally one step at a time. For me, it’s always going to be harder to push through the barrier-physical or mental-in this type of a setting because it’s one-on-one. Not to mention that because I’m working on tasks that are meant to push my body and meant to help me get stronger in ways that I greatly lack due to having CP, the chance for struggle and frustration is going to be much higher. But something that I had to do this week made me realize that, that struggle and frustration is okay because it’s getting me somewhere. I was standing and holding on to a set of suspended rings for balance. I was pretty nervous and probably having a little harder time than I was letting on. I for sure thought I couldn’t hold myself up on my legs any longer, but probably made it at least 30 seconds longer than I was telling myself I could. Afterward I started thinking that it doesn’t matter if I’m working my butt off running miles as some would, or if I’m spending that extra 30 seconds working on a balance activity. I’m still pushing my body and I’m still going to get my goals.

Finding the right balance of pushing myself and holding back was hard for me at first, and it still is. I want to treat my body just as anyone else would treat theirs, but I also have to be prepared for it sometimes to physically react differently with more fatigue and recovery time. I’m not too good at this, because it requires patience, a virtue I have yet to fully master, but I’m getting there. I’m constantly learning anytime I do any form of workout, that my body is just like everyone else’s in that it’s going to change from day to day and I really need to listen to it. That doesn’t mean though that I give myself a free pass to just sit on the couch all day because I have CP and need to modify some things or because someone says it might not be the best idea for my body. I know my body. I will make that decision.

No, I don’t know how many of us out there are into serious exercise (sorry if you were looking for that statistical answer), but I know I officially can’t live without it.

Oh, and one more note to my parent readers: if your child shows any interest at all in any form of physical activity or recreation-or even if they don’t-don’t hesitate to get them involved!! Even if a doctor, or PT, or protective family member tells you not to. And even if it’s not necessarily geared toward kids with special needs. I think sometimes it’s better for it to be a more mainstream activity. They will tell you what is right for them. And it just might change their life. It changed mine!!


3 thoughts on “Exercise, More Than Just Weights and Gyms

  1. I had bad experiences with Physical Therapy. Off handed comments like, "you're legs are shaking because they are weak" really stuck with me. I also had positive experiences, when I was very young, I was taught to jump as a method for pulling up my pants which later lead to hop scotch and jumping of all kinds.I was also once there when my parents were advised by a doctor not to let me run when I play with my friends because I could seriously injure myself. Can you imagine how bad off I'd be at 30, if I'd given up physical activity at 7? Sure I fell down a lot, but it was worth it.

  2. "Sure fell down a lot, but it was worth it." Totally getting used to this concept lately, so funny that you wrote that! Alot scarier being okay with falling at 21 than if I were 5! :)Thanks again for stopping by, and for sharing your experiences since it's not something you normally blog about. I really appreciate it!

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