The Healthy Writer: Journey Back to Fitness
I've always prided myself on taking care of my body and maintaining a decent weight for my height and age. However, in November 2015, everything changed. Not overnight, but over a period of many months.
The change began with a new asthma medication I started using, which I didn't realize would deplete my body of calcium and potassium. Two very important minerals to maintain your health and fitness levels. In addition to the new medication slowly leaching these vital nutrients from my body, I had added several intense workouts to my regime in the hope to work off the last remaining and extremely pesky 5 pounds I wanted to lose.
Add to this mix the fact that I was under deadlines, sitting for hours at a stretch in my writing chair, and slouching over my keyboard.
Fast forward. My cramps don't go away. My muscular strength is fading. I land in an ER in February 2016 after suffering a torso cramp so intense I could not stand.
No objections here. At this point, I thought I might have something seriously wrong. Something that could kill me. After HOURS at the ER during which I was poked, probed, given a CT full body scan and also offered morphine when I suffered another torso cramp, they found NOTHING wrong.
OK. Not dying. Good thing because I had a book to finish, an anthology to wrangle with other authors and I was their uploader. Probably wouldn't have been good if I had died.
Then what the heck was wrong with me? I knew it was muscular, but what caused the horrible cramps?
At this time, I was still taking the asthma medicine inhaler daily. I knew my problem wasn't internal so I turned to GOOGLE and began researching this problem. I discovered multiple boards detailing the same debilitating cramps. The culprit? My asthma medication.
I stopped taking it immediately. Now I rely on my rescue inhaler. Period.
But the damage wasn't reversed. And working out only ascerbated the problem. So I backed off and suddenly the weight started to pile on because I need to workout to maintain. My metabolism slowed to the point where it only responded to intense, high energy workouts. As the weight piled on, my level of frustration grew. And, in addition to the cramps, I had terrible lower back pain. Every time I sat down to work for any length of time, I felt like an old woman who couldn't straighten up from her hunched position. I am not that old... but I felt very old...
That's when I stopped weighing myself. Why depress myself every day? I took all my cute clothes that I used to wear to the thrift shop, then lived in leggings and big tops. I continued to gain until finally, in May 2017, I faced the scale.
That was not a good day. That was an ugly cry day. That was a "how in the hell am I ever going to get back to where I was when I thought I needed to lose just 5 measly pounds? I weighed over 200 pounds. And I was MISERABLE.
I'd already started to work out again but the cramps continued to plague me. Once I had one that was so severe while at the local YMCA, I had to fight off the tears as all the macho men and the superpower women worked out around me.
I cried all the way home. When I got there, I marked the places where the cramps occurred with a sharpie pen in a big BLACK X. I had a new doctor to see the following week and I was determined to figure out what the hell was going on.
THIS WAS WAR.
My new doctor examined me. He was (and is) a compassionate and kind General Practictioner. The first thing he said was this was muscular and I needed to see a physical therapist. He listened. He cared. He didn't jump to conclusions or judge me for how far I had fallen.
He sent me to a physical therapy clinic where the fabulous therapist went through all the paperwork I'd filled out, told me she wasn't sure about the torso cramps, but she could help me overcome the excruciating lower back pain. I felt a measure of hope.
She got me on the treatment table and began to assess my body. And then she said... you're textbook and called her staff over to look at what was textbook about my body. I had a misaligned hip. My body was literally trying to straighten itself out for over 2 years after the initial muscle cramp. Or maybe the hip happened first. I'll never know.
But what I do know is that this discovery led to my FULL recovery from the pain. Yes. I had to go through many PT sessions until I graduated and I've noticed that if I sit for long periods of time or push too hard, twinges occur. BUT I KNOW WHAT I NEED TO DO TO WARD OFF THE PAIN.
I had to learn how to work out all over again. I couldn't do extreme fitness classes or major torso work at all. I had help from a dear friend who set me up on some machines that stabilized my core. I backed down from pushing for over an hour of cardio, slowly rebuilding my strength with 30-40 minute treadmill walks or elliptical runs. I followed all this up with my physical therapy exercises and stretches.
I also went on a "lifestyle change" which helped. So since May 2017 when I had the meeting with the scale and the ugliest cry ever I have lost 30 pounds. I'm proud of myself. I am a bit below where I was before the first serious torso cramp occurred, and I'm giving myself permission to coast at this current weight for a bit until pressing to lose that last 5-10 pounds.
My journey back to a healthier me wasn't easy. But I've learned a lot about myself and how to live now because of this journey. In the future, I will be posting Healthy Writer articles to share with you because I want to connect with you regardless of where you are in your fitness levels.
This is a no judgment zone. Everyone has to start somewhere. We all backslide. We all have setbacks, and we all have triumphant moments!