When the neurologist first diagnosed me with Parkinson’s, I was surprised but calm. It was when he said I really should exercise an hour every day that I practically burst into tears. Exercise for me has always been a chore. When people say, “Oh, find an exercise that’s fun for you,” this is like saying “Find a mammogram that’s fun for you.”
At least the mammogram is productive. I do some sort of exercise nearly every day but I still have a collapsing posture, no core, tight muscles, and can’t run down my driveway, much less around the block. I am going to a new personal trainer, the latest of a long series of classes, physical therapists, and personal trainers. When I complained to the trainer that my attempts at aerobic exercise didn’t seem to be very aerobic, he responded, “Maybe you need to work harder.”
Wish I knew the secret to “working harder”. I got to the gym this morning and I boldly set the timer on the elliptical for 30 minutes. I s-l-o-w-l-y fought my way to…. 15 minutes. I mentally pushed myself to “another five minutes” , then “another five minutes”, but just couldn’t force myself the final five minutes. Was I puffing and out of breath? No, of course not. The elliptical as usual gave me a target heart rate of 134, which I have never gotten anywhere close to. I believe I started out at 85 this morning, and occasionally made it into three figures.
I should be inspired by Esperanza. That’s not her real name of course. I’m calling her that to protect her privacy and because she should inspire hope for me. I see Esperanza fairly frequently at my gym, but I only recently learned she comes three times a week, from when the gym opens (5 am!) till about 11 am or so. Esperanza is accompanied by her (even more remarkable) mother, because Esperanza has severe mental challenges. I don’t believe she can even verbalize language … but she can sure do a great Zumba.
So, maybe next time I’ll make it to 30 minutes on the elliptical. The weather is finally getting warmer and I hope to do more walking and hiking. (This is exercise I actually enjoy.) And shout-outs to my fellow PD bloggers who write of their victories with exercise: Natasha McCarthy (horseback riding, Boot Camp) and Bruce Ballard (long distance swimming and 22 days of 22 pushups to highlight prevention of veterans’ suicides.)