I’ve been really sick all day today and last night so I’m trying to muster up the energy to continue the WEGO National Health Blog Post Month with today’s prompt. Also knowing that it’s Veteran’s Day and watching the devastation in the Philippines on the news has helped keep my flu (or whatever I have) in perspective. Though I was in bed until 5 pm, I finally mustered up enough strength to do Pilates. This is an activity that centers and empowers me, which leads me to today’s WEGO Prompt:
Veteran’s Day : For all our veterans and family members, we celebrate this day because it marks the end of WWI, at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month. Do you have a task you complete every day at the same time that helps you with your chronic illness? How long have you been doing this, how has it helped?
ANSWER: 4 Years of Pilates
I was diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis, a neuromuscular autoimmune disease that has affected most of my organs, in 2008 at the age of 24. Before I got MG, I did yoga five days a week and my favorite workout, Richard Simmons’ Sweatin’ to the Oldies (parts two and three). Having had Bipolar II (diagnosed at 19), I found that exercise was key to fighting depression. After getting MG, I was not able to exercise for over a year and half. I was bedridden. It was hard not being physically active—not just gaining weight but the psychological effects of being immobile were tremendous. While I didn’t spend the whole day staring at the ceiling (I did study the Bible, science, and watch a lot of stand-up comedy), there was something missing from my life with the ability to exercise being taken away from me. After a year and half, when I was physically able to exercise again, I searched high and low for something that worked. I could no longer do yoga because it required stamina and balance that I had lost. For years I couldn’t do Richard Simmons. Jogging, something I was never naturally good at (I ran the mile in high school at 11:59; the cutoff is 12:00), became impossible. Aerobics was too hard. In late 2009 I started researching online exercises for sick people. In fact, I probably googled (is googled a word yet?) “exercises for sick people.” And that’s how I found Pilates. The good news for me is that I actually love doing Pilates whereas I never really enjoyed yoga. I just did it because it was good for me. Today I have a healthier perspective on exercise compared to what my motivations were pre-MG. It’s not about getting tight abs anymore or my vanity (well maybe 10% of it is) but it’s mainly about how Pilates makes me feel good. Pilates rids the body of toxins, increases immunity, and reduces my stress.
Exercise’s Emotional, Spiritual Impact
There are times when I can do Pilates the same time five days a week preferably 6:45. But many days I can’t control how my body feels so it gets done at 11 am, or 1 pm, or today 5 pm. But every time I do it (I use the Mari Winsor DVDs), I feel like I can tackle
the day’s problems even though the Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and Myasthenia Gravis are putting up a good fight. Or some days like today a really good fight. I do Pilates for 20-25 minutes. On a bad day, ten minutes. One of the Bible verses that runs through my mind when I’m doing Pilates after spending hours trying to get out of bed is Philippians 4:13, “I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength.” It’s my mantra and Pilates is the physical embodiment of it. When I do Pilates, it’s good for me physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Exercising releases endorphins, the feel good hormones, which make us feel better about our lives. Some Pilates stretches also alleviate some of my PCOS pains. I don’t weigh myself but I think I lost 30 pounds over one and half years doing Pilates. I gained ten dress sizes in two years and went back to my original size after doing Pilates regularly, eating right, and a reduction in Prednisone (but I was still on 12 meds).
What Centers You?
I recommend that everyone find an activity that centers him or her whether it’s Mari Windsor Pilates DVDs or something else. Your Turn? Have you found something that “centers” you? Stay tuned for tomorrow’s WEGO Prompt!