As many of you know, I have completed chemotherapy and am now working at getting back in shape. At times it’s like a little dance: two steps forward and one step back or, worse, one step forward and two steps back. But this has become an excellent opportunity for me to practice some of the techniques I’ve been preaching throughout this blog. Examples: take it slow; start where you’re at and move from there; be patient with yourself; etc. Someone commented to me recently, “Now you know what your students feel like!” Yup – it’s been a good reminder. So it has become clear that even though we are not all recovering from something many of us are still in the same boat rowing uphill and occasionally over rapids – that is, trying to get back into shape after a long hiatus.
There is good news and bad news about warmer weather: the good news is it gets us outside doing things we haven’t done all winter; the bad news is it gets us outside doing things we haven’t done all winter! This past week I’ve been hearing various complaints about soreness resulting from over-doing long dormant activities – gardening, yard work, exterior painting, even cleaning (yikes!) Those of you suffering from these ailments might want to take a lesson from our half-marathon training. That is, we have worked up to it gradually, adding a bit more effort each week. Our weather here is so unpredictable that it is easy to fall into the trap of wanting to do everything at once. When you’re tempted to “swallow it whole” it might serve you well to remember the question “How do you eat an elephant?” and the answer, “One spoonful at a time!”
All of this applies to exercise, too. Temper your expectations. If you’re just beginning, or just getting back into it, or resuming an activity (like biking) that you haven’t done for a while, don’t expect to be perfect all at once. You probably will not be able to just pick up exactly where you left off. Ease back into it. And be kind to yourself while you’re getting there. Just getting out there and trying puts you ahead of all the millions of sedentary people out there who aren’t even trying. Give yourself a pat on the back and just keep at it. In the Tricycle article “The Progress Question”, the author, Ken McLeod states:
We call [it] “practice” for a reason. Any form of practice consists of doing something over and over again and failing at it over and over again. Through this process, we gradually build the capacities that make it possible to do what we are practicing.
And one more thing that might help you as you ease back into classes or any warm weather activity – reacquaint yourself with the pleasures of child’s pose. You can use it any time in a class but you can also use the concept as a metaphor for taking a break. Here’s a great article called “Why I Fell in Love with Child’s Pose” that may help you find new meaning and more fully enjoy the little breaks you allow yourself. Child’s pose is a gift. You would happily give such a gift to someone else. Just for today, give this gift to yourself. You can always push yourself tomorrow!