Thursday, February 12, 2009

Exercise physiologist

I saw the exercise physiologist yesterday for the first time. Due to the various continuing insurance snafus I'm dealing with, I have been without sleep medication for weeks and without antidepressants for several days, so I felt about an inch tall when I went in there. (Thank G-d, they both got here today.) He was nice, and I was my usual blunt and honest self, so I'm sure I presented quite the challenge.

I have a T-shirt that reads: "I get enough exercise just pushing my luck." (I do push my luck, at least verbally, but I think of it more as participating in life than anything.) I really, really hate basically anything to do with exercise. The things I like to do best are all sedentary activities--reading, writing, watching movies. When I travel, I like to relax. It doesn't mean I just sit on a couch stuffing my face with cookies, it just means I like to read and be on the computer and don't tend to move a lot. Dancing is a lot of fun, and I really enjoyed doing that when I was younger and lighter. Of course, there is also the possibility of negative comments, which make it a lot less fun. I do still dance sometimes, but I get uncomfortable quickly and don't have much stamina. I enjoy lap swimming, although anxiety surrounding being in public in a bathing suit cancels the enjoyment out of it. The arthritis/bursitis/joint pain I've had since I was young (it started to get bad about age 25 for me) doesn't help, and it's a vicious cycle; you don't move because it hurts, and it makes it harder to move when you don't move. Feh.

I started walking outdoors a lot last year, but my ankle kept giving out at random and getting twisted and sprained, plus you never know when some jackhole is going to drive by and scream or throw something. I bought a recumbent stationery bike, but it hurts my joints (knees, ankles, hips) to even do that for more than 10 minutes. ("Why don't you read on the recumbent bike?" my friend asked me. My response: "It interferes with my cursing.")

So optimally, they want me doing 30 minutes in the target heart-rate zone and 15 minutes cooling down after that four times a week. I'll do the best I can, but when stuff starts to really hurt, I stop doing it. (In the immortal words of Daffy Duck, "I don't like pain. Pain hurts me.") It sounds like I'm just making excuses, but people don't see me walking around like Quasimodo in the mornings with my joints sounding like popcorn. The t'ai chi is basically worthless--it's a good "day off" activity--but is it really a day off if I'm still doing t'ai chi? A day off means hallelujah, no exercise. Feh x 2. Of COURSE the t'ai chi isn't worth anything, I was actually enjoying it and it wasn't causing me physical discomfort!

The exercise physiologist was explaining to me about different kinds of pain with exercise, oxygen getting to cells, etc., and how after about two weeks the good kind of pain dissipates. He also told me the latest research showed that it wasn't beneficial to stretch cold muscles, saying that it was better to just do it after a workout. That was something I had never heard. People in better cardiovascular health have a better chance of not developing complications from surgery, recover faster, etc., which goes without saying.

The first part of the exercise physiology assessment was cardiovascular, so I did about 15 minutes on the recumbent bike with him. True to form, everything hurts today. I see him again next week for the strength part of the assessment. I bought a heart-rate monitor that is kind of cool--you put a band around your upper abdomen and wear a watch, so you know what your heart rate is. I went for the bottom-of-the-line model with basic information; there was one available with more bells and whistles that tracks calories burned and stuff like that, but I don't want to go there. I can look at a clock and tell how many minutes I've worked out, and the number on the watch is the heart rate, so that's straightforward enough. I'm just going to make it part of the food journal in terms of tracking it.

I told him my biggest concern with exercise is learning to motivate myself to do it just because it is good for me/for my health, not to be so *extremely* goal-oriented that it feeds into old perfectionism/defeatism and eating-disordered behaviors, etc. (Although I didn't say "eating-disordered behaviors"; I probably should have. But he's not a therapist per se, I didn't feel like I should tell him my whole life story. Of course, I really didn't want to be there in the first place, so there was that, too.) Toward the end, he asked me if there was anything else I wanted to tell him and in retrospect, maybe that was a hint that I should have disclosed more. I can always tell him next time.

I didn't know what an exercise physiologist even was, so I asked him a lot of questions. He said it was a lot like a physical therapist that also focused on the heart and lungs as opposed to just joints and muscles. It sounds like a very competitive field. I'm glad he is such a nice guy. He was certainly patient.

I saw the term "exercise resistance syndrome" in a book, which cracked me up. I think it's safe to say I have it. With bells on.

No comments:

About Me

My photo
Seattle, WA, United States
This blog focuses largely on a personal journey to and through weight-loss surgery. It's also about reading, writing, animals, photography, love, humor, music, thinking out loud, and memes. In other
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.