So, today: Part 1 was Qi Gong and hip openers. Lots of intensive wide-stance bent-knee thigh exercises. The stretches at the end, though, those feel like magic. I should remember those. I don’t bend as low as they do in the video, but I’m getting much, much closer. Full sets on everything. Go me. Second half was the chair thing, which makes me sort of sad/glad I was never a ballet dancer. Hold onto the back of a chair in front of you. Start with your feet in second position, lift your heels off the floor, and, now… bend your knees until your hips reach your heels. Now lift your right leg until it’s as close to parallel with the ground as you can get it. Lower. Lift. Lower. Now bend the other knee while you do it. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA.
So that happened. I did as much as I could, which was most of it, but there is no way in hell my foot is going to come up to hip height with a straight knee, at this point. Maybe someday. I did all the reps, just… with very little height. It was a good workout, that’s for sure. As I stood at the counter blending up my banana-protein powder smoothie, I could feel my legs trembling. Just standing there. Huh. This is me, I guess. Just a new me.
Justin and I were talking yesterday, and he observed that right now I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in the years he’s known me. He’s right. I’m also in the least pain. In the last few months, my right ankle is a bit of a disaster after this summer’s knife fight, and my right shoulder is still not 100% and may never be, but I’m having fewer headaches, fewer shoulder problems, fewer joint issues in general. That’s amazing, and my painkiller/muscle relaxer intake is down by about 75%. I’ll take it, even if it does make me sweaty and irritable for 20 minutes each day.
I also observed while we were talking that it’s entirely probable that I had exercise-induced asthma (diagnosed by my doctor 2 years ago) for my entire life. I hated sprinting as a kid, because I couldn’t breathe. I loathed running days and Presidential fitness tests because they were hard and I couldn’t breathe. I avoided team sports because most of them involved running (I liked volleyball). The outdoor things I enjoyed — swimming, playing outside, skiing, bike riding — are not heavy cardio exercises that would push my lung capacity (or, not the way I did ’em). And since I sort of openly hated team sports and organized play, nobody pushed me to do those things, and who knows. Maybe this was happening all along but I didn’t have the vocabulary to explain it. I just “hated exercise.”
Then 2 years ago I was at the gym on campus, on the elliptical machine, pushing myself to burn and sweat (because omg getting fat and this is not okay), and I realized my breath was whistling out of my windpipe. Literally whistling. I called it a night, bundled up to go home, and when I hit the 10 degree air outside, I nearly panicked, because the breathing got worse. I called for a doctor appointment. My doctor (of 9 years) listened to my lungs, and I told him my story, and then also the story of the time I went to get allergy tested and they did a lung volume test and the nurse kept telling me to blow harder because I wasn’t getting enough volume into the machine and I kept saying, “That’s all I can do”… And he gave me a prophylactic Albuterol inhaler. “Exercise induced asthma.” I’m fine the rest of the time, just when I do vigorous sudden activity, my lungs freak out. Hiking, running, aerobics, yep, not surprised that’s when it happens. Use it 20 minutes before you start, and the symptoms won’t appear.
It works. If I forget to use it? Whistling.
So. The things I’m learning. Justin said, “You just never did anything that was hard before”, and exercise was hard, so I never really noticed the asthma. Rather than being insulted, I just know he’s right. I’ve always avoided doing things that are hard. It’s just part of my pathology.
Part I’m getting rid of.