Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Fitness goals

With a new job comes a hell of a lot of stress. Just kidding—sort of. With the new job I landed, I was finally able to afford a gym membership. Did it have the miraculous result on my leg I thought it would have? No, but the rest of me is looking better!
I do think that exercise is one of the most important ways to manage lymphedema. It is difficult though, that is for sure. If you read my older posts, you’d see that I used to be a runner so I used to love exercise. If you met me, you’d know how neurotic I am and therefore, how imperative it is that I use that use exercise to take me down a few notches…

Things have changed though since my days of running. I have this extra weight from my leg that I didn’t have before and it can make exercising really difficult. I honestly think that if I put too much pressure on myself or scheduled overly specific goals for my exercise I would fail horribly and disappoint myself. I never know how my leg will be on a given day. Some days my leg doesn’t bother me at all while others I can only go 3.5 mph on the treadmill. Then other times, I get a little too excited and then overdo it which can be painful and increase the swelling.

I think setting realistic goals for exercise is extremely important. You want goals but with lymphedema, you have to know when to modify those goals. I usually go for 3-4 miles with a combination of the elliptical and the treadmill. On days that my leg feels good, I try to beat my typical time so that I can complete more miles in a shorter time frame. When my leg is not feeling so good, I will keep my time on the elliptical short with maybe only a mile on there and then I will move to the treadmill and do another mile or two on their depending on my leg. I will get this pain in my calf, it’s not intense but more like a stiffness that is incredibly uncomfortable. I always lower my speed and then try to walk it off. If that doesn’t work, I try to get to 2 to 2.5 miles and then I call it quits.

Today, my leg is aching and massive because I flew from Florida last night to Chicago and my leg isn’t taking the pressure change so well. I can actually feel the heat of my foot from the outside of my boot. I am going to the gym today because I enjoyed the holiday food and cookies a bit too much. I would love to get in there and have a hard core workout but that’s not going to happen because walking to work was a challenge today. So I am going to do my mile on the elliptical and then get on the treadmill. If my leg is feeling good, I will aim for 2 more miles on the treadmill at a moderate pace.

My point in all this babbling is that it’s good to set goals but for people with lymphedema, you have to understand your body’s limitations and modify your goals accordingly.

I have a few goals for myself with exercise:

1. Increase energy level
2. Build up enough strength to start doing yoga again without really embarrassing myself…
3. Tone my body up so I can wear my speedo without scarring the other members
4. Be healthy

One note about exercising with lymphedema. I think that we are all vulnerable to exhaustion because of our condition. If you try too much too fast, you will wear yourself down. Take it easy, the energy will come with time and the more you can accomplish at the gym or whatever your fitness goals are.

My next big to-do is to cut back on sugar. And I really love sugar! I will have more posts about my sugar withdrawals as I start to cut it (well lower it, let’s not get crazy…) from my diet.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi, thank you for such a great blog, I absolutely love it. I’m 26 and I have got lymphedema in my right lower leg (not sure whether it is primary or secondary, it started when I was 24, at first it started to go down after I started treatment but it is getting gradually worse again now despite treatment, not sure whether that is because the weather is getting warmer though) – so far I don’t have a bad case of it though so I am quite fortunate. I am an exercise fanatic and I do overdo it sometimes (or at least my leg seems to think so). I’m currently experimenting a lot with different kinds of exercise and diet (including supplements) to see what effects it has on my leg. I only recently started using the treadmill. I used to use the stationary bike, the rower and elliptical before and I thought that the treadmill is going to make my swelling worse because of it being high impact, but it doesn’t seem to as long as I don’t overdo it. I also find if I do intervals instead of going at a steady pace for a longer time my leg seems to respond better. I’m really glad I found your blog, because I thought that I’ll never find anyone who is my age and has this condition and is going to the gym.