By: Revanche

Health and fitness: January

January 24, 2013


Two thirds of the way into January, this “working out” thing is … working out?

I wanted to go to the gym (free, or already paid for in the HOA fees) about two times a week.  That sounded nice and doable.

Thus far: I’ve clocked gym-time about two times a week and walked/jogged about 15-25 minutes once a day. Later in the month, once in a while, I fit in two walks. (Walks: courtesy of Doggle) On occasion, he’s feeling frisky and takes me for a bit of a gallop!

The first day out, in December, I jumped on the elliptical for 20 minutes and predictably crashed and burned.  This is a common problem whenever I attempt a fitnessy thing: go fast, go hard, go plant yerself in the corner for the next week or three.  Seriously – that stunk. I felt thoroughly mocked – neener neener wussypants! You can’t even do 20 minutes on the elliptical!

Sigh, whatever.

Cranked it back down to 10 minutes at the lowest level for the next few visits.  That sounds pathetic when I say it out loud: I worked out for ten minutes! whoo!  But yes, ten minutes. I was that easily tired out and trying not to break myself again.  Then cautiously came up to a very easy 15 minutes. 15 was a frustrating plateau. After every workout, I was still flat tired. Heavy-limbed and struggling heavy breaths. Where was that second wind I always flew on after pushing through a wall? Right. I left that behind in my youth. *grumble*

In the last visit (Week 3, January) I forgot to stop early and went the whole 20 minutes without triggering a great deal of pain or exhaustion.  Interesting ….

To start the 4th week, I tried 20 minutes at Level Two. Finally broke a sweat and HR140, pain holding steady at a mere 4 or 5 points on a 10 point scale. Ten minutes of stretches afterward. Balance stretches, strengthening stretches, yoga stretches. Stretches and reps of things I haven’t done in 10 years. I could feel my spine crunching a bit, not a fan!  But my quads held up under the abuse.

Second visit of the week, arrogance got the better of me and I hit the StairMaster for a few 300 step reps. That was followed by a day of regret. Though I can’t be sure if it’s the exercise or the change in weather.

I found myself thinking of the Good Ole Days. When splits were easy, when I could out-limber nearly anyone – more stretches held for longer, all making my muscles lean and long and smooth. Looking around the gym stoked a strange feeling. Nostalgia mixed with questions. Will there be a day when I can do circuits again? Maybe. Sure as shootin, the idea that I might find myself in shape enough to do something neat like running in a race remains a hazy hope.

Today, I’m doing what I can and it’s twice as much as I could two months ago.  Color me grateful.

Next month will be more of the same. Slow and steady, working up to slightly longer intervals that won’t put me flat on my back. Let’s see whether 30 minutes is on the horizon.


I quit my medicine regimen 3-4 weeks ago.  A long term, long acting pain management anti-depressant, heavy hitting narcotics, a cocktail of over the counter pain relief: all now only as needed. It might not be how I’m supposed to handle the anti-depressant but my doctor went out on leave without leaving contact or alternate information so I can’t really ask.

This seems to be the right approach right now. My head is slowly clearing up. Fewer days, whether I’m registering at a 4 or an 8 on the pain scale, are spent convinced that this life, any life, is not worth living. More days are filled with some kind of activity: physically, mentally, intellectually. My internal motivation combustion engine feels internalized again. Mostly. A bad day, an unmotivated day still crops up every so often, as it will.

So far as diet goes, it’s been generally healthy with the exception of a few pizza nights. Not surprisingly, we’ve got decent alternatives to the travesty of a Domino’s run: Zachary’s in Berkeley and Di Napoli in the Peninsula. Both were unanticipated treats from other people but served to redeem my faith in the existence of good pizza.

Fruit and veggies made a more prominent appearance this month after a couple stops at the produce shop down the road. It was an amazing haul for remarkably little money, each time. Produce shopping makes for happy though I’m not sure it’s going to be the key to staving off the flu or whatever is trying to break through.

No great predictions or plans here: For now, it’s one step at a time lest cripplingly bad pain days snowball into a whole other thing.

12 Responses to “Health and fitness: January”

  1. Be very careful with that anti-depressant. I have had more than one friend have an extreme negative reaction from stopping an anti-depressant, including one who attempted suicide. If you’re not going to be medically monitored, make sure that you have people checking up on you who know you’ve gone off the medication. Some anti-depressants are worse than others for going off.

    • Revanche says:

      YOU guys know I’m off the medication, that was the point of blogging it. 😉
      No, I’m kidding – I only stopped like I did after giving it 3 months to work. Unfortunately, the massively negative side effect to the point of suicidalism was driven by TAKING the meds. I was told it’d take time to work so I stuck it out as long as I could but I have never been so incredibly Not Myself and depressed as when I was on it daily. I’ve been off it nearly a month now and it feels, not perfect, but like I’ve gotten off the ledge.

      • Just make sure someone IRL is keeping an eye on you. I’m not sure how long … a month may not be enough (I don’t know though). #2 on the blog would know. (She tried many many different drugs before finding the one that worked for her, but always with monitoring.)

  2. Sense says:

    DITTO!! above comment. Not something to trifle with. Sis randomly would do this, a long time ago. Always ended badly, but much sooner than 3-4 weeks, so maybe it’s fine for your body.

    • Revanche says:

      Totally understand that randomly going off them isn’t usually a good idea – if my doc hadn’t gone AWOL, we may or may not have done it this way. But I didn’t think I’d survive being on it much longer.

  3. Sense says:

    But AWESOME that you’re getting back in the gym. It is nice to feel accomplished, isn’t it? Even ten minutes is more than some people can do. There is a saying, something about beating everyone that is sitting on their couches. 🙂

    • Revanche says:

      I hadn’t really thought about ten minutes being much of an accomplishment, just a stepping stone on the path to what I really want, but I guess it really is Not Bad.

  4. Gosh, this is brave.

    It sounds like you’re managing to shuck off the medication without any untoward side effects. Surely if getting free of it were going to make you feel worse (or, god forfend, suicidal), you’d have noticed by now.

    IMHO the only way to get back into exercise after a long sedentary stretch is one step at a time. You can hurt yourself by overdoing. And what’s the hurry? Once you determine to stick to a regular exercise period, you have all the time in the world. Ten minutes of exercise is better than none. Twenty is a little better. Thirty is awesome! Especially when added to the walking, which is said to be the most effective form of routine daily exercise you can do.

    • Revanche says:

      Yes, as I told N&M above, it’s been an amazing change coming off the med which reminds me of the “The cure is worse than the disease.” Way to make me grateful by giving me terrible drugs… better than the alternative?

      I have been totally useless at this patience w/exercise thing. Exercise has always been a competitive thing for me so I have to learn not to be, now. So far, so good?

  5. Linda says:

    Over the past few years I haven’t totally fallen off the wagon when it comes to exercise (working out only once a week with a trainer just isn’t enough), but I’m trying to ratchet it up. I’ve added in a Spin class every week and have been surprised that it’s been a positive experience for me. Pay attention to your body and it will give you the feedback you need to build your routines on. A heart rate monitor helps a lot, too. (Noticing that my heart rate was at 168 was how I knew that it was time to sit down and pedal slowly for a while during my first Spin class; now I monitor it frequently during the class so I don’t have that “my heart is exploding out of my chest” feeling!)

    As for SSRIs/anti-depressants, I really hate them. I know people who feel they are absolutely necessary for their well-being, but the two times I tried them (different meds) the side effects were awful. And the fact that one has to taper on and taper off only makes it more hateful to me because when you’re having bad side effects you just want the meds to stop NOW. It’s my personal bias, but I think they are way over-prescribed these days. Thank goodness my current doc is not quick to offer me an SSRI for just about anything, unlike the last doc I had.

    Keep up the exercise! Even if it seems like small doses to you, it will help your mood.

    • Revanche says:

      I’ve resisted getting any gadgets for working out because I feel pressured to perform with them. And when I can’t, I feel amazingly guilty and grumpy about it. I suppose I don’t have as good a reason to shun a HRM though…
      Anti-depressants: I can’t really speak to how well they work in general, I think they’ve been good for a lot of people who are not me. And I think they can be rough times, too. They can be used to treat pain because of the shared neurological pathway, which is why I was on it, and why I didn’t treat it like it was a real anti-depressant (ie: paying attention to tapering on or off). To be fair, my doc also didn’t tell me to taper on or off either. *shrug* Trying it was a thing, stopping it was a thing. We’ll see what’s next!

  6. Getting back into exercise slowly is definitely the way to go. I tried too much earlier this month and realized that a little bit is better than nothing, and then I can build up. Sounds like you’re doing well to build up slowly to working out more 🙂 It’s really frustrating for me to start so slow, but I just keep telling myself that it will get better over time- but not if I get hurt!

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