I’m not totally lost when it comes to working out. Yes, some days my idea of a crunch is the one I get from a Lay’s potato chip. But I’m no stranger to fitness- I’ve been doing physical therapy pretty much since birth. Here’s the story: I was born with severely clubbed feet, which led to a whole plethora of orthopedic issues, and here I am, 10 surgeries later with a better walk!! but the osteoporosis and severe arthritis in my feet and ankles that come with the territory of being laid up, and in and out of wheelchairs during my youth.
During my last surgery in high school, I was pretty immobile, and I became extremely frail- even getting down to 75 pounds at one point. During my recovery, I was able to put weight back on, and I was actually feeling pretty healthy, stable and good on my feet- then I went to college. Four years of no physical therapy, minimal exercise, maximum servings at the cafeteria, an introduction to beer, an even bigger introduction to late-night Jimmy John’s. I left college with a degree, 20 extra pounds and feet that couldn’t take me more than 3 blocks.
When I got my first job out of college, I was definitely feeling the effects of my poor health. I was tired all the time, none of my clothes fit, I was feeling sick quite often. It was New Year’s Day of 2015 when I joined the popular fitness program, “Tone It Up”. I went HARD. I ate according the to the recipes, did the daily workouts (which really are great), and in 8 months, I lost 20 pounds, toned up (they really do live up to their name), and completely changed my eating habits. I felt incredible. I was walking easier, getting out of bed with less effort, not limping so often. Then, SURPRISE!! I got colitis.
For a solid 6 months I was sick every day. I’m not going into the gross details because they are well, gross. But I was having trouble eating just about anything without getting violently ill. I had a JOYOUS Colonoscopy (I really do hate getting my picture taken), where I was diagnosed with Colitis. I was asked to cut out dairy which was basically my worst nightmare because, cheese. However, I learned to substitute with alternatives and have been able to manage it pretty well. But I stopped working out, was eating less and started losing more weight quickly. My bone mass was rapidly declining and I could feel it. I could hardly get out of bed in the morning, limping my way around the house, at work, etc. I felt like an 80-year-old woman- which had nothing to do with my Jeopardy obsession and in-bed by 9pm habit. I could feel myself deteriorating to my osteoporosis and arthritis- and I just couldn’t motivate myself to do anything about it.
Then I got engaged! And let me tell you- having someone want to spend the rest of their life with you really puts things into perspective. I started thinking about our future, all the things I want to be able to do, and now it wasn’t just about me. It was about Michael and our future family and our lives together. THAT and I tried on a wedding dress and was horrified by the frail thing staring back at me. My family made me promise to take care of myself and my bones, and here we are.
I didn’t really know where to start. My exercise abilities are limited due to my orthopedic disability. I basically knew I needed to lift things and gain muscle. I tried remembering when I felt my strongest, and realized it was before my last surgery, when I was doing Pilates to gain some strength for the recovery process. I started asking around about different studios in my area, and stumbled upon Equilibrium Pilates in Birmingham. I reached out to the owner, Nancy, who was like a lifeboat in a sea of bad choices and bad bones. Nancy expressed they were looking for a studio challenger- essentially someone who would come to classes, and document their progress over three months. I was thrilled when she asked me to be the Challenger- and relieved. I felt like this was the first step to getting my bones back in business. So what is my commitment? I will attend classes 4 times a week, varying form Pilates reformer, to barre and mat classes. I will check in on my social media whenever I’m at the studio- which is not to annoy people with look at me!!! I’m working out-bro photos. It’s to hold myself accountable, and to keep you guys in the loop on my progress. I will also be meeting with a personal trainer once a week to lift said heavy things.
I’ve been taking classes at Equilibrium for about two weeks now and I can’t believe I’m saying this- but I notice a difference. I’m standing up straighter, I’m not as achy in the morning, I can get up from the couch or a chair a little easier, without having to pause for as long to get my feet moving. Listen- I know I’ll never be 100%. I’ll still have to use a wheelchair at theme parks, take a cab for anything over a mile, and my “run” will always look like a horse that was rejected by 11-year-olds at Equestrian camp. I have good days and bad days and everyone has their own struggles. But could I get out of bed easier? Walk to get ice cream with Michael? Fall down without worrying about breaking a bone? Yes- and I do believe Equilibrium will help me get there. I’m doing this for me, for the future, and yes, for a wedding dress. Also because I don’t think they give Life Alert to 26-year-olds.