The last quarter of 2014 was not good for my body. I had too much on my plate: Holiday orders, GLC classes and projects, High school batch reunion preparation, ministry work, homeschool and family life. The busyness took a toll on my back, my lower back to be specific. And of course I was eating more because of the holidays.
Right before resting at night, I would feel the pain. I ignored the symptoms for months because I had no time (?) to see the doctor. Thankfully, by March, my schedule started to settle in and I was getting more rest days. I thought the pain would go away but it persisted and this time for prolonged periods of time. When I try to get up from my seat, I couldn’t stand straight, the pain was unbearable. I had to literally walk like an old lady, with my upper body bent forward and my hands supporting my lower back.
Eventually the pain became part of my day. I get momentary relief from herbal patches and hot compresses. Slow-paced walking at the grocery store was brutal. As soon as we queue for the cashier, my husband would be massaging my lower back. And finally he convinced me to see the doctor.
I went to see the rehab doctor. This was my second time to visit a rehab/sports medicine specialist. As soon as the doctor touched the affected area she immediately said, ” Your muscles are so tense.” She did a few more tests and the consultation was done in 10 minutes. She prescribed both an oral and topical analgesic for pain relief and 6 sessions of physical therapy. I was diagnosed as having lower back pain due to lower back muscular strain. I’m so thankful it was just muscle strain, I was thinking more of a slipped disk, lordosis or kidney stones.
I felt some relief at the end of the third session of physical therapy. I still experienced pain but it was not as excruciating prior to my consultation. I still have to go back for a follow-up check up but so far I can deal with the pain and I needed to do the morning and evening lower back exercises taught to me by the therapist.
Again, it was a reminder that I am not getting any younger. I don’t want to be in constant pain all the days of my life. Who wants to walk around with a cane at 40?! Please, I’m too young for that! I mentioned earlier that, this was not my first encounter with muscle pain and a rehab doctor. I don’t want to keep seeing the doctor after a number of months or years. I need to do something about it. There has to be a lasting change in my lifestyle.
I started with the food because I love to cook. I started reading about good nutrition and healthy food preparation. I educated myself on the better alternatives when choosing food to feed my family. Slowly, I started introducing new foods to them. My husband and two kids are bread lovers particularly, loaf bread. I learned that white bread has more amounts of sugar than the wheat bread. So I got a loaf of wheat bread to try. Unfortunately, the kids don’t like the taste of wheat bread. My son describes it as “too wheaty” haha, whatever that is! But when I toasted it and preparing it differently, the “wheaty” flavor somehow disappeared.
Currently, I’m researching on new recipes that will not allow me to use processed foods. We all know that processed foods are not good not only for adults but kids too. Instead of buying the packed cookies or snacks, I bake our own cookies as much as I can because I can control the amount of sugar I put in the recipe.
I’ve also learned how to make smoothies. It’s just frozen fruits and low-fat yogurt or milk. Although yogurt is still considered processed food, we can choose brands that are less processed. What’s that mean? First of all, when you look at the labels of food packages we buy at the grocery, can you see ingredients that you cannot even pronounce? More often than not these ingredients are not good for you, they’re added to the food to prolong shelf life, add flavor and color which in reality our bodies don’t really need. But if you’re left with no choice, choose the ones with none or less of those whatchamacallit ingredients.
This is a sample of a fruit juice in the US. Compare the ingredients encircled in red in both labels. Which would you choose? But the best alternative is getting a small bag of calamansi, squeeze the juice, remove seeds, add sugar, water and ice and you have a refreshing and naturally-prepared calamansi juice!
Another important aspect of living healthy is physical activity. I have to get into a regular program not focused on getting toned abs (though that won’t hurt) but more of getting my muscles and joints up and running. I have to start, commit and prepare for the next half of my life. I believe God allowed me to feel the pain to remind me that I am mortal and I need to take care of the body He has given me. If I want to see my kids grow up and have their own families then I have to start now.
And God did make a way for us. We met this couple who are marathoners at a couple’s retreat last year. They have completed countless runs in the country and have been very successful at their 21K runs. Wow! Just recently, we were blessed that they finally joined the couple’s discipleship group my husband and I are facilitating.
We started asking questions about the training, how they started and their diet. They encouraged us to just start with walking everyday. Keeping up the pace, alternating walking and running. The guy also suggested having a Gait Analysis done at Runnr, a running specialty store so we can get the right kind of shoe for running… If we really want to take running seriously. Most of the time, runners get injured because of improper footwear.
We asked the app they were using to calculate their distance, time and calories burned. The guy recommended Run Keeper and my husband is now using it. While another friend who started running herself, suggested Nike+ app for me.
So last week, hubby and I put on our rubber shoes (take note not running shoes yet) and went for a sunset walk at the parking area of a nearby mall. It was fun and we were able to complete the target that day. We were also able to talk without the kids interrupting or trying to get our attention.
We continued for days and now we are to complete our second week. I am following the 5K Beginner coaching program from the Nike+ app. On days when I don’t run or walk, I was to cross train meaning, I can do exercises, cycling or yoga. One cross train day, I hopped on the bicycle and pedaled through the streets in our village. I had so much fun and the ride reminded me of my childhood. Though my legs and arms hurt after, I felt energized all the more!
After just a few days, my husband noticed a change in his energy level. He is not as lethargic as before. I, on the other hand, slept better. We “felt” toned haha! And most of all, my back pain disappears when I run. The pain recurs when I sit down and walk… so does it mean I should be running all the time? 🙂
On a side note: Jianne, our youngest child has been teasing that I am getting fat. She would compare her legs and arms to mine, unfair comparison right? But I felt heavy after the busy 2014, and I admit to really gaining a lot especially after the holidays. It’s time to move it, move it. It’s time to … move it!
First goal is to relieve my back pain. Second goal is to be fit. Third goal is sign up, run and complete a marathon. Fourth goal is to run for life. Run for a better and longer life with my God, my family and my friends.
I am reminded of the Psalm Moses wrote in Psalm 92:10 and 12
Our days may come to seventy years,
or eighty, if our strength endures;
yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow,
for they quickly pass, and we fly away.
Teach us to number our days,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
As moms, we find ourselves doing everything and anything for our family and for almost everybody but we forget to take care of ourselves too. Before we can be good at what we are doing, we need to be good to our bodies first. The Bible says that the Holy Spirit dwells in our bodies, so I guess it’s just logical that we care of his home right?
Maybe you don’t think running is for you, try walking (brisk walking) instead. Getting a gym membership and hiring a trainer might to be way off budget, but if you can afford it, go ahead! At least you have someone to watch over you and act as your coach. If not, why join free exercise classes that are offered at your nearest mall. I’ve read that at least 30 minutes of cardio workout can keep our hearts healthy. But before heading out and you have not had any strenuous activity for a long time, consult with your physician first just to be safe. If you’re cleared, then let’s go! Let’s all run for life!
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