Tuesday, September 8, 2015

My Life Balanced 120 Days Challenge: Movement

When I started the My Life Balanced: 120 Days Challenge, I knew the hardest part would be managing an organized method of adding consistent movement into my daily life, and I was right.

As I come to the end of my first pass trough Vanessa Hartmann's self-study workbook, this is the area where I've made the least significant progress.  I think I'm made great strides toward increasing mindful eating habits, incorporating periods of meditation, killing off negative self-talk and unnecessary stressors, and I've come away with a lot of great ideas for how to increase healthy movement, but actually making it a more natural and intentional part of my life is going to take me more than 120 days to figure out.

My reasons are the same as when I began - I've spent my adult life needing to adapt to the demands of Rheumatoid Arthritis and over the last 15 years especially, that's come with some advanced degeneration in my hands (which makes many simple tasks challenging and painful even when I'm not flaring), balance issues and an inability to get down on the ground if I want to get back up, both of which come from a hip surgery and a tendency to be at risk for dislocation if I'm not cautious.

Adding to the fun, RA comes with exhaustion at inopportune times - the kind where you have to convince yourself you can probably walk all the way to the bathroom.  The kind where holding a coffee cup that suddenly feels like a bowling ball becomes the most strenuous thing you can pull off.  The kind that means activity that expends physical energy takes at least three times the same amount of time to recover from, and sometimes you just can't block out that much time to do nothing.

These things aren't going away, ever - all the happy pharmaceutical advertisements aside, I'll not be playing tennis or bungee jumping or jazz dancing no matter how under control my RA is.

It doesn't mean exercise can't happen - it not only can, but it must to keep my body as operable as it needs to be.  I'm on board with that, but after going through this process as a self-study program, what I realize is that I really do need some directed training/mentoring from someone experienced in working with chronic autoimmune disorders to help me figure out what I can do safely and sanely without risking harm.

(Seriously - think about how much you wouldn't risk if you knew from previous experience that falling down will put you through a hip dislocation - which for the record, hurts about 100x more than the original fracture and that hurt a LOT - a possible stay in the hospital and having to relearn to walk and repair surrounding tendons all over again. AGAIN.)

These are not issues most people using this program will have, and I consider the lessons learned in the My Life Balanced workbook as a framework for the next step for me in this area. I just know I need more directed help to get there.  I am very intrigued by incorporating yoga or Tai Chi into my life, but I am at a loss when it comes to learning it without a coach or at least a spotter.  So, my next order of business when I'm able, is hunting down a way to do so.

That out of the way, here is the thing I love about the MLB focus on movement:

Calling it MOVEMENT, rather than exercise or torture.  You will not find such horrible statements as "No pain, no gain" in here.

Movement includes enjoying a walk on a cool morning, or dancing in your kitchen to your favorite song.  It includes yoga and stretching and relishing what your body can do.

Movement is what our bodies do, and the 120 Days Challenge will help you learn to appreciate what yours can do, and to have fun while doing it.  The stated goal for the Move section each day is to "Discover a form of movement that is enjoyable to practice regularly."

My currently favored current forms of movement are walking (when it isn't humid), swimming and 'water walking', which allows me to exercise muscles in a no-impact way that doesn't hurt my joints and gives me a safe watery environment where I don't need to worry about losing my footing, and dancing - although that last is something I can no longer do in any particularly aerobic way, so for me it's joyful movement, not exercise.  Joyful is good!

In summary, the My Life Balanced: 120 Days Challenge can be enormously useful to your progress to increase movement in your routine if you are:

- generally healthy
seeking inspiration as your own exercise routine

- wanting to 'mix it up' if you already have a routine

- wishing to incorporate yoga, gentle stretching and balancing into your life

- seeking reminders and motivation rather than a specific workout plan

- willing and able to find outside guidance for your specific challenges and/or instructions on unfamiliar yoga movements or exercise forms.

While I haven't yet successfully developed an exercise routine that fits in with my challenges, I have identified the desire and need to find a person who can be with me as I do, and that's not anything I'd have considered at all prior to beginning this challenge.  My goals as I move forward are to find that mentor/spotter and focus intentional movement skills on areas that develop my balance and flexibility in a safe manner, in order to improve my overall health and give my body the best possible framework for living with rheumatoid arthritis.

While I need a face-to-face training companion for safety reasons, many people could readily succeed using the My Life Balanced workbook alone, or via a distance coach who can offer more individualized advice, information and motivational support..  In fact, this is another service Vanessa Hartmann offers, and if you're interested, you should contact her to discuss her availability via email, phone or video conference. Vanessa has a solid background in providing training and guidance for people who struggle with the special needs of those with autoimmune disorders, as well as those seeking to increase their fitness for health reasons and/or weightloss.

I'm very nearly done with my first 120 days - stay tuned for one more post in this series. Spoiler: Vanessa is offering a newly revised version of the My Life Balanced workbook as a Giveaway!

My Life Balanced
My Life Balanced on Facebook

Previous Posts in this Series:

My Life Balanced - Introduction to a New Series
My Life Balanced - 1st Progress Report
My Life Balanced: 120 Days Challenge (Heavy on the CHALLENGE!)
My Life Balanced: Meditation & Mindfulness
My Life Balanced: Eating Well to Live Well


  1. I think life is a constant change of balances. Certain things work for some people and not for others. You should take pride in the accomplishments you have done. For the things you don't feel so successful at, just re-evaluate and continue forward.

  2. I am so impressed that you are even contemplating how to be more active. My hands hurt just looking at yours and I think you are amazing just getting through the day. Every little bit you manage extra is an achievement that you should celebrate (with healthy food!)

  3. Thank you for sharing with us at #JoyHopeLive!

  4. I admire your perserverance and thank you for sharing it with the world and on #HomeMattersParty.

  5. Good for you, you have made great progress in 120 days, so perhaps this time through you will do better. These are quite a few changes to make, I hope that it helps you in all ways! Good luck!

  6. This looks like a wonderful program / lifestyle change that can really stay with you! Congratulations and thanks for sharing at the Healthy Living Link Party!

  7. Well done with the challenge and you are so right that it is a lifestyle change. Thanks for sharing this with us at #anythinggoes link up.

  8. Well, you have a wonderfully positive attitude and that is half the battle. Just doing it to stay as healthy as possible is a bonus. Blessings to you and I hope you continue to see health benefits! Thanks for sharing with SYC.

  9. Great Post...Great Challenge!! Thanks for sharing on My 2 Favorite Things on Thursday...hope to see you again this week!! Pinned!

  10. I'm enjoying reading about your journey through My Life Balanced. You definitely face more challenges than the average person taking this programme on, having to deal with RA. However I find your perspective very refreshing and encouraging. Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us at the Hearth and Soul Hop.