Commitment & Motivation
Have you ever hit that brick wall where despite what you know you need to do, you just don't do it? I am at that point right now with exercise. My Multiple Sclerosis responds best to exercise – I’m not talking about the aerobic bouncing or the marathon running, but the regular routine of stretching, bending and otherwise moving in ways that will strengthen my core muscles and stretch my spastic limbs.
I’m one of those people who need a commitment to exercise to make it happen, and that is why I sign up for wellness classes through my work. I pay the money (small token amounts), I schedule the time (during my lunchtime), and I go (a short walk away from my desk). It’s as simple as that because I had made the commitment and other people help to motivate me and keep me accountable. That routine came to a screeching halt, or perhaps I should say thud, when I took a fall in the workplace gym in early spring. This was one of those times when I required the ambulance and needed multiple stitches and the subsequent sore and bruised muscles and two black eyes derailed the routine.
It is said it takes 21 days to create a habit, and my break from exercise was longer than that. It was a good six weeks before I could bend or stretch without pain and that was all it took to create my new habit – doing little physically and rediscovering the joy of good food.
There have always been extra pounds on my frame that I could stand to lose, and now there are even more. Not being physically active has been detrimental to my weight and my health. My knees and back feel the strain of the additional load it carries. I know all too well that I benefit from some form of exercise and my MS does much better when I am active.
My conscious brain is trying hard to convince the rest of me to just do it. I’ve done tougher things in my life so why is this so difficult? I discussed this with my neurologist at our last appointment and we talked about what I could and would do to make a change. I suggested I resume walking regularly, starting out slow and short distances and building up to more. He asked what type of commitment I was willing to make to walking – he said he didn’t care if it was even only one day a week, but it had to be my commitment. Earnestly I suggested that I would commit to walking four days a week. We didn’t discuss distances or a pace – just that I need to get up and move.
The first week of walking went fine – I easily made the goal of four days. The following week I found myself mid-week without having yet walked and scrambled to walk each of the last four days of the week. By the third week, the commitment was lost somewhere in vacation and travels, dining out, summer heat, and every other distraction and excuse I could list. And then the thought of walking just slipped quietly away to where all good intentions that are left unfulfilled go to lurk – my conscience.
So why does my conscience have me again wanting me to do more than just think about walking? For one reason, my Multiple Sclerosis is taking more control of my body and I don’t like that. Another possible reason is I just shopped for some new clothes and had to buy a larger size. But the most probable reason is the next appointment with my neurologist is looming in four weeks, and greater than my dislike of exercise is my dislike of failing at a goal. There is great motivation for me in disappointment – not his but mine. I made a commitment that I have not lived up to.
Today I will again tackle that wall and try to disassemble it brick by brick. I am taking a renewed pledge to take care of this body, MS and all, and restart my program of getting up and moving, one step at a time. Anyone care to join me?
Wishing you well,
How well do people around you understand MS?