Staying positive with MS

Excercise

Exercise

I have found myself discontent with the workout schedule that I posted earlier. As of today, I am replacing my squat days with the 200 squat program that I had started but not completed last year. I’m also going to be logging it this time, and I intend to complete it. My initial test consisted of 50 concurrent squats, so I will be starting at week 3 of the program.

Biking

I live a far more sedentary life than I used to. Growing up, I would spend all day roaming out in the woods, or playing baseball, or canoeing, or other physically active things like that. One of the things I particularly enjoyed was grabbing my bike and taking off down the road, or through the woods.

I have been taking a look at my life, and thinking about what I want it to be like in a few decades from now. My physical activity when I was young has served me well up to this point in my life, but working a desk job and having leisure time spent primarily sitting does not and will not in the future serve me well. But I exercise! Sure, for maybe five minutes a day (see my previous post). It has done wonders for transforming my life. But to be living the kind of life I want in ten, twenty, or thirty years from now, something is going to have to change.

I have been thinking hard for a while now about returning to biking. There are great greenways around where I live, and I haven’t even begun to explore them. I know that a lot has changed in my abilities, but if I go back to biking, it could solve several issues for me.

This weekend I tracked down a bike and borrowed it for just a few minutes, to find out if my current physical ability even makes that an option for me. Initially, it was rough, as I expected. It has been years since I even sat on the seat of a bike, and I expected to be rusty, and I certainly was. I picked the bike up, and tried again. After several attempts, I focused on how staying upright is more difficult at low speeds, and attempted to get up to speed faster to make life easier.

Have you had your leg fall asleep so thoroughly before that when you stand, there is no sensation it it at all for the first minute? It’s like your leg is completely missing. You can still see it there, but when you move it about there is no sensory feedback like you would expect. This is the closest description I can find to what I experienced. I could watch myself falling, see the bike tipping over, but there was no sensory input from my body that I was falling. It was like that part of my brain has just “fallen asleep”, that it isn’t there any more. It doesn’t seem to matter how many times I try again, nothing changes. Yet.

That was my first try. I put the bike away. I found out that the easiest option isn’t one that is going to work for me, unfortunately. I may try again to go that route, but I suspect I won’t see significant enough improvements there to be safe on a bike.

Where am I going to go from here? I do actually see myself as still having a lot of options available to me. The obvious answer is using a recumbent bike, or tricycle, something that does not rely so heavily on my own sense of balance. I do not currently have access to one, and the entrance fee there is higher than what I currently have available for this, but I am going to be exploring my options there. The summer heat where I live is high enough that even with additional stability, biking might still not be a viable option. Either way, this is something I am going to figure out. I will keep updates on my journey here on this site. I can’t wait to see what the future brings!

Exercise

This is a very crucial part of my well-being.

On January 2nd, 2014, I watched Conan O’Brian interview with George Tekai. Conan asked George Tekai how he stayed so fit. George Tekai said he does 100 pushups every morning. http://teamcoco.com/video/george-takei-shows-off-mad-push-up-skillz I realized at that moment that if a 76 year old man could do this, I had no excuse. I decided this was what I was going to do.

I decided I was going to do pushups every day, 100 of them. Pushups have never come easily for me, even at my best. Initially I could only do five or ten at a time. I set some rules for myself. It didn’t matter how many sets it took. I just had to work in 100 of them.

I told nobody what I was doing. I worked them in throughout the day, and the next, and the next. I decided I’d try it for a week. After two weeks of doing this, it started to come easier, and I was completing them in fewer sets. Then I decided to shoot for a month. Then another.

After several months, I was doing them in two sets. I would do my first set of fifty, and then finish with a second set. Even when I felt like I could keep going, I deliberately quit at 100. I was getting to where I could do my first set of 75.

By the end of the year I’d missed a few days, but I had some days when I could do all 100 of them in one set. I was faster, and my form was better. I was knocking out all 100 of them consistently in two sets in less than five minutes. I saw visible improvements in my body, and felt significantly better. Not only did I have the physical exercise, but it did wonders for my psyche.

In August, I ran into several things and had talks with a few people that got me to thinking about my lower body as well. One of the great things about the pushups is that I could do them any time, anywhere. I didn’t pay for a gym membership. I didn’t have to schedule time. If only there was a way I could do the same thing for my legs.

Enter squats.

They don’t have a sexy name, and they aren’t glamorous, but I started working them in. Wow! One of the things that has changed a lot for me with MS is my walking gate, and not in a good way. Initially it was rough getting started, but the squats have been a major key in improving my walking abilities. In short, I had been falling down several times a day on average, but with the exercise and a couple other things (that I will cover in later sections), that happens rarely, and always includes external circumstances that would have made me fall when I was a fully able-bodied person.

So where am I now? This year, in 2015, I have set myself some goals. I am not doing pushups every day. I want to give my body a chance to rebuild between workouts. This is my current schedule:

* Monday: 50 pushups, 1 set
* Tuesday: 50 squats, 1 set
* Wednesday: 50 pushups, 1 set
* Thursday: 50 squats, 1 set
* Friday: 50 pushups, 1 set
* Saturday: 50 squats, 1 set
* Sunday: Rest

To help me not miss any, I have set up a reminder on my phone that has the details for what to do that day. So far, it is going very well!