Friday, 29 September 2017

Frightened into self preservation.

This is the extended* article first published in the York Press on Tuesday, September 12th, 2017.

Regular readers may recall that in August 2015, I was astonished by my ability to complete the Dalby Forest Go Ape course with my grandsons.  When I returned this year, I left the long, high course for my son and boys, while I took my granddaughter on the shorter, lower, Go Ape Junior. This time though, I wasn’t astonished when I completed it. I was shocked, even a little fearful. Why?

The muscle strength in my legs had noticeably deteriorated. When my son finished the long course, he wondered how I had managed to complete it at all. I wondered too, but didn’t tell him about the shock I felt, at now, finding the short course challenging.

I complete 10,000 steps around five times a week, but even so, some muscles have lost strength. * On mentioning this to the Pilates teacher, she said that the leg muscles lose strength first. I think anyone who has been incapacitated for any length of time would recognise that fact. My father walked regularly and proudly walked up seventeen steps to his flat well into his eighties. Once a year around his birthday, he did a long walk along the same route, his benchmark walk of three miles. He could feel how his body was managing the increasing years. *When he started to feel breathless, he sought attention immediately and his subsequent heart valve replacement was not the cause of his death some fifteen years later.   I felt that I had been given a benchmark on the Go Ape course.

I had two options. To problem solve and do something or to ignore it, even denying that there was a problem at all. We are faced with those two options many times through our lives, particularly with problems of health (*I notice denial is particularly evident in people with diabetes, suspect moles and hearing loss), work, home, family and relationships.  Fear can be arresting or motivating, as in ‘fight or flight’. If I didn’t do something soon, not only would my leg muscles deteriorate further, but doing something about it, would become more difficult.  With a gym only a twenty minutes walk away and having the time to go off peak, I had no excuse. I have now visited twice a week since August, doing cardio work and  specific leg work. I can already feel the difference, though it’s not my favourite pastime. I tell myself it’s short-term pain for long-term gain. * Truthfully, I really have to push myself to go. My motivation is solely the vision of the future having not doing anything to improve the present situation. It's a powerful vision.

I have been given a timely reminder of ‘If you don’t use it, you lose it.’ Have you? Are you ignoring it or facing up to it? 


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