I say it all the time: We are our own worst critics.
I’m just like everyone else, I think, in that I have days when I feel like I’ve gained a bunch of weight, days when I’m really low energy, and days when all I really, really want to do is eat an entire box of Cheez-Its. I’m pretty sure all of that happens to everyone, once in a while.
My issue, of course, is that I have to pay attention to my body more than others. My body makes things very clear, very often, when I think I can do too much. And I have to make sure not to overwork myself or push myself too far, or I’ll trigger a relapse.
I actually had a nice trial over the past two weeks, where I had to see exactly how far I could go: my in-laws came for a 2-week visit. As it was their first trip to Japan (ne, to Asia), we wanted them to get a full, well-rounded experience. This means we did A LOT: a lot of touring, a lot of traveling, a lot of walking.
I try to fit a normal amount of working out into my daily life. ‘Normal’ by my current standards is yoga every morning, running 3 days a week, and Budo twice a month, when I can get out there. This isn’t too much exercise for me. In fact, 25-year-old Germany-Marie thinks it’s not nearly enough. But 35-year-old me thinks it’s just enough to stay active and in shape, given my current job and location (I walk a lot on my commute to and from work).
But still. I wish I could run as fast as I could 10 years ago. I wish I could go to a gym and lift weights like I was doing 10 years ago. But maybe I can’t, and maybe I don’t really need that anymore. Maybe.
Either way, in my mind, I get angry with myself when I’m walking up stairs and my legs hurt. In my mind, I think I’m being lazy, that I’m out of shape, that I need to do more. I’ve been being pretty hard on myself.
But these past two weeks have shown me that I actually CAN do more. Like, a lot more. To be fair, we had excellent weather that wasn’t too hot or too cold, and I was able to schedule in a lot of ‘stops for breaks’, whether that meant getting lattes with foam art bunnies on top or hanging out in a cat cafe for 30 minutes. It’s Japan, isn’t it?
At the end of the day(s), though, we did walk a lot. A lot more than I normally walk. Nearly twice as much on some days. And on those days, I didn’t feel out of breath every day. My legs didn’t hurt going up the stairs every time.
I’m coming to understand that the things that hurt, the ALWAYS being out of breath at the top of the stairs, the weakness and the tingling might not mean I’m out of shape. These might be normal MS symptoms (fatigue and soreness are often listed) that I am seeing as general weakness.
It’s really hard to tell the difference when it’s something you’ve felt before when you WERE out of shape (and before being diagnosed with MS). It’s hard to know if it’s a symptom or just getting old. Maybe it’s both. There’s no way to tell.
So instead of beating myself up for not being as good as I used to be and for not being so fast going up or down the stairs, I’m just going to do my best to get used to this new kind of ‘normal’ and just keep pushing. MS hasn’t stopped me yet. I don’t intend to allow it to.