Saturday, May 7, 2016

How I got moving again

The importance of getting active again

Recently, I increased my physical activities from gentle restorative to more vigorous forms and have seen improvement in my well being. These newly incorporated physical activities have helped increase my energy, brighten my mood and improve my stamina in only a short few weeks. I know, it's only logical that exercise will make people feel better right? Not always, for someone who manages a chronic health condition, too much exercise can easily trigger stress hormones and set one up for a flare. I had been struggling to find the right balance of exercise to support my healing but think I have found what works. If you are looking to add exercise to compliment your healing, I hope my process will give you some ideas to consider.


Everyone benefits from gentle restorative exercises, since my gut symptoms were so unpredictable, it was easy for me to remain in my comfort zone of rarely breaking a sweat. Don't get me wrong, in the past, my impatience have led me to exercise routines I wasn't ready for. Afraid that my spurt of energy was fleeting, I would push myself too hard when I had the urge to get active. This became a roller coaster ride that brought me down to a low until I reach a grinding hault. Feeling defeated, I would question my foolishness to hop on the exercise wagon without considering my current abilities. At this point I would slowly slip back to a sendentary lifestyle to avoid further stress on my body. Even with improvement, I was reluctant to increase exercises to a moderate level like going for longer walks or taking an exercise class. As my activity level stayed stagnant, my energy remained the same. In the dead of this past winter, hormonal changes got my attention with unexplained weight gain and big energy drop. I knew I had to make some changes in order to feel better. Through research on hormonal changes and weight gain, I drafted up a plan that began with slow and gradual changes. Before I got my heart pumping, I began to tweak my AIP diet by reducing carbs and increasing healthy fats ( post to follow). A few weeks later, I noticed my energy level slowly climbing up and remained steady throughout the day. I took that as the opportunity to increase my physical activities and hopefully get my groove back. Well, it worked! I started with 20 mins walks which extended to an hour 4 -5 days a week. The positive effect didn't take long to reveal even though I was taking it nice and easy with increasing the duration and frequency of my physical activities. Now, I am enjoying a steady progressive pace to improve my health through a sound phyicial routine.


Before I paid attention to getting more physical, there were many days when my head was filled with trepidation. Moving just wasn't always comfortable and the fear of needing to find a bathroom with little notice was always lurking in my mind. The restrictions of my chronic condition often led to mood swings and sadness. Since I found my exercise routine, I have a much better outlook of my future. I have learned not to force myself if I am tired and switch into “will tackle it tomorrow” mode when I have reached my limits. In fact, I am less anxious and frustrated with my limits and welcome my improving abilities to return.


With my energy level improved and my mood perked up, I am able to better pace myself to tackle simple every day activities and set realistic expectations. Before I knew it, my stamina is following up the ladder of better health. After sheding my doubtfulness that plagued me in the past, I am better equiped to focus on strengthening my able body and move forward. I am happier.

The following are some of the activities I am practicing to add some fun and sweat into my day. Bear in mind that I do not practice all of these activities every day but it's certainly fun to have a variety of things to rotate and keep fit with. 

Yoga keeps my flexible, centered and calm. ( 3-4 times a week: 20 -30 mins per session )

There are many ways to include yoga in your daily routine, you can attend classes, develop a home practice through books, podcast and dvd.  I use in my restorative style home practice usually to start my day or prepare for a good night sleep. I find using podcasts are easy to fit into my schedule especially when I am on the road.

Roller Skating is just pure FUN! ( planning on once a week )

Recently, I rekindled a childhood love by purchasing myself a sweet pair of teal velour roller skates with purple wheels. I fell in love with roller skating as a teen after watching the movie, Xanadu.  About 6 years ago, I had the urge to put on some wheels again but before my thought hatched into action, I got pregnant so I had to wait.  Now there are no excuses to wait and I look forward to getting my skater legs back while catching some vitamin D outside.

Belly dancing ( 5 days a week; 30 - 45 mins per session)

Like all forms of dance, Belly dancing is empowering through it's ability to ground me. I took a few classes in my 20s but it wasn't until the past couple years when I got back to it pretty full force. I took classes at my local community center and even got some private one on one lessons to refresh the "vocabulary" and techniques. I enjoy strengthening muscles without repetitive exercises. As a result, I am meeting my obliques for the first time and my arms and shoulders are more defined. Of course all the belly work improve digestion too. It also tap into my creative side with making cool costumes. These day I start my morning with a sweaty routine via

Walk (4-5 days a week; 45- 60 mins per session)

Walking seems so easy to do for the healthy person, but for someone with IBD, it took me a long time to build the confidence to make this a regular practice.  My fear of not being close to a bathroom prevented me from going on walks for some time. Now that I am in remission, I go for a brisk 45 mins walk while plugged into my favorite audiobook or podcast. My favorite walking companion has been humorous audiobooks. Besides downloading from my local library via  Overdrive and OneClickDigital, offers a great selection to choose from ( click here for free downloads)

To track my progress, my friend at Movement Revolution recommended the MOVES app that tells me where and how far I have walked everyday. My other must haves on my walks are my new my bluetooth ear buds ( these are the ones I recently bought). I love the freedom of not having tangled wires and my five finger minimal runners that strength the over 100 muscles in my feet. 

Swimming (once a week; 30 mins)

I took enough swim lessons as a child to keep me afloat if I fell in the water, but it was watching my older son progress from a hesitant to a confident strong swimmer that inspired me to take a private lesson to brush up on my skills and technique. He is still the best swimmer in the house and I enjoy asking him for swimming advice which has brought us even closer. 

I love how swimming stretches my body like nothing else I practice. Floating weightlessly in the water relaxes me. Furthermore, swimming helps maintain my flexibility, build muscle strength and increase stamina all at the same time. 

In conclusion, I encourage you to revisit your childhood passion, embark on something you never had a chance to pursue to create your personal fun routine so that you can better your body and soul because you deserve feeling great. 


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