Can be hard to do when you have chronic pain. Especially at the beginning. Though in general, I’m more of an outdoorsy let’s go kayaking or hiking kind of gal (not that these are easy on the body at all), Canadian winters don’t provide great opportunities to do these things for about half the year. So, following the advice of my chiropractor, and much to the happiness of my rheumatologist when I told her, I joined my local gym.
this is about the only sport us Canadian can do in the winter (other than hockey and skiing)
Now, let’s be real. I didn’t just join and go all ham. I know I can’t, and to be honest I was hesitant at first because I didn’t want to hurt myself. So I paid extra for a personal trainer. The risk of this, of course, is whether or not they will know and understand your medical condition, and what your capabilities are. When I signed up, I told the girl helping me with registration why I wanted a personal trainer, which is basically medical reasons. Working out, and strengthening your body can help reduce pain, as long as it’s done within your limits. Lucky for me, I was paired up with an awesome personal trainer who happened to work with a client (male) with lupus a few years earlier. He understood the basic concepts of the disease, and how hard a flare can be. His first piece of advice, do not work out when you’re having a flare.
Shh. We’re not supposed to take pics at our gym, but I snuck a couple.
We set up 2 different routines for me, focused on strength building. I also do between 10-30 minutes of cardio each workout, the length and intensity depends on how I’m feeling.
Day 1: Goblet Squats (15 weight x 15 reps x 3 sets), Seated Rows (20 x 15 x 3), Dumbell Chest Press (7.5 x 15 x 3), Dumbell Curls (5 x 15 x 3), Lateral Raises (5 x 15 x 3), and Planks (1 minute x 3 sets).
Day 2: Lunges (12 reps x 3 sets), Onearm Dumbell Row (10 x 12 x 3), Rear Delt Dumbell Fly (3 x 15 x 3), Tricep Extensions (10 x 12 x 3), Push Ups (9 x 3 – though I’ve since increased it to 11 x 3), and Side Planks (45 seconds x 3)
Everything is light weights, high reps, because I’m not trying to bulk up, just be strong.
Planks are hard.
After 4 sessions with the personal trainer, and now 3 months on my own, I do feel stronger. And I usually can work out 3-5 times per week… though some weeks, like this one, I’ve only gone once. Again, I don’t push myself past what I am capable of doing. I want less pain, not more. To my great relief, working out does seem to be one of the factors that has reduced my pain recently. (That and CBD oil, but we’ll get to that another time). I know it can be tough, but taking baby steps, within your limits is something we can all do to help ourselves feel like warriors.