On Jan. 1, I started off my day with a short yoga session followed by a 6-km run. I don’t normally do New Year’s resolutions or commit to a “better me.” I struggle with long-term goals and easily become bored. However, there’s a reason for my renewed interest in exercising.
After my laparoscopic surgery at the end of October, I practically gave up on fitness. At first, it was my body that required me to delay any physical activity. Then, as my stitches healed and everything felt less sore, winter days got darker and my mood took a dive. My motivation levels have been at an all-time low ever since, and my body has suffered. I knew something had to change when my lower back pain became quite severe over the holidays.
Many claim exercising lowers the amount of estrogen in the body, which is a good thing for endometriosis sufferers. What’s more, after we exercise for a while, our bodies produce endorphins, the “feel good” chemicals with pain-relief properties. Personally, when I move around, my periods hurt less. If period pain appears, say while I’m sleeping (sedentary), the pain will generally be much stronger. So, while there is evidence exercising is good for me, how do I deal with my reluctant mental state? How do I find motivation? My strategy is to trick myself.
I’m always ready.
When I walk my dogs, I always wear running leggings, trainers, and a sports bra. That way, if I feel like chasing my dogs or doing a little cardio, I’m ready. Sometimes my energy levels don’t improve until I’m 20 minutes into a walk. It’s about being prepared to spring into action, even if just for the amount of time it requires to break a sweat.
I always make small commitments.
As I get up in the morning, I tell myself I only need to do two Sun Salutations — just under two minutes of yoga. However, by the time I’ve done them, I can easily add two more. If I consider doing four as I get out of bed, it normally feels like too big a mountain to climb. My mind would find an excuse and there would be zero Sun Salutations.
Whenever I can, I run with friends.
Yesterday, I committed to a morning run with a friend. I really didn’t want to go — my period was starting and my mental health was in a sorry state. To top it all, heavy rain was forecast. Even though I wanted to give it a miss, doing so would have meant bailing out on my friend. In this case, guilt became the positive force that made me do it. Although in pain by the end of our run, I felt like a superhero. I went on to spend the rest of my day watching documentaries wrapped in my comfiest blanket, guilt-free.
Exercising can be very good for endometriosis sufferers, and it doesn’t even have to be high-impact. Soft yoga, Pilates, power walking, and even table tennis are all beneficial and will reduce pain, having a direct impact on your quality of life.
The key lies in finding what works best for you. In my case, it means tricking myself the way you get kids to eat their greens. I’m OK with being a slow runner or a couch potato, and I tend to silently curse everything and everyone when I exercise. In finding a way to get myself moving, I am helping both my body and my mind.
Note: Endometriosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Endometriosis News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to endometriosis.