Saturday, 30 July 2011 23:03

Dialysis steal your moxy? Exercise and variety gets it back

Written by  Greg Collette
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(Sorry about the delay in writing.  I have been working on a post about the appropriate treatment for fistula haemorrhage, signs and symptoms, actions to take, so that people can compare what should be done to what was done.  It is taking longer than expected, but it’s coming soon.)

For a range of reasons, I stopped going to the gym about six months or so ago.  I had aches and pains and a little arthritis, and it seemed to me that the gym wasn’t helping.  Also, my knees became wonky to the point where I couldn’t run for 30 minutes without ending up needing a Zimmer frame for the rest of the day (almost).  I had lost my Moxy – my style, my coolness, my confidence.  So I got the sulks, and decided that would I drop my gym sessions and runs, and replace them with extra walks and more rides on my exercise bike at the BigD.  What difference could it make?

Not my smartest decision.

Of course I didn’t walk much more than before.  And the time I used to take exercising, I either slept away or just worked more.  And while the BigD bike is good, it’s not vigorous enough to replace a three-times a week exercise program.  So I slowly (actually, not so slowly) became less fit, even more creaky, less enthusiastic about life and maybe a little dumber.  So Julie (who could see my new mini-exercise idea was mini-smart) suggested I try Pilates, a much lower impact exercise regimen.

For the last five months I have done Pilates twice a week, once at a studio, once at home.  I found it a little disconcerting at first.  I was the only man, and there was lots of talk about exercising your pelvic floor, a mystery to me until I read the handout: “It is important to grasp the correct feeling when exercising the pelvic floor: for women, squeezing a tampon, for men, lifting the penis.”  Got it.

Pilates is all about flexibility, posture and core strength, and at first it seems a little lightweight.  Nothing too strenuous or painful, just prolonged bends and lifts at funny angles, to exercise a single muscle or group.  But after a while my aches and pains diminished and I felt fitter.  After a few months I was ready to do a more.

Talk about timing.  A new gym has opened up near where I live, offering a pretty good deal to get started (at around the same price as the YMCA gym I used to go to).  So I went along and ended up joining.  I also purchased the most unheard thing I ever heard of, time with a personal trainer.

This turned out to be just what I needed.  I had gone to the same gym for about four years, doing the same exercises throughout.  Now I know that any sensible person will tell you just how dumb that is: for in the gym as in all, variety is the spice of life.

The first thing my trainer said was to keep changing the exercise routine.  If you go three times per week, have at least three different routines, so your body doesn’t get used to the exercise and you don’t get bored.  So far, it’s working a treat.  I am enjoying the exercises.  I actually feel a little stronger (I can lift weights that would not move two weeks ago).  Of course, I’m starting from a very low base, but don’t we all?

I paid the trainer (a surprisingly respectable fee) for the first 10 sessions. I began with twice a week, but quickly dropped to once a week.  During this time I told him what parts of my magnificent body I wanted to develop, and he designed exercises (mostly using machines) to build them.  And I am definitely sore in all the right places.  I have now dropped back to monthly sessions, by which time I may be ready to move to free-standing weights.

I also purchased some new gym clothing.  The stuff I used to wear was pretty tired, and has now been promoted to gardening duty.  I must say I get a psychological lift from the new gym gear, shallow as that sounds.  I have a long-sleeved lightweight top that covers my fistula and makes me look like any other scrawn working on building up.  Real gym shorts, rather than football shorts and even a poncy little gym towel complete the outfit.

I am still a little creaky, but I am starting to stand up straight again, I feel pretty good most of the time, and I have my moxy back!   A giant change from six months ago.

If it works for me, it can work for you (whether or not you are a BigD member).  Pilates is a good start, about an hour per session a couple of times a week, then as your moxy begins its long trip back to centre stage, think about the gym…


Greg Collette

Greg Collette

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