The power of exercise in my life & learning to be patient

If you know me or read my blog regularly, you’ll know that I’m a huge proponent of exercise as an important part of the overall treatment plan for ADHD, anxiety, and depression. (All of which I deal with.) And, you would know that since I got myself back on the exercise wagon after a late 20’s/ early 30th that were taken up by illness, injury, and a brutal lifestyle in the restaurant industry, I have worked out pretty much every day for at least three or four years, since my last surgery on my left knee. I rely on that exercise to keep me focused, even, and as mellow as I ever get.

About three or four months ago I started having pain in my right heel. To make a long story short, the pain got worse to the point that walking was hard the day after I ran. Then it got so that I couldn’t run without pain. Then I couldn’t ride the spin bike. I’m not a total idiot. I’d been experimenting with short periods of rest in terms of cardio and doing more lifting. I iced, toke ibuprofen. I went to PT. I did my exercises. I even had my PT “dry needle” my heel twice. It was worth a shot… but still the most excruciating pain I’ve ever felt in my life and didn’t fix the issue. 

Eventually, my PT said that I probably needed a cortisone shot so I got a referral for a foot doctor. I met with him and he gave me the shot on July 12th. It was like a miracle. Sure the shot hurt, but after that I’ve had no pain at all. I guess my first takeaway is that being in pain was affecting my mental state, my attention, and my overall functioning. So, there’s that right off the top. I was also feeling pretty down about not being able to work out with no real end in sight, before the shot. 

Of course, once I had the shot I had to face down my ADHD kryptonite. I had to be patient. Even though I had no pain at all, I wasn’t allowed to to any weight-bearing cardio for a fell three weeks, no matter what. I could still lift every other day. But no bike, no running, no jumping, no trampoline park with the kids. It was brutal. But I guess I’ve learned to delay gratification and think about doing what is best on a much longer timeline. So I made it through those three weeks as well as could have been expected. 

Then I saw the doc again and he explained to me how slowly I had to get back into cardio. I had to start with the bike. No more than 15 minutes, sitting down the whole first session and standing no more than half of the session after that. I was allowed to start doing the elliptical machine a week after that, also starting at no more than 15 minutes. I hate the elliptical. But apparently it is an intermediate step to running again. And, I’m not allowed to do the same exercise on consecutive days at first.

So far, in six minute increments, I’ve worked my way up 54 minutes on the bike doing my pre-injury interval sprinting that’s almost all standing or sprinting. NO PAIN! And, on alternate days, I’ve worked my way up to 30 minutes on the elliptical. NO PAIN! One more week and I can start jogging on the treadmill for 15 minutes, alternating jog/walk each minute. It is a far cry from the 5 miles I used to do three times a week at around a 7:20 mile. But apparently slow and steady keeps me pain free. 

Not overdoing it or pushing myself to hard, not listening to that voice in my head that says, “you feel fine, just do another 10 minutes,” not convincing myself that I know better than my doctor, as all part of these amazing things called patience and perspective that seem to finally be sticking now that I’ve turned 40.  My advice to my fellow ADHDers is to start by admitting how difficult it is to ‘play the long game.’ We have to work much harder to hold the long term goals in our mind than a ‘normal person’ does. It is so tempting to find a way to justify our instant gratification need so that we can do the thing we want to do now. But, with work and mindfulness, it is possible to win that internal battle and hold out for the thing we really want in the end.

I even had to make some compromises I didn’t want to make. I have always been a guy who doesn’t wear running shoes as a regular everyday shoe. No offense to anyone who does that, but I’ve always been a punk rock kid and done more of a skate shoe/ fashion shoe. But no more. Check out the new Asics I’m rocking. They’re okay… and MY FEET DON’T HURT. I hate how much life is a compromise!

I think I’m actually going to split the into two entries. I didn’t realize I had so much about the rehab process to write about. So, I’ll leave it here and pick up next week with the amazing benefits of exercise.

Standard Disclaimer:  In an effort to foil my own perfectionist tendencies, I do not edit my posts much… if at all. Please excuse and typos, mistakes, grammatical errors, or awkward phrasing. I focus on getting my content down. In my humble opinion, an imperfect post posted is infinitely better than a perfect post that goes unfinished.

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