It takes ten minutes.

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Let me start off by saying I hate to exercise. Yup I said it. I would shout it from the roof tops. People will say, “Oh the endorphin high makes it worth it.” Do you know what I feel after exercising? I feel tired. I feel hot and sweaty. I don’t feel on top of the world and I certainly don’t feel “high”.

In January of this year we moved from a house with a fenced in yard with two dogs to a trailer with no fenced in yard, with three dogs. We moved in with my brother in law who has a dog. Do you know what these dogs need? Walks. They need walks. Do I like taking them for walks? Nope. Do I think of it as exercise? Nope. Its that kind of chore that kids whine about all the time. I look at it with despise. Here I am inside, out of the heat, all comfy and they need to go poop.

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My muscles are constantly telling my brain, don’t move. We like it right where we are. Well I am sorry to say but, my muscles lie. They do. They say they don’t want to move. They say they are perfectly fine where they are. The fact is though, they do feel better after moving.  One of the classic signs of Fibromyalgia is morning stiffness. We toss in some arthritis and its really not hard to see how they would THINK they don’t want to move. The body’s natural instinct is to conserve energy. It never knows when flight or fight is going to happen so it conserves.

When we first moved I could only do a ten minute walk and that was completely draining. To keep the dogs happy I had to walk them three times a day, for ten minutes. I have very very very slowly worked up to 45 minute walks. Can I always do that long? Nope. Sometimes its back to a ten minute walk. Sometimes I can’t handle the walk at all and they go on a lead out back one at a time. In the past seven months I have built a toolbox for taking these walks.

Walk toolbox

1. Pedometer

2. Camera

3. Noticing a specific thing.

4. Bribery

A pedometer might seem like an odd tool. Sometimes I look at it every few minutes. Sometimes I don’t look at it til after my walk. I try to always at least look at it once in the first few minutes to make sure it is running. The dogs really need a minimum of a mile. To some a mile is fifteen minutes of their time and no big deal.  Sometimes it takes me all day to get that mile in. Other times I get a wild hair and try to do it all at once. My maximum at the beginning was a mile and half. I was walking very slow by the end and in so much pain. I did it though. I was determined that of all my sleep problems the dogs being awake was not going to be one of them. Now that same walk that in January was overdoing it, is now not so bad. It doesn’t leave me in so much pain I can’t function afterwards. It took me seven months to get this far so don’t get discouraged by lack of progress. Do what you can when you can.

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I say camera but its my phone camera. Its not fancy. I don’t think of myself as a great photographer. I take pictures because it makes me happy. Okay well and because I have a crappy memory.There are things that I only remember they happened because I am such a picture queen. It makes me happy. I love trying to capture the moment in pictures. I love playing with the pictures I take on Instagram. Often I take lots of pictures and save them to play around with on bad pain days. Sometimes I focus on one thing during the walks, flowers, trees, birds. Other times I decide to take a picture after so many steps. Sometimes just having that idea is enough to get me going.

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Then on the really bad days, I bribe myself. It depends on how motivated I need to get. I bribe myself with chocolate, with mountain dew, with a nap/   It doesn’t matter what it is. If it gets you up and moving, its a good bribe. I know there are people that judge based on the fact that I do eat snickers and drink Mt. dew. That the sugar is not helping. Its not, I know that and when its bad enough I have to resort to bribing myself its not even a concern. Typically I do stay away from super sugary things. Its why it works so well as a bribe.

Today it took me ten minutes. Ten minutes to get past the step, ow, step, ow, step , ow. Ten minutes to get past the grumpy I don’t want to take the dogs for a walk. Ten minutes to stop focusing on my pain and to focus on whats around me. Ten minutes to start enjoying the walk. Some people would have given up by this time. I know this about my walks. This is also in reality one of my tools. If after fifteen minutes I am still miserable. Its not going to be worth it to keep pushing myself. My body is not going to give up on the whole pain thing. I discovered this by watching my pedometer. It tells me how long I have been walking.

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Finally the only other thing I have to say is…..this is one way that I stick my tongue out at Fibromyalgia. Most doctors strive for their patients to exercise thirty minutes two to three times a day. By taking a minimum of thirty minute walks daily, I don’t feel so bad If I have to skip a day or two. It gives me that time to be patient with my body.

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