This week I didn’t practice what I preach, I broke one of my own rules, but it was a very considered decision and the bet paid off!
I’ve had really good energy for a while now, I’ve had a few bad days because of some nasty headaches, but even on those day’s I’ve known my energy was OK. In fact, having to withdraw from life because of a headache may even have helped my energy grow because I wasn’t using it when I had it!
My rule for managing improvement is only ever increase activity by 10% (after at least 3 days of feeling good). I like doing circular routes when I go out walking, which makes increasing by 10% a little difficult, but for a couple of months I’ve done a good job of that, not always increasing the distance sometimes just going a little faster instead. A couple of weeks ago I managed one of my normal walks in the same time I used to do it when I was healthy; that felt like a major achievement.
There were quite a few things that influenced my decision to break my rule. First was the naughty call of the heart’s desire. When I eat my meals on my terrace, directly in front of me on the other side of the valley, is a beautiful spot that I used to take my groups to when I used to be a walking guide here. Up until recently I’ve been able to look at the countryside with appreciative eyes without my old habit of looking at the features and wanting to explore; wanting to be there. But all of a sudden, this little spot, which has great views both up the valley to the highest mountain in mainland Spain and down the valley at the 3 beautiful villages, just wouldn’t stop beaconing me. Every time I sat down to eat I wanted to go there, and my automatic answer ‘that’s just not part of your life anymore’ seemed to have lost its strength.
Then one morning when I was feeling really energetic I turned the corner from my house and looked up at the high peaks and felt a powerful belief that one day I would be up there hiking again. It wasn’t just a steely determination, it was a kind of knowing and it was wonderful!
Then I started to question whether I was holding myself back. Was I being too cautious? Now we all know that this self-doubt can be a dangerous thing. You start feeling better and then think ‘am I really that ill? I might as well just get on with things’, then comes the crash. But this time felt different. I’ve been doing really, really well for a while, in fact my energy levels have been increasing for a couple of years now in the up and down fashion characteristic of chronic illness. I feel as though I’m about 80% well and on my average to good days as long as I stick to my routines and don’t push beyond my ever-expanding limits, you couldn’t tell that I was ill at all. I felt as though it wasn’t just my heart’s desire that was pushing me to test myself out, there was also a part of my intuition telling me to believe in myself and show myself what I could do. That in order to be hiking in those high mountains again I was going to have to take slightly bigger steps from time to time.
Finally, I realised that I’ve begun to trust my resilience. I do still get knocked back, but in general I tend to recover quicker, and continue moving forward. Maybe this walk was going to be a little beyond my energy envelope, but if it was I could live with the consequences, I might have to take it easy for a while but I would bounce back!
So I decided to do it. I set a date, made sure I rested well for a few days before hand and planned to rest well for a few days afterwards. The date came, I had a horrific headache and I had to postpone. But a couple of days later feeling rested and energetic, I set out at 7.30 in the morning while it was still cool and comfortable and I made it! After 9 years of not being well enough, I was stood on that same beautiful spot again surrounded by the wonderful scent of the wild marjoram in flower. It was exhilarating! Not only did I make it but I enjoyed every moment of connection with nature. The wildflowers were stunning and the views were amazing.
I took it extremely easy for the rest of the day, and was pretty exhausted, but in a kind of healthy feeling way. And my energy stayed pretty low for another 4 days. But I didn’t crash! My muscles stiffened up for about 24 hours but were fine after my second gentle yoga session. Apart from relatively low energy I had no other symptoms, no low mood, no brain fog! And by yesterday my energy levels had returned to their previous high levels. I really did bounce back.
I have so much hope for a full recovery again now, mostly I’ll continue to move forward in very small steps, because I know that that approach works, but every now and then, when my spirit and intuition give me the nudge, I can trust that I have the resilience to take a risk on a slightly bigger step!
I write this post to inspire, but unless you have consistently felt really well for quite a long time and have faith in your resilience, I would urge you to stick to the 10% rule!