“I don’t have time.” This was one of my all time favorite excuses for not making exercise a priority in my life. I think the real reason I stopped exercising was that I had no energy. If I had exercised even half the time I spent in bed, then maybe I wouldn’t have gotten into such trouble with my sarcoidosis in the first place but I had forgotten what normal was and didn’t even know I was sick for quite some time.
I was stuck in a very difficult rut. I worked long hard stressful hours and I ate the wrong foods…high sugar and high carb foods to keep me semi alert. It was like being on drugs. I’d get my quick fix of energy, it would wane and I’d need more. I drank more soda products at that time than I care to admit! It was a vicious cycle and I had no idea how to change it. For awhile, I had no idea that it was even a problem. The levels of fatigue I began to feel, crept up on me over time and eventually it became normal for me to crawl back into bed on a beautiful Saturday morning and sleep the day away rather than go out for a bike ride or a walk with my dogs.
This was certainly not normal behavior and not normal behavior for me but it became normal and I got to the point where I forgot what it felt like to be active. All of this was happening well before my sarcoidosis diagnosis and all of it was a symptom that something was seriously wrong but it was all very subtle and to me, easily explained by my crazy job and its insane demands and my desire for perfection. Looking back, it was the beginning of my disease. This was actually the time when sarcoidosis was winning the war but I was yet to be diagnosed with having any kind of medical illness so I was at a huge disadvantage.
When it finally came, my sarcoidosis diagnosis was a wake up call though. It answered a lot of questions that I never even knew I had. Being that fatigued was not actually normal. Wanting to lay down all the time was not what regular people do. I was not managing my stress well at all and now I was sick too. Something had to change. So, I gathered up all my excuses: too tired, too busy, no time, etc…and put them in the garbage, slamming down the lid forever. I didn’t want to feel the way I was feeling anymore. I came to accept that the sluggish cement like feeling in my bones was partly my disease and partly my excuses. I couldn’t do anything about my disease but I did have a choice about the excuses I was making for not to take better care of myself.
It was a slow process to get back into a regular exercise routine. I was having trouble breathing which didn’t help, thank you sarcoidosis. My doctor prescribed inhalers and now I use them 30 minutes before exercising. I didn’t start by running any marathons, I tell you! Getting moving again in the beginning was a simple act. I started gradually by setting aside some dedicated time every morning to walk the dog. Over the course of just the first week, I remember noticing a difference. I had a little more energy during the day and was able to back off the soda and high carb foods. As I gained more strength, I added in more time for movement. I started riding my bike and doing the elliptical machine and as I did this, I continued to remove all those nasty refined carbs from my life too.
The simple act of exercise was starting to give me the boost of energy that soda never could because the energy I got from exercise was lasting. I felt good all day or at least better any way. Exercise also reduced my stress and my breathing slightly improved as my lung capacity got a little stronger. So, I learned over time that the excuses or the choices I make have a powerful impact on my disease.