Tag Archives: exercise

Are You Sitting Too Comfortably?

If someone had said to me over the last few years, I was lethargic and lazy and must pull myself together, I would probably have felt like hitting them. As a good Christian, I would of course restrain myself? Some may have thought it but kept quiet. The fact is, you just don’t say that sort of thing to someone with chronic fatigue syndrome – CFS/CFIDS/ME – or a similar chronic illness. Right now however, there is some truth in the statement.

It took quite a while for me to learn to be kind to myself. After all it was probably because of the lack of that, because I was pushing myself, that was one of the contributing factors to the illness in the first place. But there is a difference between looking after yourself and over indulgent comfort. I found that the years of fatigue can have a dulling, if not soporific effect upon the mind and body and it is possible to develop ‘lazy’ habits and attitudes that can become the norm.

Now that I am in recovery – by that I mean most of the peripheral symptoms have long gone and the levels of fatigue are much lower – there is a need to sharpen up. I am keen therefore to recover that which has been lost. I don’t mean that I can go back to how it was. No more mountain climbing – possibly? I have let go of what was and have to go forward into the new things and ways and recovery is a process of discovering what these are. One thing is for sure. They will not be handed to me on a plate. That means taking action. No matter how seemingly small and insignificant, any action can be powerful. I am discovering over and over, what can be achieved with God’s help and strength, with very little physical effort upon my part. Something I needed to learn long ago!

I still have to be kind to myself, but things such as falling asleep in front of the TV of an evening or eating just too much, must stop. Any lazy habits that have been picked up must change. Just as muscles that have atrophied must be carefully and slowly brought back to life – and that can be painful – so the mind needs to be exercised and sharpened.

I looked up the dictionary meaning of comfort: “The act of consoling: giving relief in affliction:receiving moral or emotional strength: to make physically comfortable: a state of ease and satisfaction of bodily wants, with freedom from pain and anxiety:” I have also discovered that there is no real comfort that can rival that which comes from God. Any other comfort addictions such as sex, drink, chocolate, food, warmth, sleep, television or any other distraction are just a pale shadow of the real thing.

So, forward with changed attitude, sometimes with difficulty, but with God all things are possible!

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A Surprise Victory

tn_lake.jpgI sat in a deserted seaside parking lot. My wife was taking part in a reunion and I was left to my own devices. I was in to my second year with CFS, my fatigue level was average to high – at least three out of a maximum five – and I wondered what I had the strength to do?

I eased myself out of the car, slowly crossed the road and was transfixed by this ‘jewel!’ A large lake or ‘mere’ – as they say in those parts – nearly a mile long, tree-fringed with an island in the centre. The unbroken mirrored surface shimmered in the early autumn sunshine, inviting, everywhere quiet, not a soul about. Tidily moored up to a deserted jetty, old traditional clinker-built rowing boats, just waiting to be taken out.

I have a love of boats and water, ever since my father taught me to row on our local river as a boy, so my heart longed to be out there. But my head doubted whether rowing was the right action for a fatigued body. I paced back and forth debating and my heart won. A surly young man untied my selected craft and I cast off.

Gently, ever so gently, so as to make the least claim on my limited energy, I dipped the oars in now and again to gain momentum as we slid away from land. Resisting the temptation to pull with force, I continued at an almost effortless pace, feathering my oars on the return stroke like a professional.

After a few minutes I shipped the oars and listened. I, man and boy, enthralled with the experience! You could almost hear the silence, which was only broken by a flock of coots. Reluctantly I made to return, but took my time, determined to squeeze every ounce of enjoyment out of the half-hour hire.

It’s hard to explain to someone with normal energy what that experience meant to me. But I stepped out of the boat as if I was Captain Horatio Hornblower or Captain ‘lucky’ Jack Aubrey himself – of “Captain and Commander” fame – to the applause of the gathered crowds. It was a brilliant victory! “I’m proud of you son!”

Back in the car I was full of gratitude towards God, for arranging and enabling. Yes, I did suffer a minor relapse for a two or three weeks afterwards. Not sure whether it was the rowing or something else, but it didn’t matter. No one can take that achievement and memory away from me.

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