Exercising Helps Me Realize That Pain Is Necessary for Growth
After an entire year of getting little exercise, I’ve finally decided to work out again.
I’d gone several months without much physical activity, so I’m starting with jump rope fitness for body conditioning. So far, everything’s good. I’ve had to rearrange my schedule quite a bit and take more time off work, but the endorphins I get from even just 15 minutes of physical activity seem to make the trade-off worthwhile.
The decision to start working out again wasn’t as easy as it was when I was younger and unmarried. After I became a parent two years ago, I felt I needed to focus more on our daughter, Cittie, and our online jewelry business. Although exercise was important to my husband, Jared, to maintain his physique and lower the frequency of bleeds from hemophilia, we couldn’t help but feel it was a bit of a waste of time. (Of course, it wasn’t, but I always felt guilty about missing work and losing precious time taking care of our baby.)
Now that Cittie is 2, she is a lot more independent than I expected. She’s potty trained, enjoys “art” in the form of her adorable toddler scribblings, and loves to sing. She’s also learning to be responsible by cleaning up her own messes, getting her own things, and dressing herself.
Our little girl surprises us in so many ways. What’s most amazing is that she picks up new skills so effortlessly, without being taught or instructed. For the longest time, I thought potty training would test our patience, but she picked it up quickly, as soon as she was ready.
Within two days of our first attempt, she was diaper-free. She would often ask us to take off her diapers and insist on going to the toilet by herself. She would even wake up from naps just to use her tiny potty.
As an adult, I feel like I could never learn new things as quickly and effortlessly as my toddler. As the popular saying goes, “There’s no growth without struggle.” I must experience some form of pain in order to grow.
Exercise is uncomfortable, physically taxing, and time-consuming. But it’s one of the ways I can maintain my health, in addition to watching my diet and getting enough sleep. Sleeping doesn’t come easy for me, either, as insomnia is a symptom of my anxiety. Still, I have to sleep anyway, no matter how difficult it is. (Yes, losing sleep over the thought of sleep is a thing!)
The growth process may feel unpleasant at times. But that’s mainly because it requires us to challenge the old perspectives we’ve had about certain things. In my case, I need to challenge what I think my body can do. I need to push myself to get off my chair and onto my feet, and do a few more reps for a few more minutes each time I get moving. I need to start thinking beyond my own comfort and decide that being healthy is the best way to help my family.
My husband needs his exercise, too, and by working out together, we can motivate each other to be healthier.
Now that I think about it, maybe kids learn and grow more easily because their egos are not yet developed. They are a lot more flexible in terms of how they think of themselves and the world. They aren’t afraid to be vulnerable. Of course they struggle with growth, too!
I remember the time we weaned Cittie off her pacifier “cold turkey” — she cried the whole night. But in the next few days, she found other ways to soothe herself.
I realize that both Jared and I need to grow in many ways to cope with daily life with chronic illness. Although exercise is hard, I should realize that it can help me improve my mental state. It also helps Jared put on muscle and protect his joints, two things he needs as a hemophiliac.
I’m glad I decided to emulate my toddler for once and look beyond my own reasons for avoiding exercise. I used to tell myself that I’d exercise when I was ready. Well, now I’m ready.
It’s time to start embracing the pain and start growing.
Note: Hemophilia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Hemophilia News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to hemophilia.