The last time I went for a jog and did some squats was just this past week, although the last time before that was so long ago that I can’t even remember it. It wasn’t exactly easy and I definitely felt how out of shape I am, but I also felt really proud of myself for doing it, especially since it’s been so long, and I also felt (and feel) just a bit stronger and much more hopeful that I can start to be more physically active again without fear of causing pain. I used to run marathons and lift weights and backpack a TON. A lot of my pain, and all of the really debilitating chronic stuff, only started after I stopped exercising and moving so much. Now, I can totally see the pain-fear cycle that only got worse and worse when I started to see myself as fragile instead of strong. Interestingly enough, none of my favorite forms of exercise actually caused or increased my pain symptoms but I think that the switch to seeing my body as my enemy (feeling betrayed by my body causing me chronic pain) and fragile (something to be careful with) really played into why I gave up with regular exercise and movement. And then I started associating certain activities with increases in pain, which just further exacerbated things. When I exercised this past week, I felt lighter and happier, even if just for a little bit. Forcing myself to exercise regularly is one of the biggest factors I attribute to pulling myself out of the darkest and deepest depression I’d ever experienced about 6 years ago, so I know firsthand about how much better it can make me feel mentally and emotionally. Nowadays, I feel like the biggest obstacle to exercising more is making the time for it (or, let’s get real, making it a priority). I’ve also been very all-or-nothing about it in the past (ie. signing up for a marathon before I’d even run a 5k), and I know I need to work on accepting that I don’t need a huge goal or massive payoff in order to start exercising regularly again and reaping the benefits of it. It’s definitely one of those personality traits I need to work on - so I’m trying to keep telling myself that tiny changes and baby steps are just as important and valid and praiseworthy.