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Day 3 My journey with exercise, TMS, and the pain-fear cycle

Discussion in 'Structured Educational Program' started by Mags33, Mar 23, 2021.

  1. Mags33

    Mags33 Newcomer

    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.
  2. theiaone

    theiaone New Member

    Same here Mags33. I am really leaning into the baby steps. My first jog was around a couple blocks, with walking in between. Maybe once we have proof that physical activity does not have to equal pain, we will gain more confidence and stop giving pain so much of our attention.
    Mags33 likes this.
  3. johnebbe

    johnebbe New Member


    I have just started my TMS-journey. Even though we're both new, it's comforting to see that I recognize all of your feelings/emotions.

    I used to do all kinds of crazy exercise and sports. Sure, not all of it was good for me and I think that I challenged my body more than it could handle. I had some injuries - but they always healed. That was before my pain began!

    During the last year I've been afraid of all exercise, feeling convinced that movement will hurt me in some way. Just started getting back to doing pushups at home, it's great! Even though it's slow and I'm extremely out of shape - it feels great!

    My plan is to do easy workout every third day. Mags, how do you go about it? :)
  4. Mags33

    Mags33 Newcomer

    I'm trying to overcome this right now as well.

    You've got a good, easy, attainable plan! We all have to start somewhere.

    For me, I think I've come around to the idea that concrete, specific goals (while they work for most people) actually just add to the (often unrealistic) pressures I tend to put on myself and give me another excuse to beat myself up when I inevitably feel like I'm falling short of them. So overall, even though I'm very much a list-maker and goal-setter by nature, I think it's actually been a contributing factor towards developing and worsening my TMS. Instead, I'm trying to just have kind of vague "efforts" and "priorities" instead of goals or plans, because they're harder to FAIL at, at least until I learn to stop internally putting myself down for not succeeding enough at them.

    So for right now, I'm just making it a priority to move more in general and not really defining exactly how (or how much or how often, etc). If it's sunny and warm outside, I'm going to make the effort to go for a short jog because I know it will make me feel better. If I feel myself getting anxious or antsy, I'll try and burn some off that off by doing squats. Or maybe to stretch or do some yoga when I'm feeling the need to relax. But if I don't do much of anything physical here and there, that's okay too, and I'm not going to beat myself up about it.

    While I'm babying my pain less and doing more physically at work (with less pain!), I still don't feel ready to revisit the exercises that have historically made my pain a lot worse (like planks and upper body exercises, as my TMS is in my neck, shoulders, and back). I hope this isn't a sign that I haven't yet fully internalized that my pain is just TMS, but I do have faith that I'll get there eventually. Like I said, we all have to start somewhere.

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