- flossing - consistently, not just for two weeks before that annual dental check-up. Or is it a check-up every couple of years when you get around to it?
- biking or walking for errands to exercise your body and reduce your driving
- stretching after exercise, even if it's work like gardening, chopping wood, or manually washing the laundry rather than traditional exercise
- eating healthy home-made food rather than overly processed quick and easy food from the store shelves and freezer, or a restaurant
- reading a book that engages your brain instead of vegging in front of the TV or computer on the weekends
I tend to be hit and miss with doing those things that I know I should be doing. Probably more miss than hit. And right now, that fact is coming home to roost.
Over a decade ago, I went through years of problems with my feet due to plantar fasciitis. The last podiatrist I saw gave me a set of exercises and stretches to do regularly. I did them while I was his patient but eventually dropped the program over the years. My foot and ankle muscles have gradually weakened on the side where I had surgery on my foot. This has probably contributed to the weakness in the hip on the same side. Could I have prevented this by simply continuing the exercise and stretch regimen prescribed years ago? I wonder.
Many years ago, two different chiropractors gave me printouts of stretches and exercises for the back. Periodically, I'd commit to doing them regularly and strengthen these muscles, reducing my need to see the chiropractors. Then, as I felt good, I'd start skipping the daily workouts until my back started hurting again. Is it any wonder my core muscles are weak now?
I took yoga regularly for a couple of years quite a while back and my body started loosening up. When we moved, I let this practice go and my body is back to being inflexible and stiff. I have yoga books, CDs, DVDs, a mat, and blocks at home. I rarely do yoga.
The chiropractor I have now is very good about recommending exercises and stretches to do at home to resolve problems. She, like most chiropractors, doesn't want to just keep fixing the same thing over and over again if the patient can get better with a little homework. She's shown me a number of exercises I could do to improve my balance. Do I remember to do these? No, I forget or I feel too rushed to make time to take care of myself.
When I started seeing my TMJ dentist, he gave me one easy exercise to do at the first appointment. I was to do it six times per day. It took about 30 seconds each time. No sweat. I aced that one. At the next appointment, he gave me five more stretches to do. This set takes over 5 minutes to do and somehow I thought I was only supposed to do it once a day. A few months later, I found out it was supposed to be done six times per day, too. Geez, I thought, that's going to suck up a lot of time! I tried to remember and managed twice a day usually.
I am paying a big price now for my negligence towards myself. As a result of the various doctors' visits and testing done to deal with the vertigo issue, we've decided to treat a number of problems. Next week, I'm starting physical therapy to increase the strength, flexibility, and stability of my foot and ankle, and deal with a painful shoulder and neck problem that stems from postural issues. I will be forking out the insurance copay for every visit and will not progress if I don't do my "homework." I'll also be starting vestibular rehab to help me deal with the dizziness. As I understand it, this will basically be exercises to improve my balance and, again, will mostly consist of homework.
In other words, I have to make time for me. It does not matter if these exercises and stretches take several hours out of my day. It does not matter if I have to do them for the rest of my life. If this is what it takes for me to be healthy and fit enough to live my life without discomfort or pain, then it is simply the way it has to be.
I've already started by putting a schedule on my refrigerator of the six times I should stop and do the TMJ exercises and some from my chiropractor. I don't know how much more will be added with the physical therapy and vestibular rehab, but it doesn't matter. I will do what I have to do, and I'll do my best to not resent that I have to take this time out for me. It's easy to get caught up in thinking that my time would be better spent "saving the world" but I can't save anything if I don't take care of myself first.
Oh, and I have a dental appointment in two weeks. I've started flossing again.