The Journey of Change Continues: Summer Summary Yoga, Fitness & Wellbeing. General & Lupus.

As the first summer season post lockdown has ended. Unless your going by the astrological calendar which ends on the 22nd of September. Let’s just stick to the meteorological calender which is September 1st.

Has been a tale of two halves. One half has been adjusting to managing time outside of the home as well as at home which was technically everything in the lockdown for a large portion of people which included work, study, socialising, exercising and more.

So it was going to be using what you learnt in lockdown about yourself. A sort of self evaluation. Did you pick up any new skills?. Did you manage to stick to your goals?. Was motivation a problem or did you think what’s the point I’m indoors.

Which poses important question’s. Such as did you only tie your goals (lose 4lbs in weight/tone up stomach) to an event in the past. For example attending a wedding, going to a party or on holiday just to name a few. Which is not ideal because should any of your plans be cancelled then the motivation you had in reaching that goal has a higher chance of dwindling. Or was it a goal that’s more sustainable using the same (lose 4lbs in weight/tone up stomach) because you felt better physically &/or preferred a smaller waistline for health and/or aesthetic reasons. Along with encouraging consistency to maintain it. Motivation being the driving force from the start and well after the target goal has been achieved.

With this summer being the season of heatwaves, climate and energy crisis. There’s more but let’s not get political. The principals of yoga, fitness and wellbeing has stayed the same. As it doesn’t matter where or what your situation is. Whether you are fully physically abled or not. Financially wealthy or not. There is always an exercise and/or workout you can do in any sized space available to you. If you are serious and realistic about the goal you want to set.

The same with well-being. A word that’s used a lot but hardly in the context of what well-being means. Also it’s often confused with wellness. Which is different. As wellness is a practice for example my goal of 10 minutes minimum of yoga daily. Helps my mind to relax and with yoga poses connect with my body. Also stretching essential muscles improve my overall health creating healthy habits.

Whilst well-being is a state of being for example happiness and/or healthy. It’s very much dependent on an individuals mood or feeling which can be affected by many factors such as an illness or break-up which can have a negative effect on one’s emotions which could lead to behaviours/actions which can effect the physical self as well as the mental self. For example overeating or to stop eating to deal/cope with a life changing event. Not only causes physical harm but can cause self esteem issues, loss of confidence and develop bad/unhealthy habits. Which have an effect on your well-being. It’s very much interchangeable but as long as there is a balance. You can maintain a healthy state of well-being.

Just cutting back on social media is a good start. If your unable to detach from viewing yourself from the perspective of what social media site’s dictate what the beauty/physical/social standard’s are which are often unrealistic.

But even in this day and age. Large sections of the population still seem to put it on a pedestal allowing it to dictate how they should live, look and be. Should you want to be accepted or valued. Not been judge and jury based on the most popular view that’s been generated to gain a mass response. Rather than use it for ideas, interests, information on particular topics or just enjoying images or videos for what it is. Yes there is a place for social media creator’s. As I am able to view content on people from across the world who are going through the same things I am or have experienced myself. Also those who have more years of experience in disciplines of yoga, fitness and hobbies which inspires me in my own goals and aspirations but that’s where it stops.

A major part of yoga, fitness and well-being is the goals you set. Are you being realistic?. Are you ready to put in the work whilst loving who you are right now. As most people would believe you don’t like yourself that’s why you want to change.

Which is far from the truth. Even I believed that initially when I just focused on the body parts I resented and couldn’t stand. Blamed Lupus for making me look ugly (old mindset). So I would train with the mindset that I could reverse all that was done. Which was unrealistic. Because I was aways going to have a result of disappointment because my expectations would never be met. That had an effect on my confidence and how I carried myself. Plus I was looking at myself on the level of my expectations missing out on the actual progress I had made. It wasn’t until I stopped comparing myself to my old healthy sporty physique. Because there was an acceptance that it’s time to start a complete new approach mind and body. That I celebrated myself as I was at that moment and these are my new goals. So rather than it be a chore to exercise for example 100 reps x 4 of any type of core exercises daily. I was excited. Plus the confidence rises because you are proud of yourself not just because you know of the stuggles, challenges and changes you have made. But also being committed to oneself.

As someone with Lupus SLE. I was no stranger to isolation for long periods at a time pre covid. But rather than been stuck in an isolation ward in hospital feeling very poorly. I was at least just stuck in my home as an extreme clinically vulnerable person.

Of course it sucked especially after some weeks and month’s still been told to stay indoors whilst others were free to go about their day. As if vulnerable people needed reminding that society (government). has yet to accept or value us as much as they proclaim.

Which is the same for those in society who don’t have the extra funds/access to gym’s or like me I’m just not into indoor gym environments which is a personal choice. But will still train those who prefer it due to a variety of resistance machines as part of their training. But I always encourage an alternative back up which works the same muscle groups because there can be unforseen circumstances when the machine is broken or the gym is closed etc. Leaving no excuses or opportunities to miss out on staying on track or loose motivation momentum. Plus it’s nice to switch it up if your someone who loses interest quickly.

Like using pull-up/dip bars not just for it’s intended use. I do have a full body workout available to watch at the link provided. It’s also great because it’s evident you really don’t need a big space to exercise all the body muscle groups. Plus it’s useful as an assisted aid for those like myself have mobility health issues due to Lupus SLE primarily my knee joints. So deep squats with both legs together hip distance apart with feet facing forward is difficult. Using the bars provide stability and allowing deep squats to be performed.

Yoga squats is my preference with a wider leg stance and feet slightly turned out. I can do my squats as well as do single heel raises stretching the calve muscles. Plus these exercises strengthen the core for improved stability and better form/technique with yoga poses such as the Goddess Pose (one of my favourites. As I actually feel so strong and elegant at the same time).

Also investing in small inexpensive things like stretch resistance bands. Great because it doesn’t matter what the weather is saying or where you are going to be. Having exercises that can work the shoulders, arms and back or use it as an assistance aid tool is priceless. The many uses. Alternating day’s between weight resistance workouts when you go for overload (overloading the muscle to the point of fatigue) using weights: dumbbells or a barbell doing a superset for example. Using a resistance stretch band offers a lighter workout or stretch. Also if you have mobility/joint issues affecting your grip/technique stretch resistance bands are a great alternative with just adding more reps to get the desired results. Lastly there are great for building strength and technique as a prelude to using weights.

There has been some day’s when it’s been too hot to exercise outdoors with the temptation to say what’s the worst that could happen. When actually your not doing your body any good. Adding no benefits to your health because when the body overheats. It also makes the heart pump extra hard which forces your heart rate to increase to exceedingly high levels not too mention the inability to replace lost fluids in adequate time. Due to loss of electrolytes become faint, dehydrated and at it’s worst heat stroke. So unless your a trained athlete it’s better to put safety first and instead of going for a run. Opt for a light jog or walk if you have to be outside. Alternatively if it’s just about getting those steps/cardio done for the day. On the spot steps or jog is suitable until the conditions are safe that you get the benefits from doing it.

For those that are affected by extreme/prolonged exposure to sunlight and heat (photosensitivity). Which can effect Lupus SLE patients. I being one of those who have a diagnoses which is one of many having photosensitive Lupus as well as other Lupus related illnesses/diagnoses. Can be a trigger for bringing on a Lupus flare-up with all and/or few symptoms that can range from nausea to a painful skin rash. The best thing to do is have a sun protection pack made up from the time summer season starts. Including all the important things that you’ll need. Such as a spf 50 cream/spray, sunglasses, visor or a brimmed hat, small towel and a water bottle. I also pack a water mist spray. Just because you can’t always guarantee not been outside at the hottest times or having shade available. Whether it’s on your way to work or for an appointment for example. Even for social occasions being prepared takes away any anxiety about been outside reducing the risks of setting off flare-up triggers.

Also preparing/planning your exercise routines in advance before daylight hours decrease. So your not at the last minute having to figure out an alternative for example walking through the park at 8pm as part of your cardio routine. But with summer season coming to an end it’s too dark and/or the park is closed. But having prepared an alternative route in advance. For example going around the park or using well lit streets that cover the same distance means not comprising on your goal or routine. It could be reshuffling or reorganising the order in which you do your exercises such as using the park bars in the morning or on days you know your available. Investing in bars to use at home. Even thou I can’t do all the things I can do on a single pull up in the park. For example go over it. I bought a cheaper alternative (a doorway one). As I can still practice and work on upperbody strength building.

A good source of motivation this summer has been combining my active hobbies with raising money for charity. Doing the 50k Roll (rollerskating) to raise money for Great ORMOND STREET HOSPITAL CHARITY. Which you can still donate to via this link.

For me it helped give me an extra purpose to put on my skates and roll as well get practice in on day’s I wasn’t in the mood. I also signed upto the 60k walk for GREAT ORMOND STREET HOSPITAL CHARITY to. To be honest I walk everywhere anyway and it’s my favourite activity. Whether it’s walking to work, an appointment, shopping etc. I think it’s the explorer in me that makes me want to visually absorb everything around me. From walking past a new building and/or a park tucked away behind a pathway I’ve seen but never walked along.

It was such a beautiful feeling and achievement looking at distance travelled without even noticing I’d been walking for so long. It’s different from running because your moving so fast and the mind is focused on the straight ahead. Whilst when your walking you feel the natural flow of the air on your face. Allowing the mind to relax.

The extra bonus of finding worthy causes to raise money for without having to pay (quite expensive at times) a fee to take part is great because you can get started straight away. Especially in today’s financial climate where the cost of living is at the top of everyone’s agenda. Been resourceful even with hobbies that can benefit others and yourself at the same time is priceless.

Hospital Appointments Became More Frequent.

Then there was the news that would change everything going into summer. Been told I must have the conversation with family about volunteering to be living kidney donor as advised by my consultant at my rheumatology (Lupus) routine appointment. Which was actually the easiest part. The difficult part was taking it all in.

That the 30% function of the one kidney I had left (due to previous major kidney and lung failure caused by puemononia). Had dropped to 20% 😲. Usually for anyone else once their kidney function hits 20%. They would be either receiving dialysis and/or having a kidney transplant. But as I’ve been living a relatively normal functioning life with the one. They dropped my limit to 15%. Which is understandable but for me comes with it’s own issues that are not visible to people but very real.

Having Lupus SLE (my diagnosis and other details about it in a previous blog). So symptoms such as fatigue and nausea was always present. The nature of Lupus SLE been an immunosuppressant illness not been able to fight off infections such as colds etc. And/or the high possibility of infections progressing to a more serious ailment for example a cold 🔛 chest infection. My chronic Kidney disease is the result of my kidney organs been attacked by the Lupus. With one just making it out the otherside of my coma. Beating all the odds to be able to stop dialysis and just take medication. But the symptoms that come with a deteriorating kidney is just as problematic as the Lupus SLE and the Lupus related illnesses (caused by the illness &/or strong/long-term medication usage) was overlapping of symptoms such as fatigue, appetite suppression, confusion (brain fog) for example. With most people taking a pee is just something you do when you need to go. With (end) stage 4 kidney disease. Your pee is just one indicator of many to show if the kidney is failing. Because it will stop filtering the toxins and rubbish which comes out as waste in your urine. Also the frequency of toilet time can be so annoying 🙄. Plus the unpreventable bloating.

So as I sit there preparing myself mentally for the conversations I had to have with family, close friends and including my workplace. There was the thought of having to face the biggest life changing surgery I’ve ever had to deal with including the pain and recovery. Remembering it’s a life saving moment. Also on the otherside of it. I’ll be the healthiest and have the most energy that I can remember experiencing. Which will be so overwhelming considering it’s been more than two decades of not operating on a full tank. So getting everything done can be a challenage on some day’s including simple tasks such as cooking dinner. Not only because fatigue can ground me to a halt but the feeling to eat is sometimes non existent. Not to mention the energy you need to use to tend too your social affairs. Be it family matters/dynamics &/or friends and relationships as just some examples.

When looking from the outside in can be very misguided. Because for me everything requires energy to be subtracted from whatever reduced amount I have to begin with on any given day. So I see time as much more of a precious commodity then I did before. Also prompting me to makesure this was going to be an epic summer I create or at least not waste it on feeling sorry for myself. With frequent blood tests and hospital appointments scheduled it made more sense to stay close to home. The weather was so good it felt like the tropics here in London anyway and adjusting to fortnightly self administering EPO injections in the stomach which was also a new addition to my summer. So having those weeks not working on site sport’s coaching/activity leader. Was perfect timing. Time to plan, spend time outdoors, rest, get my hair done, meet up with friends and of course danced the night away from beginning to the end. Which I did on every occasion I went out and music was playing. It wasn’t untill I looked at my step count. I realised the mileage I had done without noticing. Truth be told dancing for me is freedom. Because it doesn’t matter who else is or isn’t dancing. It’s just me and the music playing.

What has and always been a constant in my life. Is yoga and fitness. Regardless of my circumstances or new ill health developments. For me personally. Consistency is deeply embedded in my quest to maintain a good level of what I had worked so hard for to achieve. Having started from the beginning in building upper and lowerbody strength, stability and flexibility. Not just as a personal goal but also contributing to my professional development. The source of motivation was driven in part by my Lupus SLE. Because no matter how bad that got and some day’s it was challenging. There was always exercises I could do to satisfy completing my daily exercise routine whether it was done indoors or out. Plus been able to demonstrate to other’s as a Lupus advocate. That it’s possible to achieve the same goals as those who are not ill and/or contribute to improving one’s overall health outside of illness and medication usage.

Thou nothing happened overnight and took time. The confidence I gained is something that can never be taken away. Maybe now I can look back and appreciate the progress and the journey. Not that it’s over. But my mindset is more prepared to deal with change and adapting to new situations as they arise. The same as yoga, fitness, health and well-being been a daily part of my life. All of which are variable. As no one can be in a constant state of anything whether your ill or not. But knowing I can work on any of them should I choose to. Is having the freedom of choice to create the outcome I want.

So was your first summer back post lockdown restrictions better or worse than expected?

Will you be making any changes to your health and fitness plans/routine now autumn 🍂 is here?

There will be an Autumn Yoga, Fitness and Wellbeing: General and Lupus Motivation blog coming soon……

For indoor and outdoor exercise ideas. You can access them at present on my Facebook/Meta: G.ElliottServices Lupusfit™️ Business page. I am a qualified yoga & fitness professional.


Published by gelliottservices

P.T, Yoga, Fitness Trainer, Teacher, Instructor & Sports Coach (IPHM).

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