Do you agree with Jane Fonda’s favorite exercise motto, “no pain, no gain?” Is it impossible to attain greatness without considerable hardship?
There are a few points to this question. Different ways to look at life, where you are at in it, and your health and contentment.
When I was in my twenties and beginning to raise my family I wanted to be like other moms. If there was talk about joining a friend or group to exercise, I was all for it and joined in.
We laughed at the end of the session as we limped or rubbed a sore body part. We knew we were tough and could endure the pain, stating to each other how out of shape we all were in.
We were more in tune with clothing. We squeezed our butts into tight-fitting jeans. Showing a little cleavage wasn’t a bad thing either; after all, everything stayed in place and perky.
Make-up on, hair always done, nails freshly polished; yes, pain for gain was absolutely worth it.
Last night I was sitting at the table with my friends at the Moose. We all ate supper together and then from the time we disposed of our plates we began our chatter. We thought nothing of our conversations. We spent more time laughing until our guts hurt and tears were rolling down our faces.
An hour or so of this passed, minutes ticking by, when we all began to notice how much sooner it is getting dark outside. One of my friends made a show-stopping comment and we all quit laughing.
Her words were, ” do you realize that all we have talked about is the amount of pain we are in”?
Those words hit me hard. We all looked at each other. I looked around at the people sitting near me. I fit in too well. I fit in the category of older people. I could tell by the conversations that we were all in the same boat with similar issues.
Some were speaking about how little time they had to themselves as they were caring for a parent. Others were speaking about how tired they were after still having to work too many hours in a week. Some faces reminded me of a person showing up to the dinner out of routine; but if they really thought about it, they would rather be home in their favorite chair, watching TV and nodding off and on.
My friends and I were doing the same thing, but we were still laughing about the pain we are going through, just like I did when I was in my twenties. The laughing stopped after my friend’s words. She continued on with, ” I want to talk about the weather, beautiful roses, the stars at night.”
Yes, that sounded so peaceful and enjoyable, but the truth is; it is hard to speak of those visions when pain interrupts our daily pain. The thought of real exercise brings a wrinkle to my face. A nice walk wouldn’t be bad, but I don’t want that terrible pain for gain feeling any longer.
I have issues with my Parkinson’s that I don’t like. There is no particular thing I do or not to bring it on. My muscles twitch. Sometimes it feels like little ants are crawling on my arms. I will look but see nothing, brushing off the invisible creatures.
When I walk I feel unsteady. The fear of falling drops the vision of the wonderful time I have of taking a nice, long walk. My legs tremble when I move them. It just makes me feel weak all over.
Instead of thinking of enduring an exercise class, I am more in tune with what medications I can take to ease the pain. I ponder on giving into the tired feelings I have and take a nap. I don’t go out of my way anymore to do a lot of house cleaning all in one day like I used to. I do a little each day and sometimes if my pain is enough I will skip a day of cleaning.
I can look back now, as well as all of us sitting at that table and become a little sad at what we can’t do today that we did only ten years ago. The positive note in this though was sitting together and for a good amount of time, we laughed at each other for the pains we were enduring.
The best exercise for people at my age or with terminal illness is laughter. If we don’t laugh, we don’t live. My advice today is no more pain for gain. We should do what feels comfortable. Take a shorter walk, dance a slower dance, stay involved with family and friends; and lastly, enjoy each day like there is no more tomorrow.