Feel Me Up, Tie Me Down

Swimming for the amount of time that I do takes a lot of effort. I don’t mean the time in the water, I mean getting my ass up off the chair and into the pool. It’s worth it, of course, especially now. I have something I haven’t had in a really long time…muscles! I expected the arm and shoulder muscles, but it’s the other ones that have me obsessed.

My glutes, obliques, and upper and lower abdominals are starting to emerge. There is still a layer of fat over everything, and likely will be for a few more months, but underneath, there is a hardness that wasn’t there before. I was squishy and jiggly. Now I’m mostly jiggly and only moderately squishy. While lying in bed, I poked and prodded at my body, amazed at how quickly it is changing. I still have grandma wings under my arms, but they are noticeably less noticeable.

Last night, I was only slightly teasing when I told Ron he needed to start exercising or he wouldn’t be able to keep up with me. While the soreness slows me down and I’m sleeping about 12 hours a day, when I’m awake I’m full of energy. The best part is that the crazy awful pain in my left shoulder blade has decreased to a mostly tolerable level and is staying even. That’s better results than steroid shots, without the yeast overload that they cause.

This morning I shopped for swimsuits and had to laugh at the ridiculously poor photoshop job from the Walmart web guys. I despise shopping at Walmart, but they are the only ones that carry Catalina, which is the best suit I’ve ever had. No binding, easy on and off, and it’s held up really well. I need a couple more so I can rotate through and have one to wear while I wash the rest. A good suit for athletic swimming doesn’t have cutesy ties, ruffles, or frilly skirts. I found two that weren’t hideous or just for show, and they were only $16 each. Paired with bike shorts (2 for $12!), I am good to go.

A woman stopped me in the locker room to ask where I bought my swimsuit with the long legs. She couldn’t tell that they were bike shorts underneath my suit. Most bike shorts are made of the same lycra spandex that suits are made from, so they are fine for the pool. They keep me from worrying about my bikini line, plus they also keep my thighs from chafing while I swim.

Swimming gives fast results, especially when one does it for an hour and a half, three or four times a week. You can either spend twenty or thirty minutes using a few muscles here and there, or 90 minutes using EVERY muscle. One swim is not just equivalent to three gym sessions, it exceeds it. In the gym, most people alternate upper and lower body. That means at three times a week, you will only work one part once a week. Results increase motivation, too. One is much more likely to continue when effort is worth it.

Then there’s the injury aspect. While swim injuries do occur (I pulled an oblique the other day while reaching for the wall), they are much more rare than gym injuries. With severe fibromyalgia, the gym is just pain waiting to happen. The pool is pure relief.

Almost any doctor will recommend exercise for people with fibro, which is always a laugh. It hurts too much to even get started! A pool is the solution. It is zero impact, so no weight stress on joints, bones, or muscles. The water is supportive, so it holds you up until you can hold yourself up, and it gives your body a chance to completely relax most muscles without any pressure on any tender points.

More than anything, though, swimming just puts me in a deliriously happy place. It’s meditative, breathing in and out and counting the lap in my head over and over so I don’t forget where I am. It’s relaxing, listening to my favorite music without interruption. It releases endorphins, increases seratonin production, and spurs brain cell generation. Yep, swimming can make you smarter!! Some doctors believe it is more effective than anti-depressants. Considering I can’t take any SSRIs because they make me vomit uncontrollably, swimming is a triple win for me: weight loss, stress reduction/anti-depressant/anxiolitic, and body sculpting. Yeah, that 90 minutes is totally worth it.

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