Commit to Fit | Week 16

Author | Commit to Fit 2013 Winner, Judith Zissman

I’m 42. Many of my friends are roughly the same age, and we’re all starting to notice that we no longer have the bodies we had in our 20s and 30s. This plays out in small ways: we can’t stay out all night anymore, or drink as much as we once did, and in large ways: in the past three months, four of my friends have been diagnosed with various cancers.

My own recent diagnoses are thankfully on the mild side, but they are interfering with my exercise, so I thought it might be useful to talk about them a bit here:

Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the fascia (the connective tissue along the sole of your foot). As you might imagine, it’s painful, and it is slow and challenging to heal because we all use our feet so much every day. I’ve been getting most of my cardio activity by taking long walks carrying my 25 pound baby, and my right foot has become quite irritated. This makes certain kinds of foot positions feel excruciating, and that has definitely affected my workouts. Billy has been very accommodating with helping me find foot positions that work well, and he’s encouraged me to massage the sole with a tennis ball to get some release and relief in my foot.

My doctor suggested meeting with a physical therapist to see if there were other things I might try. The physical therapist suggested getting more supportive shoes and insoles, adding some variety to my cardio work to reduce the intensity for my foot, and doing calf stretches (like this one, but with a rolled up towel under the front of my foot to increase the stretch) that specifically targeted the area near my arch rather than some of the more intense toe stretches that I’d found researching online (it’s always a good reminder that some of the information online, even from reputable sites like WebMD, might not be right for you and your individual situation). He also suggested that I avoid lunges or split squats to avoid that intense bend in the front of the back foot in those positions.

I definitely see some improvement, and am hopeful that this will clear up entirely over the next weeks and months. As I lose weight and improve my cardiac fitness, I’d like to incorporate some running into my workouts, and I won’t be able to do that until my foot feels better.

Benign Paroxysmal Positioning Vertigo

My other recent diagnosis concerns a relatively mild vertigo that I’ve noticed on and off for the past few weeks. It seems most likely that this is benign paroxysmal positioning vertigo (BPPV), which happens when tiny crystals in the canals of your inner ear migrate and send confusing messages to your brain about your balance and positioning. It sounds like science fiction, a bit, but it’s a real thing. There’s no specific cause, but it’s linked to aging (check!) and lack of sleep (sigh...)

The treatments (PDF format; scroll down for the excellent illustrations) remind me of those ball-in-a-maze games for kids, where these tiny crystals are the ball and you have to reposition your head at strange angles to move the crystals through the maze of your inner ear to get them to a place they won’t make you dizzy. And, as my doctor warned me, you mostly feel worse before you feel better.

In summary, neither of these conditions makes me especially eager to exercise. But both of them remind me how important it is to continue to become more healthy and fit, because the healthier the body is, the more resilient it is in dealing with all of these minor issues, and the more it can resist some of the more terrifying major issues. And that is what keeps me going.