Breaking My 10% Managing Improvement Rule…..and Surviving!

This week I didn’t practice what I preach, I broke one of my own rules, but it was a very considered decision and the bet paid off!

I’ve had really good energy for a while now, I’ve had a few bad days because of some nasty headaches, but even on those day’s I’ve known my energy was OK. In fact, having to withdraw from life because of a headache may even have helped my energy grow because I wasn’t using it when I had it!

My rule for managing improvement is only ever increase activity by 10% (after at least 3 days of feeling good). I like doing circular routes when I go out walking, which makes increasing by 10% a little difficult, but for a couple of months I’ve done a good job of that, not always increasing the distance sometimes just going a little faster instead. A couple of weeks ago I managed one of my normal walks in the same time I used to do it when I was healthy; that felt like a major achievement.

There were quite a few things that influenced my decision to break my rule. First was the naughty call of the heart’s desire. When I eat my meals on my terrace, directly in front of me on the other side of the valley, is a beautiful spot that I used to take my groups to when I used to be a walking guide here. Up until recently I’ve been able to look at the countryside with appreciative eyes without my old habit of looking at the features and wanting to explore; wanting to be there. But all of a sudden, this little spot, which has great views both up the valley to the highest mountain in mainland Spain and down the valley at the 3 beautiful villages, just wouldn’t stop beaconing me. Every time I sat down to eat I wanted to go there, and my automatic answer ‘that’s just not part of your life anymore’ seemed to have lost its strength.

Then one morning when I was feeling really energetic I turned the corner from my house and looked up at the high peaks and felt a powerful belief that one day I would be up there hiking again. It wasn’t just a steely determination, it was a kind of knowing and it was wonderful!Mulhacen from round the corner

Then I started to question whether I was holding myself back. Was I being too cautious? Now we all know that this self-doubt can be a dangerous thing. You start feeling better and then think ‘am I really that ill? I might as well just get on with things’, then comes the crash. But this time felt different. I’ve been doing really, really well for a while, in fact my energy levels have been increasing for a couple of years now in the up and down fashion characteristic of chronic illness. I feel as though I’m about 80% well and on my average to good days as long as I stick to my routines and don’t push beyond my ever-expanding limits, you couldn’t tell that I was ill at all.  I felt as though it wasn’t just my heart’s desire that was pushing me to test myself out, there was also a part of my intuition telling me to believe in myself and show myself what I could do.  That in order to be hiking in those high mountains again I was going to have to take slightly bigger steps from time to time.

Finally, I realised that I’ve begun to trust my resilience. I do still get knocked back, but in general I tend to recover quicker, and continue moving forward. Maybe this walk was going to be a little beyond my energy envelope, but if it was I could live with the consequences, I might have to take it easy for a while but I would bounce back!

So I decided to do it. I set a date, made sure I rested well for a few days before hand and planned to rest well for a few days afterwards. The date came, I had a horrific headache and I had to postpone. But a couple of days later feeling rested and energetic, I set out at 7.30 in the morning while it was still cool and comfortable and I made it! After 9 years of not being well enough, I was stood on that same beautiful spot again surrounded by the wonderful scent of the wild marjoram in flower. It was exhilarating! Not only did I make it but I enjoyed every moment of connection with nature. The wildflowers were stunning and the views were and wildflowers

I took it extremely easy for the rest of the day, and was pretty exhausted, but in a kind of healthy feeling way. And my energy stayed pretty low for another 4 days. But I didn’t crash! My muscles stiffened up for about 24 hours but were fine after my second gentle yoga session. Apart from relatively low energy I had no other symptoms, no low mood, no brain fog! And by yesterday my energy levels had returned to their previous high levels. I really did bounce back.

I have so much hope for a full recovery again now, mostly I’ll continue to move forward in very small steps, because I know that that approach works, but every now and then, when my spirit and intuition give me the nudge, I can trust that I have the resilience to take a risk on a slightly bigger step!

I write this post to inspire, but unless you have consistently felt really well for quite a long time and have faith in your resilience, I would urge you to stick to the 10% rule!


3 thoughts on “Breaking My 10% Managing Improvement Rule…..and Surviving!”

  1. I can’t tell you how happy I am for you that you were able to, once again, enjoy the beautiful hike! Thank you for the hope and inspiration!

  2. So happy for you Julie! This gives us all hope and inspiration that if we follow the 8 steps consistently that we too will be where you are some day.


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