Recovery Stage 3 – staying on track

Out of the system

I’d be interested in hearing others thoughts on this, because personally I found this stage of my recovery the most challenging. There are a number of things that I think combined to make this time so difficult:

  • The support of the hospital rehab programme is no longer there. This was a regular exercise and education programme that kept me motivated. Without that external motivator it was up to me to keep on track with my recovery.
  • I chose not to join one of the local heart clubs. This was perhaps a mistake, but at the time I was determined not to be defined by my heart disease and thought that participating in a heart club was a step n that direction.
  • Despite having been confronted with my own mortality, the further I got from the main event, the more my motivation flagged. It’s difficult to recreate the motivation you have when first told you are going to need a quadruple bypass!
  • It was also a time when I was starting to get back into a “normal” routine with work, family, exercise etc. Staying focussed on healthy eating and staying active seemed to much. It was very easy to let my own health priorities slip in favour of other commitments or priorities.

Finding support

I recently attended a seminar run by the New Zealand Heart Foundation. They were traveling the country with the aim of helping people like to me stay on track. They had a range of presenters from cardiologists to everyday people sharing their experience with heart disease. One of the sessions was on motivation and goal setting. One thing that struck me was that I’m a bit of a drifter – I don’t really set goals. And so setting a goal of healthy eating, monitoring it and having some kind of reward system seems like a good idea, but I have just never managed to stick at it.

If this sounds like you one of the presenters suggested finding your motivation externally. That is, find other people who can help you stay motivated. For example, arranging to meet a friend or group of friends before or after work for a walk, run or swim. Or finding a coach that you have to report in to every week or month. I have a friend at work who offered to be my coach, however she’s a seasoned multi sport athlete and more than a bit of a hard arse – so I politely declined 🙂

One thing I have found useful is the Green Prescription available here in New Zealand. More information is available on the Ministry of Health’s website. You can aso check out the Green Prescription Wellington’s Facebook page for more information. Basically it’s a recommendation from your GP to make exercise part of your ongoing health management. The Green Prescription entitles you to discounts on health providers and some council run facilities, such as swimming pools and gyms. As well as the discounts you are assigned a case manager, who will ring and talk through what actions you can take, send you information and do research on your behalf. They will also keep track of your goals and help you stay on track. I’m fortunate enough to have a case manager who has been through the hospital cardiac rehab programme as part of her exercise science degree, so has a good understanding of my situation.

So for the first time ever I’m going to make a list of goals and stick them on the fridge. I have no idea if it will work or not – I’ll let you know!

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