Elise Bennett on losing weight, overcoming odds and what Trikkes can do for a body – even a handicapped one.
When my first Trikke arrived in 2008, I had already been bedridden for several years by a spinal injury and severe nerve damage. Not only was I 60 whopping pounds heavier) than before being confined to bed (I was already 20 pounds overweight at that point), but my muscles had atrophied considerably due to lack of use. My resting heart rate was in the mid-70s, my blood pressure was high enough that my doc was worried about it, and my cholesterol was elevated. Not good.
Between acute pain and nerve damage, walking under my own steam was impossible for more than a few feet at a time. If I stayed upright for more than 10 minutes, even that triggered so much pain that I could count on not being able to move much for the next several days. From 2008 to early 2010, my Trikke served as a substitute for a wheelchair and/or walker. It increased my mobility range considerably, but not enough to be considered exercise.
“I am proud to say that I am more than 50 pounds lighter…”
One morning in late March 2010, I awoke to find that the vast majority of the chronic pain that had been my constant, unrelenting companion for almost ten years had mysteriously vanished – literally overnight, and for reasons still unknown even to my doctors. That very day, my Trikke transformed from an adaptive mobility aid to a rehabilitation power tool.
Through trial and error, it became clear that although most of the chronic pain was gone, low levels of movement still aggravated the injured nerves and caused significant pain. The only activities that did not cause considerable discomfort were swimming and Trikke riding, and even those had to be constrained to infrequent, low-intensity sessions of 15-20 minutes.
Because of my physical limitations, progress has been agonizingly slow, but now, in early 2013, I am proud to say that I am more than 50 pounds lighter, four dresses sizes smaller, my resting heart rate is 53 bpm, my blood pressure and cholesterol are normal, and my body is in pretty good shape considering that I still have to lose about 30 pounds before reaching the optimal weight for my large-boned frame. I still walk with a limp, but I can get around without any mobility aids for short distances; a cane is necessary for longer jaunts.
Nowadays, I’m up to two weekly 30-minute, high-intensity workouts or three medium-intensity, 40-minute workouts. 90% of my workouts are on a Trikke T78cs or T12. Wet weather and high pain levels are the only things that can keep me off of ‘em. Cold, heat, wind, and roving packs of rabid attack-weasels are no deterrent, my friend. Gotta Trikke. Just gotta! But, when life or the weather doesn’t cooperate, I resort to no/low impact aerobics. It’s not nearly as fun, but it generates a good sweat all the same.
The most exciting thing about my Trikke workouts – aside from the thrill of the carve itself – is watching my body grow stronger by the month. Yes, I have more weight to lose, but I’m really pleased with how my physique looks so far! My muscles have gone from squishy-soft to rock-hard, head to toe. All of the major muscle groups and the vast majority of the small muscles are well-toned. For the first time in 15 years, my body is strong and fit, and my gut doesn’t jiggle when the car hits a pothole – bonus! And I owe it all to Trikke riding.
So! In the spirit of sharing and showing what Trikkes can do for a body – even a handicapped one, accompanying this article are a few photos of how far I’ve come and a few more to show how things are shaping up. Oh, and given that yours truly has received countless lifetime achievement awards in the field of meritorious prudery, these photos are not so much like going out on a limb as they are walking a high wire between two skyscrapers while wearing stiletto heels during a tornado. So, please be gentle with any comments; I am admittedly insecure about my body.
However, that being said, I am proud of my hard-won progress and vastly-improved physical conditioning that has been three long years in the making. I like my body by Trikke – even though there are miles yet to go in my rehabilitation/fitness journey – and can’t wait to see the finished product. Stay tuned in the coming months for a progress report!