“Getting Fit”

I find it so irritating when people tell me I have to exercise. Sometimes it can feel like climbing a mountain just to climb onto my little elliptical machine.

As a teenager, I was lucky to take a few years of dance class with famed modern dancer Bella Lewitzky. I even signed up for a jazz dance class during my medical training, but I had to drop it. My getting to a 6:30 PM dance class once a week just wasn’t possible.

Then I got sick…

For years I was sad about letting go of that part of my life. Truthfully though, what I missed most were the soft black leotards and the dancer-pink footless tights! Then it dawned on me—why couldn’t I still have them?

I dreamed of a dance outfit for over a year, but I was too embarrassed to enter a dance apparel store. Finally I decided to just get it—despite my awkwardness and the critical looks from the fit young salesgirl. (This was pre-Internet days, so I couldn’t simply order them online.)

When I got home and put on the leotards, I could see a bit of my former self in the mirror. I began to move slowly, extending my arms, bending at the waist. My legs began to move also, toes pointing and flexing automatically, naturally. I put on some music and pretended I was in class again.

I still have my outfit. Actually, I have two! I use them as a psychological tool to help me get moving and stretching.

I know as a doctor I’m supposed to advise people to “get fit.” But this can be so hard with chronic illness.

I say, “Get the outfit!”