I know this is complicated, and maybe there is no good answer -- that's an answer too!
But, every doctor that I see says that exercise is the most important thing I can do to keep my health, and to enjoy the rest of my life. I am feeling a little trapped.
A little background - I've been around for a while - Lost about 45 lbs a few years ago, then had dental surgery, and stopped working out and eating well - gained 25 back.
About a year ago, I got back on track, and started lurking. Started water aerobics and lap swimming, as, hard to believe, but I was once an athlete, and I loved the feeling of moving effectively. About 20 yrs ago, I got aseptic necrosis from asthma steroids in the joint, and have no cartilege, so much of the weight was from inertia - knees don't hurt when you don't move!
Was diagnosed with osteoporosis, so started trying to add weights, but found the gym really daunting, and the overview of machines not real helpful. But started recumbent bike for cardio.
Got slammed with breast cancer, but found that concentrating on controlling my food helped me handle the anxiety. Lost 35.
Decided it was time to take care of myself, started with a knee specialist - she referred me to PT - they taught me a bunch of exercises to strengthen the knee - side leg lifts, front leg lifts, Nu-Step and other recumbent bikes for strength. Leg press - about 100 lbs + high reps, with machine set up to minimize back use. No lunges or squats, ever. Or at least until after replacement surgery. Loved it.
Took those exercises to a trainer at my health club, and we started adding upper body weight training with machines and free weights - I'm currently using 4s and 8s with high reps. I found that as I increased weights, I started getting pinched nerves in my back - so off to chiropractor. He loves that I'm exercising, but no working on obliques - he's worried that I keep throwing my hips out of alignment. Only temporary relief.
So, off to back specialist. He ordered lots of expensive tests - I have a middle-aged, out-of-shape back for which the best I can do is go to chiropractor. He highly recommends squats and lunges, no leg press, and minimal lifting above the shoulder. I should be strengthening obliques.
He'll write me a prescription for more PT, if I want it, and he recommends acupuncture if the pain is out of control.
What I have done this week - 2 30 min sessions on recumbant bike, 1 water aerobics class - swam 0.5 mile, 1 workout - most upper body machines with a low weight - reps at least 30 - abs machine, leg lifts, etc.
Muscles are feeling worked and happy. Everything else is feeling tender, and not in a good way. Chiropractor appt tonight. Knee has an ice pack on it. Lower back feels like I'm 20 yrs older than I am.
Any ideas what I should be doing, or where I should be going to ask for more help?
Thanks for your patience.