Do not tell me that I cannot or will not do something. You are only asking to be proven wrong. This is particularly true when it comes to physical feats. I take great pride how far I have come and what I can do. I spent years training a body to do things that most individuals do not even think about – and I had been told I could not do them. So do note tell me that I can’t. I have asked my friends never to tell me that I cannot run a marathon, because I do not want to have to do it. (I will never run a full marathon, that is just silly!)
I spent years visiting doctors, being poked and prodded, trying different treatments. Pain in nearly every joint was depressing and at times overwhelming. Not that I would let it stop me – but I wanted answers. But the doctors did not want answers as much as I did. Several of them shrugged their shoulders and handed me a prescription. The rheumatologist told me not to exercise and to lose weight. The orthopaedic surgeon told me that he had done all that he could (after my second surgery on my right knee) and that I would never run, squat, or jump. The chiropractor (also a CSCS and brilliant) told me to avoid overhead movements (e.g., shoulder presses, overhead squats, snatches), barbells on my back, heavy weights, jumping, and the prone position (e.g., pushups, mountain climbers). The combined opinion was that I would need to manage my pain – most prominent in my knees, hips, and back – by decreasing my scope of activity and taking pain medication and/or experimental drugs.
Between the activities that the surgeon told me I would never do again and the recommendations of exercises to avoid, the message was clear: STOP EXERCISING. Stop exercising? Ha! Fat chance of that one. Sure, I could build workouts around that list of no-nos, but that would have been boring – little variation and little fun.
Proving them all wrong
Mind you, the chances are – having dealt with chronic pain for most of my life – that my pain tolerance is higher than most. Nothing about what I have accomplished was easy. Nothing was pain-free. I have endured some pain – and maybe too much in some instances – in order to prove them wrong. But in the long term, my pain is better and well managed.
No squats – I managed to max out at 300 pounds in 2010 and have set a goal of re-achieving this in 2013.
No jumps – I jump all the time. For fun. For exercise. I just like to jump. Sometimes, like yesterday, I even jump with a barbell on my back.
No running – since my last surgery in 2008, I have run countless 5Ks, two half marathons, and numerous relay marathons – including a Ragnar relay. I will attempt my 3rd half marathon this May.
No overhead movements – well, let’s just say that I take some risks here…but I listen to my body and I stop if I need to. I can do 54 pound single-arm kettlebell snatches. Weighted overhead squats tend to be a different story. So I listen, and I stop when m y body screams.
No barbells on my back – clearly I ignore this. BUT! I use progressions to warm up. And I have definitely cut back my everyday weights to reduce painful aftermaths. Again – body smart!
No heavy weights – I don’t know what that means. Friends do not let friends use light weights. The fastest way to fat loss is with heavy weights. The easiest way to weight maintenance is heavy weights. The fastest way to sweating is heavy weights. The best way to cardiac fitness is heavy weights – – – need I go on?
No prone position – I enjoy pushups and planks. Back/hip flexion is actually what gives me the most difficulty so I tend to avoid the dynamic movement (yeah, no burpees).
My story is mild in comparison to many. Arthur Boorman completed an inspiration transformation:
What are your obstacles? Which are excuses and which are real? Just because it is difficult does not mean it is not possible. I know this because I have lived it. I know this because I have watched others live it. It is not going to be easy. It will not happen overnight. But are your obstacles worth tackling? One day at a time! Just like Arthur, you might fall down. But do not you want to get back up?
Exercise is medicine
There are days when my body aches. There are days I experience superficial burning in my thighs because my nerve is impinged. There are days when my knee buckles and clicks. Some of these days I rest, but more often than not I exercise. Exercise IS the best medicine. Exercise releases adrenaline – the natural pain killer. Being body smart, I use corrective exercise techniques to work with and around my disabilities. These are not the days for barbell complexes nor running. But these are the best days for building mind-body connections. These are the best days for being body smart.
You tell me I cannot do something and I will do everything in my power to prove you wrong. I can do ANYTHING I put my mind to. And so can you!
Lose the excuses. I know pain, I live pain – pain is an excuse not to exercise and eat well. When exercise and eating well are the cure for pain. You see, I am off all maintenance pain medications. I found the best treatment – so maybe all those doctors knew what I needed to hear after all!
Did Arthur have a right to excuses? Doctors told him that he would never walk or run. And look at him now.
What is your excuse? And what things will you never do?
If we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have found the safest way to health. ~ Hippocrates