Friday, February 4, 2011

6 lessons learned from taking physical fitness for granted - OM [one moment] meet up #40

I have been nursing an injured hamstring and tendon for 3 weeks now.  I originally hurt my leg in October, yes...October!  Since I had just started going back to the gym regularly, I had thought my muscles were just sore. So, I tried "working" through the pain.  Not smart.  It took me two months before I realized/decided that I should go to my GP to discuss my chronic pain.  I've been in physical therapy and am happy to report I'm on the mend.
It doesn't end there.  I've had chronic pain in my back for quite some time. And, I know exactly why. I spend too much time hunched over the computer and at a sewing machine. I cut my fabric while sitting on the floor. I contort my body in any shape possible just to get a job done.  In years past, this was okay.  I could move sofas around and pick up heavy bookshelves without any consequences.  Well, my body officially cut me off! It's had it with its irresponsible and stubborn self.

I must admit that for the first time in my life, I realized that I'm not healing as quickly as I used to and I'm not as physically strong as I thought I was. I've always been fairly athletic.  Just two years ago, I was showing the neighbor girls how to do cartwheels.  Last summer, I was showing the boys "tricks" on the skateboard. 

The pain I've been suffering has made me feel old. It scares me to think that I'd be suffering from this pain forever. I see older people who are sedentary and I don't want to be them in 20 years. I want to be active and feel good.

I've returned to the gym with a better understanding of my body. I'm living with a routine that I've found to be comfortable for me. I go first thing after dropping of my 9yo at school. For me, it's great to do first thing in the morning.  It has worked well and something I actually look forward to do.

I happened to have a physical this week and my doctor said something to me that got me thinking. She said humans were not meant to live as long as we do these days. Human lifespan used to be 30-40 years. We are easily living 70+ years now. Imagine what that must do to our bodies.  So, it is essential that we take care and listen to our bodies.  It is finally sinking into my thick noggin (yes, C, this is a technical term).

5 lessons learned from taking physical fitness for granted

1) Use it or lose it.
You can't stop aging and, I'm here to confirm, it will catch up to you. Keep fit or it will be harder for you to do the things you love later in life.

2) "Just do it."  - Nike
Whatever exercise is right for you, from simple stretches to hardcore training, just do something before you can't do anything.

3)  Listen to your body.
If something hurts, stop doing it. If you are sore, spend a few minutes a day stretching. It actually has a healing affect and you will feel great.

4) Don't believe it won't happen to you.
I have been very fit in my life: ran 5 miles a day, worked out  regularly, biked, etc.  But in past years, I've slacked off. I didn't take my physical fitness seriously. It was a total after thought. It didn't take long for my body to rebel.

5) Don't make excuses, make it a priority.
No time, kids first, I'm tired, I'm fit enough are all things I've said to myself. In the end, my situation has been a bigger stress on me and the family than if I had just made fitness a priority. We hear it all the time: make time for yourself, put yourself on your priority list, if you are healthy and happy so will your family be. It's true!

6) Change your mindset.
My physical well being is now a priority for me. Working out is something I look forward to now because I see it as something I'm doing for myself. It's something I know is making my life better. It's setting a good example for my kids. I will think about all the positive aspects especially when I don't feel motivated to get to the gym.  I also see it as something I can do every day. Maybe I can't get to the gym, but I can do a few floor exercises and stretches. It doesn't have to be a full hour routine away from the house. It could be a rigorous walk with the dog (or stroller or friend).
Here is another mindset change that has stuck.  My doctor also stressed how important it is for me to take calcium every day. This is tough for me because I'm not a pill taker. I hate large, chalky pills and have never been one to take vitamins regularly (my cabinet is full of unopened multi vitamin bottles from years of trying). She turned me onto chewable calcium that comes in chocolate and vanilla flavor. She told me to keep them available in the car glove box or my purse. When I'm hungry and want a snack, grab one of these twice a day.  [I like the Caltrate vanilla soft chews.] Since they are quite tasty, thinking of them as a snack has worked. I've  taken the suggested 1200 mg a day (two chewables) for a week. Something I've never done.

This was a rather big moment for me and one I wish I had learned sooner.  I don't believe it's ever too late, but it does get harder so why not start now.

 om [one moment] meet upOM is a weekly meet up that promotes living in the moment.  Whether funny, sad, ridiculous, or banal, actively looking for and sharing these moments will promote balance in our lives.

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  1. Yes! I thank my dog for keeping me active since I started working from home. She is happiest and most content when we've had a good walk/hike/run. And, of course, so am I.

    I'm glad you are on the mend and happy you are listening to your body. It takes years to learn to its language.

  2. Great post! I actually had to talk myself into working out today but I'm thankful that I did. I always feel better. I strongly believe that if you don't use it, you'll lose it!
    My mother-in-law continues to work out 3 time a week, eats out with friends 3 or 4 times a week, cleans her 4 BR house and still drives. She's 91. She's my inspiration! :)

  3. Wow, what a great post. When I was a volleyball player, way back in the day, I suffered a really serious injury. And it was my stubborn, "I'll work through the pain" attitude that made the injury worse and resulted in a longer recovery time. I think whether we are old or young, we really need to listen to our bodies. And this goes beyond physical I think.

    Really great post. I hope you stay healthy and well. I think it's awesome that you go to the gym so often. I need to bring that back into my life.

    On a side note, I take chewable calcium supplements too and I love them ;)

  4. I needed this post today Linda! My mom and I have a 20lbs by May agreement (the date of her graduating with her Masters)... it's not just for the cruise we are going on this year but it's for our health. We aren't getting any younger and we have to take care of ourselves.

    Thanks for the inspiration lady! <3

  5. Yes! Yes! Yes! We all deserve a healthy life and a sense of well being.

    I didn't "workout" for years and years, but I worked on a busy oncology unit. I wore a pedometer to work and clocked 10,000 steps a shift (five days a week). After I stopped, I gained weight and lost my healthy outlook. Five years later, I finally got into a fit frame of mind. It wasn't easy, but if I can do it, anyone can!

    P.S. Pete and I say we spent the first 10 years of our marriage getting fat and happy. Now we want to spend the next ten getting fit and happy.

  6. I love your saying! It's true!

    Exercise any way you can get it is important. I know that once I started working in the sitting position again for long hours, that is when I noticed the problems. Gotta shake it up! I'm sure those days in the oncology unit kept you on your toes. A pedometer is a great way for us to take stock in our day, too.

    I'm very surprised at my change in attitude toward working out once I really decided to put my mind to it!

    I'm with you...if I can do it, anyone can do it!

  7. Amanda, good for you and your mom! Just don't give yourself any options. It's kinda a mind game (or at least it was for me). I tell myself I don't have a choice in saying no. You can do it. We are all here cheering for you!

    Cyn, when I see the posts on your daily running, it inspires me.

    Mary Ann, good for you for going even though you didn't feel like it! Your mil inspires me!! I want to be as active as she is at 91!!

    Angela, I look at you and others with young ones and remember the days of running around after them. I remember my arms had definition because of lifting them all the time. I bet your daily routine is more rigorous than my workouts! Keep eating those supplements!

  8. So nice to see this post! I am right behind you all the way!!! M and I have been lucky in so many ways where fitness is concerned, in particular sharing the mindset that it's a priority. We rely on one another to always make time, be ready, etc. We are lucky, too, that we have made friends with those who share that mindset, too - and that's one of the biggest helps when you reeeeeaaalllly don't want to go!! Keep up the great work! My friend says, "It's easier to stay in shape than get in shape." So true!

  9. Hi there, sorry for posting twice...the first time I thought you wanted the URL to my site, not the specific, please delete the first, keep the second...thanks! I'm excited to participate in OM!

  10. Lesson #5 resonates with me LOUD and true. I recently took part in a 6 week challenge where I made me exercising everyday a priority and it became a I don't put me last and then feel resentful, plus I lost about 3 pounds!


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