So, I haven’t really posted in a while. A lot has been going on, to be quite frank. Work and life… and work… I have just let time get away from me.
I observed, when going to my gym one morning, that someone had written a quote on the white board that they have hanging on the wall for encouraging words and announcements. It said, “Your body can do anything. It’s your mind you need to convince.” It took me some time to figure out to whom we could attribute this little gem, but it turns out it was a modified version of “The good Lord gave you a body that can stand most anything. It’s your mind you have to convince,” which apparently Vincent Lombardi said.
Ignoring my perpetual nerdiness and need to find source references for words that are not coming from my own brain, I had to think about the adage for a while. I ruminated about it, in fact. I appreciated the underlying message. We’re often our own worst enemies when it comes to change or doing things for our betterment. I find that I can argue myself out of chores or things that I really need to be doing. If I could debate so well in a public forum, I could run for office. However, that doesn’t mean it is a good trait. And it isn’t just me… I know this. I have friends, family, and patients. All of them will know that there are steps that they need to take in order to manifest the changes that they badly wish to have in their lives (better health, more life satisfaction, financial stability, etc.), but without fail, when it comes to those initial, sometimes painful, first steps… I hear a bunch of, “yeah… but…” So, I get it. Get your mind on board with the project, and the rest will follow, right?
And that brings me to the second side of my ruminations. I’m here to tell you that my mind has been “on board” with getting back to my pre-surgical state of activity and fitness. I was chomping at the bit, as they say. I couldn’t wait for my doctor to give me the “all clear” to get back into my routine. The body had some alternative points to make about it, though.
In truth, I fully expected to be back at ground zero, so to speak. I had been largely inactive (unless you count my regular 250 step laps around the downstairs living areas and my adventures in showering those first couple of weeks) for nearly two months. Given my age has severely depressed the former bounce back ability I once had, I truly did feel that I was likely to be starting back at the beginning. That, I am happy to say, was not the case. My first day back at running, well elliptical-ing went well better than I had expected (maybe those laps around the kitchen island were useful after all). I was slower, and the “distance” was less, but I was able to go for my full time without feeling too bad. I was cautiously optimistic. I felt like maybe this whole climb back to the top of my game might not be as much of a slog as I feared.
But then… reality reared it’s ugly head. “You were gutted like a fish. You’re core muscles torn asunder. What the @#$% did you expect?!?” I tried to lift some weights (once cleared to do so by my surgeon). I’d been curling roughly 25-30 pounds prior to my illness. I was benching 125-150. I knew I was not going to be jumping right into my pre-surgery routine, but I was truly unprepared for what my body decided was its limit. I could barely do 10 pound dumb bells. That’s barely a gallon of milk, for heaven’s sake! I know that is is completely normal. Start slow. Work your way back. But I couldn’t manage more than two sets that first day. It wasn’t my mind. My arms literally would not move those weights hanging off the ends of them. I could barely keep my fingers clasped around them and avoid dropping them heavily to the floor. (Who knows, if I had dropped them, I likely wouldn’t have been able to pick them back up.)
Back to our friend, Vince and his helpful tips about mind over matter. The key word that is in Vince’s words that was left out of the encouraging quote by the anonymous contributor at my gym would be “most”. Vince didn’t say “anything” or “all things”, he suggested some natural limitations. There are some things that the body cannot do. Granted, these are sometimes things that we can train the body to do over time, but I had to be patient and willing to let my body heal. I had to wait for my upper body muscles to build back the strength. I couldn’t rush it. I couldn’t push it (found out the hard way what happens when I do). I had to exercise some patience (probably my biggest challenge weakest attribute) and trust that with time, I can improve my performance again. Maybe I’ll even surpass my previous summit. It just may take a bit longer than I’d hoped…