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.
Ouch
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.

Share in the blog comments here, on your own blog (and link back below)  or on my Facebook fan page. If you are on Twitter,  use hash tag - #omMeetup so we can converse if we'd like. We'd love to hear your moment this week!
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