Sunday, April 1, 2012

If at First You Don't Succeed Yadditta Dadditta

Now as I walk into the gym I am seeing a balancing act of sorts before I even pick up a weight and get down to business. I’d like to say that this is a new problem but it isn’t and all I can do is harp on the fact that everyone will go through it if they make the day to day life choice of being physically fit. The injury recovery process, followed by the recovery into the normal series of events that for lack of a better term “brought you to the injury” but are also necessary to get back to your goals is not an easy proposition. This is where I have been the last few weeks, and there are some good and some bad points to bring up and some real solutions to both, and yes I meant both.
Here is my major injury history as it works out and how working out became a part of it all as well. At 16 and 21 it was my knee. Yep ligament issues and the lot brought me to some wonderful physical therapy. As you can see the 16 didn’t teach me much of anything as the 21 came along and further complicated it all. In the end the knee injury at 21 has no bearing on my life unless I do stupid things and then it comes back to me. Stupid things include, but are not limited to, roller blading, ice skating, skiing, and just about anything else that requires good stability between your ankles and your knee. It does not effect in the least walking, bicycling, or even running as long as there aren’t a lot of hills involved. Most importantly I learned to respect the knee, and I have been fine for {sigh} 21 years.
Of course for 14 years all I respected was the knee and then it was the back. Those who have never had a lower back injury will never understand but it is the center of your universe. If you injure it really good as I had then you get those wonderful days of paralysis when one nerve or the other gets pinched and then causes you such severe pain in one of your ass cheeks that you can’t even think about moving your leg. Now of course this is not “actual” paralysis and some will argue with you about what it is but if you are in that type of mind numbing pain and incapable of moving it is the best way to describe it.
You can make lemonade from these lemons though which I had. The physical therapy, if you are fortunate to recover as I was but don’t look down at those that can’t because it is still rare, gives you a much better sense of self than you had before. Great posture doesn’t just help your back but it helps your life in a lot of ways. I can drive a golf ball with the pros and then flounder in my short game, but my back is the best instructor when it comes to the perfect swing. No pain, great swing, an ache and I am doing it wrong. It’s pretty simple, but that form also has helped me to maximize results in the gym.
Now we go back about 4 years ago when I started thinking {and was actually diagnosed with} extreme arthritis. The pain in my arm was amazing, and more over I was losing feeling in my arm. Then we go back about 9 months ago when my beautiful {future at the time} wife determined that I needed to get my neck looked at after a massage therapist brought it up. It was a bit of a shock {but not completely} that the nerves around my shoulder were being cut off by surrounding membranes, and it was bad posture again in different ways that was causing it. More physical therapy, less lifting and I was on the path to recovery, which I had been cleared to leave back in January. Now what? I had goals and thanks to taking it easy I had gained the weight and lost the strength, and I was at square two. I get to skip square one because I at least know what I am doing.
I had written a while ago that I was taking a restart and I hated it and loved it at the same time. I started at the low weights I had started with many years ago and it was more to build form than anything else. Here I am after a couple of months and my good form and perseverance have brought me back to the point I was at when I suffered this last injury, with a caveat. I have much better form and the skills to correct when I don’t. I am starting the process of “summerizing myself” so that I can look hot with a shirt off, and my progress like every year is startlingly good. I say startlingly because even though I know I can do it as I did it last year and the year before, I still get shocked at how easy it is when you know what you are doing. A head full of knowledge will support a body full of muscles just so you know. The big difference here is that I am pain free {aside from the good pain of muscle growth} and I can for the first time in years do the same weight and symmetry with each arm. Score one for the good guys.
I guess what I am trying to say here, albeit long winded and probably with a lot more details than anyone really needs, is that every bump in the road can be a temporary set back, if you accept that it is your own brain that is out to get you. I hate starting over again but I love “having done it” and “getting it over with” simply because I can get back where I was and go on. I haven’t done it once or twice or even three times. I have done it a half dozen times and in a month or so I will be able to say that at 42 years old I am in the best shape of my life, just like I said at 41, and 40, and you see where I am going here? The most important thing to remember is that I said “in a month or so I will be able to say that at 42 years old I am in the best shape of my life” and that is the attitude not “I’m sick of this”, “I can’t” or even “Here we go again.” I used to say this a lot at AA meetings and I think it applies to real life. “Believe that I believe until you believe it yourself” and if that doesn’t work try this one on for size, “If I can do it then so can you,” .. Ask around I can screw just about anything up.