If He Can Do It, Why Can’t I?

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I’ve been trying to work out consistently for a long time. It wasn’t very successful before.  I’m so into it at the start.  But then bam, I’m back to not being motivated or just being frustrated with not seeing results. And then I stop.

Was is the problem, I kept asking myself? Why don’t I see results? Is it because I haven’t stuck with it long enough? Or is it that I’m not working out hard enough? Or am I working out too hard and then feeling too exhausted to go at it again? Or maybe I am just not using the right amount of weights? Maybe my workouts aren’t varied enough? Maybe the way that I’m working out is the problem, and even if I spend a couple of hours in the gym at a time over a long period of time, it wouldn’t make a difference?

I know what you’re thinking. Why don’t I just get a personal trainer? Not to make up more excuses, but I have tried. And maybe I just didn’t go to the right ones. It got to be expensive, I ended up learning a little but not seeing the results I wanted, and it made me wonder if my money was really being well spent. And once again, I stopped the workouts all together.

I started thinking that maybe I just can’t shape up my body the way I want it to, and I just need to be okay with that.

It turns out that my body didn’t seem to be thrilled at all with this decision. How do I know? Well, it started “speaking” to me in its own way. Firstly, my left knee started to buckle and weaken. It’s been hard putting much weight on that leg because I feel too much pressure on my knee, depending on how I’m moving. Secondly, my right foot has been giving me issues again. This has caused my balance to be off and has made walking uncomfortable. Not to mention the dancing. Man, have I been missing dancing. But it’s not fun or safe to be dancing when you feel your balance is all off and you can’t push into the floor without it hurting.

I’ve been going to a chiropractor, an acupuncturist, and my doctor who recommended a sport medicine specialist to go to.  I’ve also been finding articles on the internet about knee issues and how to help them.  They all say pretty much the same thing: you need to exercise more to strengthen the muscles around the knee.  Uggh.

It’s not that I don’t like exercising, but I never grew up with it being a priority. Okay, I can already feel how wrong that sounds just writing it. But I was never into sports. We never got together at family gatherings or in my culture at all to play volleyball at the beach or baseball at the park or even to run. Man, do I hate running.  Again, I realize this is not the healthiest attitude to take. But it makes it even harder to start doing something as an adult that you never did growing up. To build muscles and endurance and flexibility that you never built as a child is tough.  I just feel clumsy when it comes to anything athletic. There’s no muscle memory I have from my past to fall back on.

But here I was, just recently, at the sports medicine doctor’s office, hearing him tell me how my left leg has definitely weakened. It is weaker than my right. Plus, a few years back, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease which breaks down the muscles even more. With multiple sclerosis weakening my body faster than a normal healthy body would without this condition, it is even more important that I work on building strength regularly.   The specialist said that before I cause any more injury to my knees, I need to work my leg muscles, particularly the inner quads.

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So after leaving his office, I went by the old gym I used to go to years ago.  I asked the lady at the front desk if I could get one of the staff members to show me some exercises that would be good for inner quads in particular, something that won’t be strenuous on the knees.

She offered up one of the new personal trainers to work with me. He gave me a complementary assessment and short training session. In the session, I learned how to use resistance bands to vary my workouts more.  I also was able to ask some of the questions I had about whether to use lighter weights and more reps or heavier weights when doing upper body exercises.  It was great to see the personal trainer demonstrate the moves himself as well. It just reminded me of what the proper forms should be, and what the exercise should look like when done properly.  I also learned how to better target particular areas of the body without causing any unnecessary strain or injury.

But what stuck with me the most about this experience was hearing this trainer- Rudy’s- story.  He is a tall, broad guy who seemed pretty strong and athletic. But I was surprised to hear that he had not only torn his ACL a few years back, and was in a leg cast and had to restrengthen his leg muscles.  But he had also been almost 100 pounds overweight!

This guy, who looked like he must have always been into fitness and training, shared with me how one day, he just kind of got tired of being overweight and unfit. He was on a volleyball team, and his coach let him know that he would have to train harder than the other guys to shed weight and strengthen himself up to keep up with the rest of the players.

Rudy, with the encouragement of his coach,decided it was time. It was time for him to get himself into the shape that he wanted. He worked really hard to strengthen himself and change his diet and tone his body.  In a year and a half, maybe less, he lost 90 pounds!  I think he said that he eventually lost 100 pounds all together.  I was amazed that someone who had been that overweight or out of shape was able to muster up the motivation to even get started.

I only weight just over a hundred pounds myself (a hundred and six, to be exact.  I only know this because Rudy weighed me as part of the assessment that day at the gym).  I have a little body to strengthen and build balance in.  I don’t nearly have as much to workout or change as this guy did. Sure, I must be older than he is and I have MS. However, that in itself should give me more incentive to workout, because I need it now more than ever. My body needs it more than ever.

Maybe that’s why it gave me these knee issues. So that I would end up at the doctors. And then end up back at the gym. And I was meant to meet Rudy and hear his story.  Don’t underestimate the power of an inspiring story. This is what I was reminded about that day with Rudy.

I realized that I didn’t have that far to go to my goals if I stuck to it. If I could train regularly, and target the areas I wanted with a more varied workout like Rudy had showed me, I could do this, couldn’t I?  I mean, if he could do it, why can’t I?

It has only been a few days, but I can feel a shift in myself that won’t allow me to give up anymore.  I mean, suddenly, without having to go through some dramatic change, I have been struck with the motivation and incentive that I need to keep at this this time and not stop.   I don’t feel like I can go back to my old self, the one who gave up on workouts so quickly.

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I even went out and bought resistance bands and have been using them in my workouts.  I’ve not only been making sure to stick to my workouts, but I am also craving them, and enjoying them when I go. It no longer feels like a chore or burden, but something to look forward to, to pamper myself with. Each day, I wonder what I will discover next about my body.  Yes, it still involves working hard, but it’s also a working proud and loud. A shout out to my new commitment to myself and my goals.  I’m going to get into the shape that I want, and this time, I won’t let myself get in my way.

Thanks for this body. I intend to use it and take care of it, strengthen it and cherish it. Rudy said that he was excited for me to get back to dancing. So am I, SO AM I.

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