Overcoming obstacles with Optimism

Posts tagged ‘exercise’

New Diet Movement

“Don’t let what you can’t do interfere with what you can do.” – John Wooden, UCLA Basketball Coach

Thank you morguefile.com for the use of this photo.

Thank you morguefile.com for the use of this photo.

I have experienced paralysis.  I have been in a wheelchair.  I know what it is like for the body to not move upon command – to beg for the body to move when most would welcome the opportunity to sit still.

What is the secret to the New Diet?  Movement!  I have found the key to my own health, both physical and mental, is movement.

Watch an infant.  They rarely lie still.  Their feet fly around as they kick their legs.  Their core muscles work tirelessly as they move their arms and legs up and down, in and out.  Young toddlers are much too fidgety to sit for long periods of time.  Their bodies are anxious to move.  Yet, what happens as we get older?  The rush of the day creates an excuse to sit around motionless in the evening on our couches.  Movement evolves into becoming a necessary conscious decision we must talk ourselves into somewhere along the way.

Oprah was right when she spoke of fitness and said, “There’s no easy way out.  If there were, I would have bought it.  And believe me, it would be one of my favorite things!”  Joseph Pilates was truthful saying, “Physical fitness can neither be achieved by wishful thinking nor outright purchase.”   Yet, what does anyone really need to buy?  No As Seen On TV product will guarantee instant physical results without any effort on the user’s part, nor will it offer us a maintained spirit lift and weight loss just sitting in your living room.  Thankfully, exercise opportunities are already all around us.  Have you passed a playground?  Look at all of the ways you can find movement in just this small area.  Have you driven down to get the mail lately?  Why not walk?


I have heard so many excuses of why physical activity is too hard to start and/or maintain.  “I have to work too late.” “I have not jogged for years.  I could never start now.”  “There is no way I could get my body to do that stuff at this point.”  I am of the belief it is the first step that really counts.  Opportunities for movement are all around us if we open our eyes to find them.  Even when half my body did not work due to my stroke I would push myself to maintain the health and strength remaining within the unaffected side.

Exercise can both strengthen the mind and the spirit.  It is not always easy and enjoyable.  Honestly, some days I exercise only because of the positive long-term effects I know it can offer for the future.  I am lucky I have never had to deal with significant weight issues.  Yet, maybe my knowledge of exercise healing a whole body is to thank for that.  Many days last month I would have preferred not do my daily push-ups.  Yet, persistence allowed me to do one hundred nearly every day.  I completed 2,400 last month.

In 2003, I was told I may never walk independently again.  I was told I may need assistive devices like a cane and AFO for the rest of my life.  I may not enjoy every last second before my timer rings on the elliptical.  I may not like the push-ups when I reach 97, 98 and 99, but I do treasure the fact I once again have the ability to walk.  I like the gift of now taking notice of all the exercise opportunities the world offers which I had never before seen. I also really like the fact I can laugh and play while attempting to fly higher than my daughters on a swing set at the same time I am strengthening my arms, abs and legs.

Thank you morguefile.com for the use of this photo.

Thank you morguefile.com for the use of this photo.

“Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson, Philosopher & Writer

Evolution of Goals: Six Miles and Counting

A few weeks ago I wrote about how our definition of normal always evolves.  This past week I was thinking about other ever-changing areas of my life.  For example, people’s goals are always changing, growing and hopefully getting grander.  My physical goals do just this.

The day after I had my stroke I was told I may never walk again without the aid of assistive devices.  From that point on, it was explained; I may be required to depend on an AFO brace, a crutch cane or a walker to be mobile.  In my mind, at twenty-seven I was too young to accept this news.  I had too much to do in life to never walk independently again.  I set a goal of walking alone.  I was determined to achieve and exceed this initial goal.  I worked hard.  I worked very hard.  I was determined see if Thomas Carlyle was truthful when he said, “Go as far as you can see; when you get there you’ll be able to see farther.”  He was correct.  I was determined to continue with expanding my milestones.  I listened to doctors and pushed myself beyond what even I thought I was capable of.  This determined attitude and hope that I harbored allowed me to complete a four mile walk four years later beside my two young daughters.  The only assistive devices I held that day were the hands’ of my children.  Together we accomplished the Coronado Bay Bridge Walk.

Finish Line For Coronado Bay Bridge Walk

4 Years 4 Miles: Finishing Coronado Bay Bridge Walk

My goals continued to grow.  This past weekend I “ran” five miles and “biked” six miles.  Now I did not actually run these miles, nor did I go out and ride a bike.  Some goals are still out of reach.  I used an elliptical because I still do not have use of some required muscles that would allow me to run.  I rode my miles on a stationary bike.  I do not have the balance to keep a bike upright.  I hope to run again outside some day.  I would like to take my kids out on a bike ride without needing training wheels or a third wheel.  Today though these goal are still beyond my reach.  For now, I will stay inside on fitness equipment.  I make believe the wind blows through my hair.  I hear the sounds of a nearby road and feel the sun beaming through the window warming my face as if I were outside without restrictions.  My body may not offer me the ability to reach my pre-stroke goals.  I do, however, have the ability to make sure my goals are always evolving. I fail occasionally; sometimes I have to lower my expectations.  I may not have the ability to take back all of what seizures, surgery and the stroke have taken.  I will always continue to hope though and always take hold of the next opportunity life will place within my reach.  Bernard Edmonds once said, “To dream anything that you want to dream. That’s the beauty of the human mind. To do anything that you want to do. That is the strength of the human will. To trust yourself to test your limits. That is the courage to succeed.”

I may never run a half marathon, but at least I can keep up with my children on a beautiful afternoon walk.  I may never know a life completely free of seizures, yet my inner strength will not allow medical difficulties to stop me from living a full life.  I won’t remember your face, but I will remember the kindness you offer me through your support, words and actions.  I dare myself to dream, to evolve my goals higher every time I reach a plateau.  I trust myself to not just live an ordinary life but work to leave an extraordinary legacy providing optimism and hope to every life I touch.

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