“Don’t let what you can’t do interfere with what you can do.” – John Wooden, UCLA Basketball Coach
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.
“Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson, Philosopher & Writer