Thereís a phrase that I see from time to time that I personally find jarring. ďAnyone can walk.Ē I usually see this in the context of people starting out on weight loss efforts and seeking advice on how to start exercising. While I certainly agree that with a lot of people, ďJust start walking,Ē actually is good advice, for some of us, it is not. In my own weight loss efforts, Iíve found that most people I speak with about my mobility issues are understanding and supportive. However, every once in a while, I come across someone with the attitude that my physical limitations are all in my head and all I have to do is push through the pain, walk it off and everything will be fine and dandy! One person in particular even opined that I could eventually start jogging and running if ďyou really want to and put in the effort.Ē
Ugh. No. Iíve seen the x-rays of my ankles, feet and knees, thank you very much. The fast track for me to end up in the hospital having major reconstruction surgeries (that have a high possibility of failing) is to engage in high impact activity.
It seems to me that there is a societally inculcated mindset that if you believe you can do something, you can do it, regardless of your physical limitations and that recognizing and reacting to those limitations is a failure of character. To be honest, Iíve had that attitude with myself. Iíve often felt that acknowledging my physical, or even psychological, problems is an admission of weakness and a prelude to failure. The reality is that attitude has caused me to damage myself over and over and over again. The real failure is that when Iíve excoriated myself for even thinking about slowing down or stopping an activity because of pain and/or instability, when Iíve pushed through the pain, toughed it out, or kept going, Iíve ended up in worse shape than I would have been if Iíd just slowed down or stopped. That is the real failure. The damage Iíve done to my feet, ankle and knees wonít ever heal. It can be ameliorated, it can be slowed, in the case of my knees, they can be replaced, but the damage is something that Iíll always have to live with. I will always have pain. I will always have instability. Not acknowledging that, not working with that, not treating myself gently and carefully will only make it worse. Not to mention, damage to my feet and ankles builds upon itself. The damage there is structural so when I push too hard, the bones in my feet and ankles collapse and disintegrate a little more. That stuff isnít healed by rest and ice and pain meds. That damage, once done, is permanent.
I know that this has been a recurring theme in my blogs. Itís a near constant struggle for me to balance between being overly cautious (read that sedentary) and pushing myself too hard physically. I understand intellectually that acknowledging my limitations isnít failure. It is, in fact, the smartest thing I can do! Yet, it feels so wrong sometimes. It feels like Iím being lazy or that Iíve given up. It feels like failure. But I just have to keep telling myself, and the occasional other person, that no, not everyone can walk. Not everyone can jog. Not everyone can run.
Not everyone can lose 80 pounds with those limitations.
But I did.
And I can do more, a whole lot more, that doesnít involve walking or jogging or running.
So whenever I hear that phrase, ďAnyone can <fill in the blank>,Ē and that <blank> is something I canít do? Yeah, so what? I can still kick the donkeyís backside in a whole lot of other ways.