Why you have to get serious now about your health!
Two weeks ago, I sat in front of an orthopedist who after reading the MRI I had done 3 days earlier informed me I should never run again. Not, “hey take some rest while such and such heals”, but you really should never run again. It was one of those moments that happened in slow motion as if I was being shot. I would have a second doctor that same week say the exact same words. They didn’t seem to care that I was a runner or that I am a running coach, despite knowing both of those bits of information, their advice did not change. These aren’t words I ever thought I would hear, especially only 8 years into my running career. It was devastating.
I have been having an issue with my knee for almost a year now. I have been going back and forth with doctors and finally had an MRI. I knew going into the appointment my meniscus was torn and I thought ok, this may require some time off, but I will get back to it. What came next was a plot twist I didn’t see coming. The doctor said I had very advanced osteoarthritis in my knee. The cartilage has worn away so considerably that in some parts I barely have any. He said it is surprising to see this kind of damage in someone my age, I have the knee of someone who has been an athlete for 20 years. But wait didn’t I just say it’s only been 8 years. Yep, unfortunately in my case, it’s the knee of a late in life athlete, who’s also someone that carried around an extra 130 lbs for 10+ years. The doctors have given me some possible treatments, not covered by insurance that may buy me some time before I will need a knee replacement and both doctors so far have said that I should stop running forever. Period.
Take a deep breath. I know I needed to. Running is one of the great loves of my life, it has truly saved me in numerous ways too many to list here and given me a career that I never dreamed possible and now someone is trying to take that away. I can’t fully process it.
The worst part about all of this is that it is being taken away because of my own actions. Because I could not get my shit together sooner and get healthy, because of me. How does one deal with that type of anger? It’s so much easier when you can raise your fists at the world and ask why, but so much harder when it’s all you.
So why am I sharing this with you? Do I want pity, HELL NO! I hate pity and my life is pretty great, I realize how blessed I am even if I never get to run again. I’m not dying or going to lose my leg, believe me I realize it could be so much worse. With every fiber of my being, I believe that I will run again, though it is likely that it won’t look as I have imagined it too. I am telling you this because I believe that no other moment in my life has fired me up more about helping people live a healthy life then this. There are unforeseen consequences to carrying excess weight, living a sedentary lifestyle, fueling your body with crap. Maybe you don’t feel them or see them now, maybe you won’t for years, but eventually that lifestyle will catch up to you. I didn’t fully appreciate that until now. I worked HARD to lose those 130 lbs. and have worked, I think even harder to maintain that loss for the past 8 years. My weight had defined my entire life since the first diet I was put on at 8 years old to now. It has caused me a tremendous amount of pain both physical and mental, brought a great deal of ridicule, robbed me of so much of what life had to offer (that was my own choice due to crippling fear, shame and insecurity). Quite honestly, I believed I had ended that cycle. But as hard as I have worked, as much as I have changed how I think, eat and move, the choices I made still hurt me.
What will your unhealthy choices to rob you of? Time with your children or grandchildren, hiking in the mountains in springtime, a walking tour of Rome, the ability to play with your children on the playground, running, walking, jumping, skipping, dancing? This is it. These are real life choices we are making every day and often we keep pushing off the healthy ones to another day, another week, another year. If you work with me, or know me, you know I don’t push people to lose weight or push for any aesthetic, but just encourage people to focus on making healthy life choices to move them in the right direction. I know how hard change is, I understand the cycle of change, and that people have to do it in their own time and can’t be pushed. I am a cockeyed optimist who tries to keep it light and positive, but right now I feel nothing but serious. Serious that while we can all laugh off how we ate an entire cake or how we haven’t exercised in a year these are real behaviors that can lead to real life consequences. They can lead to the potential loss of a quality of life that we worked very hard to achieve, they can lead to real health problems that diminish our capacity, it can mean the end to something you loved and expected to do for the rest of your life.
I have a Buddhist prayer hanging on my wall that basically says let my life be of service to others. Whether it was my career in social work or my job as a running coach and personal trainer now I have wanted to help others see success in their own lives. I’m no saint, I was a hurt kid and who grew into a hurt adult and wanted to feel like that hurt wasn’t in vain. I want people to learn from my mistakes, to see their possibilities long before I was able to see mine. So here it is. Me sharing a very raw and painful consequence in my life so that you can take this moment to reflect on your own. This isn’t about how you look, this is about your health, your quality of life and making choices that will allow you to do what you love for as long as you possibly can. Please don’t wait another second. Start today, start small, celebrate victories, and know for certain that the work is 100% worth it.