Saturday, June 13, 2015

Five Things I've Learned from My Injury

Gosh, I rant a lot, don't I? I probably sound like I'm an angry person, but I'm really not. Really. I'm generally pretty sanguine. I think sometimes I rant on my blog because I need an outlet, especially lately. But I'm sorry if I'm ranting too much. I'll try to be more cheerful.
That's my little darling in the hospital the day after Christmas.
He's pretty much always happy, even in the hospital at Christmas.  Love that about him. 

Part of the reason I've been ranting, though, is my &%*#! shoulder injury. (sorry... CHEERFUL!) Injuries are so annoying. I finally got around to getting an MRI. It turns out I have a rotator cuff tear. It's not a big one so it doesn't require surgery to repair it, but it's kind of extra messed up because I have loads of scar tissue and adhesions and infammation because I... well... waited too long to get it looked at.

So, in the interest of every-cloud-has-a-silver-lining/whenever-God-closes-a-door-somewhere-He-opens-a-window, etc, I'm going to share with you what I've learned from my injury:

  1. Don't wait to see someone. This is my biggest regret and one I have resolved to remedy forthwith. My shoulder has been bothering me off-and-on for two years, but I never saw anyone about it because I was in St. Mother mode and I just did not prioritize my own health and well-being. It's not that you have to rush into the doc for every little ache and pain, but little aches and strains get better... and stay better. Bad things don't go away with a little ice and a rest. They might feel a little better, but then they come back. I should have figured that out sooner. My bad.
  2. Sometimes, you need to take the drugs. I don't like taking drugs. I'd rather do pretty much any lifestyle change to avoid medication. I really do believe our bodies can often heal themselves with good food, appropriate movement, rest, etc... but sometimes, they can't. My doctor prescribed a pretty potent anti-inflammatory for me and whoa... can we say helpful?? Once we got the inflammation under control, things have gotten a lot better. I tried to do this with diet (remember the Whole &%#*!@ 30?) but it didn't work. I needed the drugs. Lesson learned.
  3. I need movement like I need air and water. I knew this before, but after taking several weeks off from any lalala-producing exercise, I learned that while my closets are beautifully organized, I need to move. I need the movement. We were made to move. (No, a shoulder injury does not require total rest, but one doctor was concerned it might be disc-related and so suggested total rest for a while. Mercifully, not disc-related. Phew.)
  4. The perfect really is the enemy of the good. It's better to modify the living daylights out of the workout and DO it, rather than not do anything at all. I modify now. A lot.
  5. Functionality trumps aesthetics every.single.time. I believed that before, but whoa, I really believe it now. You can be cute as a button, but if you can't move and live pain-free and get all your stuff done, all the cuteness is the world is like dust in the wind.
So those are my deep thoughts for the day. I've also been exploring some very interesting recovery techniques that I am excited to share with you (CHEERFUL!), but I'm off the Bar Method. I'm going to do pushups against the barre with my head held high.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Don't Shut Me Up: Why We Need to Allow Respectful Dissent

I stepped into a bit of a hornet's nest today. The internet variety, I mean.

I belonged to a closed Facebook group devoted to the Firm, a 1980's workout video series that developed a cult following, of which I was a proud member.

The Firm was created by Anna Benson, who pioneered the integration of heavier weights in women's workouts in an era when weights were not the done thing. Women feared lifting anything heavier than a Campbell's soup can would make them 'bulky.' Anna said, 'pffft' to that and developed a series of truly wonderful, if not kinda 80's cheesy, workout videos that got me into fitness and truly changed my life. I will always be grateful to Anna for her creativity and vision. Anna ended up selling the Firm and they are still going, but in my opinion, the new Firm is nothing like it was in Anna's glory days.

However, Anna wrote a book sometime in the 1990's called Firm for Life.
It got generally pretty terrible reviews on Amazon, but I was such a Firm junkie that I bought it anyway. I ended up agreeing with terrible reviews. I did not find the book helpful, and I did not like Anna's attitude toward appearance or her treatment of other fitness professionals. I recall she even went so far as to call exercise pioneer Jack LaLanne's skin 'crepey.' She lectured us on the importance of politeness, then comes out with that? Mean girl, maybe?

The take-away image I got of Anna was that she was shallow, catty and entirely too image-conscious. Maybe she wasn't like that really, but that's how she came across to me, and a lot of other people. But hey, nobody's perfect and Anna put out a good workout back in her day so I can get over it. I just didn't need to know her views on grey hairs ('for heaven's sake--cover those greys!'), thong underwear ('so important because we wouldn't want panty lines!') or her book list that would help me develop my 'Firm spirit.' I didn't see what that had to do with workouts and healthy eating.

So, what does this have to do with hornets?

Someone on this Facebook group asked about the book. 'It got really bad reviews--what does everyone think? Should I buy it?'

Oh, the responses were glowing!

"The book is so wonderful!"

"I loved it!"

"I'm so glad I bought it!"

I'm thinking, really? So I chimed in with my thoughts. I didn't like the book. (I might have described it as 'terrible.') I didn't think it was useful, I thought Anna came across as mean-spirited and shallow. I said I would probably have felt uncomfortable around her because I don't get regular manicures. I emphasized that while I loved the workouts, I could have done without the book. I said if you find it for a bargain price, check it out. But I wouldn't pay $35 on eBay. Or something along those lines.

Whoa. Cue hornets. While the person who asked the question seemed to appreciate my comments, others decidedly did not. I was called a 'Debbie Downer' and basically accused of being a negative troll. The group used to be 'fun and inspirational,' and now here I had the temerity to criticize Anna. No one had ever said such awful things about Anna before.

I was, quite frankly, agog. Someone asked a question, and I gave my opinion. Someone was making a purchasing decision, so I gave her my honest appraisal of the book. I was told, "We don't say bad things about Anna. She changed our lives." Did I mention Anna died a few years ago? 'We don't say bad things about the dead. People who knew her read this.' But, I reasoned, "someone wanted to know if she should spend money on the book, would it be a worthwhile purchase? Are we not allowed to answer 'no' to that question? Are we supposed to be all sunshine and roses??"

"That would be nice," I was told.

One hornet told me I should go start my own group if I wanted to say negative things about Anna.

Oh. Ok.

The whole thing reminded me of a blog post I read recently entitled 'The Worst Advice My Mother Ever Gave Me." What might that be? Author Deb Rankin said it was that parenting classic, 'if you don't have anything nice to say about someone, don't say anything at all.'

She writes:
Encouragement and positive words are great, but the advice is dangerous for several reasons. Breaking the connection between emotion and communication makes one lonely and isolated, because no one knows the real you. Suppressed thoughts will come out, not always in healthy ways. Finally, the world needs people brave enough to speak out against evil and bad behavior.

I'm willing to bet Deb's mother (and mothers across the globe) mean for us to avoid unkindness and gossip, and I'm all for that. But I think Deb makes some good points. Sadly, the internet has become a breeding ground for bad behavior. All you have to do is click on the comments link to any number of articles to read nasty, rude, obscene remarks people make. "You stupid [insert expletive]! You don't know your [expletive] from your [expletive]! I hope you rot in [expletive]!" There is no place for that in a civilized society, and I truly grieve when I see some of what is written.

However, my comments were not of that ilk. They were pointed, but rational. I provided examples to support my opinions. And in fairness, the hornets were not nasty. But to shut down reasoned discourse, to halt a sensible dialogue just because we don't like what someone is saying... that's sad, too.

When we write, we put ourselves 'out there.' We have to expect that people might not like what we say, they might not agree, but I for one welcome respectful dissent. Muscles don't change without resistance. People don't change without challenge.

After some reflection, I decided to 'unjoin' the Facebook group. It was clear the members didn't want me there, and I don't want to be part of any group where I get a smackdown for thinking critically and expressing a dissenting opinion. It's just too... well... cultish.

What do you think? By all means, share. Respectful dissent is welcome!