An Open Letter to New Year’s Resolutioners

It’s January 2nd, which pretty much only means one thing in the fitness world: time to start making sure to use the sign-up system that is pretty non-existent for the rest of the year to sign up for classes because things are about to get crazy. And crowded. I knew what I was walking into tonight when I decided to head to the gym after work. Kickboxing was going to have a few more not-yet-familiar faces, be a bit more crowded. Or at least that’s what I though…what I really witnessed was a packed floor of 36 people!! 36!! And probably only 8 or so of us were Wednesday night regulars.  Statistics tell us that many of these fitness “newbies” were New Years Resolutioners–those resolving to lose weight, get fit/healthy, do something active, etc. in 2013. I got fired up and I got to thinking…

Dear Resolutioners,

I applaud you. Whether you call it a resolution, a goal, or a plan; whether it begins on the first of the new year, your birthday, or the third tuesday after the first friday; we have all been there. We know what it’s like to come into a gym, let alone a group exercise class for the first time. To have no idea what the heck you’re doing. To get stuck next to the girl who thinks she’s seriously in a combat situation right now the way she’s throwing those punches. But you’re here. And that ‘s everything.

Now, please do me one favor. Just one I swear. Stick with it. Come back next week. Better yet, come back the next few weeks. Research shows that it takes three weeks, yes 21 days, to make or break a habit.  That doesn’t mean you have to work at some unrealistic level for the next 21 days, pretending you’re a seasoned group ex’r. That means you work at your pace, at your 100%, for three weeks. Some days will be better than others, as they are everyone.  But at the end of those three weeks, I can promise you that you’ll start to see results.  They might not be the results you expect. In fact, I can pretty much guarantee they won’t be, because life is funny that way. But I can tell you that they will be worthwhile. Happiness, less stress, physical strength, emotional strength, increased energy levels, the  list could go on for days.

If you need a little bigger push to convince you, you should know that in the first group exercise class I ever took (spinning), I barely lasted the entire class, never got out of the saddle, and both of my legs were bleeding when I got off the bike. Had I never gone back, I literally wouldn’t be where I am today. I wouldn’t be writing this blog, I wouldn’t be strong enough to do anything I do on a daily basis, I wouldn’t have learned to love myself and my body, and a certified instructor? Ha! That wouldn’t even be on my radar.

So stick with it. You just never know where it will take you. 

Molly

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Life with no ceiling

This past week, I was talking to my PT about this whole pool concept that’s been kicking around in my head for weeks.  I have my first lesson tonight, and I had been starting to feel a little overwhelmed, like I had jumped in (no pun intended) a little too quickly. Not to mention I’ve been sticking with my MO of picking some of the most difficult things to accomplish, which is tough when “patience of a saint” doesn’t quite describe who I am.

I am still constantly on that balance beam of trying to figure out how to make CP a part of my life instead of letting it mold me, and that becomes an even more of a struggle when you are constantly choosing physical challenges and physical goals for yourself.  One of the biggest downfalls of creating physical challenges (anyone remember Nickeloden’s Double Dare?! :)) is that we constantly want to make comparisons.  I say we because we are all the same in this way, disability or not, we are human. We compare. We compete. And we try our damnedest to come out on top.  This comparison always gets tricky for me though, since it’s not quite fair to me to start comparing the things I do physically to “normal” able-bodied people.  However, I can’t exactly compare myself to someone with CP, because it comes in so many different forms, you’d be hard pressed to find someone exactly the same. Okay, I know some of you are probably thinking “you shouldn’t compare at all. it’s bad. blah blah”, but I’m pretty sure we can all think of at least one time we have done that, so that option is off the table. It’s not realistic.

A ways into our conversation, my PT said to me “the sky’s the limit for you” and it got me thinking…

It’s a funny thing to think about when you take the time, isn’t it? (Which is probably why you’re not really supposed to take the time, but of course I do.) The sky being the limit to everything we want to do, try to do, or will ever do in our lives? We can never actually touch the sky. The closest I’ve ever come is being in an airplane, and even then there is still such vast, amazing space above me.

In my case, I think starting to understand that the sky is the limit begins by realizing that not being having someone else to compare to is actually one of the best gifts I could receive. It gives me no ceiling, nothing to measure up to.  It allows me to see what a can do and to never stop trying. Ever.

So for now, I’m waking up each morning and asking “What can I accomplish today?” For me. Based on my standards.

Frustration

Lost: Motivation.

If found, please return to Molly ASAP.

Just a quick post tonight because, quite honestly, I need way more sleep than I’m about to get. Finished classes tonight! (For a week) then summer class starts, but it’s only 2 nights a week for 5 weeks so that’s pretty much a win.

I just need to vent. Or something. I’ve completely lost motivation lately on anything physical related, and even though I know it’s normal, it’s scaring me a little. And by lost motivation I really mean haven’t done one little thing in a little over two weeks. Granted I’ve had a crazy intense few weeks with school, figuring out classes for summer, and my dog almost dying (he didn’t though, he’s home safe with us!). But those all just feel like excuses to me at this point. I always feel like when I get to the point where I recognize my lack of motivation I should be ready to jump back in, but I’m just not.

And the only thing I can think is, if all these things are so important to me (walking, PT, everything) how do I so easily blow them off for week. It’s frustrating. It’s upsetting. Yet, I don’t know quite how to get back. I’m not trying to throw myself a pity party here. I just don’t really get it.

Do any of my other followers have this issue with PT or other such things? What do you do?

Expectations

Disclaimer: I just took my cough medicine with codeine, so we’re all pretty lucky if this post makes sense. Sorry in advance!

I’ve been thinking a lot today about the other “CP stories” I’ve heard from either people I’ve met in my life, or other bloggers that I’ve now developed connections with. The thought came after Greg over at The Casual Vegan (who you should definitely check out if you haven’t already in my previous posts) cross-posted the article I shared yesterday about the man who found joy and freedom from his CP via dance. Greg wrote that this man’s story was a lot like his own as far as doctor’s expectations and opinions about his abilities, as well as the ineffectiveness of much of his time spent in PT.

It’s so interesting/weird to me that so many of us out there, no matter the age, have all gone through the same old process of doctors, PTs, and, for some of us, surgeries. We have all gone and done our own things in life and have lived our lives the way we see fit, yet we’ve all been met with the same attitudes and expectations at one point or another by those doctors, PTs, etc. This is the hand we are dealt. We must live with it. Don’t expect to do this like your peers. You’re not going to be able to handle that. Whatever those things are for each of us, we’ve heard them.

I like to think that things are different now than they were when I was 5 or 6, or even before I was born. Yes, I’m sure they’re better, but they are nowhere near perfect. Children and adults with CP and other disabilities all over the country (don’t even get me started on world view, because it’s 100 times worse in MANY other countries) are still facing that invisible, yet powerful wall of can’ts and don’ts.

I guess it just makes me think…when will this gap start narrowing? When will so many of these health care professionals step up and start believing in their patients/clients/whatever you want to call them, the way they expect us to believe in ourselves? And why is it that we are always expected to lower our own expectations of ourselves to match their’s of us. I absolutely cannot imagine what my life would be like if I (and my parents) did that. I mean, come on; spinning, 5ks, and “normal” exercise in general have become my sanity. That certainly was not what was expected of this 3-month premature, 2lb 2oz baby!

Until they start to “get it”, I suppose we should just keep raising, and surpassing, our own expectations! After all, that’s much more fun than lowering ourselves to someone else’s!

NICU

First of all, this post was inspired by Ellen over at Love That Max. I’m not sure if I’ve talked about Ellen before, but she’s mom to Max, a wonderful 7 year old with CP. She is an amazing mom and all she does for her children definitely shows through her writing! Ellen’s blog was the first I followed and I’m simply addicted to it! Check it out and I’m sure you will be too! Her blog really inspired me to put everything out there in each of my posts, because you just never know who might stumble upon it one day. THANK YOU ELLEN! 🙂

This week is Babies Week on Discovery Health Channel, and they are premiering a new show called NICU following 3 top Neonatal Intensive Care units in the country. This show is pretty exciting for those of us in the special needs community, because it showcases the beginnings of life which so many of us have experience with (preemies, trauma at birth, etc.) I invite you all to read Ellen’s post about the NICU experience and the connection we all share before continuing on with my post here, because I can’t do it justice…

Did you finish reading yet??

Really, I meant it, go read the post.

Okay, you should be done now! This post really touched me, for the obvious reasons, and because everything that Ellen talked about knowing as a mother of a child with special needs, I can say I have also felt or known growing up with CP. This is what I said in response to Ellen’s post. I don’t think I could say it this way if I tried it again, so I’m just going to paste it in.

I know that a lot of parents read this blog, so on a post that touches so many of you, I thought maybe I’d share a “child’s” perspective…I’m not a parent of a child with special needs. I am a child with special needs. Well, more an adult now, but every one of those things you mentioned that you know as a parent of a child with CP, I can honestly say I know each of those too, having CP. It’s obviously very different for a parent than it is for a child. I don’t remember a lot of what would have probably been the “tougher” times for my parents, but I do remember my own thoughts of doctors visits, surgeries, etc. They are tough, they effect a child’s life, but I’m here to assure you…your child is strong and will make it through each of them as they are meant to.I know what you mean about always feeling that empathy for preemies even though Max was not a preemie. I was a preemie (born at 24 weeks), so I too have that connection. For me, that empathy comes more from seeing my own experiences possibly play out in the life of another child, experiences that I have no recollection of and that I will probably never have the courage to ask my parents honest questions about. Now that I am an adult, that empathetic connection comes in the form of thinking about preemies now, the technology that medicine has to give them such a great shot at high quality of life. And it also comes in the form of thinking about my own children I someday hope to have. Will I have a preemie child myself, will I watch them struggle in some of the same ways I have, or–perhaps even more strongly weighing on my heart–will I be upset and even slightly jealous if my child learns to walk within their first year of life, while I am still trying at age 22, will they surpass their own mom in milestones?I don’t know what so many of you face daily as parents of children with special needs, but I do know we are all connected–parent and child alike, and you can bet I’ll be DVRing and watching along with all of you in my community tonight!

I hope you all tune in, or DVR the premeire tonight on Discovery Health at 10 PM ET and PT.
Oh, and, Ellen said I should be a guest poster on her blog, which is pretty darn exciting!! 🙂