I’d like to address something close to my heart. It is something that I practice and preach every day, and that is, don’t give up.
Life can be hard, and when the body doesn’t work properly, it can be depressing. It hurts me to see people giving up as a result of changes within the body. This hurts me because I have seen thousands of people overcome physical challenges, and still maintain a healthy and happy quality of life.
When difficulties happen to us, the natural tendency is to isolate and heal, and this is where we get into trouble. We say, “I don’t feel well right now, my balance is a little off and I don’t want to use my cane, so I’ll get back to walking next week or so when I feel better…” And of course, next week came and went six months ago.
Our body is made to move and exercise, and unless your doctor has ordered you not to exercise, then the standing order must be to exercise, changes or not. Don’t give up.
I’d like to share with you a sad story. I taught older gentleman to exercise a number of years ago. He was a well known brilliant writer. He developed a nerve condition in his legs that made it impossible for him to walk without wearing braces. His condition was such that his legs could give out from under him at any moment, and the braces would prevent a fall. It was frustrating and we worked around it. Yet he wasn’t happy.
Long story short, one day he decided to stay in bed and give up. When I asked him why, he said it was because he couldn’t walk properly, and that his fans remembered him as a man who could walk. I told him most of his fans had never seen him, they loved his writing, and that they would still love to read more. Yet it did no good. He died a year later, in bed, attached to tubes, not knowing who he was, and never wrote again. It was heartbreaking to witness. He gave up.
Here’s a happier story: When I was sixteen, the scoliosis in my back had become so bad that I was having trouble moving around freely. I went to see three back specialists. The first two told me I would not live a normal life. That I would never run again, and that I would more than likely end up in a wheel chair. And that I needed a long rod in my back. The third doctor told me something different and changed my life.
He said yes my back was bad, and yes an operation was a good idea, but not before I tried therapy and not before if I could see if I had the discipline to take care of my back for the rest of my life. He wasn’t fooling around when he asked me to commit to him in that moment. I did, and now I teach exercise for a living. I didn’t give up.
I can honestly say the last thing I wanted to do was to make myself exercise. I wanted to just shut out the world and wait until I healed. And of course there are days I still feel that way. I don’t know how much longer I have to walk without pain. How much longer I can straighten out my back and do my daily exercises. What will happen? I don’t want to find out. I won’t give up.
How much longer do you have? Maybe a lot more- if you don’t give up. How much more can you get done? Maybe a lot! How many more moments can you appreciate your life, no matter what your body does? Maybe years worth! But please, please, please, don’t give up!
If you give up and stop, two things will happen. One, you’ll end up in more pain. And two, the end won’t come as quickly as you may like. And believe me, that’s not the choice you want to make!
So get up and walk. Go to that exercise class. Get involved. Call that friend. Breathe deeply, roll your shoulders around. Do your balance exercises. Stretch your fingers. Have faith and then go find more faith- just don’t give up!
~Because you’re stronger than you think, and you can do more than you know!~
John Paul Ouvrier, known as The Wizard of Youth, is a fitness trainer who specializes in working with older adults. Please consult with your doctor or medical professional before beginning any exercise program or advice. The contents of this article do not constitute medical advice. Contact him at John@wizardofyouth.com and bring him in to entertain your audiences! http://wizardofyouth.com & http://fitness4charity.org
Very inspiring words, John. Thank you.
I’ve been through the cycle more times than I care to count. Injury or illness throw me to the sidelines and it’s very difficult to suck it up, get going again and develop a different routine. It’s a grieving process. Knowing that helps me to deal with and get over the loss, because I know it’s normal to grieve over a loss.
That’s kind of a rambling thought. I hope it makes sense. Get through the grieving. Allow the feeling of loss. Finally find alternative moves you can still do.