Ah…spring. The time during which my body thinks it can do anything, only to find out…it can’t.
Since recovering from the plagues in February and March and shedding the overall doldrums of winter, I’ve been hitting the exercise pretty hard the last few weeks. I want my arms tank-top ready and my legs North Country Trail ready…NOW.
But…Humpty Lynn has fallen off the wall…again.
I mowed the lawn a few weeks ago. Yeah. That was a reeeeallly dumb thing to do. Unless you’re using a riding mower, it’s probably not in your best interest as a person with torn rotator cuffs to use a NON-self-propelled lawn mower to cut down grass the height of swamp weeds and just as wet.
Most of the time I’m judicious with my strength training, doing what my physical therapist prescribed a few years ago: swapping hand weights for TheraBands. But…you know…when you feel kinda good and you’ve been cooped up in a long winter…well…you start thinking you’re not as messed up as you are. You think, perhaps, you’re superhuman.
So SuperLynn mowed the lawn. Two weeks later, my left shoulder is still saying, “Really, Lynn? Seriously? What the h*ll were you thinking?”
I remember when my grandma felt so good while on her blood pressure medication that she decided she didn’t need it anymore, not understanding, of course, that it was THE MEDICINE that was making her feel good. Two weeks later, she had a heart attack.
My joint “medicine” is moderate exercise, but my brain…dang brain…loves LOVES intense exercise. I like pounding the crap out of my body, I admit it. When I lost all that weight, man, it felt AMAZING to push and push and push my thighs and calves and shoulders and abs and traps and biceps and triceps to the edge. I’d never done anything like it in my weighted life.
Then when osteoarthritis starting taking over joint after joint like the creeping Charlie in my yard, I modified my exercise routine. Surprise, surprise, my body rewarded me with less pain! But modifying also threw off the “calories expended” part of the weight-loss/weight-maintenance ratio. Clearly I consumed more calories than I expended this year because I’ve gained 8 pounds. And try as I might, I cannot get back to my lowest weight – the one at which I beat the crap out of my body – without beating the crap out of my body.
At some point in most of our lives, there are obstacles to healthy living. They can be physical, emotional or both; temporary or permanent. It’s what we choose to do in the moment of most difficulty that steers our intentions. Obviously I’m not always mindful of what my intentions are, otherwise I wouldn’t be icing my biceps tendon.
My intention to lose 8 pounds is not unwise, but losing it at the expense of my body is that second arrow the Buddha warned of. As I wrote in September, the Buddhist teaching of the second arrow is that when we encounter pain (when we’re shot with the first arrow), we have the choice of how we handle that pain. We can blame or whine or indulge (hello chocolate cake!) as we run away from the pain (thus shooting ourselves with the second arrow), or we can experience the pain of the first arrow and live from within that pain, working out the best course of action that will not further our suffering.
God knows we have enough to deal with with that first arrow than having to work around the emotional complications of the second one. So…once again (and how many times have I done this in four years?), I’m reminding myself to stay mindful of my intentions, and to: 1) see the good, the bad and the ugly of my body and treat it with respect; 2) not beat myself up for 8 pounds; and 3) stop thinking of myself as superhuman.
That is…until the next time Humpty Lynn falls, and she will. Because she is me, and I am nothing if not human.