Save it for the Memorable Moments

Stop me if you’ve heard this before.  You play in the company softball game, and can’t walk for two days.  You spread mulch all day in preparation for your graduation open house, but you are unable to sit without back pain during the ceremony.  Or a personal favorite, you trim hedges and clear brush all weekend, but are unable to play in the first two weeks of your golf league due to shoulder and neck pain.

Why does this happen, and why does it happen repeatedly to so many of us?

  • We don’t believe in moderation
  • We don’t consider our current limitations
  • We are too busy to measure out stressful activities in smaller doses
  • We don’t think about saving our efforts for things we enjoy most

So, if these are the problems, what are the solutions?

  • Embrace moderation: In fitness, as in life, moderation rules.  Your body responds well to a rather steady stream of physical stress, but reacts poorly to inconsistent or inordinately high levels of exertion.
  • Acknowledge your limitations: So you have a sore shoulder, knee arthritis, or a delicate low back…own it.  Don’t use these issues as an excuse, learn to manage it so you can be successful.  Make sure you are taking care of the problem, and have a plan with your therapist for treatment.  Next, take a bit of time to determine if there might be an alternative way to perform the activities that you need or want to do,  including paying the neighbor kid to do so.
  • Plan your work: Seldom do I hear people describe the incidents that take them beyond their threshold of pain as emergencies.  They are more likely impulsive or compulsive activities performed under the duress of too little time.  Far be it for me to preach time management, but I think task management is the key.  Break the big jobs into smaller chunks, making sure they are all below your threshold for discomfort. You will be happy and amazed with the difference it can make.
  • Save it for the Fun Stuff: Want to play golf on Sunday? Don’t do all of the yardwork Saturday.  Do you enjoy playing tennis weekly? Maybe riding a stationary bike instead of walking on the treadmill will preserve better knee function for your match.  Make allowances for the things that are important and special to you, and don’t pass your threshold of discomfort without including those things.  After all, lying on the sofa with back pain after pulling weeds is never as much fun as suffering a bit after a bike ride with your best friend!

When all is said and done, those who recognize the need for moderation, who acknowledge their limitation, who plan their work, and who save some of their threshold for the fun stuff are able to enjoy life with less constraints and discomfort.