Our View From Here

Perspectives of Five Women

1st Anniversary Repost: The Best Laid Plans…

Our View From Here is one year old! In celebration of this occasion, we’re reposting our favorite post from the last year! Enjoy!

I’m a planner. When I graduated high school, I had a plan. I was going to Penn State, where I was going to study kinesiology for a few years. After I got most of my general education credits under my belt, I was planning on transferring to Slippery Rock University (yes, this is an actual college) to become a physical therapist.

I diligently followed my plan…for a semester. I learned all about pronation and supination and realized kinesiology was not the field of study for me. To be honest, I’m really not sure where this interest came from initially. I have never utilized a physical therapist; I wasn’t athletic. In fact, I think my sole experience with physical therapy came from listening to my dad grumble about doing his after his hip replacement surgery. After a mini-crisis of trying to figure out what I was going to do with my life, I settled on going back to my volunteering roots. I began volunteering with the Red Cross and decided to major in Business Management, like my supervisor did, so I could go eventually be a manager at a nonprofit. Eleven years later and I’m finally a Program Manager at a nonprofit foundation. This is one of the few aspects of my life plan that seem to have come to pass.

Had someone told me back then that in just a few short years, camping and hiking would be among my favorite pastimes, I would be skeptical, but I could concede that it was possible. Had the same person told me that in a few years after that, I would enjoy skiing so much that I would go out and buy my own equipment I would have probably had a bit of a chuckle. Finally, if someone told me that in 10 years I would have started scuba diving and be well on my way to finishing up several advanced certification courses, I would have nodded and smiled politely, while slowly backing away, for fear I was speaking to a complete nutjob who could go postal on me at any moment. But alas, here I am, looking forlornly at the skis I bought this season but probably won’t have a chance to try out. In my work bag is a course book to teach me how to dive with enriched air, rather than regular 21% oxygen air. And I’ve been working with friends to coordinate our schedules for a camping trip in June. I have one person to blame for all of this, my husband, Darren.

Us, several years ago

Darren first went camping before he was a year old. He is an Eagle Scout (that’s the highest level of Boy Scout) and has been skiing for over half his life. The scuba is new, but an interest he’s had for years. He finally convinced me to take the class too, and I have to admit, it was nice to learn something together, rather than always being two steps behind. The point of this post isn’t to pay homage to Darren, the outdoor Adventure-Boy (though I happen to think he’s pretty swell). No, the point I’m trying to get across is that I think it’s important to have someone in your life that pushes you out of your comfort zone. Someone who can challenge you to do things you might not otherwise do. For me, it happens to be Darren, but I don’t think it needs to be a significant other – a good friend, a relative, even an arch-nemesis can fulfill the role. Whomever it may be, the trick is to find that person, and let them push you, because you might find there’s a whole lot of fun to be had once you do.

As I was writing this post, the song from the below video popped in my head. I have no idea if it makes sense, or is completely antithetical to my point. I read comments from others about the meaning of the song and the comments ran the spectrum from “live life to the fullest” to “you’re going to wake up in 20 years and regret your life.” Since no one else seems to know what it means either, I’m just going to go with it. At least it’s catchy.

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Pain as My Motivator

I used to be one of those people that always said they were going to get into a regular workout routine but never did. Sometimes I’d do really well but not for long. That all changed when I hurt my back.

My injury laid me up in bed for nearly 3 months.  I started physical therapy unable to touch my feet. I had to rebuild just about every muscle in my body. I went to therapy for seven months. I started out going three days a week then finished off two days a week. It was grueling but I knew it was the only way I’d ever function normally again.  It also helped that after a few weeks I could touch my feet again so I knew I was making progress. I literally cheered when I could tie my shoes. My physical therapist was fantastic and for the first time in my life I basically had a personal trainer who was making sure I did all my exercises correctly and effectively. I felt fantastic by the time I was done with therapy. I could go an entire day with out pain killers!

I’ve taken my therapy into the gym. Twice a week I try to go do my strength training and ab workouts. The other days of the week I throw in some cardio and work my abs even more. I discovered that these gym sessions not only helped my back but actually improved my mood. I’d go in stressed and aggravated from work and go home feeling relaxed and clear headed. I sweated out the negativity from the day and felt better about myself over all. I feel like I always exit the gym with a bit of a swagger and I think that’s just fine.

I wish I could say this fantastic feeling is what keeps me on track and exercising regularly. It really isn’t. I learned the hard way that I can’t skip more than a week of exercising. After my surgery my doctor said if I had waited a month longer to get it fixed I’d probably have permanent damage. Thankfully I escaped that but there are still lingering issues if I become a slacker. My back will start to spasm, the nerve pain will come back shooting down my leg and general back badness (as I lovingly call it). It is amazing how easy it is to force yourself to the gym when you know it is the only way to make the evil back badness stop.

So in the end there is a bright side to my back injury situation. I know me, this is probably the only way I ever would have gotten myself into a regular exercise routine. Thanks to this situation forced upon me by my back I weigh less than I did in high school. Its safe to say I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in my life and I feel so much better about my body image. I’m not quite to my goal but I’m the closest I’ve ever been (less than 10 lbs to go!).

I still have days I skip the gym and some weeks are better than others. I’m the queen of coming up with reasons not to go. I honestly used “It’s raining” as an excuse one day, so pitiful. Fortunately, I can only go so long with lame excuses before I have no choice and need to work out. Pain really is a fantastic motivator.

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