Time to shut off the “excuse machine”

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I went skate skiing with some friends a couple weeks ago. (I know! Cross-country skiing six months after ACL surgery – pretty awesome, huh?) Anyway, so we were skiing, and we started huffing and puffing up a long climb. We were intimately aware of our hearts pounding in our ears and how mushy and weak our legs felt. Then the apologies started:

“I’m sorry I’m so slow.”

“It’s been a long time since I’ve pushed myself this hard. I’m so out of shape.”

“I would have gotten out more, but this ACL surgery has really impacted my workouts.”

Do you ever catch yourself doing this, too? Apologizing-slash-whining about how slow or weak or out of shape you feel while participating in sports you love? 

I was trying to figure out why we do this, and then I read a post on Adventure Journal that just nailed it:

Maybe we do it to make ourselves feel a little better about not being at the head of the pack. By pointing out that we are “so out of shape,” we’re implying that our real self is actually a super-fit gnar machine that would obviously be crushing it, if only we had been able to sneak a few more workouts in the last couple of weeks.

The article goes on to say that whatever our inner motivations, it’s time to stop.

. . . those excuses come out sounding quite a lot like complaints. And, really, if we’re out enjoying nature, exercising and recreating with our friends, we probably don’t have that much to complain about. Maybe we’d all have more joyful experiences if we learned to mute our inner excuse maker.

I’m going for a hike this afternoon, and whatever pace I take, I’m going to be grateful that I’m breathing crisp mountain air. Instead of bumming on the fact that I can’t get to the top of Tiger Mountain in under 40 minutes like I did last summer, I’m going to relish the feel of sun on my face and rock under my feet.

From here forward, I commit to diving into the moment, working hard at whatever I’m doing, and enjoying the gift of time with friends doing things I love. Who’s with me?

 Photo by Laura Avellaneda-Cruz, used with permission

Celebrating milestones – six months and counting!

So much of recovering from ACL surgery is boring, awful or just plain tedious. That’s why I think it’s important to have something fun to look forward to – something that you’ll only be able to do if you continue to be diligent with your recovery efforts.

To that end, my husband and I booked a six day bike tour in Death Valley at the six-month mark. We got back last week, and I’m jumping for joy that I could actually ride five of the six days without much pain or swelling. I’m clearly on the road back to “normal.”

One of the highlights of the trip was a solo, pre-dawn ride to Zabriskie Point to photograph the sunrise. The picture above was taken just as the sun cast its first rays on the Panamint Range. There are several other pictures on my other blog and I invite you to click over there for a look see!

Reducing inflammation with yoga after ACL surgery

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By far the most popular post on this site is my post on Asana After ACL Surgery. It makes me so happy that people are finding their way back to health by incorporating yoga into their recovery prescription.

If you haven’t thought about spending time on the mat to aid healing, there now laboratory evidence that yoga reduces inflammation, the body’s way of reacting to injury or irritation. (Is that swollen knee talking to you yet?)

Researchers looked at 200 breast cancer survivors who had not practiced yoga before. Half the group continued to ignore yoga, while the other half received twice-weekly, 90-minute classes for 12 weeks, with take-home DVDs and encouragement to practice at home.

According to the study, which was led by Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, professor of psychiatry and psychology at Ohio State University, and published recently in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, the group that had practiced yoga reported less fatigue and higher levels of vitality three months after treatment had ended.

Laboratory Proof

The study didn’t rely only on self-reporting, however. Kiecolt-Glaser’s husband and research partner, Ronald Glaser of the university’s department of molecular virology, immunology, and medical genetics, went for stronger, laboratory proof. He examined three cytokines, proteins in the blood that are markers for inflammation.

Blood tests before and after the trial showed that, after three months of yoga practice, all three markers for inflammation were lower by 10 to 15 percent. That part of the study offered some rare biological evidence of the benefits of yoga in a large trial that went beyond people’s own reports of how they feel.

Yoga for ACL Surgery Patients

Cancer is an obvious cause stress, but anyone who has had a torn ACL and surgery to repair it knows that this is also an incredibly stressful experience. It is no small stretch to believe that yoga could help reduce this stress and reduce the inflammatory proteins in the body as well. This is especially true given that smaller studies have shown, by measuring biological markers, that expert yoga practitioners had lower inflammatory responses to stress than novice yoga practitioners did; that yoga reduces inflammation in heart failure patients; and that yoga can improve crucial levels of glucose and insulin in patients with diabetes.

See you on the mat!

Photo by Lyn Tally, used with permission

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