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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

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Anti-inflammatory chai tea

In case you don’t follow my other blog – What Carry Eats – you might want to hop over there and check out my recipe for Anti-Inflammatory Chai Tea. Who couldn’t use a little comfort in a cup when they’re laid up on the couch?

What Carry Eats

Inflammation . The word probably makes you think of a knee swollen from running, a sore throat or a rash. Or maybe you’ve tuned into the recent conversations about systemic inflammation that is the result of an immune response gone wild.

The first type of inflammation is good and will go away with rest and maybe an over-the-counter NSAID. The second form usually begins when our bodies’ defense system runs out of control, like a rebel army bent on destroying its own country. What few people understand is that systemic inflammation run amok is at the root of all chronic illness we experience — conditions like heart disease, obesity, demntia, depression, cancer, and even autism.

Thankfully, the list of things that cause inflammation is relatively short: poor diet, lack of exercise, stress, and hidden allergens or toxins.

I assume if you’re reading this blog, you are already making strides towards transforming your diet…

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Loss and relationships after ACL surgery

climber

I don’t know why I find it so comforting to find out there’s another climber in the world recovering from ACL surgery right now. I guess it’s nice to know that in the ACL-recovery sphere, which is generally focused on helping teenagers return to playing competitive soccer and basketball, there is at least one other person in the world who will never be worried about cutting and pivoting drills…whose primary concerns include whether she will be able to bend her knee enough and have the strength to mantle onto a ledge, whether she’ll have the stability to bound down a 1000’ boulder field at the end of a long day, and whether her knee will stop hyperextending so she can plunge-step safely .

Okay, so maybe Vera  – let’s call her by her name already! – hasn’t articulated these concerns explicitly, but I bet she is probably thinking about these things.

One of the things Vera insightfully articulated, though, is the loss of identity when an injury prevents you from doing the sport you love. In a blog post she writes:

I struggled a lot with my sense of identity after the accident. I viewed myself as a climber and an outdoorsy person. All of sudden, I could not walk and do things I love doing. And sometimes it got to me.

Yup, nailed it! In addition to identity, I experienced a lot of other losses, too. I go to the mountains every weekend to recharge and feed my soul, to connect with people, to get a feeling of accomplishment, to face the unexpected and have an adventure, and to get plenty of strenuous exercise that my body needs to thrive. Tearing my ACL was like pulling the plug on all of these things.

These losses led to some pretty bleak times for me leading up to surgery and after. As my husband can testify, I still have moments where I just lose it. I also have avoided some social situations that would have rubbed salt into my wounds.

There is a powerful lesson, though, at least with respect to identity and relationships. Vera writes:

I’ve had time to think a lot and the realization that climbing is not what defines me (despite me loving it to bits) was a huge relief. I am more than a climber. I am a daughter, sister, cousin, girlfriend, friend, employee and much more . . . Sometimes we forget those, who patiently wait for us, when we come back from our adventures.

Yup! I hate to admit that it took such a horrible injury to push the reset button on some of my relationships. It’s awesome to be able to go to such amazing places in the mountains, but not at the expense of the people you love, the people who are your anchors when times are not great.

Like Vera, I cannot wait to get back to climbing, scrambling, and skiing again. This time, however, I’ll  do so with a greater awareness of who I am and the impact on the people who are important to me.

Photo by alexindigo.

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