Let’s talk about moderation. And maybe mindfulness, while we’re at it.
I’ve never really been an adrenaline junkie or overly competitive but that’s not to say that I like losing or sucking at something – who does? But I’ve come to learn in my wise old age that losing or failing at something comes with its own particular gifts. No, really. (More on this in a future post – see “Winning at Losing – The Time I Embarrassed Myself In Front Of My Much Cooler Peers.”) The problem, as I see it, is that we get caught up in thinking that unless we are pedal to the metal, Mach100 with our hair on fire, we’re not doing enough. We’re losing. Sucking.
I remember growing up and hearing my SUPER OLD parents and their friends say stuff like “Man, you’re gonna wish you hadn’t done that” and by “that” I mean everything from jumping off the granary roof or riding my horse bareback with my shirt as a bridle and then getting dumped off in a brush pile, to wearing shoes that didn’t really fit or dislocating all my toes in an unfortunate riding incident followed by crushing my big toe joint with a turkey roaster. “POOH POOH” I said at the time. Fast forward a few decades and I’m struggling with awful plantar fasciitis in BOTH feet and calcified (dinosaur-ized) toe joints. The left foot is worse because I’ve apparently snapped the tendon in a couple of places – you can actually feel the nodules of scar tissue. It feels like I have marbles attached to the tendon in the bottom of my foot. Long story short – walking – or running – or hiking – or somedays even standing in my kitchen – really hurts now. This is quite concerning to me. I grew up on a ranch, and a cow with foot trouble wasn’t making long range plans, that’s for sure. What does one do when one’s feet don’t work anymore?
Fortunately, these days I find myself at a much different place in life. Despite occasional side trips back into Hardcore-Ville, moderation mostly rules the day. I am reevaluating what it means to be successful, to be fulfilled, to be healthy.
After nearly a year of rehab for my feet, actively stretching the grouchy fascia, trundling off to the physiotherapist/podiatrist/chiropractor, and sending bazillions of dollars out the door for custom made orthotics/shockwave treatments/athletic tape/pain killers (I also discovered in the process that I’m allergic to ibuprofen – yay!) – I have finally matured enough to realize that moderation is okay.
I got back on the treadmill today after a lengthy hiatus, and although I was tempted to crank the dial up to eleven hundred miles per hour, I took it easy. Five minutes of warmup, ten minutes of slow run, five minutes of cool down. I did my best to ignore the “guilt-o-meters” – the calorie gauge, the odometer, the speedometer – those things that in the past would make me feel like I wasn’t doing enough. Run another mile! Faster! Bigger incline!
I concentrated instead on what my body was telling me, and let me tell you, it’s a strange sensation after years and years of ignoring the built-in signals we are all born with. I’ve spent most of a lifetime ignoring pain, gritting my teeth and getting on with it (“You have a really high pain tolerance!” said the physiotherapist as she repeatedly jammed a six inch needle into my calf.) No pain, no gain sort of thing. It’s a sad state of affairs that we women especially are cultured to detach from our bodies. Ignore the pain. Ignore the discomfort. Not to bash men, but it’s been said that if men suffered from endometriosis, there’d have been a cure 50 years ago. Mindfulness, something that we are all born with, gets booted out the window as we grapple our way through life.
Well bleah to that. I’ve started to listen to my body, and honestly, today’s brief run at a modified pace was the most I’ve enjoyed running on the damn treadmill since I bought the damn thing second hand on FB Marketplace (I’ve resorted to a treadmill because I was seriously running into too many bears on our trails. It scares them and it scares me too.) I really want to make it to a ripe old age. I want to be that cool old lady who never stops walking or hiking or skiing or snowshoeing. At my current age and factoring in my family’s tendency to live to be really old and crotchety, I figure I have three or four decades left. Is it too late to undo some of the damage I’ve already done? I’m not sure. But it’s not too late to listen to me, to respect what my body’s telling me, to make friends at last with my earthly shell. And I think that’s the coolest thing of all.
PS If you’re curious about mindfulness and the neat places it can take you, check out Street Smart Nutrition or mindful.org. At the time of this writing (February 2021) Royal Roads University also offers Integrated Mindfulness courses.
Landry, J. (2021, February 15). She was in agony since age 13. Many didn’t believe her. Then a B.C. hospital diagnosed her with endometriosis. CBC. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/endometriosis-lacking-research-1.5910342