I stared at the scale again, frustrated that not only had I not lost a pound, my weight had actually gone up. I started scanning through my past couple of days… what had I eaten? What had my activity levels been like? I really didn’t feel like I had been “that bad.” After all, didn’t I skip dessert when everyone else had one? Hadn’t most of my meals been “pretty good”?
Then I head to a CrossFit class and it’s going to be a workout that includes movements that test the limits of my thoracic mobility (how well my upper back moves). I sigh, frustrated again because I know I’ve been putting some time in on that and it will barely be noticed as I struggle again to perform overhead squats. Here’s the dilemma; do I continue on without concerns about these things? Or is it time to double my efforts?
Would I just be happier if I ate whatever I wanted and ignored working on my posture?
Maybe, but only for a little while. Eventually that bill comes due. Eventually you suffer the consequences of no action or not enough action. You can choose to ignore all the health advice and just avoid those activities that are too challenging. You can choose to eat whatever you want and just deal with the extra baggage, but it is your choice. I find the struggle comes from a life of wishing it were a certain way instead of accepting how it is.
Sometimes I walk in to a treatment room and my patient is hunched over their phone sending a text. Then they tell me that their neck just isn’t getting any better, and they wonder if this “chiropractic stuff” really works. How they would like it to be: Show up for an annual adjustment (if that) and never have neck pain again. How it is: Get regular chiropractic care based on their activities, modify activities that are imbalanced, do stretching and strengthening exercises that counteract any negative activities they’re doing that will lead to neck pain.
That sound like a lot of work! It can be, for sure.
We can only look at the result of our activities and our efforts, good and bad, and then use that information to decide next steps. Did we get the result we want? Are we where we want to be? If so, great job! Keep doing that! If not, time to reassess and make some different choices. Like it or not, we are ultimately the result the accumulation of our choices. How many salads did you eat in the last 3 months? How many times did you work out? How many books have you read? How did you spend your time?
Please keep in mind, I in no way am trying to make you feel bad about where you’re at. It is what it is. It’s the starting point. It’s where you are deciding what your next step will be and what you’ll focus on. Where will you go from here and how will you get there? What do you need to change?
You can’t do everything.
That’s really the trick. Every once in awhile you’ll meet that person that has the perfect family, is 5% body fat, takes fabulous vacation, and never seems to have a bad day. I doubt that’s true, but it can be what you see. I prefer to see things as continued progress in the right direction. Is this year better than last year? When I really look at the things that are most important to me, how are they doing?
You may be working on ten different aspects of your life and giving it your best effort. Maybe you’re trying the best that is humanly possible given the time involved to move the needle in the right direction but you’re not seeing any progress. Now you have to choose; try harder, try a different way, or work on fewer things. What if you put the same effort into 8 things? Into 3? What if you spent all of your time just working on one thing?
In my world, that’s not possible. I have my health, my family relationships, family events, a practice, and a business to run. Throw in a few extra projects around the house and you can start to see that it’s difficult to keep making progress on everything. Sometimes just staying the same is the best we can hope for. That’s when I remind myself that it is my choice. I’ve decided where to put my time, energy, and efforts.
What’s most important?
My family is number one for me, period. If I’m spending time with them and attending their events or working on stuff they need, that’s my happy place. Next, I spend most of my time at our office, interacting with our team and seeing patients. Our team and our patients are like a second family. What can I do to help? What’s happening with your health right now and how can I help you move it in the right direction?
Adjusting people all day and spending time on the computer is the worst thing for my thoracic mobility. I can also put so much energy into my family and my practice that I find that I don’t always care about eating perfectly. That’s okay. That’s the reality and result of how I’ve spent my time, energy, and resources.
How would I like it to be?
I would love it if every patient had all the health and energy they could ever want with no pain. I’d wish that for me too! But we spend a lot of time doing things to our bodies and minds that can be an obstacle to overcome. We’ve made other things a priority and we may have forgotten we did that. We want to eat reasonably well and have six-pack abs, but it doesn’t work like that.
We want to spend 10 minutes on the foam roller once a month and do a few planks and have perfect posture, but that will never be enough to counteract 200 hours per month of computer time. I still choose to keep trying, to keep improving, and to keep looking for better methods to get the most from the effort I do put in. You can make a change and I hope you keep working on that too.
Save yourself some time and stop beating yourself up. There’s no need. How we would like it to be versus how it really is means you just have to keep reassessing and making changes until you get where you want to be. No reason to make it any harder by spending time and energy being mean to yourself. Keep looking for solutions and you’ll find them. I truly believe there’s always an answer, it just might not always be an easy one.