Out There: Life’s $1,000 Question

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“If I gave you a thousand dollars for every day you did these exercises at home, would you do them?”

The question was a no-brainer. For a thousand bucks, of course I’d do my physical therapy exercises at home. Duh.

“So all these lines you’re giving me this week: I don’t have time, I’m too tired, I forgot…they’re just excuses. If I gave you a thousand bucks a day, you’d find a way to do these.”

I walked right into that one, didn’t I?

Fine, I admit it: I’ve been slacking on my physical therapy lately. Though I’ve made great progress since my ankle reconstruction surgery four months ago, I’m not where I’d like to be. You see, I hung all my hopes on a statement my surgeon made that I could be back to light running as early as the end of January. Every day, I did what was asked of me in rehab, and every day, I crossed off another box on my mental countdown calendar.

At my end-of-January checkup, the grand finale of all my hard work, my doctor told me the ankle wasn’t ready to run yet. In fact, it would be at least another month of rehab before I’d be able to lace up safely. I was…well, there’s no way to say this kindly: I was effin’ pissed. I held up my end of the bargain by attending physical therapy religiously for three months —where was my reward?

Though running was still on hold for me, life was not. Things suddenly got very, very busy at the end of January. I threw myself into work, using deadlines to justify missed physical therapy appointments. Instead of taking 20 minutes to stretch and strengthen, I packed my suitcase for an upcoming work trip. While sitting on the couch watching TV, I’d think, “I should really do my rehab exercises right now.” Then I’d walk to the kitchen and pop some popcorn instead.

I was “too busy.” I was “too tired.” I “forgot.”

I was also “full of BS.”

RELATED: Out There: The Rehab Room

Here’s the truth: I was throwing a temper tantrum. In my head, I believed I was somehow punishing my doctor by not doing my assigned exercises at home. If he wasn’t going to give me what I wanted, I wasn’t going to give him what he wanted. Two could play that game.

Then my doctor asked me the $1,000 question, and I realized he was playing the game far better than I ever could. I wasn’t punishing my doctor—the only person being punished here was me. If I wanted to run again, I had to invest in myself and the recovery process—no excuses allowed.

How often do we fall into this trap? We know incorporating strength exercises into our daily routine will prevent running injuries, yet we “don’t have the time” to do a few squats. We order a pizza, because it’s just “not possible” to cook a healthy meal tonight. We’re very aware of the dangers of prolonged sitting, yet we’re “too tired” to use a standing desk for an hour or go for a walk instead of watching TV after dinner.

All those excuses? They’re just excuses. We spin a yarn of how something is “simply impossible,” because it’s much more comfortable to say “I can’t” than to honestly admit “I don’t want to,” “I’m feeling lazy,” or “I can’t do it my way, so I won’t do it at all.”

The so-called “impossibles” become very possible with a bit of perspective. What would happen if someone offered up a thousand bucks to do those things you’re “too busy” or “too tired” to do today?

I’d bet most of us would suddenly catch a second wind.

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About The Author:

Susan Lacke does 5Ks, Ironman Triathlons, and everything in between to justify her love for cupcakes (yes, she eats that many). In addition to writing for Competitor, she serves as Resident Triathlete for No Meat Athlete, a website dedicated to vegetarian endurance athletes. Susan lives and trains in Phoenix, Arizona with three animals: A labrador, a cattle dog, and a freakishly tall triathlete boyfriend. She claims to be of sound mind, though this has yet to be substantiated by a medical expert. Follow her on Twitter: @SusanLacke

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