For those of you who have been reading my blog for a little while, you know that Better Than the Alternative Tuesdays were originally inspired by something Obi-wan (my Dad) would always say to us kids when we complained that things were tough: “Hey, it beats the alternative.” Well, today I’d like to welcome Obi-wan himself to the blog as the guest author of today’s BTAT post: Life Is Full of Choices. Show him some love and read about the choice he’s made to continue to work toward a lifetime of fitness despite the obstacles in his path. Obviously, I’m inspired by him and I hope you are, too. Love you, Dad! Thanks for sharing with all of us.
When Abby asked me to guest blog for Better Than the Alternative Tuesdays I was at a loss as to what I could possibly offer an audience of dedicated runners and exercise enthusiasts. She told me that I could write about anything I wanted so in considering what BTATs were all about to me I thought about something someone said to me once and that I have repeated ad infinitum – “Life Is Full of Choices”. In trying to stay somewhat fit over sixty odd years I have had many choices:
Whether it was what choice I had to try to stay in shape so that I could get back on the courts in NY when I broke my ankle in a pickup game of basketball in my early twenties (crutching around the neighborhood instead of riding in the car was about the only choice available but it was great for the upper body)
Or how to get back into shape when I could no longer take five mile runs around the local high school track after my back was broken in a car accident in my early thirties while living in NJ (strength training on early Nautilus equipment provided a safe alternative to running at that point)
Or making the choice not to hang up my sneakers when my knee blew out playing basketball in a men’s over thirty league in Chicago while in my early forties (strength training to rehab the knee which led to free weight training with a group at the gym which included a former NFL defensive lineman and then onto racquetball with those guys, talk about full contact racquetball!)
Or figuring out the choices available to recover from a cervical fusion that left me with three discs fused in my neck and a three-inch metal plate holding my spine together (again progressive resistance training stressing good form and variation rather than heavy weight and jerking the equipment around). Oh, and by the way, try getting past airport security here in beautiful Colorado with that plate hidden in your neck. But that’s a discussion for another blog…
Or when my body started to play subtle little tricks like losing balance and falling on level surfaces for no apparent reason, only to find out after a multitude of tests that in my mid fifties I had developed a full blown case of Multiple Sclerosis. Again, that game of figuring out what my body will still allow me to do in the face of a chronic progressively debilitating disease with symptoms which seem to change daily (long slow walks on the treadmill with handles I can hold onto to keep from falling in the home gym, resistance training with stretchy bands and yoga started to make more sense to me at this point)
Or what choices I had to get back in shape while trying to recover from surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from my small intestine while undergoing chemotherapy for Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and dealing with the never ending symptoms of MS at the same time in my early sixties (still enjoying those slow walks on the treadmill although they are now much shorter, limited resistance training, yoga and stretching, therapeutic massages and other creative integrated therapies are choices which require research and dedication but offer many benefits beyond just fitness).
I guess you get my drift by this point. For me athletics were never about competing at a high level, as I never had that ability. For me it was more about competing against myself to prove that I could improve a little every day. As time went on it was more about overcoming obstacles and playing an intellectual game of chess against a body that all too often wouldn’t cooperate.
Now go out there and ?