Better Than the Alternative Tuesdays: Obi-Wan Guest Blogs

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.

Me and Obi-wan on my wedding day

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 ?

Best regards,

Obi-Wan

Better Than the Alternative Tuesdays: Life Is Full of Choices

This is the last BTAT before the Philly Marathon, so I thought it fitting that it be about Choices. BTAT was inspired by something Obi-wan says to anyone and everyone, that whatever you/he are going through in life, it still beats the hell out of the alternative (you know, NOT life). So, at least you go that going for you.

One of the other very common Obi-wan-isms is what he has told me, my siblings, our friends, the neighborhood kids and other impressionable youth: Life is Full of Choices. I don’t think I quite grasped this until just a few years ago (I’m slow) but now I get it. It’s all a choice.

Happiness is a choice. Health is a choice. Loving the life you lead is a choice. Loving those around you is a choice. Being ok with who you are is a choice. Appreciating what you have is a choice.

I could choose to get down on myself for not being able to train as much as I wanted to due to my seemingly never-ending flareup, but I’m not going to choose that. I could choose to whine and complain that I have it so hard because I have this chronic disease that makes life challenging for me at times, but I’m not going to choose that. I could choose to take the easy way out and drop out of the marathon before I even try because I’m scared of what might happen in the later miles, but I’m not going to choose that.

Life is Full of Choices. And life is too short to be unhappy with your choices.

I choose to try. I choose to get over it. I choose to move on. I choose to do absolutely everything in my power to have an awesome race and let the chips fall where they may. I choose to run until something stops me or I reach the finish line. I choose to be happy.

There are so many things that are not up to us to decide, so many things out of our control. Why not take charge of the things that are IN your control and make your life amazing? Have the life you’ve always wanted. Choose it. Makes steps to achieving it.

Remember, the Choice is yours and no one else’s. Choice is a powerful gift. Use it.

Life is Full of Choices and that’s why it’s so much better to be here than there. Happy Better Than the Alternative Tuesday, everybody.

Now go out and run!