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I know what to do, I just don't do it

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

A couple of months ago, I ran into the sliding glass door between my patio and my home. It was night and dark outside. For some reason, I thought the door was open, but it wasn't and I slammed into it pretty hard.

I rubbed my the area on my shoulder where it hit the door and assumed it would be fine the next day. But it wasn't. After doctor visits and x-rays, I learned that I had "shoulder impingement" which means I had squished some muscles and tendons. I also learned they weren't going to magically heal and go back to normal.

I'm now starting my third month of physical therapy, and while I've improved a lot, I keep being reminded that healing takes time. I appreciate the ultrasound, stretches and massage from the physical therapist. But I also have a home exercise program designed to help heal the muscles and rebuild my shoulder strength.

Do I faithfully do these exercises? NO. It seems that I know what to do, but just don't do it.

Why I don't do what I should

I've been thinking about why I don't follow my exercise assignments. Here's what I came up with:
• It hurts
• It takes time
• I can't see progress

But I also know that without regularly doing my exercises, I won't see the outcomes I want such as returning to tennis and other favorite activities. Right now, I'd like to be able to pour myself a cup of coffee without using both hands to lift the carafe.

Yesterday it hit me. This is just like losing weight. I go through similar struggles when my weight creeps up and I'm trying to push it back down. It's also true when I want to stay on a consistent path of maintaining my weight.

Lots of times, I don't do any exercise or drink my water. And I'd rather have my apple hidden in a piece of pie than eat it as a fresh fruit.

Again, I know what do to, I just don't do it! And the reasons why are almost identical to trying to heal my shoulder injury.

• It hurts. Maybe not physically, but emotionally. I'm frustrated that I can't eat ice cream and nachos and dessert every time I feel like it.

• It takes time. Sometimes it seems like 20 minutes of exercise takes two hours out of my day. And I can't figure out where to get time to plan meals or get to shop for fruit and other healthy foods. Besides that, unfortunately, cooking dinner takes a lot longer than ordering a pizza.
• I can't see progress. Even after what I thought was a perfect week, the scale doesn't move. (I know, if it upsets me, stay off the scale.) But whether we're healing an injury or losing weight, we want it fast. And it's so hard to be patient.

Time for a new plan

After getting chastised by my physical therapist, I decided I needed a better system. So here's how I've improved my compliance with the home exercise program.

1. Put up reminders.

I now have sticky notes in several places so I can't say I "forgot" to do my exercises. I made a poster (with large print) of the key exercises so I can read it from a distance while I'm working on them.

I remind myself to be gentle in the movements which actually prevents the exercises from causing as much discomfort. I also have to remember that without some hurt, the injury won't heal.

2. Plan it in.

Yes, it takes time to do those exercises, but so does watching talk shows on TV, checking Facebook and Instagram or other things I do that waste time in my day.

My new schedule is at 4pm every day, I do the exercise routine. I have also made sure to carve out time for shopping, meal prep and cooking. And I have to ignore the fact that cooking dinner takes a lot longer than ordering a pizza.

3. Be patient with results.

Healing and losing weight don't happen in a straight line. Some days we can see progress, and sometimes it seems that nothing is happening. That doesn't mean it's not working. With both of these areas, I need to trust the process and do what's required even if I can't see any changes this week.

It will be worth it

As I reflect on the outcomes I want (a healed shoulder, be at a healthy weight,) I realize it's critical that I keep going and do the work. So my new message to myself is:

I know what to do and I'm committed to doing it.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • JUNEAU2010
    Thanks for sharing. Lots of food for thought and, most of all, I hope you heal completely and quickly
    327 days ago
    Get better soon! emoticon
    334 days ago

    Hope your PT has given you effective exercises and you will get through your shoulder injury and return to normal. I had a shoulder impingement injury a few years ago, and I kind of thought the exercises the PT gave me were lame and the shoulder would get better on it's own with time. It didn't, and when I did the exercises it got better and I sometimes do those exercises to keep my shoulder strong. The exercise was amazingly effective once I did it. I had to tie a resistance band to a door knob and pull the resistance band with my arm straight about a foot away from my body to the other side of my body keeping the upper arm straight and only moving my lower arm, moving my hand in an arc.

    From SuzyB53
    No matter how many tips I get. No matter how much I "figure out" in advance, the demon can always come up with new arguments.

    Thanks for your 100 day challenges, I like they keep me mindful and thinking about adressing emotional eating. Thanks also to our Spark team leader Gill and the other team mates that bring their experiences and ideas to the table.
    335 days ago
    Yes, and you just get tired of doing what you are supposed to do instead of what you want to do.
    335 days ago
  • LINDA!
    I am speaking as a person that had a terrible shoulder injury, do the physical therapy exercises. I have heard horror stories of people that did not do them. One woman I know could not even dress herself, alone, because of the failure to exercise. Yes, it REALLY hurts - but is so worth it.

    335 days ago
    For sure, that inner child rebel says "I don't wanna" and so it's not a priority to find the time to do it! EVEN though we know the positive outcomes of doing whatever the said activity is.

    HOPE your shoulder gets to feel better. Painful!
    335 days ago
    I'm so sorry to hear you had that injury. Yes, do your exercises!

    Also, how about becoming expert at cooking meals that take 30 mins or less to make, or using your slow-cooker? I work shifts and have to be very organised about my meals. I now have several lovely recipe books that are for 'quick' cooking. (It's the washing up I hate!)
    336 days ago

    Sorry you injured yourself...

    glad you have taken yourself in hand and taking control of your time and actions.
    now if only I could/would follow your excellent example and take care of myself.

    336 days ago
    Wishing You Strength & Healing! This is what the term "Human Fraility" means. We are weak in spirit, We take the easy road, We cave in to old comfortable ways. I'm going to make a real effort to be strong enough to live healthy! ☆
    336 days ago
  • MAWMAW101
    Thank you for this blog.
    I don’t have your problem but I do have a foot issue and have used it as an excuse to not get exercise on a regular basis.
    So today I’ll make my “Fall” Vision board, hang it where I’ll see it often and get on with my healthy life.
    I do hope the healing goes well and you are back to tennis soon! emoticon
    336 days ago
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