“If you like,” my dad said, “I’m happy to bring you to my gym and we can swim. The pool is great.”
“No thanks,” I replied, “still working on a broken foot.”
Sadly, that was a lie. I was rehabbing my foot, but that wasn’t the reason I said no.
I was embarrassed. Mortified…
That my 70 years young dad was in better shape than his 43 year old son. WTF?
For the better part of my life, I’ve been the bastion of health. It’s been my passion and my business. But, two years of sitting on my ass all day, writing, blogging, tweeting and eating has had a rather unsavory effect on my body.
Turns out, I’ve been hit with a fierce case of SMEGS—Social Media Expansive Gluteal Syndrome.
The process actually started about 4 or 5 years ago, after a second shoulder reconstruction and bizarre muscle wasting sickness. I wrote about it in a post back in December 2007 in a post entitled Fat Yogi Walking. And, committed to reclaiming my health.
I built a treadmill desk. I began to work out, take back my yoga practice, eat well and run. And, it was working. I was feeling better, losing weight and getting stronger. But less than 6 weeks into that journey, I broke a bone in my left foot trail running. That injury took a full 6 months to heal and left me unable to do any weight bearing exercise for almost the entire time.
Truth is, though, along with my reconstructed shoulder, it left me with chronic “itis,” meaning the x-rays say everything’s hunky dory, but it still hurts and the docs just shrug their shoulders when asked for a reason and say, “give it time.”
At the same time, I was in the throws of blogging, selling my company and finishing my book, so the pressure was mounting and I felt compelled to spend more and more of my waking hours decomposing into a mass of sweaty words in front of my computer.
I ended up increasingly stressed, fatter, unhealthier, less energetic, riddled by headaches and persistently looking for pants with a button left to close. The decline continued through March of this year, when, after seeing video of me speaking while promoting my book, I was left wondering who the old, fat, bald guy with deep circles under his eyes on stage was.
I’ve been teaching people how to respond to situations like this for a dozen years. I know better.
Never accept physical decline as your inevitable demise.
Fight like hell to re-engineer every process necessary to reintegrate and rebuild your life around health, fitness and movement. Because, that’s the foundation of success in every other area of your life.
You can’t build a company, a brand, a tribe riddled in pain and lethargy.
You can’t change the world when you’re busy plugging holes in your own dam. And, you can’t lie snuggling with your children…when you’re dead. I know this. Man, do I know it. In fact, I was so distraught…I did something else I shouldn’t have done.
Because I thought my body could still take the abuse I handed it in my 20s and wanted to fast track my fitness. I went sprinting back to the dirt trail that snapped the bone in my left foot a year earlier…only to snap the very same bone in my right foot.
Same spot. Same trail!
And, this time, it was much worse. Instead of a fracture that required a month in an aircast, this was a clean break, which meant a month on crutches followed by a month in an aircast.
FYI – I asked my orthopedist why I broke two bones in two feet two years in a row and he said, “dunno.” But, I’m pretty convinced, along with my bad decisions, blogging had A LOT to do with it. I’ll go into how a little later, back to the story…
Anyone ever been on crutches for a month?
Wow, does that destroy your body, with the exception of a newly acquired set of Popeye triceps. My entire right leg was left to atrophy and, while the bone has now healed, the impact of unweighting the muscles and connective tissue in my right foot for a month has been nasty. Really nasty. I’m in a lot of pain and being told to “work through it” for at least another 3-5 months until the soft-tissue inflammation dies down and everything “repatterns.”
So, once again, I figure, I’m left in the position of months of a near sedentary, non-weight bearing lifestyle…
Except, that’s complete and utter excuse-driven bullshit.
I will not allow a repeat performance. I’ve lived and breathed the right thing to do for far too many years to do the wrong thing one more time. I’m human, yes. But, I’m not willing to suffer and blame circumstances any longer. Even if it seems like every form of movement I adore has been, at least temporarily, stripped away from me.
And, this time, I refuse to repeat the bad decisions I made last time.
That’s why two weeks into being on crutches, I began to go to the gym to do what I could to maintain strength in whatever muscles I could isolate and exercise without screwing with my right leg. I also visualized the muscles on the now-unweighted side of my body exercising. Psychologically, this created a shift that made me feel more in control of the process.
Plus, I knew that, through an odd quirk of neuromuscular wizardry, our bodies actually experience something called sympathetic strengthening. Meaning, when you exercise one side of your body, the same neurological pathways are stimulated on the other side of the body, often leading to small, but measurable gains in strength on the inactive side. Also, when you visualize a muscle exercising, without doing any work, that muscle will get stronger.
More recently, with the crutches gone and the aircast off, I’ve begun to add in gentle weight-bearing cardio, along with upper body calisthenics and a bit more yoga. I even tried mountain biking again, my first time in years, on a very gentle trail.
Thing is, I love moving my body…
When I’m not addled with injuries, I love rock climbing, mountain biking, pretty much anything outside, interactive or mind-engaging and everchanging. But, even though I’ve been a health and fitness entrepreneur for more than a decade…I don’t love gyms. Because all too often they’re built around space maximizing, repetition-driven exercise, especially the “cardio” options that do nothing to engage your mind. This kept me from moving my body the first time around and, truth is, it keeps millions from joining gyms, too.
While I don’t enjoy the “machines,” though, I do enjoy being lean, fit, healthy and pain-free.
And, as I’ve learned, until everything is back in balance, I need a more controlled environment in which to move and repair my body and health. So, I’ll continue to deal with it until I am healthy enough to transition back into the movement style that makes me come alive. Once I’ve laid that foundation, I’ll be returning to a highly modified yoga practice and slowly experimenting with new styles and approaches to movement as I go, like Tai Chi, Pilates, Feldenkreis and more.
Knowing and accepting that this phase is both necessary and part of an evolution has allowed me to make peace with the process and find at least enough self-forgiveness to deal with my body “as it is” right now, rather than as “I wished it were.” And, I promise to share my exploration of movement with you here.
Now, on to my wild claim about blogging being a direct cause of my physical demise…
Okay, so I guess I can’t actually blame blogging, but my choices and the choices that millions of others make about “how” they blog do play a critical role in rapid physical decay. Because, without intervention, blogging tends to unfold very easily in a setting and style that is flat out disastrous to most peoples’ health.
Elements of a health-sapping blogging life include:
- Indoor settings devoid of natural light, leading to skeletal and emotion problems,
- Lack of movement, leading to loss of strength, flexibility, postural dysfunction, weight gain and pain,
- Lousy nutrition, leading to weight gain and health collapse,
- Terrible ergonomics leading to postural imbalances and chronic pain,
- Little attention to mindset, leading to strain, stress, sleep problems, and
- Long hours that don’t allow for optimal brain function or recovery
Does it have to be that way? Of course not, but for so many of us, without deliberate action to build your blogging lifestyle around a bigger wellness driven pattern, the autopilot tendencies toward life-stifling patterns becomes pretty pervasive.
So, each week, in addition to checking in on my journey, my Monday posts will touch on each of these areas.
Let’s get started with the first one today…Pasty-White Blogger Syndrome (a/k/a Who Stole My Vitamin D?)
Most bloggers spend a serious chunk of time indoors. Proof of this comes in the near-ubiquitous presence of most bloggers I know on twitter and IM all day…and the astonishing volume of pasty whiteness I see at SXSW and Blogworld Expo every year.
Problem is, your body needs exposure to sunlight to manufacture Vitamin D, which is critical to keeping your bones densely packed and, increasingly, research is showing it may also play a huge role in remaining pain-free and preventing a variety of illnesses, including various forms of cancer.
Doctors don’t routinely test for Vitamin D deficiency, but a year and a half ago, I had mine tested and I was massively deficient. My doc said, because of how “indoor” we’ve become, at any given time 50-60% of New Yorkers share the same depleted state. And my guess is that number is even higher among my cohort of cave-dwelling bloggers, writers and social media heavy users. This is further compounded by the fact that, in an effort to prevent skin cancer, many people now wear sun block or moisturizer with sun block whenever they venture outside.
So, when I snapped two bones in two feet in less than two years…while blogging and writing heavily and being indoors far more than ever before, my eyebrows raised in a big way. And, my orthopedist later confirmed there is now serious research going on in this area.
What’s my solution? Two things. One, eat better and supplement. And, two, get outside more.
In fact, over the next month, I’ll be experimenting with ways to leverage technology to move a serious chunk of my workflow outdoors. As an example, I’ll be attempting to speak my posts into a voice recorder, while walking or exercising outside and then either loading them into voice recognition software or sending them off to a virtual assistant to clean up and post on my blogs. I don’t know if it’ll work, but it should be a fun adventure. And, if it does, it will make a huge different in both the way I work and the way I live each day.
Now, this post is getting pretty long, so I am going to circle back around.
Not because I’m done, we’ve got waaay more to talk about.
But that’ll happen over the next handful of Mondays. So, every Monday, as I mount my comeback, I’ll share what I’ve discovered with you. I’ll be touching on the 3 M’s as I go—movement, mindset and munchies, too.
Next week, in Part 2 of this series, I’ll do a bit of exercise mythbusting, too.
So, be sure to tune in, share in the journey and, if you’re inclined join with me to reclaim your own body and state of health.
As always, just thinking and sharing, let’s continue the convo in the comments below…
Join our Email List for Weekly Updates
And join this amazing community of makers and doers. You know you wanna...