When a “fact” is just an excuse in disguise

Tell me if this has ever happened to you…

I had a bit of an “a-ha” moment today as I realized that something I was accepting as “fact” was just an excuse in disguise. Let me tell you about it.

Last summer I joined a new gym and as much as I enjoyed working out in a new fancy place, my fatigue was really getting to me.  Ten minutes into a workout and I was done.  I was diagnosed with celiac disease in August and immediately went gluten-free.  By September, I was finally getting my energy back and couldn’t wait to push myself physically.  I set a goal to do an Urbanathlon race in November and started training.  Although I had the energy, my body started showing signs of breaking down.  I knew that my hips were off, but I was still able to run and do circuit training.  My left hip and quad were getting more painful by the day, but I pretty much ignored the pain and added in some extra stretching after my workouts.  One day, I did a side lunge at the gym and felt a searing pain go up my inner thigh into my groin.  It hurt SO badly, but that’s not really a spot that you can grab in the middle of a crowded gym without getting some stares.  I limped back to the locker room.
are you making excuses?

I’m a big believer in chiropratic medicine, but only if you have a good chiropractor.  I’m pretty picky, especially after having an amazing one in Tucson for a few years (if you live in the area, go see Ira Gluck and tell him I sent you!).  I found one in Phoenix that came highly recommended, so I took myself and my injured hip/groin for a visit.  As we started to work through my kinks, it became very apparent that more than 20 years of poor posture mixed with competitive athletics and two c-sections had kind of wrecked my body.  Healing would take more than a couple of visits.

One morning soon after my first visit, I woke up and I could hardly move.  Apparently fixing one part of my body threw the rest of it into a tizzy.  I couldn’t twist at all, so backing the car out of the driveway was a bit unsafe.  Drawing in a deep breath was a challenge.  I definitely couldn’t exercise.  Four months and lots of therapy later, I can finally twist and turn and breathe in and out just fine.  I am standing up taller, my shoulders and head are closer to where they should be, and I have been given the green light to exercise.

But exercise comes with limitations.  I’m not allowed to run or do any kind of plyometrics because the original injury in my hip has caused a lot of weakness and pain that needs to be strengthened and stretched.  Cardio-wise, I am basically stuck with the elliptical machine.

Dang it!  I hate the elliptical machine!  I want to be running outside in our beautiful Arizona winter weather.

As much as I have tried to adopt the mentality of “I will do what I can do, and give it all I’ve got,” I was still convinced that I couldn’t get that good aerobic, heart-pounding, sweat-inducing workout on the elliptical.  I even told people that.  I might have even told you, “I can’t get a good enough cardio workout on the elliptical.  It’s just not possible.”

I guess I was complaining.

Today I went to the gym and got on the dreaded machine.  Every time a new song came on my iPod, I would switch pedaling forwards or backwards and changed the incline and resistance.  At one point, the resistance was too much to not use my arms, so I started swinging my arms instead of holding onto the bars.  You know what?  It was tough!  I was sweating and breathing hard…I wanted to quit!  That’s how I knew I had finally figured out how to get a good workout on the elliptical.  I had to push through the pain and tell myself not to give up.

In the end, I guess I was just whining.  What I had resigned to as “fact” was just an excuse in disguise.


Are there any “facts” in your life that might be an excuse in disguise?


***Update: after writing this post, I went to the chiropractor who told me to lay off the elliptical (it is inflaming my psoas) and try the bike for the rest of the week.  The bike?!  I can’t get a good enough cardio workout on the bike!!!

JUST KIDDING! I am going to have a great time on the bike!

  • Lexie @ This Aussie Eats January 31, 2012 at 8:14 am

    Oh i LOVE this post! I have never been a fan of the elliptical for the same reason, i just didn’t think it gave me a good enough workout. After avoiding it for months (if not years) last Sunday I decided to get on for 10 mins after I had finished my regular workout for somewhat of a cool down. I thought “10 mins? I can handle that” Wholly moly was I surprised at how puffed and out of breath it made me!! It was anything but a cool down!

    I’ll have to check in with my excuses in the future 🙂

  • Matt January 31, 2012 at 9:43 am

    Great post, Alysa! I crank up the resistance and get after it on the elliptical…and always leave drenched and feeling great about my workout. I’ve started to try reversing the motion recently…not easy! Great idea about switching from song to song! Best wishes with the bike!

  • malisa trimble January 31, 2012 at 10:09 am

    Woman I feel your pain! 2 c sections, backsurgery, and recently put on gluetin free diet :). I am learning to cycle to save the parts thY still work on me and it really is a great workout. I prefer to cycle outdoors tho so I can enjoy the weather and scenery. Definately worth the investment for an entry level road bike.

  • Cindy January 31, 2012 at 2:19 pm

    I love it–your post is right on! I have been in physical therapy for months for foot surgery and now IT band sydrome. I can’t win. The doctor and therapist both told me to stop running on pavement and if I need to run, only run on the treadmill for no more than 15 minutes. The rest of the cardio needed to be done on the elipitical, bike or swimming. The bike hurts my IT band, so I’ve stopped that completely. And I now have the same thoughts you have had, but mine is about swimming. Really, how can I get a good workout in the pool? Excuses. I guess I maybe trying sooner than I’d like if these issues don’t work themselves out soon.

  • Miranda @ Biting Life January 31, 2012 at 9:57 pm

    Wow – this post definitely hit home for me! When I was diagnosed with Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome, I got so used to being sedentary that I couldn’t make myself start working out again. I was worried that it was going to be “too much” for me, but I think that was just an excuse. This whole month I’ve really been working hard and exercising about 5x per week and I feel awesome! I’m glad that my “fact” turned into an “excuse” because now even though I’m limited in some ways at the gym I can still pump out an awesome workout and feel proud of myself & healthy at the same time.