So, as many of you know from my first blog, Stills and Alreadys, I had shoulder surgery a while back. Whilst I spent my fair share of time feeling sorry for myself, moping, and generally sitting in the rubble, I’m not one for staying down when I hit the canvas, so I started to problem solve. Following the (good) advice I would give a client, I began to look at what I could do in favor of what I couldn’t.
Running was out as my arms moved too much, so walking it was. Walking and physiotherapy exercises…lots and lots and lots of physiotherapy exercises. Walking most days was not the sort of intensity I am used to, so again, I had to take my own advice, go slloowwwwwwww, and have faith in the process. But, as happens, when you walk a lot, you get pretty walking fit (in fact many of my clients walk more than me and although they are often older and heavier, they walk faster than I do – although I think this also has something to do with the fact that I like to stroll 😉 ). So, as we do when we get fitter, we look for more…
So I bought a weights vest, filled it up with weights. And went for a walk.
While this was to improve my physical health, it really became an exercise in understanding, or maybe it was more like a crash course. In my first walk when I left the building and had to cross the road, I was in one of those “the bus is far enough away, I’ll just jay walk” type scenarios (don’t pretend you haven’t had that thought!). Easy, right? Wrong. I had to really hop to it to avoid becoming jam! Wow – OK, Glenn, just remember, you’re 20 kilos heavier now. That’s OK, though, I’m fairly fit, and I’ve been walking heaps, so my legs can handle….TWWAAANNNNNNGGG…what was that!?! The stairs that I normally float down had, somehow come closer together, or further apart, pulled something in the back of my knee. Lucky, my evil physio had taught my how to trigger point massage myself, and it let go completely, and after the running repair we were off again. Ok, this is not so bad, the river is lovely, I’m in a nice rhythm, checking out the scenery…YIKES…bee! Previously, I imagined after, seeing the bee would have been communing with nature, taking it in as I moved forward, but this bee must have been the ghost of some angry ex-girlfriend, it was going after me, and with all of this weight on, I wasn’t so agile. I had to Cliff Young Shuffle away from the bee and thanked the gods that at least no one was there to witness the embarrassment. I had added some step ups and jump squats on park benches into my walk for when I rounded the half-way mark. I’m not going to lie to you, they were fairly hard anyway, but the extra weight around my torso turned them from challenging to dangerous – the ground had become a sledgehammer every time it came up to meet my feet, and I wondered exactly how high a heart rate could go before a local walker would have to try their hand as CPR. Where previously I would have felt “stuffed”, I actually felt scared – this is what it feels like when my clients tell me they fear exercise, and I thanked goodness that I didn’t have a Commando style PT yelling at me that I could do it, and could stop the madness myself. Ok, so I’m OK now, sort of. I noticed a couple of fit girls passing me, and the judgment in their eyes that said “that jerk is wearing a weights vest” and thought to myself there was a fair chance that if I was actually twenty kilos heavier the judgment may have been different, probably even worse. But I was on the way home now…home…normally less than 10 minutes walk, but sure to be 15 or more now…and somehow the normally nice warm sun had turned the Teneriffe boardwalk into the Sahara. I’ll just take this…wait…I can’t drop the weight right now. It’s not a dumbbell I can just put back on the rack…I actually have to walk myself home…and this is only a quarter of an hour, Imagine if I had to carry this for a day, a week, a lifetime…On the way back across the road, I let the cars pass and waited until road was clear and I was back home…and thought, I must blog about this.
I have spent well over 10,000 hours listening to, speaking with, and helping bigger people, and love to hear people surprised that I actually get them, but this exercise had helped me understand their experience on a deeper level than before, even if only for an hour. Every person in the health industry, and every partner, friend, or family member of someone who struggles with their weight should too. As a start of the conversation, share this blog with them, and for our Brisbane friends, feel free to come and borrow the weights vest from WMP HQ!
Did this experience deter me from encouraging my clients to move? No. It inspired me to help them reach their goals even more…just with an extra dose of compassion. If you are a client of mine reading this, my genuine apology if I ever said “I get it” when talking about your activity experience. I truly hope reading this contributes to helping heavier people feel more understood by those supporting them, and helps you develop a greater sense of acceptance as you move forward in a way that is right for you. 🙂