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Commitment and Injury

One last big commitment I have made for myself this summer is to finally start getting into shape. With the hectic schedule of work, family, and classes for my masters degree it has been easy to put it on the back burner and push it off until I’ve finished a project, or after the next holiday, or after I’ve finished exams. In reality, I know that’s not a long term solution. So I signed up for the new Crossfit gym in town and started to find ways to fit it in. With the end of the term I cleared several obligations from my schedule and thought I would be able to dedicate some real time to exercise.

Then I got injured. I’m not even really sure what exactly caused it. It’s a repetitive stress injury to the left elbow, or as the doctor said, “you strained the heck out of your tendon.” As part of the treatment, I am not allowed to do much with the arm, so that prevents me from doing any weightlifting and all but a few of the other moves at the Crossfit box. It even hurts to lift and play my trumpet. In fact, I have discovered I have a lot of tension in the left hand when I play and that might be one of the contributors to the injury in the first place.

Initially it was frustrating but the ready care doc said I’d probably be back in action after a couple of weeks. However, those went by, the pain continued, and I found myself in the doctor’s office again. This time I had a more in-depth analysis and a greater conversation about the extent of the injury and steps needed to recovery. Long story short, it will probably take a couple of months, and there is a real possibility I will need to have some of the stronger treatments, like injections, possibly even surgery if it won’t heal.

After hearing this, I was admittedly a bit depressed. Not only does this throw a huge monkey wrench into my “get in shape” plan, but it significantly interferes with some of my other commitments  as well. But after a day or two, my attitude began to shift. I’m not even really sure where the shift started to come from, but my depression and frustration started to be replaced with a more patient perspective.

I realized that this time I’m in it for the long haul. I’m not prepping for an event or trying some 30-day magic weight loss program. I’m looking for lifelong, sustainable health and fitness. I realized that in the scheme of things, this is a small matter. Something like this happened to my Crossfit coach twice, and he came back from it. I have friends who are dealing with health problems that are much more serious. There’s even a high-level Crossfit athlete who broke her neck and managed to come back from that and continue to compete.

The important thing during times like this is to keep the long game in mind and do what you can in the short term to keep moving toward your ultimate goals. So I started going back to Crossfit. I made it back to the box one time the first week, then two times last week. This week I made three. I run (way too much running). I substitute exercises I can do, like squats and sit-ups, for the ones I am not allowed to do. I even got a PR this week on my back squat. I’ve also applied the same approach to the trumpet. I’m doing some mouthpiece work, some playing with just the right hand, and focusing on not engaging my left hand when I do use it to hold the instrument. With some practice this might even correct some problems like tension and applying to much pressure in the high range.

The point is, I’m in for the long game. I’m staying positive, enjoying the opportunities I have now, while at the same time working toward something sustainable. It’s pretty much my new philosophy on life, and in the end that will take me where I want to be. 


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