There are Five (5) Stages of Change when trying to get fit and healthy. Change is a process that develops over time and does not occur in one single event. Individuals can go back and forth between stages. The first stage is called the Precontemplation Stage. The individual is not ready to make any immediate changes (that is, in the next six months). Individuals in this stage may be unaware of, or even denying, the need for a lifestyle change. They can be pessimistic that change is possible either through their efforts or through a proven method. They are likely to filter information so that they can continue to justify their unhealthy lifestyle. For example, smokers who understand the health risks but continue smoking are obvious precontemplaters. Another precontemplater is one I see often at gatherings that involve food (birthday parties, BBQs, holidays, etc.). I will often be asked by someone who has found out through casual conversation that I am a fitness trainer how can he lose his gut (while holding a plate with an overstuffed hamburger, a pile of chips, and a large side of potato salad, with a soda in the other hand). I have learned to only spend a few minutes on this topic, giving basic advice such as watching what we eat and exercising regularly. Within a few minutes, I can already tell who is in the Precontemplation Stage. He usually answers by agreeing quickly to the advice, having been told by the wife, the doctor and the best friend but assures that he will do so as soon as things get less stressful at work. In fact, I have interacted with many in this stage, in different social settings, whether in a business networking meeting, at church or at my daughter’s soccer game. You’ve met them; you may even be at this stage. How do you know? Here are some signs: no plans to join a gym, seeing or hearing information about lowering your cholesterol by eating clean but choosing not to or telling yourself you’ll start on Monday, thinking that the stroke or heart attack that happened to your neighbor won’t happen to you. If you’re in this stage, it’s time to think about what is stopping you from making lifestyle changes or what motivates you to make a change.
Dealing with Your Injuries
Stop in Your Tracks
Last summer before I turned 43, I decided to run a ½ marathon even though I didn’t necessarily enjoy cardio workouts. I diligently trained for 12 weeks. Starting at 5 minutes on the treadmill to 20, I gradually worked my way up and progressed to 9.5 miles during my long runs. However, I started feeling pain in my foot, which I later found out was plantar fasciitis. Two months before the race, I had to stop running but decided to continue cardio workouts by mountain biking. Although my stamina improved, it did not really progress my training for the 1/2 marathon since I was using different muscles.
In spite of my foot injury, I was able to run the PF Chang’s Rock and Roll ½ Marathon and finish the race.
Work Around It
After the race I started hiking more instead of running, which had less impact on my foot. I hiked a lot during the Fall, challenging different mountain peaks in Arizona. I was able to work around my injury. I got so excited that I was able to hike the Grand Canyon in May 2010 – 9 miles going down and back up in 6 hours. That was a killer but it felt great accomplishing the task.
My foot started bothering me again so I bought a road bike and started training for a race this October. But four weeks before the race, I had a bicycle accident, crashing into a stop sign. On one of my training runs downhill, I was going 20-23 miles per hour. The sun was glaring in my eyes so I was looking down and boom! hit the sign. I fell on my right side, dislocating my elbow. With road rashes on my face, shoulder, and knees, the accident hyperextended my wrist. I saw my elbow protruding out of its socket. I was shocked by the sight but quickly popped it back in place. I think it was pure adrenalin. Luckily, one of the cars passing by stopped and called 911.
Psychologically Ready to Progress
The tendency is to stop any form of exercise and/or to be more cautious when you have an injury. There were a lot of things going through my mind – I think my wrist and arm are broken; that’s the end of my career as a fitness and Pilates instructor; will my arm go back to normal? Luckily, the x-ray result showed that my arm was not broken. Resting for two days helped me to focus more on God, which helped me realize how fragile the human body is. It’s been three weeks, and I’ve been doing rehab on my arm, and thankfully, it’s getting better. I started spinning after the 2nd week with one arm, while doing rehab on the Pilates equipment and more unilateral movements and exercises, training the 75% of my body that was not injured. Last weekend, I hiked 10.2 miles, and it felt great. I finally had the courage to start riding my bike to work again. I look forward to training for next year’s race – Tour of Scottsdale 70 mile race in 2011!
Persevere and never give up on your goals
Verb: Continue in a course of action even in the face of difficulty or with little or no indication of success
When you set a goal make every effort to meet it so you won’t lose faith in yourself and in God.
Q. Does anyone have any experience dealing with injuries?
We normally associate Pilates with women. Actually, it was originally created by a man named Joseph Pilates in the 1920’s. Pilates was formerly called Contrology (“the mind controlling your body to create movement”) and was initially designed for military men as a fitness discipline before it became a favorite of dancers. We men are tight in general. We tend to prefer lifting weights which shortens and tightens our muscles. Pilates is a great neutralizer because it both strengthens and lengthens the muscles. Here we see a man over 70 years of age doing Pilates.
85% of Americans have back-related problems. My initial experience with back problems was when I was demonstrating to my students a rowing technique. I tried to impress them by making the weights heavier than I should have. It was the same weight as my body weight, pulling it in a bent over position. I started feeling nauseous, and the room starting turning black.
My next experience was doing squats that were twice my body weight. Many years down the road I found out that my disc in my back slipped, causing pain while I was in certain positions. I was diagnosed to have Spondylolisthesis. I found Pilates as my exercise of choice for my back care. I’ve been a personal trainer for 22 yrs. Pilates is a whole new paradigm shift for me. I have now been practicing Pilates for 3 years and am a certified Stott Pilates Instructor. I want to share the benefits of Pilates, especially to men who would benefit the most from this type of training.
I remember growing up being told by my grandmother to sit up straight while sitting at the dining table. I didn’t understand why until now the importance of keeping your spine in a neutral position. Structures like buildings and bridges are carefully engineered to prevent collapse and support structural integrity. In the same way, our muscles in our bodies are complex pulleys that push and pull on our bones. Gravity’s constantly putting pressure on our bodies. The key is finding out the ideal balance that will have the most economical effort on our body and avoid strain. I find that Pilates is the best way to balance the body’s muscles. The exercises both lengthen and strengthen the muscles.