Greg Hayes writes a fitness blog about fitting fitness into busy lives. You can read more of his thoughts at Live Fit Blog, where he ruminates about fitness, parenting, and being mauled by little boys.
Several years ago now, I determined I’d had enough of living an unhealthy lifestyle, and decided it was time to get right with fitness. It was both an epiphany, and a disappointment to me, when I looked in the mirror and discovered the person looking back at me wasn’t the man I remembered. Changing was hard, and it’s a battle I continue to fight. But it’s one worth fighting, not only for myself, but for those I love. I know this, because shortly after I started this journey, my wife decided to come along for the ride.
I took up the mantle of fitness in the form of running, while she followed the path of yoga, and we both found success in our journey, proving that with the right support, there’s no “best” way to get in shape. Over the last few years, we’ve both changed our routines, with me moving in the direction of triathlons, then strength training, and her migrating toward cardio-dance and group strength. Being a stay-at-home Mom, she decided to build on her new found skills, and earned her certification to teach fitness classes. Much as I define myself as a father, husband, and chemist, she came to define herself not only as a mother and wife, but also as a fitness instructor. But of course, all things change.
Recently, she diagnosed with a degenerative disc condition in the lumbar portion of her spine, which means many of her former fitness classes are forbidden. Naturally, the doctors have counseled keeping fit and staying active, yet the activities she enjoys most are now off limits. Even yoga, which rescued her from a plague of migraines and back pain that was the legacy of an old motorcycle wreck, may be unwise. And at not-yet 40 years of age, she’s searching for answers. We both are.
I watched my first running partner struggle with a similar problem. A lifelong runner, at 55-years of age, he was diagnosed with spondylolisthesis, and told if he continued running, he wouldn’t walk in 5-years. Running was part of his identity. It was part of who he was. Although it devastated him, he quit. He suffered from depression for nearly a year, before finding that swimming and cycling could help fill that void.
Fitness has become an integral part of our lifestyle. We strive to work it into our daily routines, not as a bludgeon, but as entertainment, much as we did as kids. We treasure the time spent hiking, walking, talking, jogging, and other activities, both together and with our children. We expect this diagnosis will restrict some of those activities, but we’re not yet certain exactly what those changes will entail.
Life has a way of tossing out the most unexpected of hurdles. We have faced them together. First with my torn ACL, then with our youngest child’s epilepsy, and now with my wife’s new diagnosis. Could it be worse? Absolutely. But they are our challenges, and no less important for it. So we stand together, and in that we find strength. We prevail. But I sometimes wonder how we would manage without that shared strength. Would we? Perhaps. But it sure make me appreciate my loved ones.