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This post is part of my 2022 Word Project. You can read what that’s about here.

Thursday, April 13, 2023

Now that I’m back in a groove I’m going through the self-flagellation phase where I ask myself why I didn’t get back into it sooner. I’m in the phase where I lament the things I didn’t do, should have done, could have done. Where I tell myself all the things I already know and point out all the reasons why I can’t ever, ever fall out of the groove again.

Like the fact that my body falls apart when I don’t take care of it, and I’m too old to rebound in five minutes anymore.

In the summer of 2019 I herniated two discs in my back. I wasn’t especially fat and out of shape, but I wasn’t in the best shape either. But it started a spiral into the worst condition I’ve ever been in.

My back has been a source of great consternation since I bent over to pick up a newspaper from the driveway over a decade ago and couldn’t get back up afterwards. I literally crawled through the garage and into the house where I lay on the floor and yelled for Ralph to help.

He managed to hoist me onto the couch and call a chiropractor. I’d tweaked my back before, but nothing like that. I couldn’t walk for days. I could only take tiny shuffle steps while I held onto Ralph’s arm for support. I think it took about four days for me to go the distance from the front door to the car, and another six to make it up the steps to the chiropractor’s office. A little old lady in the waiting room looked at me sympathetically and tsked.

Over the course of a few weeks and with near-daily trips to that office, I was pretty much back to normal. And decided it was time to get healthier.

I started walking. And lifting weights. I hired a personal trainer. My back was tamed into submission.

Then I fell out of the attic.

When I got up there and stuck my head through the hole in the ceiling, there were bees. In my face. I panicked and turned around to go down the stairs except they’re attic stairs, the ladder kind that you only descend by going backwards and holding on very tightly.

Instead I crashed to the ground.

I did not need to call Ralph for help because he came running at the sound of yelling and my bones clattering to the floor below.

Funny enough, I did not hurt my back. But I sprained my ankle and spent the next several weeks on crutches.

No walking. More pancakes.

My fitness level took a nosedive.

Things were pretty status quo for a while but then 2019 happened.

Ironically, I’d been working on getting into better shape. I was sitting on the floor stretching when my back tweaked.

But this time, it meant it. I could walk, and I could stand upright, but that was about it. Sitting on any surface in any position was painful. Lying flat was excruciating.

I couldn’t tie my own shoelaces. Or put on pants. Ralph was conscripted into shaving my legs.

I worked standing up. I ate standing up. Most of the time I slept (when I slept) standing up, leaning over onto a stack of pillows that I laid out on my dining room table. When you’re that exhausted, you’d be surprised by how easy it is to sleep under bizarre conditions.

I won’t bore you with the torturous details of chiropractors and MRIs, Prednisone and injections.

Let’s just say that it wasn’t fun. Not as much fun, say, as eating cotton candy on a carousel. Or scrubbing toilets.

I knew that the only way out of a life of misery and pain and possibly endless surgery and decline was to get stronger and lose weight so my back didn’t have to work as hard getting me from here to there.

That’s when I started doing DDP yoga in earnest. I’d tinkered around with it for a few years but never really got into it. But I knew Diamond Dallas Page (the DDP of DDP yoga) had ruptured his back wrestling, and I knew he had recovered. And I’d watched the videos of other people who had recovered from serious injuries, far worse than mine.

So I got on the mat. And for the next year, for 365 days of the year, I got on the mat. I got into the best shape I’ve ever been in. I could tie my own shoes and everything.

That lasted until about six months ago, probably around the same time that the new ice cream place opened in town, the one with the waffle cones and the salted cashew ice cream.

So here I am, six months later, repenting. I have no excuses. I have not re-injured myself. Nobody force-fed me the three Cadbury egg blondies I had for breakfast a few weeks ago.

I’m mad at myself. Being back in the groove doesn’t make me any less mad.

It’s time to get back on the mat. The groove told me so, and the groove is never wrong. The one thing that has been a game changer for me is DDP yoga. I sing its praises so much that I then have to spend at least as much time convincing people that no, I don’t work for them, and no, I am not selling it, and no, I don’t get any perks whatsoever for talking about it.

It’s been annoying me, though, that I can’t do what I could just six months ago. Warrior 3. Wheel pose. Hell, just standing on one leg without falling over and sleeping it off for the next two hours is a challenge.

So I’ve been hating on myself a little. Or a lot. Doing the whole “Why did you do this!” routine.

But today, I did the roundhouse again, the one where you stand on one leg, grab your other foot with one hand and lift it up as high as you can.

I’m not where I want to be, but I am where I am. So I have to work with it. And the word that’s helping me do it is: yoga.

Yoga is my saving grace. And DDP is the Angel of Fitness who tells you that you CAN get better and you WILL get better, and forget trying to do what everyone else does or what you used to do or what you think you should do. Do what you can. The end.

“Make it your own.”

He is the king of pep talks. It’s in that spirit that I decided to give myself some credit and be my own champion today. Therefore…

A pep talk to self.

Dear self,

You’re an idiot. You worked really hard on your health and fitness and then you blew it up. Because you seem to have a pattern of self sabotage. Are you just bored, and need the angst to entertain you? Honestly, what the f…

Bzzzhhhtttt [scratch record]

Dear self,

Good for you for getting back on the health and fitness wagon. It was touch and go there for a while but you didn’t revert all the way back to the fat cow you were and

Bzzzhhhtttt [scratch record]

Dear self,

You did a roundhouse in yoga today! Whoohoo! I know it’s been super frustrating to try day after day but not be strong enough yet. But today you did it. Your hip is going to hate you tomorrow but let’s count the victory, shall we?

Here’s the thing: sometimes you’re going to get off track in life. The trick is instead of falling off into a rut and wallowing there in the mud, to get back on the train and keep going.

Like you learned in the productivity course you just took, it’s not always good enough to have a plan. You have to have a plan for making a plan when things go awry.

Here’s the plan: get on the mat.

Don’t think about it. Don’t schedule it. Don’t wonder whether or not you can do it. Don’t even think about the roundhouse. Get. On. The mat.

The rest will take care of itself.

You got on the mat today and you complained like hell about the roundhouse but you know what? You did it – ten whole seconds of holding that sucker.

Now stop gloating and get on the mat again tomorrow.



Photo: doing what DDP calls a cannonball. It’s not quite a roundhouse, but it’ll do for now.