Did you know that “eliminate tolerations” is a huge tip among life coaches and other advice gurus for better managing life and stress and for goal achievement? If you don’t believe me, just GTS (Google That Sh!t), or see what I mean here, here, or here.
So what is a toleration? Pretty much what it sounds like: something that you put up with that gets in your way and eats up your time and energy. It may be losing your keys all the time because you haven’t created a routine place to put them. It could be any number of things taking up space in your head that you’re not dealing with – an appointment you need to make but have been putting off, a household project needing to be done, or a messy desk.
For years, one of my tolerations was “no time to exercise.” I finally woke up to the fact that I did have time to exercise, it was merely unappealing time. Specifically, I could make time early in the morning. Like o’dark hundred early in the morning, and this girl likes her sleep. But I faced it and eliminated the toleration of not exercising, and my life is way better for it.
One of my current tolerations is diastasis recti, or separation of my abdominal muscles. Among other causes, it often results from pregnancy, particularly in women who’ve had more than one child – I believe the 9+ pound second one is what really did me in. It’s a toleration because I didn’t do anything to fix it for years. About a year ago, I learned how to correct it using the Tupler Technique, the only proven, non-surgical way to close the separation. I just haven’t been doing it.
It’s a toleration because it limits what I can do physically. You have to have a strong core to do just about anything else. Plus, I’m supposed to all-out avoid certain activities because it can worsen the condition. For example, yoga is something I can’treally practice right now because I need to avoid positions where my organs would weigh on my belly (e.g., planks), as well as extreme twisting positions (e.g., anything Warrior-like). Sit-ups and crunches aren’t to be done because, although they would strengthen my abs, they wouldn’t help close the gap. They actually tend to make the condition worse by making the muscles more ‘stuck’ in their current, separated place.
If that’s not enough, it sort of interferes with my running. (There’s a reason that those pro runners aren’t just lean but have washboard abs!) When I first started running, I needed to have water with me, even though I was running but minutes at a time. I was SO out of shape that I needed the hydration – and the feel of something cold slipping down my wind-sucking throat. So I’ve worn a belt with water bottles from the get-go. I can now complete my average run without water, yet I still have to wear my belt or I’m uncomfortable. The belt actually helps me hold in my weak middle. It’s basically a crutch that I need to wear in order to run without feeling like my belly’s going to split in two and my guts are going to fall out. A bit dramatic, I know, but I really do get the sensation that everything in my middle is falling forward.
So in this time of “rest” from running, I have decided to regroup on several fronts and re-attack this problem by beginning the Tupler program again. It only takes a few minutes three times a day to do the exercises, which initially consist of simply sitting up straight in a chair and squeezing the abs in for various counts. But I hate it. I hate it because it looks like I’m doing not-much-of-anything, yet it’s harder than it looks to do the exercises while holding the proper posture. (Don’t even get me started on the elastic and velcro “splint” that I need to wear.) The bigger obstacle, though, is that I hate it because it reminds me of this weakness that I have. It forces me to face on of the “broken” parts of me.
Oh, and this just hit me! Yet another reason to eliminate this toleration is that I want to be able to quit talking about it. I’m tired of explaining myself when someone invites me to go to yoga with them, or asks why I’m doing something else during fitness class when everyone else is doing crunches. It’s annoying and – you guessed it – forces me to face it, time and time again. Plus, since most people have never heard of the condition, it probably makes me sound like I’m making it up or that I’m making too big a deal of something.
So first up, I am reframing the way I think about it and how it makes me feel. Instead of thinking that I’m broken or somehow damaged, I’m simply going to focus on the fact that “I am healing.” (Sending many mental thanks to my friend Christine for this one!)
Plus, I’m going to quit being such a perfectionist about it. I’m supposed to do several sets of 100 of the ab squeezes, three times a day. I’ve always felt like I needed to stop everything and sit and count those out. Instead I’m going to do them while seated (probably right here at my desk) and doing something else. Instead of counting them out, I’m going to set a timer or just keep an eye on a clock. (Each set takes 2-3 minutes.)
I took pictures of my belly today. I won’t lie to you. They’re absolutely, WTF-is-that? terrifying. I’m considering posting them with ‘after’ pictures when I get to after. Who thinks I have the nerve? (Who thinks I’ll get to ‘after’?!)
Does anyone else have any fitness-related tolerations they need to eliminate?