Updated on August 23, 2017
Some people see New Years resolutions as more of a symbolic thing than a true chance for a new beginning. Me, I’ve always taken New Years seriously—it’s one of my favorite holidays, precisely because I love the idea of new beginnings.
Last year, Katy Bowman and Dani Hemmat talked about creating New Years resolutions for your health, and I loved that idea. So this year, I’m trying to create some goals for myself, to keep pushing forward.
But my goals seem to be uncommon. Sure, millions of people will say that their health goal for this year is to “lose weight,” but when it comes to matters of pain and chronic health issues, how few people promise themselves that they’re going to pursue something different this year, and begin to take back their health?
A few weeks ago, I was talking with my hair stylist while she was cutting my hair, and she confided in me that she was in a lot of pain. Her back was killing her, and despite frequent sessions with a chiropractor and a physical therapist, nothing seemed to be helping. I told her about the Egoscue Method, and how much it had helped me and thousands of other people with chronic pain, and encouraged her to investigate it.
But I quickly ran into the same old tired excuses I hear almost every time I try to tell people about the Egoscue Method. The fact is, these excuses are what stop many of us, especially those of us suffering from chronic pain, (I’m looking at you, scoliosis) from even thinking or dreaming of a better reality for ourselves, one that isn’t dominated by pain and dysfunction.
I’m going to break down her excuses, one by one. See if any of these sound like things you’ve told yourself, and consider how you can stop making these excuses in your health goals for this year.
#1: “I was just born with a genetically [shorter leg/straight neck/freakishly long torso/tight hips/bad knees/etc.].”
I love my stylist, but I sort of wanted to shake her at this moment. Like, girl, for real? I have a genetic abnormality that makes my spine curve in two different places, and twist, but you’re not hearing me say that improved health and pain levels are impossible!
I know, I know. Your doctor diagnosed you with a genetically [dysfunctional something-or-other] when you were a fetus, or whatever. Far be it from me to dispute—over the internet—what a licensed healthcare professional told your momma a long time ago. But don’t let that hold you back from considering the pursuit of better health. I didn’t, and it’s made all the difference.
#2: “It’s just because I’m getting old.”
If you listen closely, you can actually hear me rolling my eyes through your screen.
I refuse to subscribe to the idea that our bodies are not meant to last long, and work well, far into old age. With proper care, frequent and diverse movement, good nutrition, close community ties, and good sleep, I think our bodies can function well for quite some time. My stylist can’t be older than 32 years old. Surely, surely, our bodies evolved to sustain us for longer than 32 years of life on this rock, at least movement-wise?
And finally, the biggest thing I see holding people, including my stylist, back from pursuing their health goals:
#3: Your pain is part of your identity
Obviously, my stylist didn’t outright say, “My pain is part of my identity as a person,” but it seems so common that she might as well have said it.
I understand, not everyone wants to try the Egoscue Method for their pain healing and/or management, so that could be the cause of the pushback I feel sometimes when I try to encourage people to check it out. But other times, when talking with some people, there hits a point when I realize that nothing I’m saying sounds like a viable option for them. Every idea, every suggestion, every bit of encouragement, is shot down, deconstructed, waved off, or “exposed” to actually be a terrible idea, almost with a masochistic pleasure.
It’s in those moments when I step back and realize, “This person, for whatever reason, likes their pain, and despite their complaints, they have no desire to get rid of it, or even diminish it. It’s part of their identity, and nothing I say can change that.”
Is this you? Do you find yourself finding a million excuses for why even seemingly good ideas just won’t be enough for you and your special snowflake pain problems? You really, truly might have some impossible issues, but for some of us (like my stylist, and me), we do have options to explore and consider, even when we have something as difficult and inexplicable as scoliosis to overcome.
For your 2017 health goals, ask yourself: “What would life look like if I felt even just 30% better by the end of this year?”
You don’t have to completely overcome your curvatures and twists—I’ve been working on mine for years, and I still haven’t cured my scoliosis. And I likely never will, which is a reality I’m fine with, because I’m at least 30% better than where I started.
Really, if I were to assign a percentage to it, I’d say I’m 65% better (60% seemed too low, 70% seemed too high) than when I started my Egoscue therapy, almost seven years ago. What does a 65% improvement look like for me?
- No more constant stabbing, cramping pain in my lower left side of my back that made it difficult to breathe (or be touched there)
- My shoulders are level
- My hips are level
- My knees no longer hurt from my femurs being twisted (due to my hips being out of whack because of the scoliosis)
- My ribcage sticks out probably 50% less
- I can now do a full sit-up
- I can now almost do a full, “a**-to-grass” squat
- I can travel for more than 5 hours in a car or airplane and not be a teary, pain-wracked mess by the time I arrive at my destination
What does a 35% deficit look like, though?
- Sometimes my ribcage still twists quite badly, making it harder to breathe fully
- My spine still pinches my nerves in places. It’s significantly better than it was, but hey, it still happens
- My right shoulder still needs daily work to keep it aligned and in place with my other shoulder, and not rounded forward
- I still can’t do a full, total squat, which is a health marker for me
- My spine is still curvy and twisted, of course!
It’s easy to look at that 35% deficit and get discouraged. I’m not 100%! What’s the point of all this? But reread that 65% part again.
What if this was you?
What if you were able to say those things about yourself? (Or whatever things you dream about that are of, let’s say, equal value.) What would your life look like? Would it be worth it to you?
It’s absolutely been worth it to me to be 65% better than when I started. I would likely be in a wheelchair by now, unable to walk due to the pain caused by the scoliosis in my back and in my knees, struggling to breathe, and deeply depressed. Don’t let the fact that you’ll never be 100% cured stop you from striving to become even 30% better this year.
Stop making excuses. Perfection, fear, and misplaced identity markers are the enemy. What can you do, today, to become even 30% better by the end of this year?