"I can't do it."
No word in the sentence has more than 4 letters, but those 4 short words have stopped us from trying and doing so many things throughout our lives. Just the thought of the sentence causes us to lose some momentum when we are trying to decide whether to attempt something. It excuses any attempt to try because we have already shut down the idea that there is a possibility of success. I wonder how many thousands of times I have uttered those 4 little words, shutting out the possibility of trying something new, of pushing my limits. When "I can't do it" is followed up by "It's too hard," then the impossibility is really nailed in.
I still find "I can't do it" occasionally floating through my brain. Instead, I try to say, "I am open to it. I will try my best." I have decided that I would rather show up and risk making an ass of myself than to relegate myself to the realm of "can't." Nothing is too hard. It may be damn hard, but not impossible. When I started losing weight 2 years ago, I fully acknowledged that it would be very difficult. Furthermore, I learned to embrace the difficulty, learn from the mistakes, allowing new doors to open with botched attempts.
The "I can't do it"s started up again when I started Jiu Jitsu. Watching the guys fly across the mat, toss each other around, torque their bodies in seemingly impossible ways, I almost didn't want to try it. When I expressed hesitation, my good gym pal Nick assured me that I could just do what I could and that eventually I would be able to do the moves. I still didn't totally believe him, but started Jiu Jitsu anyways, feeling awkward for months. The concepts of Jiu Jitsu are finally starting to sink in, about 9 months after starting. I felt more confident during August than I have since starting Jiu Jitsu. All of a sudden, moves that seemed physically impossible are coming together. I finally have enough strength and flexibility to pull off more moves.
A couple of weeks ago, my coach Nate grinned as I launched myself, rolling backwards across the mat doing back rolls. "See, and you thought you couldn't do those." We were working on a technique another day that required a lot of flexibility, but I was able to do it. "Remember when you thought you couldn't do that?" The next day, we practiced a technique where you throw your legs overhead, grab the opponent with your legs, and spin around. Had you asked me last year, I would have shook my head and said, "No way will I ever be able to do that."
Damn right, I did it.
I try to limit the fear-based "I can't do it" from going through my brain, and remember that I have accomplished seemingly impossible feats. Don't get me wrong, we all have limits, but they cannot be uncovered unless we say, "I'll give it a shot."
I am actually more fit now than when I was thinner and doing triathlons. I overdid the wrong kinds of exercise before, exacerbated my arthritis, and was always in pain. I was also incredibly inflexible. Now, I am not at all saying that triathlon training is bad, but endurance event training did not suit my body. Martial arts training, as rough as it can be and with how long a training session may last (sometimes 2-3 hours), I am more fit now and in less pain than ever before. I am also the most flexible I have been in my entire life. So, despite the fact that I have not lost a lot of weight since starting Jiu Jitsu about 9 months ago, the fitness gains have been incredible.
When I was in school studying kinesiology, I proposed that the benefits of regular physical activity outweigh the benefits of weight loss. However, if one is truly consistent with exercise, the body composition cannot help but change. This usually means that someone who is overweight will lose weight. Well, this has certainly been the case with me. Sometimes there doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason when I lose weight. Basically, I try to eat reasonably, and more importantly, eat ENOUGH to support martial arts training. My exercise routine doesn't have anything to do with weight loss, I just lead a lifestyle that is focused on martial arts. I train about as intensely as the pro fighters at my gym, so it is not unusual for me to train 2-3 hours a day 5 days a week.
I had no net weight loss in August, but did lose a few inches. My upper body is starting to look pretty defined and my shoulders and neck are actually rock hard. That is not terribly surprising, since I work my neck and shoulders intensely when defending in Jiu Jitsu. During August, I was consistent with strength training for the first time in a while. I have also started doing more cardio workouts, such as Turbo Jam. I will continue with this routine, switching up my workouts as needed.
I am not setting a weight loss goal for September. Actually, I don't think I will set specific weight loss goals any more. My body seems to know what it's doing, so I will let it do it's thing and I will lose the weight eventually. In the meantime, I will keep doing all of the things I can't do.
So what is it that you can't do? Figure it out, then do it.