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The Week (and Month) in Review: I can't do it.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

"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.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Love it. So many people are afraid to move past "can't". And look at you, you're doing it! I had a private lesson teacher who told me to put "I can't do it" out of my vocabulary. She said NEVER use that phrase again. And I really think that I have tried to remember that in all I do. You CAN do anything if you work hard enough at it. Best advice I ever got. You gotta believe in the process, and that by following the advice of your trainers and by problem-solving, you will be able to do all those moves that you want to do. All in time.
    1748 days ago
    1750 days ago
    Now I'm not going to be able to stop thinking about what I can't do...
    1751 days ago
  • PAMELA6289
    Another great post!

    I love what you said and it was a great reminder not to set limits on myself. It is alarming how much I tell myself I can't without realizing it.

    I love your attitude about continuing to do the right things for your body and being confident that the weight loss will follow. Luv that! Sometimes it can get so frustrating, especially if you're a numbers person like I am. The thought of just relaxing and controlling and tracking my intake and exercise and letting the weight do what it will is a great idea.
    1752 days ago
    Excellent post!
    1752 days ago
  • KATYDID412
    Thanks for posting this blog. I'm glad I read it. I'm feeling very negative about myself right now but need to find the "something" that'll help me keep on going. Thanks for the motivation ... hoping to put it to use this week.
    1753 days ago
    Great blog and so true. I need to keep your words in mind every time I catch myself thinking "I can't". Keep up the great attitude and the great blogs!!!

    1753 days ago
    Great blog and so true. I need to keep your words in mind every time I catch myself thinking "I can't". Keep up the great attitude and the great blogs!!!

    1753 days ago
    My father was different. He never allowed me to say the word "can't". If I did he would prove to me that I could. I eventually learned to always do my best because he expected it of me and by doing my best I didn't have to ever feel guilty or apologize. It appears that you have reached that point as well. It's a good place to be.
    1753 days ago
    Very well written and a pleasure to read. September will be great!
    1753 days ago
    love it!! I've been done with weight loss goals for about a month, and it is so great. I track my food, exercise, and enjoy myself emoticon
    1753 days ago
  • APED7969
    i think i might take a page out of your book and stop setting weight loss goals for a bit. Clearly marathon training and increased lifting are changing my body composition and I need to just let that happen. I am so happy you've found something you love with martial arts. Endurance events are definitely not for everyone. Learning to say I'll give it a try opens up so many doors in life, not all of them will go to rooms you want to stay in but you wouldn't know that without trying.
    1753 days ago
    1753 days ago
    Beautiful blog! These two points from it are ones I want to spread everywhere to everyone:

    1) Don't get me wrong, we all have limits, but they cannot be uncovered unless we say, "I'll give it a shot."

    2) However, if one is truly consistent with exercise, the body composition cannot help but change.
    1753 days ago
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