I have bad knees, at least I did. That’s why I didn’t run. I also had a bad back, which is why I didn’t lift weights. OK, maybe the bad back was more for the pain pills, but either way, it was a crappy excuse. I could tell people that I had bad knees from playing football… in high school… until I was seventeen. I thought it was a good excuse and maybe even made me sound cool. You know, maybe I could have people believe that I was some sort of gridiron god who sacrificed the use of his lower body for the glory of the game. There are a lot of us who want this, and cling tightly to it. We all have “bad knees”. Either way, my excuses are garbage.
You know who has “bad knees”? Larry Csonka. Martina Navratilova. Jim Brown has “bad knees”. Kirk Gibson has “bad knees”. Those are people who can use the term “bad knees” as if it is a legitimate medical diagnosis. I will let them slide. They have “bad knees” because it would take a month for them to rattle off all of the legitimate medical problems which they have been diagnosed.
Yours truly? Well, his diagnosis is more along the lines of overall laziness, denial, delusion, and unwillingness to sacrifice some discomfort in order to become a little more physically fit in an effort to enhance the quality of his life.
The reality is that I truly believed myself to have bad knees and a bad back. Society reinforced this by accepting such lameness. People are more than willing to shake their head and give you a sympathetic pat on the back. Sure, my knees were sore after years of playing a contact sport, but that was not an excuse to not use them again for the rest of my life. Lots of people play contact sports, who suffer far worse injuries than I ever did… they just choose not to dwell on them for the next couple of decades.
Yes, it hurts when I run.
Would you like to know why?
Because physical activity is uncomfortable, and progress requires discomfort.
Yes, my back hurts when I squat, or deadlift.
Would you like to know why?
Because I have mobility issues in my hips, and I am unwilling to take the time to do the proper stretches and mobility work required to correct the issue. Stretching is not sexy, and I want to spend my time doing the grunting, meathead movements that appeal to me. But, to say that any part of my body is “bad”, without having, at the very least, a long string of hard to pronounce words with a Latin origin, is an excuse, not a reason.
I hear this so often. We all do. We all know a dozen people with a “bad back” or “bad knees”, but we know far less with a clinical diagnosis, prognosis, and physical therapy plan to help correct the issue. We have become so accustomed to surrender. We just accept these physical limitations as truth, and prepare to lay down and die.
Now, I am not saying that everyone, or anyone, should run, walk, bike, swim, or lift weights. What I am saying is that if your excuse for not doing any of these things is because you have a “bad ____” that “hurts when I ____”, you a making a poor excuse.
Here are some perfectly acceptable reasons, which I don’t view as excuses. They are honest and valid. They are based on opinion, and I have no problem accepting honest opinions, my problem is with delusional excuses… which I have many.
“I don’t exercise because it sucks.”
“I don’t CrossFit because I think you are all the highest level of douchebags on the planet.”
“I don’t run because I have better things to do with my time than experience heavy breathing, raw nipples, chafed thighs, and overall discomfort for the sake of shaving off a few minutes from some 5k time.”
“I don’t swim because I am a land dwelling mammal, who has not the least desire to strap on an ugly water cap and goofy looking goggles.”
“I don’t bike because I don’t want to cruise around in a pack of egotistical goobs that look like uncomfortable alien people.”
I can accept all of these as valid reasons. My point is not that everyone should exercise. My point is that I played the same tape through my head, over and over, for a period of years, and eventually I whole-heartedly believed the bullcrap that I was manufacturing. People have real issues, with very real limitations. However, I think there are many, many more people who just want to believe what is most comfortable.
Yes, running can make your knees hurt when you get old.
You know what else will make your knees hurt?
Old age. Carrying 300lbs worth of cheetos in your tits and lovehandles.
Yes, lifting can be hard on your back.
You know what else can give you back trouble as you get older?
Old age. Laying on a couch or recliner during every moment that you are not hunched behind a computer screen. So will carrying around a few hundred pounds of assorted gas station chicken tenders, jalepenos poppers, roller foods, and ordering enough cheese-bread and pizza that you send your delivery boy a graduation gift.
If you sing tenor in a roof-raising choir and you have a chronic sore throat, you don’t tell people that you have a “bad throat”. If you’re lead guitar in a badass rock band and you can’t feel the tips of your fingers, you don’t tell people that you have “bad fingers”. If you are a passionate writer who becomes dizzy and can’t see the screen, you don’t tell folks that you have “bad eyes”. If you are a horsepower addicted mechanic and you can’t grip a wrench, you don’t tell people you have “bad hands”. Hell no, you don’t. You get down to causes and conditions. You won’t accept a vague, blanketed excuse. You become willing to visit every doctor, lawyer, and Indian chief you can find within a gas tank from where you live.
I don’t trust me. I’m not asking you to, either. I’m grateful to have the self awareness and willingness to look at my bad reasoning and identify these as excuses. There are plenty of reason to not do things that I can accept, but if I am falling under the delusion of a poorly placed excuse, well… I have peeps for that. I have community. I have people who listen to my thoughts, my strategies, and my motives. These people are who I rely on to keep me grounded, honest, and in somewhat of a realistic state.
Give that something a try. Try that thing in spite of the limiting factor, which has been holding you back for all these years. Through years of life, hardship, and personal growth, that limiting factor might have reduced into a hiccup or dissolved entirely, because you are stronger person now. Take that chance.
Try that thing.