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No Excuse for Excuses!

By Nic Tremblay, PTA

If you’re looking for the holy grail of healing well…you’ve kinda found it! The reality is that it’s not a singular moment where you drink from a magic cup and receive its ethereal healing power, circa Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade. It is, in fact, a series of moments. More specifically, the decisions made in said moments. Confused? Don’t be! Choose to follow me to the next paragraph and all will be revealed…

Glad you chose to join me here! Physical therapy is one medium of healing. Others include occupational therapy, speech language pathology, psychotherapy, music and art therapy, as well as approaches like guided meditation and aromatherapy. While these all have their merits, they share an Achilles heel. Each of them requires consistency. The moment you choose to say “no” instead of “YES” to healing is the moment it stops working for you.

Wishful thinking can only take one so far because the devil is in the details. The first thing that needs to be done, when trying to achieve a goal, is to make a plan. Without a guide, you have no path to reach your destination. It’s like trying to navigate through unfamiliar woods. You’re bound to lose your way and then all is lost (and so are you!)

Okay, now you have a plan to set in motion. The first few times you participate in this (exercise, meditation, mantras, etc) you’re typically filled with enthusiasm and vigor. This can often be fleeting and if you chose to allow this feeling to be your only motivator then plan participation can wane as quickly as your excitement does. This is why you need accountability-based habits by forming routines that you or someone close to you can hold you to! This can be as simple as having someone you live or work with be your accountability partner  that monitors how consistently you participate in your plan. This can also be done in the form of a daily checklist that will reveal any times you neglected to stick to your routine. The inverse of this (being consistent with your plan) can also result in a sense of personal satisfaction with positive feedback from your accountability partner or a very neat and tidy checklist with no missed routines!

The last subject of this article and the endgame of the plan is having a goal. I firmly believe that everyone needs a goal in some capacity every day of their lives…even something as simple as getting through the day without a meltdown! It’s this forward-moving approach that is the crux of every successful person’s life.

What is intimidating about this idea is how far away and unachievable it might seem at the beginning. This is why it’s important to have what I call progress goals while working toward your end goal. These are small “checkpoints” that can be achieved along the way to your ultimate success. Let’s say you had a total knee replacement and you want to get back to your daily five mile walks. Now, with most total knee replacements, that’s a lot of ground to cover (literally) and if you are ONLY focused on the end result any progress you make in the meantime may seem insignificant or even go unnoticed. Some checkpoints could be regaining 90 degrees of knee flexion (eventually wanting to reach 120 degrees) or be able to push X amount of weight on the leg press machine. These are milestone in strength and mobility that are necessary to reach the ultimate five-mile-walk-a-day achievement.    

So, goal-oriented thinking is great but being able to stick to the plan, forming healthy and productive habits, and staying motivated are all crucial elements when being an active participant in your healing. Recruiting those close to you can help you on your journey and make the process more engaging with them celebrating in your success (even if they make you crazy in the process!). Remember, saying “yes!” to healing is the first step to a healthier and happier life!

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