We went cross-country skiing again today, though at first Higgie didn't want to. It's very cold today; - 20C with the windchill which is eight below zero Fahrenheit so I could understand some of his reluctance, but it's brilliantly sunny and he knows as well as I do that when you get moving you get warm and you stay that way. However, I know this is typical behaviour for him; he always takes some persuading to get out and go. He wanted to just go up the street and ski in the local park. He doesn't realise how much harder that would have been for a novice skier like himself because there is no 'fast track' to ski in. A pre-made trail such as you find at ski resorts guides your skis along and makes for greater control and much easier going. I should have agreed to the park for my own sake because I, at least, could have risen to the challenge but I doubted whether I would be able to get the requisite two hours' skiing in then, both due to the degree of difficulty and the not-overly-large size of the park. I knew he would have an easier time of it if we went to a ski resort but didn't say it. He even offered up the possibility of the car stalling in the cold while on the highway because it did it once this past week when we were driving downtown. (It hasn't done it since, nor did it do it today.)
Despite all his protests, which I have gone through every Sunday in previous years as well, we made it out to the same ski park we went to last Sunday and skied for slightly less than two hours, only because I had great speed this time due to better conditions (it snowed again yesterday). For the first ten minutes of skiing I was wondering about the wisdom of having insisted we come out on such a cold day. The wind in my face was painful. I still don't have decent ski socks and my wool running socks just weren't working. They were wrinkling inside my boots and were not long enough to keep my shins warm under my all-weather pants. (I don't really have proper ski clothes at all; I just throw on whatever is warm, light-weight, waterproof and comfortable. I cobble together an ensemble from my fall hiking and running gear.) My muscles were taking forever to warm up in the extreme cold and I couldn't get any speed going at first. There were way more people at the park this week than last, despite the cold, and most of them were novice skiers. They were skiing on the wrong side of the trail, going too slowly and generally getting in my way.
Then it occurred to me that all of my inward griping was really the same negativity I feel in the first ten minutes of running, when every fiber of my being is saying 'You hate this. Stop now!' I recognised the evil voice in my head and decided to ignore it. Once I warmed up, got a rhythm going and got sufficiently ahead of all the novices it was possible to just let my body do its thing and enjoy the pleasure of movement.
As I skied I thought a lot about why we don't want to do stuff, even when it's stuff we know is good for us and we actually enjoy. I've come to the conclusion that there is an awful lot in life we won't allow ourselves to enjoy. Maybe it seems like too much work, maybe we think it will be too difficult or we might get hurt, but chiefly I think it's because WE DON'T WANT TO.
As a Weight Watchers leader I hear a lot of reasons why people can't lose weight or move more. I hear about food allergies and knee problems and a vast array of problems that are actually caused by obesity and could really be fixed by losing weight and moving more if people would just get out of their own way and let themselves do what needs to be done.
I watched a few novice skiers struggling and offered a piece of advice here and there, like, 'bend your knees' and got the same thing each time - 'Can't. Knee problems'. Barring an actual injury, or difficulties resulting from knee surgery, few people seem to realise that the knee is just a hinge and bending is what it's supposed to do. I was shocked when Yolanta, my first trainer told me that but she was right. What was stopping my knees from working correctly was me - and weak quadriceps. Once I developed some strength in my thigh muscles my knees could very easily do what they were designed to do because they only needed to bend while my thighs supported my upper body. How do you get strong thighs? Squats and lunges. But doesn't that involve bending your knees? Well, yes.... but it's okay. They're designed to do that.
Higgie's sister is convinced there's something called 'Higgins' Knee'. It's because her father has had two knee replacement surgeries. He developed arthritis in both knees after years of standing on concrete floors managing a warehouse. Her knee problems are because she is nearly 100 pounds overweight and her knees can't take the strain. She's tried Weight Watchers but never stays with it very long. I keep telling her if she could get some weight off she'd be amazed at what her knees could do. But I think the biggest stumbling block for her is she doesn't want to.
It was so cold today the snow squeaked as I skied and the shadows were purple against the brilliant sun. I couldn't imagine having passed up the opportunity to get out today. Something else I thought about as I skied were the people I am encountering at meetings who are passing up the opportunity to embrace our new program. I am meeting up with pockets of resistance at the various meetings I do and I don't get it. Why wouldn't you want to try a program that is based on better science and is so much better than the old one? Is it the dreaded I DON'T WANT TO syndrome again? Does it feel like too much work to re-learn points values and re-think our eating once again? I'm hearing people saying it's not working. After one week, can you really assess that? It would be like the people I saw today who appeared to be skiing for the first time deciding after one go that it's not for them. And they didn't even try bending their knees!
Why do we think we don't want to do things? Sometimes there's a legitimate reason. Higgie is watching football right now and I don't want to but I have no interest in football and never have. Could I develop one? I doubt it. But will my life be any better if I did? Doubt that too. I can derive enjoyment from a vast array of other pastimes; watching football doesn't have to be one of them. Likewise, the people who don't want to ski could find another form of activity but they have to WANT to. So what's stopping them? What's stopping any of us?