As a wellness coach at the Y, I sit at a desk and answer questions. A large sign announcing "FITNESS" hangs over the top, and on occasion I've added some handwritten notes, such as "The doctor is IN" and "FITNESS HELP 5 cents."
Last week a guy asked me about deadlifts. He loves doing them, he says, but he often throws his back out and has to sit out a few weeks. I checked his form--minus the bar, as he was still hurting--and aside from encouragement to keep his eyes up, he was good.
Instinct told me that maybe this man is prone to injury, the proportions of his leg bones prevent ideal technique, and maybe he needs to find something else to do. But my gut said to think outside the box. The man declared his love for deadlifts, and was almost wistful while telling me he'd had to go without. I needed to find an adequate substitute.
I demonstrated halo deadlifts and good mornings. He perked up and we got to talking.
"They deadlift in the Olympics, don't they?" he asked. "I figure the exercise must not be bad for you if it's in the Olympics."
"Well, powerlifters are prone to very particular injuries, such as spinal decompression," I said. "There are dangers in any sport. Look at football and the brain injury studies--the research hasn't stopped anyone from playing, or watching."
"Sometimes you just do what you love and accept the risks," I heard myself saying.
Because nothing is guaranteed in this world.
Yesterday's paper had an article on a 9-year-old girl with type 1 diabetes that wrestles on her school's team. The title was "Girl wrestles diabetes, against boys."
Indeed. The article was right in highlighting such a kid as inspiration. And as a mom of a type 1 diabetic, I could find even more in the situation than the writer knew to address.
Wrestling is one of the more challenging sports that a diabetic can undertake. Blood sugar can rise 200 points in the adrenaline rush of the short round; this is manageable but not ideal for the A1c "report card" of the blood.
Conversely, the blood sugar could drop; this kid has passed out on the mat more than once. It's my worst nightmare, and for the love of the game, this family takes the risks. (I trust they've put all the precautions in place, knowing that diabetes is simply beyond management, at times.)
"Sometimes, when my sugar is low, it's hard to wrestle," she says, "but I go my hardest."
In the face of danger, she doesn't play it safe; she gives it everything.
How many of us can say the same?