Patience is what you do while you wait

I read this paraphrasing of the Joyce Meyer quote “patience is not simply the ability to wait—it’s how we behave while we’re waiting” years ago. It’s stuck with me, and it’s been especially loud in my mind these last few weeks.

I’ve been feeling restless and frustrated lately. The weather’s nicer, the days are longer, and this is my favorite time of year to spend hours each day training hard and heavy and fast. I can’t do that this year. My body has forced me to scale way the fuck back, and slow way the fuck down.

This has been challenging, mentally and emotionally. I’m not a patient person. Not in the way most people conceptualize patience—as a passive state of waiting.

I don’t like waiting. I don’t like not doing. And when it comes to scaling back and slowing down my training, I have an especially tough time being patient: Training is my zen. It’s the only time that my mind slows and quiets down, and that I can block out the rest of the world. I rely on it to regulate my nervous system and level-set my mental health. Not being able to train at full intensity and full speed has been hard.

Enter: “Patience is what you do while you wait.” I like this take because it frames patience as active and intentional. Bonus points for it aligning with my coach’s “less is more—for now” approach to my current programming.

There’s a lot that I can’t do right now, and there’s a lot that I can. So. I’m doing what I can while I wait.

I’m going to PT.

I’m doing my PT home programs.

I’m regularly receiving soft tissue work, and doing mobility and flexibility work.

I’m working one-on-one with a gymnastics and strength coach twice a week on regressing and mastering the most basic movements, building strength in the right muscles, building body awareness, unlearning deeply ingrained compensatory movement patterns, learning correct movement patterns, developing mind/muscle connections, learning to trust, and building confidence.

I’m tracking different aspects of how my body moves and feels, with more consistency and detail.

I’m prioritizing sleep and recovery, and nutrition.

I’m hiking.

I’m rowing.

I’m running.

I’m walking.

As frustrating and challenging as it’s been to scale back and slow down, I know that it’s the right move. Necessary, really. Even if I wasn’t injured, I would’ve needed to scale back and slow down in order to learn to move efficiently and correctly. Because even without injuries, my balance, coordination, general body awareness, perception of sensation, mind/muscle connection, and motor planning and output weren’t—and aren’t—where they need to be for what I want to do.

None of what I’m doing right now is the fun and flashy and sexy stuff. All of it is the boring and small stuff. And all of it is important. Because it’s the boring and small stuff that makes the fun and flashy and sexy stuff possible. And because I really, really want to get back to doing the fun and flashy and sexy stuff, I’m going to keep doing the boring and small stuff.

That’s called maturity, bay-beeeeee.

Jk.

Well.

Not jk.

But also: Not the full story.

My ability to do the things I’ve outlined in this post is rooted in an immense amount of privilege, access, and opportunity—in general, and as an autistic adult in particular. And extra especially in this dumpster-fire economy o’ the end times.

Rehabbing and prehabbing is a resource-intensive endeavor. It takes a team, and a fuck-ton of time, energy, and money to do *gestures widely* all of this. I am incredibly fortunate to be able to prioritize my health—consistently, and to the degree to which I do—so that I can do my silly little fitnesses for fun. Since learning I’m autistic and working to unlearn ableist attitudes and assumptions (an ongoing process), I am never not hyperaware of this. I wish that more people, especially those in the fitness world, recognized and understood that privilege, access, and opportunity are prerequisites to being—and staying—healthy.

But I digress.

For now.

I’ll save my many thoughts and feelings on all that—ableism, privilege, and toxic positivity in fitness—for a future post.

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