175. Becoming a Supple Leopard

Becoming a Supple Leopard || Ann Ning Learning How

I could TOTALLY do that.  (back cover of Outside June 2013)

Yesterday I mentioned “The Truth about Paleo”  by Nick Heil in Outside (June 2013).  I laughed often while reading, but what made me laugh loudest was when he mentioned the book, Becoming a Supple Leopard, by Kelly Starrett.  Heil named this book in the context of “new training modes that emphasize mobility over muscularity.”    Starrett is an athlete and Physical Therapist in California.  I laughed because the title is just really funny to me.  I think my candidacy for becoming a “supple leopard” has been compromised.  I’m more in the “stray cat” category.  It also reminded me of a particularly charged career session at B-School when our entire class was exhorted to have “the eye of the tiger.” The student body was unable to suppress the titter that rolled through our ranks.

Well, I was intrigued by the mobility over muscularity idea, so I kept on reading and I looked Becoming a Supple Leopard up online.  First of all, Kelly is male.  FYI.  Second of all, the idea of supple leopard-ness is funny to me, but it appears that this method of training is no laughing matter.

Amazon’s review summary =  5 stars.  And the videos online indicate that this business is not for the faint-hearted.  I clicked on one that was about how to manage if your job involves lots of sitting.  I was like, Ooooh – like if you have to sit in a wheelchair.  Yeah, no.  The video is done by a black hawk pilot who shows us how he has altered his sitting stance to be good to his spine but reach all the controls.  Oh well, I thought – that doesn’t really apply.  To make doubly sure I clicked on another video that promised a recovery model for working with injured patients.  I didn’t get what KS was saying – it sounded smart, and I’m sure he’s seen good results, but I probably needed to have read the book, done more research, and/or sustained a different type of injury for it to have resonated with me.  Entertainingly, though, it’s dinnertime at StarrettHouse, and you can glimpse Mrs. S preparing dinner in the kitchen (right next to KS’s chalkboard), and their two little girls are playing in the family room, waiting for their meal and assiduously ignoring dad as he educates the rest of us and uses what looks like sidewalk chalk to illustrate the concepts.

So another dream, albeit a brief one, has died.  I will likely not be becoming a supple leopard.  If you had asked me 18 months ago (when I was still doing my first outpatient therapy stint at The Place) I would have probably opined that yes, I WILL become a supple leopard very soon indeed, and I DARE you to think differently.  That would have been a couple months after I learned to walk, I had not experienced any material physical setbacks, and I hadn’t quite accepted that this had happened to me.

I mean, I knew what had happened, but even now it’s hard to manage my own expectations since there was very little time lapse in my mind when I got sick, and I figured I must have dreamed about my head hurting during that meeting with my manager, and the subsequent “melting” in the Ladies’ Room.  When I woke up, I was like, C’mon, people – use your noggins!  I figured if I was going to hold someone captive in the hospital I could’ve come up with a MUCH better story than this ridiculous brain thing.

So I was extremely obstinate about my physical abilities when I woke up – I was galled by everything I couldn’t do (e.g. walking, playing the piano, eating not like an animal), but regaining a skill was not celebrated by me since I was just regaining what I thought was rightfully mine.  News Flash:  None of this is rightfully mine.  It’s a privilege to walk, eat, play the piano, etc.  Knowing this helps me deal with the pain of setbacks.

I walked on Cliff the Treadmill for the first time since getting sick this morning.  As I did so I remembered how sad I was last summer when my left leg went crazy and I lost all of the ground I had gained after I learned to walk again.  My treadmill speed went from 2.2 to 1.7 to 1.5, to 1, to .5, to 0.  I knew I had to stop when, at .5, I just limped along and cried, and since I need both hands to hold on there is no free hand to wipe my face, so I couldn’t walk anymore.

So I’m not as stubborn about this as I used to be.  I know that the recovery process is fluid and goes in both directions.  And although I pray for the best (and ask you to pray with me) and am fully confident that God can heal me instantaneously I also want to acknowledge that His answer might be “no.”   Upon reflection, I didn’t really mean it when I told A (6) “It’s okay if the answer is ‘no’…”   I was just adding a prologue I though might make us both feel better.  I needn’t have worried.  He would have told me the truth regardless.  I took in what he said, but I cried in the parking lot.  And it took several more months for it to really be “okay if the answer is ‘no’.”  Now I’m convinced that this is NOT a matter of positive thinking, or having enough faith to move mountains – this is just me acknowledging that although I believe “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” this does not apply to things that are not His will.

While I pray for gains, though, I keep trying for them within my situation’s boundaries.  It’s kind of confusing since the boundaries keep on getting re-drawn.  Deciding what to eat, how much to walk, if I should use an alarm clock, the merits of naptime, and how to manage joint/back pain are a moving puzzle to be solved daily.  What works today might not be good tomorrowCaution:  This is a work zoneIf my gains were driven by self-motivation I’d be running marathons by now.  But they’re not.  That was one of the things that was most non-intuitive and frustrating for me.  I’m just glad to be able to acknowledge without ire that while “becoming a supple leopard” is too lofty a goal for me at this point, the idea of greater mobility is a good one.

PS.  I got approved for 12 more sessions of PT +Pool!  I’ll likely do some over the next month, go on Summer vacay at my sister’s house, and re-start in September.  I’m so pleased.  Thanks for praying :).

3 thoughts on “175. Becoming a Supple Leopard

  1. Wow, that is a pretty funny analogy – “supple leopard.” Just watched his videos about not swinging kids by the arms, and about how flat shoes are best. Very informative. 🙂 Yeah, he gets pretty technical sometimes, but the takeaways are pretty understandable. I love how you find these things!

  2. Hey Ning. You inspire me “Supple Lizard” . I am praying for you and will continue to do so. I saw Jen Hooper today – remember her ? She was asking about you – your old friend Bill

    • WFM!! You so crazy. In a crazy fox sorta way. I totally remember Jen – I was just thinking of the necklace she made me a million years ago .

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