I am self-aware enough to know that I don’t know everything, even when I think I do.
When I was at Marshall in the late 1980s there was a required class called Religious Studies. I watched a lot of Freshmen sign up for that class, thinking “Hey, I went to Sunday School. This class will be a breeze.” And they failed it. They assumed they knew everything so they didn’t apply themselves to it. That lesson has stayed with me for more than 25 years.
For the last month or so, I’ve been going to cardiac rehab, following up on my open heart surgery. Exercising in a controlled environment is nothing new for me. I’ve been doing it most of my life. We had a home weight set with concrete-filled weights when I was a kid. I was about 16 when I joined the local Nautilus and have worked out in, and even worked in, gyms for years.
I really haven’t “worked out” all that much in the last few years, however. Work, pressure and other priorities took over and I didn’t make time for it. Back “in the day” weight lifting was a much higher priority for me than cardiovascular exercise, anyway.
So, I entered rehab with an open mind and did my best to put my preconceived ideas away. I’m glad I did. The exercise has been useful and is helping me gain a better understanding of how to push my limits and gain heart strength in exactly the same way I used to push my other muscles. It’s also nice to know someone is watching me very closely while I’m pushing it, to make sure I don’t push it too far.
The best part of the program though is the education components. I’ve gained something from nearly every session; probably the most from the discussions about stress management. If you had asked me a few months ago, I would have told you that I really didn’t feel stressed. These discussions have opened my eyes to a number of things I’ve been doing wrong and are helping me change my attitudes so I don’t end up back in rehab.
In a lot of ways, I consider myself fortunate to be going through all of this. I could have had a heart attack and never made it to the hospital. Catching my problems when we did has given me the opportunity to make a number of changes in my lifestyle; eating, stress management and exercise that will (I hope) keep me around for a long, long time. There are people depending on me to be here and I plan to do it for them.
That’s probably the most important lesson of all. But I knew that, already.