Health is important. But, to what end? Are you pursuing health for the sake of health itself, or to better enable you to do the things you love?
Sometimes we get caught up in the idea of pursuing health for its own sake. While that’s not a bad goal, I find that I’m more motivated to do things I dislike (like body weight exercises), or things that are difficult for me (again.. body weight exercises) if my reason for doing them is more than the abstract idea of “building more muscle,” or “to be healthier.” That’s why engaging in sports or activities that set your heart on fire is important.
For me a great example of this is SCA heavy weapons fighting. Before we moved, I got into full body armor as often as I was able, and practiced heavy weapons fighting with a wooden sword. I wasn’t very good, and I wasn’t very strong, but I was willing to work to become an authorized fighter.
Then we moved.
Our local SCA group is made up of some very nice people, but the group is very small, and rarely holds fighter practices. Because of that, it’s been about 2 years since my family has played. This past week one of the kids said that he REALLY misses SCA and asked if we could find an active group.. ANY active group to play with. So I contacted a group that meets about 90 minutes from us and explained the situation. In true SCA fashion the reply was, “Sure, come on down.” While we were talking, someone mentioned that they hold fighter practice every Sunday afternoon.
We already had plans for Sunday, but together we came to the conclusion that we all really wanted to attend fighter practice. The kids aren’t old enough to fight (you have to be 16), but they decided to take their foam weapons and see if they could pick up a few pointers.
I went up there with no intention of putting on armor. I mean, it’s been two years, and it was stinking HOT outside. But, I took my gear, and a change of clothes “just in case.”
We got there and met the knight and his squire. They seemed like nice enough guys. The knight picked up a piece of loaner armor and handed to me, “This should fit you, and it’s not super heavy.”
That was all it took. I went and changed from shorts and a tank top to jeans and a T-shirt, and suited up. I lasted about 10 minutes out there in the 100+ degree heat under all that leather and metal, but it was well worth the 90 minute drive. Knight reviewed some things with me that I had forgotten and then I went off to do some pell work (without the armor). When I was done with the armor, my husband suited up and had his shot. Because of the heat, he didn’t last much longer than I did.
I’ve been telling myself for months that I need to do body weight exercises — pull ups, push ups, squats, and planks– to build muscle mass, but I just can’t make myself do it.
Until now. Now I have a reason. Now I have motivation. I very much want to authorize as a fighter. In SCA, before you can fight against anyone except y0ur instructor, and before you can compete in real fights, or even do demos, you have to be cleared or “authorized” by your local SCA Marshall. The Marshall’s job is to make sure everyone is as safe as possible, and that all the rules and protocol are followed. When you become an authorized fighter, you get a card from SCA listing which weapons you are authorized in.
My goal is to authorize as a heavy weapons fighter (sword and shield), and as a combat archer. Those have been my goals since we started SCA. After the move, SCA related activities fell by the wayside because of the very small local group. But, now we’ve found a group to play with and I’m hyped to be playing again.
I don’t expect to ever become a knight, heck I don’t expect to ever become a squire. Actually, I’m not interested in that path. I’m more into the arts and sciences than the fighting. I fight because I can. It’s a challenge to be overcome. And for me, the challenge is simply to authorize. It pushes me to be better and forces me to push myself further physically than I would otherwise. Today I’ve already done the push ups, and some pell work to help build muscle in my arms.
Anything that motivates you to work for your goals is a good thing. Sure, in my case keeping the MS at bay is motivating. But, I have recovered significantly enough that MS is no longer a daily struggle, so I need something else. Something I can work towards, and strive for, and in this case fight for. It will probably take me longer to authorize than it does the typical person (female or male) without MS. But that’s okay. I have more to overcome, and more to learn/relearn than they do.
Don’t be afraid to get out there and try new things. Look for the activity that fires you up and makes you WANT to push yourself. We all need motivation. We all need a reason to work hard. When you have a chronic illness sometimes just getting out of bed in the morning is a challenge. For many of us (myself included) our kids may be the reason we fight through the pain and difficulty of getting through every day activities. My children were my motivation to do whatever it took to get the MS under control. They are my motivation for KEEPING it under control. But, when it comes to strength training, I have a hard time convincing myself that doing more than maintaining my current muscle is worth it. Intellectually, I know building muscle is important to my on-going health. But that’s not enough.
And that’s where my SCA fighting goals come in.