By: Brooke Dinsmore

Most of you know me as a CrossFit athlete, you read posts about various workouts and eating plans and struggles and victories.

What you may not know is that I play Doctor in real life.  I’m an Audiologist, I deal with ears, day in and day out.  The bulk of my patients are referred to me from their primary or specialty physician; a few find the office on their own by word of mouth or Google, but the bulk I see have come to me from another physician.  And those physician relationships take time to cultivate and maintain.

Today was one of those “cultivate and maintain” days.  I loaded up what I needed and set out to go visit several offices of my referring physicians, just to do a touch-base and let them know what had changed in our practice. I chose to focus on the offices that were clustered together in an office park building about two miles from the office.

As I parked my car at the far end of the parking lot (out of courtesy for the doctors’ patients), I quickly became aware at just how many handicapped parking spaces there were. And they were ALL full. People were actually circling the lot waiting for a handicap-accessible space to open up. Really? There are that many people with physical ailments that keep them from being able to walk any distance from the parking lot to the door of the building? Yup.

As I got closer to the building, I noticed the sheer amount of foot traffic in the catwalk overhead. In the few moments I stood and observed, there was never more than a second where the walkway was empty. Mostly patients; a few were wearing scrubs and white coats, but the bulk of them were patients with their families, on their way to or from some appointment with some doctor. Scootering along. Pushing their walkers. Wrestling with canes. Some of them were only able to move with the support of their loved ones. And as I got into the doctors’ offices?  More of the same.  Waiting rooms bursting at the seams with patients and their families, walkers parked all over the place, canes draping over chair arms… everyone waiting to be seen for one ailment or another.

Walking back to my car, I saw cars still circling the parking lot waiting for a handicap-accessible space to open up. I saw two women visibly mouthing at each other in their cars, probably arguing over who was going to get the newly-vacant spot five or six spaces from the entrance. By the time I reached my vehicle, at the end of the lot, a wave of frustration or anguish or shock or something came over me: No one is going to wait in line for this parking space. No one is going to fight over it. No one wants to walk this far to the entrance. Most of the people here can’t.

That was when it hit me: I am SO grateful to be able to walk that distance and think nothing of it. No cane, no walker, no shortness of breath. I got out of my car, walked to the door, walked around three buildings and then back to my car. I am so grateful for the things that my body can do; I cannot, will not, take for granted the things my body is capable of doing.  Can I get that 100# snatch overhead? Not yet. Not yet. But I can get 95#, which means it’s coming. I am grateful for the ability to be able to move my own furniture, wash my own car, fold my own laundry, lift heavy weights, give piggyback rides to multiple 10-year-olds at at time (and then do squats with them on my back when a Dad says I can’t… pssssh).  I can park at the farthest space and walk to the doors of the grocery store or the gym.  I can ride a bike. Even more basic: I can stand on my own two feet, unassisted.

From now on, I will shift my attitude in regard to exercise and fitness. Exercise is meant to be a reward for my body for the things it’s capable of, not as a punishment for what I can’t do (yet!)… and especially not as a punishment for whatever I've eaten. I am physically, consciously aware of what I eat; if I make a decision to eat something, my body has to do with it what it can.  That’s an innate, biological process that I can’t control.  But, like I said, what I can control is my attitude. My effort. And that, I’ll do.

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