Just What I Kneeded

What happens after a life-altering knee injury?

Nobody can do more than twenty

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When I first started my current job, I was asked to complete a StrengthsFinder Profile. The premise of this is to figure out where your strengths lie and develop them to excel, rather than trying to correct your weaknesses. I have to admit this was sort of revolutionary thinking for me at the time, and I was appreciative that my new employer was taking this approach to career development. But that’s not why I bring it up.

My top five strengths are as follows:

  • Intellection (I like to think.)
  • Strategic (I see patterns where others simply see complexity.)
  • Adaptability (I live in the moment.)
  • Competition (I like to win.)
  • Input (I am inquisitive.)

I could talk about what I’ve learned about myself from this exercise and how I’ve learned to embrace my strengths, but really, I’ve been fixated on just one of these for the past several years. COMPETITION. I think it was surprising to me that this was a strength. I’ve always been a (ridiculously) competitive person, but I’ve never considered it a strength before I took completed this profile and learned that my innate competitiveness should be embraced.

The below explanation of competition is taken from page 91 of Now, Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton, PhD.

Competition is rooted in comparison. When you look at the world, you are instinctively aware of other people’s performance. Their performance is the ultimate yardstick. No matter how hard you tried, no matter how worthy your intentions, if you reached your goal but did not outperform your peers, the achievement feels hollow. Like all competitors, you need other people. You need to compare. If you can compare, you can compete, and if you can compete, you can win. And when you win, there is no feeling quite like it. You like measurement because it facilitates comparisons. You like other competitors because they invigorate you. You like contests because they must produce a winner. You particularly like contests where you know you have the inside track to be the winner. Although you are gracious to your fellow competitors and even stoic in defeat, you don’t compete for the fun of competing. You compete to win. Over time, you will come to avoid contests where winning seems unlikely.

This explains so much of my life. I really do like to compete. It’s true that I compete to win, and I don’t like to enter situations where I don’t think I have a good chance of winning. I also compete with people who don’t even know they’re in competition with me. Like random cyclists on the Monon. I like to swoop up behind them and pass them with glee. Winning! Ok, let’s be real. At this point, it’s really only the runners that I can pass, but whatevs. I still win!

Physical Therapy Update

If you’re still reading this, you’re probably wondering what in the hell all of this has to do with anything remotely related to my knee. I’ll tell you.

It seems that people have figured out that the fastest way to get me to do something is to tell me they don’t think I can do it. I even know what they’re doing with this weird reverse psychology, but I can’t stop myself from proving them wrong. My PT is just the latest in a long list of manipulative people in my life. (To be fair, I’m fairly certain that half the time she has no clue she’s challenged me to do something.)

She doesn’t so much outright challenge me to do things, but she says things that just make me want to prove her wrong with every molecule of my being. It doesn’t always have to be doing a particular exercise; sometimes, she’s trying to get me to NOT do something. In one of the last sessions, after we’d done the exercises and the soft tissue manipulation (hey, that still hurts, in case you’re wondering), she was talking to me about my home exercise program. I’d essentially been doing the same exercises for the past six weeks or so, and I wanted to know about changing things up since we’d spaced out our formal session to every two weeks. PT started writing down a list of exercises for me to do, along with the weight/reps I should be increasing at this point.

She started out with the basics: leg press (50#), knee extension (only from 90°-45° and only 30#) and hamstring curls (PT started to write something like 30#, but I quickly corrected her and let her know that I’m perfectly capable of, and in fact have been doing, single-leg hamstring curls with 55#).

PT: “Fifty-five pounds with one leg?” (She asked with a tone of incredulity.)

Me: “Yeah. Why not? That doesn’t hurt, so I’ve been adding weight.”

PT: “Ok.” (And writes down 60# on my instructions.)

Me: “Uh, you wrote that down wrong. I said 55 pounds.”

PT: “And now you’ll do 60.”

Well, ok, then. The next exercise she wrote down was the deadlift. She asked what I’d been doing for those, and I explained that I wasn’t doing deadlifts so much as single-leg hip hinges with a 40# kettlebell. She looked at me with a raised eyebrow.

PT: “So you can either do the kettlebell or maybe you should try doing a deadlift with a bar… 50 pounds.”

Me: “With a bar?! That means I’d have to venture over into the weight training area of the gym.”

PT: “Yeah.” (She clearly did not pick up on my distress.)

Me: “But you have to really like looking at yourself in a mirror over there, and you have to grunt really loud on every rep.”

PT: “Uh huh.” (Clearly unimpressed.)

Me: “I’ve been doing single-leg hip hinges on the Bosu ball. I’m pretty good.”

PT: “Yeah? You’re ready to go over there (pointing to the Bosu in the clinic) and take on a college athlete?”

Me: “Take on or annihilate? I don’t want to brag, but I’m pretty awesome at the Bosu now that I’ve been practicing daily. I’m in the gym showing people how it’s done.”

PT: “The front desk people probably see you in there and have their fingers poised over the phone to call 911.”

Me: “Whatever. You just can’t handle my awesomeness.”

PT: “Ok, so you’re also going to do the cable column. Ten pounds is fine. I don’t know that you get much benefit from more weight. I’ve never seen anyone do more than 20 anyway.”

I’m sorry, did I hear that right? NO ONE has done more than 20 pounds with the cable column exercises? You can bet your sweet apple that I went to the gym the next day and tried to do 21 pounds. Actually, it was 22.5 lbs because of how the weight is distributed on the machine. I managed 10 reps of one out of the four exercises. I’m working up to it on the others… Nobody can do more than 20. Ha. Watch me.

Marker sketch of bike.

This signed original is on my whiteboard at work. It shows, perhaps obviously, both my bloody knee scars and me on my bike. Very realistic, except I wear a helmet, not a hat. (I didn’t have a pic to accompany this post, so you get to see some of the randomness produced by my co-workers.)


Author: Laura

I have a fern I named Frankenstein. I like leprechauns, practicing kung fu moves on my dining room furniture, and pretending that one day I will move to Fiji. I dislike my neighbors' kids, anything that is chartreuse, and Ben Roethlisberger.

One thought on “Nobody can do more than twenty

  1. Pingback: No one else like me (or how not to use your tibialis anterior) | Just What I Kneeded

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