How Strong Is Strong?

What is enough strength? How strong is strong?

Of course, strong enough is entirely up to you. There is no absolute. What is strong enough for you may not be strong enough for your best friend. What is strong now may not be strong enough for you next year.

What do you want to be able to do? What is your goal? Do you want to look a certain way that you don’t now? Do you want to be strong enough to play basketball with your son? Or manage some house repairs? Or carry the groceries without having to ask for help? Or do you just have a number in mind? Maybe you’ll be satisfied when you can bench press….
I like being strong. I like being the one people will ask for help. I get a kick out of walking off with the heavy bag after the cab driver has struggled to lift it into the trunk. I was tickled when I overheard a friend telling someone that the difference between men and women was that men, and Julie, have upper body strength.

But after I was run down by a cab and had a spinal cord injury, I just wanted to be strong enough to play the viola again. After my mastectomy, lifting a plate was a worthy strength goal. After chemotherapy, I wanted to have the strength again to go skiing.

One of the reasons I am so proud of the fact that I do pushups is how hard I had to work to get strong enough. I may not always be able to do a lot of them, and they may not be easy for me, but there was a time when lifting a plate was my worthy goal.

Our abilities and our goals change over time. It’s important to understand the difference between them. Our current abilities are just that – current. They are only what we can do today – not what we can do next week or next year. Our goals are the ideals we want to attain. Our goals need to be something greater than what we can do now, something greater than our current abilities.

But we need a clear understanding of our current abilities in order to plan on how we will reach those goals. If we look at where we are and where we want to go, we can figure out the path between the two.

So, what can you do now? What do you want to do? How do you get from here to there? How strong is strong?


This entry was posted in breast surgery, exercise and breast cancer, goals, mastectomy, strength training, women and strength. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to How Strong Is Strong?

  1. I was able to do a lot of pushups before my bilateral mastectomy on 7/22. I loved doing them-it made me feel strong! I haven’t done a single one since, but am wondering if I am strong enough now. I kept up with the cardio, but have not done much upper body (except the rehab stretches). I hear what you are saying about strength changing with circumstances. I’m due for round #2 of chemo this Friday and am afraid to see my current strength wane as I go through it all. Love your blog!

  2. julie says:

    Thanks, Tonya. You might want to start off with modified, or even wall pushups. I’ve written a bunch of posts about pushups. Here’s one that I wrote about my mother learning to do pushups: I took her through the same process I did for myself after my surgery. Just take it slow & build up – it’s a process.

    And I hope chemo goes well.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *