It was my third chiropractic visit and the seventh person I had seen that year to try to fix my shoulder (not to mention nagging issues with my neck and hip).
"It's probably just like that," he said. "You might as well get used to it."
I had been dealing with a reality of a stiff, cranky shoulder for what seemed like forever. Despite endless massages, exercises and adjustments, nothing seemed to result in any lasting change.
"So, is there anything I can do to fix it?" I asked, trying to hide my obvious irritation. This wasn't the first time I heard someone tell me this depressing news.
"Well, you can try some stretches, but this is kind of what happens as you get older."
I got sent home with a handful of exercises and the advice to take it easy and stop expecting so much from my body.
You'd expect that I'd be defeated. But I was pissed.
I just wanted to work with someone that hadn't also given up on their body. I wanted to feel like I was not just another appointment, another hopeless case on their calendar.
Call it naive, but after going to physical therapist to chiropractor to massage therapist, I wanted to find someone that would take on my case with a serious desire to help me heal permanently.
I wanted someone to get invested in my healing.
I thought someone would go beyond trying to fix me and rush me out the door. I wanted a holistic treatment plan. I wanted to be asked what exercises I was doing, be told what to do and what not to do, how to fix my posture, and generally look at my whole lifestyle to fix anything aggravating the problem.
I didn't understand at the time that even if someone wanted to do this, the system they were in prevented them from going deep enough with people to heal chronic issues.
There's only so much you can do in an hour a week. The system is designed to treat people and get them out the door, which isn't very useful for chronic, long-term issues that involve a complex set of emotional, physical, lifestyle, social, and dietary factors.
So I would wander from one person to the next, seeking help, not realizing I was fighting a losing battle.
What's funny is people would recommend I see them in two weeks, which I thought was not enough at all, and I would ask if money wasn't an object (I was willing to spend thousands of dollars to heal myself), how many times should I see you?
I wanted to give people more money and often their own limiting beliefs about money, their value, or unrealistic ideas about how much effort healing required prevented them from giving me a treatment plan that would get me results.
It took me seeing over two dozen people to realize that it was the system that was broken, not them.
But I was on a mission to heal and feel capable of anything. I wouldn't accept defeat.
So, I stopped blaming them and realized...
One of the hardest lessons I had to learn is that no one has the energy, time or ability to care about you and your situation as much as you do.
Sure, they can treat you, they can care, and sometimes those things will help, but no one can be in your body. No one can tell you how to move, how to sit, or how to train. No physical therapist or chiropractor can be there when you get excited about climbing or hiking or running and tell you you're not ready for that yet.
They can't be there to analyze your gait pattern, what you're eating, and the thoughts you're having about whether it's hopeless for you or not.
I'm not suggesting that finding help isn't important, surely it is. But at the end of the day, you have to be the one 100% responsible for your own journey.
And sometimes, even people with the best intentions will spread toxic messages. They'll project their own feelings of shame and disappointment that they haven't taken full responsibility for their health and blame it on aging, or it being "just the way it is."
No matter how much you want someone to do the work for you, to give you the plan that solves all your problems, I'm sorry to tell you... it's just not going to happen.
You have to be 100% responsible for your own body.
We all know modern life isn't doing us any favors. In fact, I would say that most people's jobs and lifestyles are violently damaging their bodies on a daily basis.
No yoga class or three times a week boot camp is going to fix that.
It's up to you to change the patterns, get a new job, create a better environment, fix your posture, change your mindset, eat better, and upgrade your social support.
Taking control of your habits, learning how to be a good caretaker for your body, nourishing yourself with healthy movement—all of this takes a lot of work.
Someone told me the other day, "Jonathan, it would drive me crazy to set a timer to remind myself to move."
True, but what is the cost of not moving in the long run? It's only everything.
Most people choose to ignore the tension and pain or delude themselves into thinking their shitty gym routine is enough to make up for the daily violence they're waging on their bodies.
Delusion is never a good long-term strategy.
It would be much easier for me to sell you a 30-minute workout, or tell you that these five stretches will solve all your problems.
But personally, I'd rather give you the recipe, not the result. I'd rather show you how to be in charge of your own physical autonomy rather than giving it away to a trainer, coach, or someone that can never really take 100% responsibility for your health.
If you want to solve the problem at the root, you need three things:
This is what I teach in the Primal Body Reboot.
It's opening at the end of this month and I hope you'll join me in reclaiming your physical freedom.
There's nothing for sale right now, but you can get a free lesson and a sweet discount when it opens.