What do successful athletes like professional golfer Stacy Lewis, Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt, Olympic swimmer Jenny Thompson, and pro tennis player James Blake have in common – besides their sporting successes?
All these fantastic athletes share one special trait – they all have scoliosis (curvature of the spine). And yet, despite what may be debilitating to some, these admirable sportspeople transfigured their challenges into strengths, and they have excelled at the echelons of their sporting arenas. They have shown to many, that challenges are to be surmounted and the fruits of hard and painful labor are to be found only through beating all odds stacked against them.
I look to these admirable individuals with a little subtle joy, in that I have also traveled the journey of fighting my scoliosis since young.
My scoliosis is quite pronounced as you can see from the X-ray below (which was taken in the early 2000s) and have some degree of degradation since then. After all, I am no longer in my 30s, but is nearly 50 now.
The surgeons looked at my X-rays and said to me, “I marvel that you are still standing and walking”. And yet, I am certain surgeons would have said to many of these athletes the same thing or worse. These athletes must have dismissed these naysayers and braved on, and demonstrated their strengths and achievements. I fight my little battles, and I have also conquered my scoliosis through a lifetime of bodybuilding. It was never easy, and there were many times of pain that only someone with a bad case of scoliosis will understand. And yet, I never did give up. I kept on exercising, I kept on running life’s marathons. Those Olympian athletes and many more, and many others with different physical or other challenges, they too, did not ever give up, but braved on.
Just recently, I stepped on the Body Composition Analyzer, and according to the measurements, I have the metabolic age of 28, which means that my body’s basal metabolic rate (BMR) compares favorably against people who are 28 years old, rather than against the typical BMR of people my age or younger (above 28 years old).
In short, I am healthy and fit. As a co-author of “This Body This Life” with my younger brother CJ (a retired competitive bodybuilder), both of us subscribe to keeping fit and strong through resistance training and proper nutrition. Bodybuilding is a way of life for us.
Who out there is without challenges of some kind? Everyone of us has something we have to wrestle or grapple with, be it health or something else. No one is exempt from learning and surmounting life’s many questions and puzzles. With every turn of the corner, we soldier on, and keep our breathing steady, our gait firm, our gaze straight ahead, and our minds focused. And, all too often, we find ourselves passing the turns with a smile afterwards.
Dr Seamus Phan is the Head of Content and CTO at McGallen & Bolden. He is an expert in branding, marketing, communication, leadership training, crisis management, and entrepreneurship. This article may appear concurrently on his blog. Connect on LinkedIn. ©1984-2018 Seamus Phan et al. All rights reserved.