“The lessons we learn in life are not always appreciated or understood at the time we learn them.”  I often heard this lesson during my 4 years as a student at Notre Dame. I still believe these words to be profoundly true even though it has been 43 years since I graduated. I have learned so much over the last 43 years and have been blessed to spend 31 of these years in the Michiana area.

I grew up the oldest son in a family of 10 children. I was often responsible for preparing lunches for my nine brothers and sisters. I made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, stacking them one on top of the other and cutting them all at once. I was also responsible for performing other tasks which were then evaluated by my mom or dad. Waiting to hear my parents’ assessment of my work was always a trying time. Almost every job was “incomplete” or “not up to par.” I hated those evaluations. I hated being held accountable for my work, and, at the time, my parents seemed too picky and unfair

As I grew up, I actually learned to thank my parents for the service they did me and for the strength of character they helped develop in me. Within my family we may argue about how to bring up children, who to vote for, who is responsible for some dire events in our family history, but there is one thing we all learned that has made us successful as individuals - we are all responsible for what we do. We learned early and often that we needed to work hard and care about what we did. We knew not to blame others for our mistakes.

When I first moved to South Bend with my wife and two children (Mara & Michael), I was very anxious. Would I succeed in South Bend? In Illinois, patients could come to see me without a referral from a physician; in Indiana, this was not the case. I needed somehow to get to know the physicians and prove to them that my physical therapy would benefit them more than the physical therapy they had been using.

During those scary times when I wondered if I would be able to pay the bills, the lessons my parents taught came back and helped me a great deal. As the practice slowly developed, friends asked if I wanted investors to help me get over the hump. They all had more confidence in me than I had in myself. They believed in my abilities and my work ethic, and they were willing to invest in my efforts.

I was tempted to use their help, but my parents’ lessons came to me once again. If I took the assistance, life would be easier, but I wouldn’t be taking full responsibility. I thought it would be the easy way out. I was always told, “You have to be willing to put yourself on the line,” to become a stronger and better person. With these words ringing in my head, I chose the more difficult way and did not accept financial assistance from my friends. By not taking the assistance, I felt more pressure (just as I had waiting for my parents to inspect my work at home.) Yet, because of this, I decided to challenge myself in ways I would not have done before. I would market McDonald Physical Therapy. I hated the thought of going out to meet with physicians. I hated marketing of any kind. Why couldn’t I just open and have patients come in and see me? Nevertheless, I did meet with physicians. I asked them to refer patients who had been to physical therapy or surgery and had not gotten better. I wanted them to send me those patients, and if I got them better, the physicians would know if they wanted to send more. If not, I would go out of business, and they would not have to deal with me again. Patients did come to me for physical therapy, and they talked to other prospective patients. They also put in a good word to the physicians who had been brave enough to give me a chance. Physicians started to tell other physicians. Little by little, my practice grew in ways I never thought possible.

I owe much of the growth of my business to the challenging lessons of responsibility my parents taught me as a young person. I may not have enjoyed learning these lessons, but I thank God for my parents’ efforts and unwavering resolve. I also owe much to the patients who were willing to tell others about the new kid on the block and the physicians who gave me a chance.

On January 12, 2020 McDonald Physical Therapy will have been treating the people of the Michiana area for 31 years! We are not owned by the hospitals. We are not owned by one of the 4 large corporations (with 9 franchises in our area). We started with a dream of trying to touch peoples' lives in a more personal and caring way than most healthcare organizations. Our patients are brought in at the time of their appointment, because we believe their time is a precious gift. We still answer the phones and we still call our patients back to see how they are feeling. We still come in on Saturday and Sundays when necessary to help them with their acute pain.

I began this letter with the quote,  “The lessons we learn in life are not always appreciated or understood at the time we learn them.”  I still believe, at 65 years young, that these words have never been more evident. Our remarkable staff who have believed in our mission for years, continue to bring their energy, love and compassion every day. Many of us have worked together for over 20 years. I think one of the secrets to our success has been because we have had very little turnover in the last 30 years. We have been so blessed to have the chance to help people who are physically and emotionally vulnerable, regain their sense of self-worth as they work to get stronger. I do realize that each patient does not always appreciate the challenging exercises or treatments during their physical therapy sessions, but we do always hope they see and feel the benefit in the end.

During this very special holiday season, we hope you can take the time to step back and think about any lessons you may have been taught years ago that have turned into greater blessings than you could have imagined.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays
Fitness program: 5 steps to get started

With the New Year around the corner, you may have a resolution to start a fitness program. Please call us if you have any questions or concerns before you begin or as you progress! Here are some tips from the Mayo Clinic staff.

Starting a fitness program may be one of the best things you can do for your health. Physical activity can reduce your risk of chronic disease, improve your balance and coordination, help you lose weight — and even improve your sleep habits and self-esteem. And there's more good news. You can start a fitness program in only five steps.
1. Assess your fitness level
You probably have some idea of how fit you are. But assessing and recording baseline fitness scores can give you benchmarks against which to measure your progress. To assess your aerobic and muscular fitness, flexibility, and body composition, consider recording:
  • Your pulse rate before and immediately after walking 1 mile (1.6 kilometers)
  • How long it takes to walk 1 mile, or how long it takes to run 1.5 miles (2.41 kilometers)
  • How many standard or modified pushups you can do at a time
  • How far you can reach forward while seated on the floor with your legs in front of you
  • Your waist circumference, just above your hipbones
  • Your body mass index
2. Design your fitness program
It's easy to say that you'll exercise every day. But you'll need a plan. As you design your fitness program, keep these points in mind:
  • Consider your fitness goals. Are you starting a fitness program to help lose weight? Or do you have another motivation, such as preparing for a marathon? Having clear goals can help you gauge your progress and stay motivated.
Create a balanced routine. For most healthy adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends getting at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week, or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity. The guidelines suggest that you spread out this exercise during the course of a week. Greater amounts of exercise will provide even greater health benefits.

But even small amounts of physical activity are helpful. Being active for short periods of time throughout the day can add up to provide health benefits.

Do strength training exercises for all major muscle groups at least two times a week. Aim to do a single set of each exercise, using a weight or resistance level heavy enough to tire your muscles after about 12 to 15 repetitions.
  • Start low and progress slowly. If you're just beginning to exercise, start cautiously and progress slowly. If you have an injury or a medical condition, consult your doctor or an exercise therapist for help designing a fitness program that gradually improves your range of motion, strength and endurance.
  • Build activity into your daily routine. Finding time to exercise can be a challenge. To make it easier, schedule time to exercise as you would any other appointment. Plan to watch your favorite show while walking on the treadmill, read while riding a stationary bike, or take a break to go on a walk at work.
  • Plan to include different activities. Different activities (cross-training) can keep exercise boredom at bay. Cross-training using low-impact forms of activity, such as biking or water exercise, also reduces your chances of injuring or overusing one specific muscle or joint. Plan to alternate among activities that emphasize different parts of your body, such as walking, swimming and strength training.
  • Try high-interval intensity training. In high-interval intensity training, you perform short bursts of high-intensity activity separated by recovery periods of low-intensity activity.
  • Allow time for recovery. Many people start exercising with frenzied zeal — working out too long or too intensely — and give up when their muscles and joints become sore or injured. Plan time between sessions for your body to rest and recover.
  • Put it on paper. A written plan may encourage you to stay on track.
3. Assemble your equipment
You'll probably start with athletic shoes. Be sure to pick shoes designed for the activity you have in mind. For example, running shoes are lighter in weight than cross-training shoes, which are more supportive.
If you're planning to invest in exercise equipment, choose something that's practical, enjoyable and easy to use. You may want to try out certain types of equipment at a fitness center before investing in your own equipment.
You might consider using fitness apps for smart devices or other activity tracking devices, such as ones that can track your distance, track calories burned or monitor your heart rate.
4. Get started
Now you're ready for action. As you begin your fitness program, keep these tips in mind:
  • Start slowly and build up gradually. Give yourself plenty of time to warm up and cool down with easy walking or gentle stretching. Then speed up to a pace you can continue for five to 10 minutes without getting overly tired. As your stamina improves, gradually increase the amount of time you exercise. Work your way up to 30 to 60 minutes of exercise most days of the week.
  • Break things up if you have to. You don't have to do all your exercise at one time, so you can weave in activity throughout your day. Shorter but more-frequent sessions have aerobic benefits, too. Exercising in short sessions a few times a day may fit into your schedule better than a single 30-minute session. Any amount of activity is better than none at all.
  • Be creative. Maybe your workout routine includes various activities, such as walking, bicycling or rowing. But don't stop there. Take a weekend hike with your family or spend an evening ballroom dancing. Find activities you enjoy to add to your fitness routine.
  • Listen to your body. If you feel pain, shortness of breath, dizziness or nausea, take a break. You may be pushing yourself too hard.
  • Be flexible. If you're not feeling good, give yourself permission to take a day or two off.
5. Monitor your progress
Retake your personal fitness assessment six weeks after you start your program and then again every few months. You may notice that you need to increase the amount of time you exercise in order to continue improving. Or you may be pleasantly surprised to find that you're exercising just the right amount to meet your fitness goals.
If you lose motivation, set new goals or try a new activity. Exercising with a friend or taking a class at a fitness center may help, too.
Starting an exercise program is an important decision. But it doesn't have to be an overwhelming one. By planning carefully and pacing yourself, you can establish a healthy habit that lasts a lifetime.

*article from mayoclinic.org

MPT Happenings

December 24th 7 am-1 pm
December 25th Closed
December 31st 7 am-5 pm
January 1st Closed
McDonald Physical Therapy
(574) 233-5754