Reaching Beyond Limitations: Nike versus Yoda | Rheumatoid Arthritis Warrior

Reaching Beyond Limitations: Nike versus Yoda

“Not running sucks” & “Don’t just RUN your mouth”

NIKE-shirt-Not-running-sucksI stopped short when I saw this Nike t-shirt display in a mall recently. I had to get a picture of these t-shirts and ask the salesman, “Do you sell a lot of these? Do people like them?” He said they do. I just smiled and thanked him for holding up a shirt.

Not being able to run does “suck” (a gross word I never use in real life btw). I used to run for an hour on the beach, and there is nothing like it. I miss it like I miss gardening and a million other things. (Like turning my neck to be able to back my truck out of a parking space.)

Of course the “Not running sucks” t-shirt wasn’t aimed sympathetically toward those who can’t run. It means: “Get off your butt and run.” And maybe “If you don’t, YOU suck,” since the companion shirt says, “Don’t just RUN your mouth.”

Nike is pushing pretty hard. What’s next? “Go running or go to hell?

NIKE-shirt-Man-up-or-shut-upAnother Nike t-shirt reads “Man up or shut up.” They’ve come a long way from “JUST DO IT.” I was never a huge fan of “Just Do It” anyway. It’s sort of a rip-off of Yoda’s unforgettable words: “Do. Or do not. There is no try.”

As much as I respect the Jedi master, that makes me uncomfortable too. A painful change in living with rheumatoid disease (RD) is that I’m often forced to answer with “I’ll try,” instead of just “Sure.” And, as pitiful as it sounds to admit, with RD, I’ve often tried my heart out – and failed. (Yes, even to run).

“Not running sucks” – yes, but so does ignorance

Yes, not running sucks. Constant pain sucks. Taking medications sucks. A calendar full of doctor’s appointments sucks.

There, I said it: sucks, sucks, sucks. Now what?

More than this crude matter we are, Nike

I don’t think Yoda (or George Lucas) meant any harm. Nike’s ad execs probably mean well too. But the culture can always use a reminder, and Yoda himself said: “Luminous beings are we; not this crude matter.” Regardless of what our physical bodies are able to accomplish (or not), we are certainly much more than that. Limitations in our physical bodies (none of us can grow wings to fly) can compel us to reach beyond ourselves, transcend our physical limitations, and grow spiritually.


How have you adjusted to “try” instead of “just do” sometimes? What senseless slogan bugs you? How have you transcended your physical limitations?


Recently certain personal matters have required my full attention, some of which have involved my health and that of family members. Many thanks to those who have expressed concern. I am sorry if my absence caused anyone to worry. It was unexpected and unavoidable. During recent struggles, I’ve been aware of God’s love for me and for each of us who perseveres in pain or adversity.
The mission of, providing information and encouragement to fight rheumatoid disease, remains a priority to me. Although we have made great strides, there are still huge steps right around the corner. I have just completed some critical repairs to the website and look forward to being online more often as I am able. However I may not be able to respond to every comment or email. Thank you for understanding.

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Very early in my RD journey, I lost a friend to the just do it approach. “Like I said, this was early in my living with RA process. So I did not think about how my friends would react to the Rheumatoid Arthritis. I assumed that they would accept me as they always had, and perhaps even sympathize…” Continue reading… The Use It or Lose It Approach to Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis

I’ve tried to quit living with a chronic illness – who wants to spend her life fighting? “My odd list of things that keep me going: God, patients, mean people, and children.” Continue reading… Perseverance in Fighting Rheumatoid Arthritis

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Kelly O'Neill

Kelly O'Neill (formerly Kelly Young) has worked about 12 years as an advocate helping patients to be better informed and have a greater voice in their healthcare. She is the author of the best-selling book Rheumatoid Arthritis Unmasked: 10 Dangers of Rheumatoid Disease. Kelly received national acknowledgement with the 2011 WebMD Health Hero award. She is the president of the Rheumatoid Patient Foundation. Through her writing and speaking, she builds a more accurate awareness of rheumatoid disease (RD) aka rheumatoid arthritis (RA) geared toward the public and medical community; creates ways to empower patients to advocate for improved diagnosis and treatment; and brings recognition and visibility to the RA patient journey. In addition to RA Warrior, she writes periodically for newsletters, magazines, and websites. There are over 60,000 connections of her highly interactive Facebook page. You can also connect with Kelly on Twitter or YouTube, or LinkedIn. She created the hashtag: #rheum. Kelly is a mother of five, longtime home-schooler, NASA enthusiast, and NFL fan. She has lived over fourteen years with unrelenting RD. See also https:/

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61 thoughts on “Reaching Beyond Limitations: Nike versus Yoda

  • Pingback: Walk the Line | Simply Christi

  • October 22, 2014 at 6:13 am

    Kelly!! So good to see you posting again. May the good Lord continue to hold you and your family in His loving, caring arms. Prayers continuing for all of you.

  • October 24, 2014 at 11:41 pm

    Kelly, I’ve been so worried about you. Welcome back and know that so many of us love you and keep you in our prayers. I’m so sorry life has been extra challenging lately.
    I, for one, will think twice before purchasing Nike products in the future!

  • December 4, 2014 at 1:24 pm

    I just want to say, Nike used to have a shirt called “Running Sucks” but it got yanked from the shelves.I bought it on eBay and it is my biggest motivator whenever I attempt to run. Running DOES suck for me. and its rewarding whenever I complete one. They had a few shirts that were pretty much the opposite of this line but they might not have sold . Oh well

  • December 20, 2014 at 11:53 pm

    Kelly, I’m glad your life has settled somewhat as is evidenced by your latest articles. I am so grateful you have maintained this website. I have directed a number of folks to it when they tell me they have been recently diagnosed with RA/RD. I have counted myself so lucky this last year, as Humira & Methotrexate seems to be holding RD at bay. In August of 2013 I was asking my rheumy doc if it was time to apply for disability as Plaquinil wasn’t working nor was Methotrexate. I’ve only had a couple of flares in the past 14 months and both of them were minor compared to what I used to get. I can tell you though, each time it’s happened I’ve had the icy cold dread that the drugs weren’t going to work anymore. Of course, there is still pain and the side effects of the drugs and the limitations that are a fact of life. BUT. I wake up each morning and flex my stiff fingers and marvel that they are still straight. The first trip downstairs in the morning is slow and painful, but the stiffness wears off and I can function. I think the thing that doctors may not realize is that we don’t fear the pain so much as the disability. Most of us can tough out the pain if it’s not too severe. Even with a paralyzing pain, a person can go through the day dealing with it and only medicating at night to sleep. It’s not a pleasant way to live, but endurable. What is so frightening, so devastating, so horrible to contemplate, is being unable. Maybe we should say that RD causes unability rather than disability. Before RD we were all able, after RD we are unable, to varying degrees. Our bodies become unfit, unqualified, incapable of doing what they used to do. If we haven’t actually suffered the distortion of joints, then mechanically we should be able. To me, the severe RD that twists limbs and phalanges is the disability. The inflammation and pain that causes one to shrink inside and hold still to ride out the flare…..that is the unability. If one’s fingers are hot/painful and one dares not flex them for fear of lightening bolts of pain, that person is unable to use their fingers. If one dares not do a solid day’s worth of chores because it will likely bring on a flare, then the person is unable. I know it’s just a word game, but it helps me to explain to someone who thinks I’m OK because I don’t look sick. It kind of helps me too, because I can cheer myself on by telling myself that I’m not disabled, only unable. Still can’t, either way, but somehow it seems less scary to me. Well, thanks for listening and thank you so much for providing such needed information. I hope you and your family realize what a wonderful tool you’ve given so many people.


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