It’s been 7 months since you’ve donned that workout gear and headed bravely into Bootcamp. Only one more sleep until you go back, only this time you’ll be sporting a clunky hinged knee brace. This will guarantee to make you feel even more ungraceful and foreign in a class of athletic girls. Sorry about that self. Your bones are getting older and there’s only so much torque you can put on a leg.
Tonight you will gather that old familiar outfit, pull out those runners and head to bed early so you can face tomorrow’s reality rested. You’ve been in this moment many times before. Recommitting to getting healthier. What makes you think this time will be any different? Well, this time you are scared, scared to death. Things have gotten way out of hand on the scale and in your closet. Sure, you can try and blame the fractured leg for inactivity, but that was 7 months ago! Get over it. That’s like saying you are carrying baby weight when the baby is already 9 years old!
So self…What are you afraid of? That you’re too young to feel this old? That you’ve started avoiding certain activities with the kids cause you can’t keep up? That event the ‘fat’ clothes in your closet are snug? Maybe it’s because no matter how seductive the candlelight might make things look, you don’t feel sexy anymore? Or are you mostly scared because your body isn’t working for you in life…your body has become the enemy? When you move your body, you lose your breath. This is situation CRITICAL.
A year ago you could have called yourself a Fit Fat Girl. Run up a couple flights of stairs? No problem. Play soccer with the kid? No problem. Do burpees? Challenging, but no problem. Walk the dogs? Definitely, no problem. So what’s the issue here?
Dig deep here girl…You know what it is. There is a dark enemy trying to defeat you. It is vicious, it is all consuming, it is relentless and it’s judgement is severe and harsh. Society does a great job shaming women for their looks, but critic is the most dangerous one of all.
The enemy is the inner voice that you are hearing right now. It’s you.
Tommorrow morning you will rise, you put on your armour and gather the strength to slay your worst enemy.
Allow me to begin this long overdue post with what I have come to affectionately refer to as “The Saddest Photo Ever Taken of Me.”
Wait, why is this sad? These are some badass women, getting ready to crush the Tough Mudder. And I’m not even in this picture, am I? What gives?
Maybe you caught it, but just in case, let’s take a closer look.
Yep, that’s me. Sidelined at the Tough Mudder and, to be completely honest, fighting back tears but trying to look supportive and excited for my friends. Because they really did kick ass.
As for me, I kicked no ass whatsoever on that August day in Vermont thanks to my injured Achilles (officially diagnosed: Achilles tendinitis). I kept wearing the boot for a week or so following my last post, and then got the clear to gradually stop sporting that sexy look and just move into a long, long, LONG journey of modified workouts, physical therapy, and slow improvement.
But I won’t say “I couldn’t run the Tough Mudder.” I will instead tell you, “I chose not to run the Tough Mudder.” Why is this distinction important to me? Because I’m a grown ass woman, and no one said “You can’t do it, Stephanie.”
Several people, whose opinions I value because of their expertise (eg, my trainers and physical therapists) advised me not to run the Mudder because, well, dicking around with an Achilles injury is a super shitty idea, and I chose to take this oh-so-wise advice seriously. (Look at me! Taking sound advice and listening to my body! Woohoo!)
I’d like to say that I was proud of my decision and it wasn’t a big deal to miss the Mudder because I knew it was the right thing to do, but that would be a bold-faced lie.
I’d like to say that I was super psyched to go to Vermont anyway and support my girls, but that would be another big fat stinking not-so-true statement.
Going there and not being able to participate, putting on my happy encouraging face, go girls go!, etc etc, was really effing hard.
Standing there in the background, watching them hold hands and get psyched up, and then take off on the course, well, it sucked.
It sucked so much ass that I had to go to the ladies’ room and take about 15 minutes to compose myself. (Not to mention the fact that their heat left around 9:20 and Tough Mudder folks did not see fit to start serving beer til 11am. A big WTF? to that.)
I wish I had a different story to tell about that day.
A selfless story that paints me as somewhat saintlike in my acceptance of being left out/left behind instead of someone who spent five hours wandering around alone and feeling sorry for herself while they ran the course.
An uplifting story that shows me cheering triumphantly as I watched my friends cross the finish line instead of swallowing over a huge lump in my throat, silently, as they hugged each other in victory and relief, having formed a bond that can only come from facing the challenges they had faced together on that course.
A bond that, even though I was technically “there,” I wasn’t a part of.
But apparently, I am not selfless, and so far, this is not that uplifting of a story.
While I’m detailing depressing things, I may as well let you know that I also bowed out of dance crew for the October performance. This, also, makes me want to cry a little.
Ok, a lot.
Ok, I have already cried several times over this decision.
Dance crew is something I do purely for my own personal joy and happiness and nothing else, so taking a break from it and missing a performance so I can heal is just…crappy. Miserable. Sucky.
I’m also only working out 3x a week at the gym, with no jumping or explosive movements (buh-bye, box jumps, high knees, tabata rounds, jump squats…I could go on, but I’ll stop there because I think you get the picture).
So, in a matter of 2 months, I’ve gone from crushing 4-5 workouts a week, plus 1-2 dance rehearsals, to 3 workouts a week with my feet firmly planted on the floor.
I’m still putting up heavy weights, but my metabolic is significantly curtailed. And given my work to develop a healthier relationship with food by working towards intuitive eating (another long, painful process), this whole thing feels like a backslide.
My clothes are too tight.
I know I’m losing my explosive power.
I worry that when I am fully healed, I’ll be starting over, re-conquering fears of jumping on a wooden box, re-building the stamina to do 12+ burpees in a 20 second interval, re-starting my journey to do a set of 25 perfect pushups. (With this injury, just being in the plank position has been painful because of the flexion required of my ankle to hold a plank. I’ve been doing pushups one-legged on a box and it’s not going well.)
So now that I’ve gotten the bitching, the whining, the self-pity and the worrying out of the way, what now?
It’s time to shut the hell up, and just keep working. Do the best I can to stay focused on what I CAN do the progress I CAN make during this recovery period.
OK, maybe I will have to start over with pushups, and maybe I didn’t kick a bit of ass on Mt. Snow on August 10. Maybe my jeans are too tight and maybe I’ll have to build back up to jumping on a box when the time comes.
Who cares? Really, why would I let this bring me down? I’ll admit that I did for awhile. A pretty long while. A long while in which I alternated between pretending I didn’t care (I did), beating myself up, and throwing pity parties for myself at which I was the only attendee.
But now it’s time to just move on and adjust my expectations and my focus. It is what it is, and I have to find ways to be awesome in my current context and capabilities.
I have to see this not as a backslide, but as another opportunity to become the most kickass version of Steph that I can possibly be.
Another way to learn the lesson that being awesome IS NOT AFFECTED BY WHAT SIZE PANTS I WEAR. (*note, I am not yelling at you, I am yelling at me. In case that was unclear.*)
Right now, I have to focus on setting goals related to where I am and what I can do right now with what I have…and what I can do is keep lifting heavy shit.
For example, last week I squatted 200. I wasn’t even up to 200 yet in my plan, but I had that number in my mind as kind of a goal and I just wanted to see if I can do it. Damned if I didn’t duck under that bar and squat 200 THREE TIMES. Like a boss.
And it’s pretty awesome, when someone annoys me at work or some rude person at the airport cuts past me in the boarding line (I remember you, man in Detroit…) to just look at them and think to myself, “Go ahead, be a jerk. I could totally squat you.” It really helps, and I recommend this strategy to be able to deal with assholes with utter serenity.
So where do I go from here?
Well, I may not be selfless, and I will likely have some more moments of self-pity here and there. I may not be society’s vision of what fit person should look like, and I may not be able to do a set of pain-free mountain climbers. At least not today.
But I am strong, inside and out.
Injury or no, I’m going to find a way to keep moving forward. It may not be the path I choose or prefer, but I’ll just create a new path and keep working to be the awesomest version of myself that I can be.
As awesome as these two little turkey are, every day:
I ignored an injured ankle for a coupla weeks and I got a big ole fat swollen cankle that I could barely walk on. (sad face)
I went to the ortho walk-in and they gave me the boot. I was appropriately shamed at not having seen the line between “I can safely push through this” and “Oh snap, I’m injured.”
The boot is heavy. The boot is clunky. The boot is most decidedly un-sexy and un-cool. My daughter stubbed her toe on the boot and cried, then yelled at me for putting my “stupid boot in her way!”
I promptly set about the business of being lame. I was in a boot, for God’s sake! How effing lame is that?!?
I schlumped/clunked/booted around noisily. And slowly. For like two days.
I was grouchy. I yelled a lot. I had no heavy things to lift.
Then, I got tired of being lame, got into my workout gear, put on the goddamned boot, and went to my workout.
And that’s when the BOOT OF SHAME became the BOOT OF BADASSERY.
With some slight modifications, I kicked the usual ass at my workout. I benched a new PR (110 for 5 reps), did some pull-ups and good mornings, and even got in a little metabolic work…with my feet firmly planted on the ground, of course.