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Thursday, September 1, 2011

Pull Up Your Big Girl Panties and Get In Shape

I've been reading a few different blogs about women who are really starting take their own health in their hands.  Two that come to mind are Barb and strongblonde.  They are kicking ass and taking names.

Why?  

Because they realize that their health is their responsibility as well as their happiness.  No one else can truly make you feel good about yourself...only you can do that.

I'm not saying it's easy.

I'm not saying it doesn't take a lot of self-talk to get started.

What I'm saying is that it's important.

A year ago yesterday, I had knee surgery...I had dislocated my patella in a yoga class and was really incapacitated.  No one wants to have knee surgery with two 2-year olds running around. 

Further than that, no one wants to have months of physical therapy ahead of them with two 2-year olds running around and no local help.  Yes, my mother and mother-in-law came in for a bit right after my injury and my surgery, but they couldn't stay forever.  My husband was amazing.  I was completely on my own during the day.

Physical therapy was hard...one of the hardest things I've ever had to do.  I thought I'd never be able to walk normally again.  I thought I'd always walk with a limp.  I thought heels were out of the realm of possibility for my entire life (sob...weep).

Then it dawned on me.

If I wanted to get better, I had to work my ass off.  That meant discipline...no skipping at-home sessions, no canceling appointments because the weather was shitty, no falling into the valley of despair that would so readily catch me.  I had to work my ass off and get myself back to where I was before my injury.

No one else could do it for me.

So, from September through January, I made it to every single physical therapy session...2-3 times a week.  I was there without fail.  When I wasn't at PT, I was at the gym doing my exercises on my own.  I eventually shed the full-leg brace, the tape around my knee, and the coat of shame that I wore from hurting myself in yoga (I mean, really...who does that?  Come to find out, someone who's really dedicated to doing her best in a class...that's who).

There were times that I cried..."This isn't me...I'm strong...I used to be able to do this...why can't I do this?"  To which they would reply, "Give it time...you will be able to do this again, but you need to start slow."  

I didn't believe them at first.

By January, I was on my own and petrified.  My PTs told me that I could always come back, but that it was pretty much up to me.

So, I worked.

I tried things.  I eased off when they were too hard.  I iced my knee almost every night.  I worried about my knee.  I lamented over what I used to be.

Then, slowly, I realized that I was doing pretty well.  I went back to cycling class...that hurt like hell, but I finished the class.  I went back to pilates...that hurt like hell, but I finished the class.

Eventually, I went back to that fateful yoga class.  I could see the uncertainty in my instructor's face when I told her that I was okay to participate and if I couldn't do something, I'd back off.  I could tell she was nervous...after all, she SAW my knee cap sitting on the side of my knee for 10 minutes.  She heard my screams and saw my entire body spasming on the floor of her studio.  She had a firsthand view of the ugliness that my knee was on that day.  We were both super nervous.

Every time we have a class, we're supposed to declare an "intention."  My intention for that day was "completion."  I will complete the class...I may not finish every pose or hold every pose or do every pose perfectly, but I would finish that class.

And I did.

I have continued to be loyal to that class...after all "Strength Yoga" sounds pretty impressive, right?  It is.  It's difficult and challenging and makes me feel incredible.  Each week, my intentions changed...finish, maintain, push, pride, strength, finish.  All I wanted was to get stronger and feel better.

Now, seven months after finishing physical therapy, I am stronger.  I have strength.  I am doing things that I never would have thought possible a year ago.  I am back to Strength Yoga every week.  I am taking a Balls & Weights class each week that leaves me unable to walk up the stairs, but makes me feel incredibly strong.  I am attempting to get 2 classes of cycling in as well.  I have made a dedication to myself and my strength...in turn, my happiness.

I deserve this.

I deserve to be in shape.

I deserve to feel good about myself.

It will help me live a better life...mentally and physically.

It will help me if I sustain another injury (which is entirely possible as my knees are just tracked to dislocate...awesome, right?).

Let's face it, I don't think I would have recovered as fully if I hadn't already been in shape.  That's what makes me so sad when I look around sometimes.  I see these people who are obviously unhealthy and wonder "What the hell are they going to do if they get hurt?  They're screwed."  

It's true...I'm not judging, I'm just thinking of how hard it was for me...a seemingly in shape person...and wondering how they'd ever manage.  I just can't fathom it.

So, bottom line...get in shape...set a dedication and do it.  You're worth it and no one else can do it.  Plus, what if you get hurt and you're out of commission for months...don't you want to be able to come back to your former self (or better)?  It's on you and no one else.  Overcome the obstacles that you're constantly citing and find a way to make it happen.  

Be your own strength.

(Holy crap...I never saw my "I've been out of knee surgery for a year" post being so rah-rah-pro-exercise, but I guess things have changed in my brain!)