What The Mind Can Conceive...
'You got this', I told myself as I approached my bigger, taller and wider opponent on the field; football tucked under my right arm, the look of determination on my face. My mind said, 'fake left, then right and you're clear', but I did not foresee the unexpected. My right foot inserted itself into a ridge in the uneven ground and as I shifted all my weight onto the leg to manoeuvre around my 'Goliath' I heard an unnerving crunch sound resonate from my right knee. The grass and I had an intimate relationship that day, along with the two or three guys that decided to simulate a car pileup on top of me 'just for fun'. I told myself that I should walk it off, not wanting to look like a total loser. I mean, who gets injured during a practise game of flag football? Who does that? *hand flying in the air* Apparently, this girl does!!
After visiting the hospital and having an MRI, noticing that I could not weight bare on my right leg and that my knee would not allow me to bend it past a 15 to 20 degree angle, I realized the extent of my injury. Not only did I have a bucket handle tear on my meniscus (restricting my knee's mobility), I also had a completely torn ACL, sprained MCL and a bruised bone. Fan-freaking-tastic! Truth be told, my ego and my belief-in-myself took a nose dive and hid under the weight of my perceived 'loser-ness' for a while.
Living with an injury is not fun.... Trust me! 2009 and the year after, turned out to be a struggle for me both mentally and physically. My body seemed to be on a journey of its own and my mind was struggling to keep up.
I had a Scope done on my meniscus, and after some physiotherapy (which seemed like forever) I had to go back in for a Manipulation (this is where the surgeon puts you to sleep and forcefully bends the 'stiff or frozen' joint ) because my knee was not moving passed a 50 to 90 degree angle even with physiotherapy every day. I was also experiencing LDS (I believe that's what it's called), which happens when your body magnifies the pain and you end up feeling more discomfort, or should I say PAIN, than you really should; it's a protective mechanism apparently. In order to even think about ACL reconstruction, I was told that I needed to have at least a 120 degree bend.
After much grueling torture in physiotherapy, I achieved the 120 degree bend that was required for ACL reconstruction. My surgeon decided, ultimately, on not going in again to replace my torn ACL, due to my body's ability to over produce scar tissue, after my Scope. So needless to say that experience has left me slightly scarred.
I've noticed that there has been a slight change in the way I relate to post workout pain (including DOMS - delayed onset muscle soreness). I still love and relish in it but not as much as I used to. The pain that I experienced due to the injury and therapy thereafter had, and has changed my outlook. On the bright side, I know that it is mostly mental, however the mental hurdles are often the hardest to get used to. I have to keep reminding myself that pain is temporary and the rewards and benefits will far outweigh the pain that comes today.
In order for me to get full range of motion back in my knee joint, I had to endure through the tears (literally) and convince myself that those around me who were trying to motivate and encourage me were not after my demise but rather my success and full recovery. I have to admit, I despised my mother, husband and therapist for a while but deep down I knew it was for the best. Because of their aid, I was able to gain mobility back in the joint, and although I can't touch my heel to my bum on the injured leg, it comes pretty close now.
There are so many morals that I have and can still gather from this situation. The good ole' text - 'Weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning' can definitely work here, but what I really want you guys to take away from this is =>
Often times we keep ourselves back because of our own inner struggles, our own mental walls; our own negative thoughts. If we keep telling ourselves we can't, then we won't! If we keep allowing ourselves to make excuses then we will remain stagnant. If you allow your negative thoughts to keep driving your life's ship, then one day, in a moment of clarity (and we all get these moments now and then) you will realize how much you have lost or left behind.
So, my admonition to you, and yes to myself as well, is to always think positive thoughts, be your own cheerleader (having other's in your corner will help tremendously too) and learn to fight through the pain. Make the conscious effort to train your brain and your body will have no choice but to follow.
Brain Awareness Week
I started this as a 'Tip for the Day' on my Facebook page but there is so much more that needs to be said: It's BRAIN AWARENESS WEEK this week (March 12-17)!! Are you aware of the positive benefits of exercise to your brain??
Exercise is not only good for your body and weight loss, it is also great for maintaining brain activity as well. Researchers say that exercise can help ward off brain damage associated with neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimers, because it helps the brain produce chemicals that keep away inflammation that can be damaging. Some researchers are looking to incorporate exercise as a means to extend a life with full functionality. Exercise is also used as a form of therapy after injury, to help repair the mechanisms and functioning ability of the brain.
Exercise can also help to calm down ADHD, a now common neurological/behavioral condition that causes hyperactivity and a inability to focus. This condition is seen more often in children and is now being diagnosed in adults as well. Many doctors are quick to prescribe drugs to try to ward of this condition but exercise can provide the same changes in mood, energy, and alertness. Children who were allowed to run around before settling for task based projects were noted to be better able to function two to four hours after, because of exercise.
So although, weight loss is important and we are all bombarded daily about what our bodies should and should not look like, take a little time to think about the benefits that you are providing for your brain. Long life and vitality of your brain can mean long life and vitality for your body, as well. So, keep your body moving and your brain will also thank you.
What if you were diagnosed with a curable 'disease' or 'illness'? Would you allow your body to slowly deteriorate into nothingness or will you do what you can to get better and live longer??
If you're like most people you would probably choose the latter and try to live longer. Right??
Then, why are we allowing ourselves to flirt with our mortality by way of heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, chronic liver disease/ cirrhosis and arteriosclerosis, just to name a few. These conditions can be reversed by means of daily activity a.k.a exercise, healthy food choices, self control, and education.
Remember, you have the ability to make the necessary changes to improve your lifestyle and your health for the long term. All you have to do is want it.
So, what are you waiting for????
What influences you..
The road to optimal fitness and health is not a straight and easy one. There are many pieces of the puzzle that need to be in place in order to get and keep the results that we fantasize about. There are actually three types of influences that shape healthy behaviour. These are predisposing factors, enabling factors and reinforcing factors.
Predisposing factors are made up of knowledge (do you know what your doing and/or how to do it effectively), attitude (are you starting with an positive or negative view), beliefs (do you belief in yourself and your goals), values (what is important to you) and perceptions (are you looking at it from the right angle).
Enabling factors are made up of skills (your physical ability), resources (what you have around you that can be used), accessible facilities (are you able to reach what you need), physical capabilities (are you able bodied or not) and mental capabilities (do you have the right mindset).
Reinforcing factors are made up of praise from others (do you have your own cheerleading team), rewards (do you give gifts to yourself for accomplishments), encouragement (do you get positive words), recognition (are your accomplishments made aware to others), and sense of achievement (do you feel like you've accomplished something bigger).
ALL these influences need to be in place in order to plan, do and achieve. Look at your system today. Is it able-ing you or diable-ing you? If not, something needs to be changed.
New Year, New Attitude
Now that the new year is fast approaching, many people are reviewing their lives and making resolutions for the coming year. Many of those resolution are tinged with ideas of health and fitness improvements; weight loss, gaining muscle, increased flexibility and the list goes on and on.
Are you one of those people? There are various stages of change and at the ending of the year most people are either in the contemplation stage or the preparation stage. In the Contemplation stage most people are aware that they have an issue that needs to be changed and are considering changing in the next month. They are thinking about all the good that will come out of this new change, when it starts, but are also bombarded with all the effort and energy that it will take in order to accomplish this goal.
In the Preparation stage, people intend to change and make the effort to accomplish their goals. For example, they may sign up for a fitness class or talk to a trainer and even make small changes like parking further away from the mall to encourage walking.
Whatever stage you may be in today, remember that you are on your way to a better and healthier life but what make the difference is stepping into the Action stage. This will make all the difference. Planning and thinking about change is good but actually following through with it, is better. So... go ahead. Put in that yoga DVD, start those personal training sessions, do that morning run before work, just GET MOVING. The sooner you start the better you'll feel.
Health and fitness is a lifestyle.