I know I’ve been MIA again for almost a month. It’s been a tough few weeks mentally, and I would say I hit rock bottom about 3 weeks ago. My hip flared up quite badly and I could no longer do the things that I’d built up to being able to do. Whereas I could comfortably walk 5-6km before, all of a sudden I was in pain walking the 500m from the car park to the office. I went to the physio and she suggested it might be tendonitis so she changed up my physio programme to be more isometric holds.
It wasn’t getting much better so I went to see my GP because the physio said that the only way to be sure was to have an ultrasound. My GP agreed that the joint itself seems fine and it’s most likely a soft tissue issue … so he sent me for an x-ray :-s. He also prescribed me anti-inflammatories. Two weeks later not much had improved so I rang him to find out what next. He offered to send me back to the surgeon, but I managed to talk him in to doing an ultrasound first (still waiting on official results, but it looked clear).
While all this was going on my mental state was getting worse and worse. I had no motivation to do anything. I was hiding away in a meeting room at work and being generally unproductive. My eating was getting worse with regular chocolate and cookie binges which in turn made me feel even worse. There were many times I cried, and many more times I felt like crying. So, I finally did something about it and made an appointment to see an NLP practitioner. In theory I went to see her to work out why I couldn’t control my eating and do all the things I know I need to do to get my weight back under control. But we’ve ended up working through a few beliefs I have/had about myself, my weight, weight loss/exercise and surprisingly (or not) my injury.
In my 2nd session we did an exercise to map out where I am now vs my ideal state in terms of thoughts, feelings, images and self-talk. It surprised me at the time, but in hindsight it shouldn’t have, that the words that kept coming up in my ‘now’ state were anger and frustration. I think that it was something I hadn’t dealt with fully. My surgery was supposed to fix everything and get me running again. And (in my head) when I could run again, my eating would improve and everything would miraculously just be like it was. However, my recovery is dragging out and taking way longer than I expected and I hadn’t really dealt with it.
Now that I’ve had time to reflect on things I can see that what I was going through was a lot like the 7 stages of grief. First there was denial. To me, the surgery was no big deal. It was just a means to an end. I know for a lot of people surgery is a big scary thing, but this was my 8th surgery (in my life, not for my hip!) and so it was just routine. I was just going to have surgery, do my rehab and then things would go back to normal. Then came anger. Surgery was supposed to fix everything, not make it worse. I’m not sure that it is worse than it was before surgery, but there are certainly times it feels like it. On top of that I felt like my health professionals weren’t listening to me. My surgeon has just kept telling me that everything is normal from day 1. My GP wouldn’t send me for an ultrasound. My physio said there wasn’t much more she could do for me – I just had to go right back to the beginning and start from scratch at my phase 1 physio exercises and build back up.
Somewhere in amongst the anger was depression and a sense of hopelessness. The other phrase that’s been a large and recurring part of my vocabulary lately is “what’s the point?”. What’s the point of eating healthy when I can’t exercise? What’s the point of making plans? What’s the point of doing any exercise when it’s not doing what I want?
Usually when I go through things like that I’d turn to running. Running was my meditation and therapy. If I was running with a friend I could have a good vent and get it all out there. If I was running by myself … well, if you’ve ever seen a lady running around Hagley Park muttering to herself – that was probably me! So not only was I frustrated at losing my main form of exercise and dealing with a constant nagging pain, but I’d lost my outlet. Cycling, boxing and weights just aren’t the same – you need to concentrate too much to be able to zone out. No wonder I went a little crazy!
Over the past few days I’ve had a few epiphanies that have led me towards acceptance and a new outlook on things and I seem to have found my mojo again.
Health vs Weight Loss
Driving home a few days ago I was having a few “what’s the point” thoughts – mostly along the lines of what’s the point NOT buying chocolate when I won’t be able to lose weight without running anyway. Slowly my brain worked around to what Cate and Robyn and others have been telling me for awhile … it’s not about weight loss, it’s about being healthy. Before I was injured I didn’t feel so awesome because I was skinny (although I’m sure that played a part). I felt awesome because I was healthy. Over the past few weeks/months I’ve noticed things come back that had gone away before. My skin is horrible – dry, acne, eczema patches. My hair is horrible – lank, oily, dandruff. I have no energy and am tired all the time. That’s not because I’m not running. It’s because I’m sticking crap food in my mouth. Eating good, healthy food shouldn’t be about losing weight – doing it with that attitude I’m doomed to failure. The reason I was so successful before was because I wasn’t doing it just to lose weight. My focus was on being a better runner rather than being a skinnier person. What I want to get back is that feeling of being healthy – having energy, having good skin and hair, not feeling bloated and crap – not a number on a scale.
Focus on what you can do not what you can’t
Cate has been saying to me for a few weeks now, “Focus on what you CAN do, not what you can’t”. But feeling as low as I was I couldn’t get past it. All I could see was the things that I couldn’t do because it seemed like that list was a lot longer than the can do list. But last Thursday night at boxing we had an uneven number so we took turns boxing with Riwai. And it was awesome. I was able to really let go (it helped that I was still pretty pissed off at my doctor and my injury at that point) and it was great. I was sweating (first time in a long time), I was out of breath and I was shattered at the end of the session. This got me to thinking that it is possible to get a decent workout in even with my hip playing up. So I’ve now booked in a weekly 1:1 boxing session with Riwai.
Sunday I went for a bike ride with Debbie, and I’ve always said that biking isn’t the same as running. And it’s not. But that doesn’t make it bad. I wasn’t really in the mood for a ride on Sunday as I had 50 million things to do and I kept thinking how I don’t really enjoy it. But as I was riding along I remembered how much I hated running when I started because it was so hard. With running my problem was that I couldn’t breathe. with cycling it’s more my legs feel like they don’t have enough power and I’m slow – especially on hills. But, just like running I will get better and I will start to enjoy it.
Talking to Debbie after our bike ride, I realised that I had finally reached acceptance. It’s taken a long time but I’ve finally realised that I may never run again, and even if I can it’s probably still months away. And I’m ok with it. A few weeks ago I wouldn’t have been. Or I wasn’t. I think I’d already realised that running was potentially a “never again” and likely a “not for a long time” but because I was so focused on the negatives of that and linking all of my previous success to running that was just adding to my misery. Mostly I was afraid that I’d never run again and that that would mean that I was doomed to be fat, unfit and unhealthy.
With the help of Cate (my trainer), Robyn (NLP practitioner), Riwai and my friends – as well as a bit of common sense – I’ve realised that I can still be healthy, fit and active. I still have a long road ahead in terms of rehab, but it doesn’t mean I can’t eat healthy and find other enjoyable ways to exercise that won’t cause me pain.
So here’s my new plan.
1. I went out and bought new exercise gear at the weekend. My old clothes were tight and I felt very self-conscious in them (yes still some mental stuff to work on!)
2. I have a new exercise plan where I exercise 5x week and I’m going to just f*$#^& do it!
3. I’ve started using the TwoGrand app again. No more MyFitness Pal or calorie counting – That’s a recipe for disaster that I’ll tell you about another day
4. I’m going to continue to meditate daily, use the You-App and recite this to myself every morning:
“Today, I will try to feed myself when I am hungry.
Today, I will try to be attentive to how …foods taste and make me feel.
Today, I will try to choose foods that I like and that make me feel good.
Today, I will try to honor my body’s signals of fullness.
Today, I will try to find an enjoyable way to move my body.
Today, I will try to look kindly at my body and to treat it with love and respect.”
Excerpt from Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth
About Your Weight © 2010 by Linda Bacon
5. I’m going to stop beating myself up and be kinder to myself. There will be good days and bad days and both are ok.