Forced to pause: What I’ve been doing with myself–and my body

Since my race in July, I’ve been pretty quiet about what I’ve been up to. That’s largely because it hasn’t been much. Sad face.

About a month ago, I was going through a regular ol’ weightlifting workout at the gym. I was on my own and I’d just finished training some clients and having woken up early, I was feeling pretty tired but nothing too out of the ordinary for a morning training session. I did a couple of snatches after a normal warm up and I ended up dropping the bar behind me and not bailing quick enough. So, the bar landed on my lower back (off to the side) and since then, I’ve been dealing with it.

The first two weeks were tough and even though I tried, my body yelled at me to back off. Lifting weights was definitely out of the question, but I thought yoga might be alright. Turns out, nope. After a while, I started to go to yoga and take it at an easy pace. I tried some runs and realized they were out. I went to the pool and avoided looking at the clock in favour of appreciating that I could move.

Like I said, it’s been about a month. I went on my first bike ride last week, and it nearly killed me. I took a few more days off. I started to do some light weights, avoiding things that hurt me. I tried biking again—success. My runs have created some kind of hamstring, or maybe IT band pain that is all new for me. Ohhhhh, left side of my body, how you test me!

I’ve been impressed with my ability not to freak out over this. I had the week leading up to my thesis defence without the normal outlet/distraction of working out to keep me from freaking out, and I think I was more prepared for it. And as I’ve come back to my activities, I’ve realized which ones make me feel good. I missed riding bikes with friends. I think I needed a break after my half ironman in July, and I didn’t take it – I went right back into it and raced (not so hotly) at Bluewater two weeks later. Maybe some higher power dropped this barbell on my back like he was trying to hit “pause” for me—the button just needed a pretty hefty push, apparently!

slow down

For now, I’m focusing on being grateful when I feel good and being patient when I don’t. I know in the past, I was compulsive about exercise and would have lost my marbles—for the first two weeks, I did less moving than I had in a normal week during training for my half, and I had to work as a personal trainer and watch my clients all killin’ it on a daily basis!

Now I’m feeling a little lost. I had plans to run a big trail run in mid-October, but running hurts the most right now. I thought about training for my Olympic Weightlifting debut, but I’m obviously a little discouraged there. I think for the first time, I’m going to give myself a break from trying to peak for anything in particular. Sure I have goals—10 chin-ups, anyone? (I’m at six)—and some events that I would like to do—bike rides in the fall are my favourite—but it might be nice to just “work out” for a little in the meantime instead of always feeling like I should be training my face off. I’ve written before about how exercise should improve the quality of our lives and how health ought to be a platform for us to live our best lives from, not the sole focus of our lives—and remembering that has gotten me through all of this! I am however glad to be able to bike myself to school, which started today (yahoo!).

biking to school

I write this because it’s part of a long journey from not being able to take a rest day on vacation without losing my mind or bingeing to realizing that I can rest—and should rest! I’ve seen that my appetite matches my activity level, that I don’t immediately get out of shape or look like a different person if I take some time off, and that I can release stress in other ways. I’ve had some time to think about what I want to do with myself and my body and to start considering what will make me feel like I’ve spent my time, energy, and money on the best options. I have realized how lucky I am to still be able to do things and that this too shall pass (as always). It could have been so much worse. I am not fragile, and I will come back stronger. I’m looking forward to my next comeback, whatever it’s back to…

setback

Have you had an injury that took you out of commission for a little?
Did you learn anything from being injured?
What are you focusing on this fall?
What do you like to do besides train?

weekend wrap: pumpkins and peppers and more

It’s the weekend, which means it’s time to get grateful! 

Like I said last week, I want to start a gratitude practice. Here’s what I’m thankful for this week:

  • fall…It’s September, which means a lot of my favourite things are fair game…sweaters, boots, scarves, pumpkin spice at Starbucks. Did I mention this is my favourite time of the year?

psl

  • migraines…I have come to realize that my migraines are actually a sort of a “Slow the f*ck down” pause message from my body. This week, when my foot started to feel a bit better (yay!), I dove into workouts and running errands full force. By Thursday, I woke up with a migraine and a reason to take a morning off to chill and relax.
  • possibility…I keep coming back to this inspirational cheese about the gift of uncertainty. Grad school orientation week left me feeling disoriented (what classes am I taking? how am I ever going to get to the point where I could write a thesis? what am I doing with my life?) but rather than continue to stressing hard about it, I’m reminding myself that if I had all the answers, things would be boring. If a masters wasn’t challenging and new and thus confusing, I wouldn’t be doing it. nothing
  • peppers…A friend of mine at the gym is always posting updates about her garden bounty and has pretty impressive abilities in the kitchen. She’s been kind enough to invite me and another gal from the gym over to make salsa with her this weekend. I am really excited–a major reason I want a house is so that I can have a walk in closet garden where I can grow my own food, but in the meantime, generous friends are giving my inner martha yet another outlet!

salsa making

That’s it for this week…

World, thank you!

gratitude

on the right foot: if only…

a life lesson, a coaching gem, a question to get you thinking–what better day than monday for a positive post?

A six pack.
A boyfriend.
An expensive car.
No more debt.

What am I talking about?

These are all ways to finish the “I’ll be happy when…” thought I know we all think sometimes.

Last week, I was on a lovely vacation with my family in the mountains of BC.

photo-12

We were pretty busy but not busy enough to stop me from getting into my head one too many times and catching myself thinking those kinds of “if only…” thoughts.

These family vacations are annual occurrences and they always involve beautiful places, lots of good food, quality time, and me getting spoiled. Two years ago, I was on one and can remember thinking how even though it was pretty darn good, it would be better if only I had company of the male persuasion.

This time around, I’ve got the company of the best boyfriend a girl could ask for, but the if only thoughts still crept in, this time around if only I could run or hike (I’m dealing with a foot injury that’s slowing me way down) and if only I had a “better” body.

happy

But this time around, I’m calling bullshit.

If you’re in the habit of finding and focusing on what’s missing, you’re missing out on what’s really here. Getting into the trap of if only thinking is a sure way to feel like things aren’t, like you’re not, like your life isn’t…good enough.

And that’s a crappy place to be.

When we tell ourselves we’re not/things aren’t good enough—like we do when we start the if only tape in our heads—of course we’re going to feel bad.

Need an example?

Lucky for you, I’ve got the real life situation that inspired this post for just that.

Last week, I had the option of focusing on not being able to run/hike on my vacation, which inevitably upset me and made me cranky, which of course made me bad company and took away from the trip. Alternatively, I had the option of focusing on the quality time I was spending with my family, the other things I could enjoy on the trip (rope swings require very little use of a sore foot, for the record), which was a much cheerier way to look at things.

sisters

rope swing

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get down in the dumps a bit last week (before coming to this conclusion of course) or that switching the perspective was easy or natural. But difficult as it was, it did feel good. Rather than focusing on what’s missing, shifting to gratitude and appreciation for what’s present is a recipe for feeling content and blessed.

I’m going to sum this one up in the words of Oprah (and you know this woman’s got it figured out), “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never have enough.”

A reminder to go along with this post is that we can’t find happiness in things. That car, that six pack, that whatever isn’t the route to a good life. Once we get whatever it is we’re after, we will just replace it with another thing to chase. Want off the hamster wheel? The trick is to enjoy and appreciate where we’re at and what we have, even while we move forward in our lives.

happiness

The next time you catch yourself tuning into the if only channel, I challenge you to ask yourself a few questions: What can you appreciate about where you’re at? What would open up for you if things/you were good enough?*

*Accepting that we’re “good enough” can be scary because it can sometimes be wrongly regarded as “giving up.” In truth, acceptance doesn’t mean that we won’t try to improve ourselves or our situations. Instead, it lets us feel good about ourselves while we make those improvements.