Life loves to throw us curveballs, doesn’t it? Sometimes you’re just hitting your stride, just getting close to reaching a goal you’ve been working toward for ages, and then WHAM–you get knocked down. Typically “knocked down” is just a figure of speech, but let’s say–purely hypothetically–you were literally knocked down by a crooked sidewalk and, I don’t know, broke your foot or something. COMPLETELY HYPOTHETICAL, PEOPLE.
Actually, true confession: this happened to me. Another true confession: there was a time in my life, not so terribly long ago, that I would have been secretly relieved to have an excuse to take a six-week break from working out while on the mend from such an injury. I would have snapped my fingers and said, “Shoot! Well, I’m out of the gym for awhile. I can’t very well exercise on a broken foot, now can I?” and would have happily posted up on the couch with Netflix and Chipotle for the next two months.
Instead, I’ve made a conscious effort to avoid total backslide and keep doing what I can to maintain a healthy body and a healthy mind. Along the way, I’ve discovered a few silver linings and morsels of wisdom that are not only good for coping with some temporary adversity, but are also good life lessons to carry over for the long haul.
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
It’s not “all or nothing.”
Has my usual exercise routine been altered by this change in circumstances? Absolutely. My “new normal” is one 30-minute private training session per week. When it’s time to go back to my usual classes, I’m prepared for it to be a little tougher than usual and to feel it a little more the next day. But right now, that 30-minute session each week is a placeholder. It’s minimum upkeep and maintenance. It’s better than nothing at all. It’s sending a message to my body: “Don’t forget how to do this; we’re just on temporary light duty!”
So often we get caught up in the “all or nothing” mentality when it comes to diet and exercise. Instead, think of your health and wellness as a piggy bank. Ideally, you’d put a good amount of money into your piggy bank every day, but some days you might only have some spare pocket change to drop in. Still, wouldn’t you put in that little bit of change? You would never look at a quarter in the palm of your hand and say “…Nah, not worth saving!” and toss it out the window instead of tucking it away in your piggy bank, would you? Maybe eventually you will manage to save up some $1, $5, and $20 bills to stuff in there–but in the meantime, even the pennies are adding up. Don’t throw away your pennies!
You might be able to do more than you think you can.
As I mentioned in Part I of this post, I went into my first private training session not sure if we’d even be able to fill 30 minutes with exercises that could be done sans right foot. Once we got going, though, I realized that out of all the types of moves we do in a typical barre class, there was really more in the “can” column than in the “can’t.” A few simple modifications removed a lot of the self-imposed limitations that I thought I was up against.
By no means should this tempt you to push yourself past what your body (or, ahem, your doctor) tells you is wise right now. If you’re currently injured, ill, pregnant, postpartum, or dealing with any other physical condition that means you need to cool your jets for a little while…for goodness’ sake, take it easy! Ultimately, respect your body’s physical limits while simultaneously expanding your mental limits. A little determination and creativity go a long way in moving that boundary between “I can’t” and “I can.”
Your body’s strength is a gift.
And it is a gift that will pay off big time should you ever find yourself recovering from an unexpected injury, an operation, or even a serious illness. I can’t count how many times I have thanked my lucky stars (and my barre studio) for my good balance while standing on one foot, my powerful left quad that is now doing twice the work, and my strong triceps as I crab-walk up and down the stairs. Invest in your fitness and strength now–you never know when you will need it, and you’ll never be sorry to have it!
Our ability to move and take care of our bodies is truly a gift, and never has this been more apparent to me than in the last month. It’s so easy to take for granted the simple, mindless things that we do every day–walking up and down the stairs, sweeping the floor, chasing around our children, taking a stroll through the neighborhood. We don’t normally consider it a blessing to be able to take the stairs instead of the elevator, or think of how lucky we are to be able to vacuum. We park as close to the store as we can so we don’t have to walk. We exercise begrudgingly because “we have to.” Actually, you don’t have to do anything! But you do get to walk, run, skip, jump, and yes, you even get to do burpees. 😉 Every day that our bodies have these amazing abilities is a gift–a gift that we must not let go to waste by parking it on the couch all day long, broken foot or not.
Honor your body. Treat it like the gift it is. Revel in your own strength. And most importantly, don’t work out because you hate your body–work out because you love it.
“If any thing is sacred, the human body is sacred.”