Goodbye Sidelined Runner: Hello Active, Able Melissa!
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
I've been thinking a lot about my relationship with exercise and my body and image these past few weeks, as my past few blogs demonstrate. On Monday night I had another conversation with my chiropractor (you know, that saintly dude who gives me all the sage advice?) about my knee and "next steps." As always, he reminded me of the need to be patient and reasonable about my expectations and goals, kind to myself, and encouraged me to stay grounded and less reactionary. I left his office with tons of advice--ranging from physical to emotional--and had a good, quiet, thoughtful night.
Yesterday morning I woke up with energy and a renewed spirit. Since last November, I have definitely lost myself in running, bundled up my sense of fitness, wellness, and self-esteem into the 40 or so minutes a day I used to spend running 5 days a week. Yesterday it hit me--not intellectually since it had hit me intellectually about two weeks prior--but in the GUT: running is not my only path to fitness, wellness, and feeling good about my body. In fact, if it IS, then I'm probably not using running in the healthiest of ways since the goal should be to feel good about myself no matter what my body can or can't do--right? When I was with Ed (the saintly chiropractor) moaning about how I couldn't run on the trail and that the elliptical wasn't the same, he asked, "Wait, you can do the elliptical comfortably?" I nodded my head. "Then just do that!" he said. I went on to tell him how it's approaching the very best time of year here in NJ and I wanted to be out on the trail enjoying it, to which he politely and simply responded, "The trail will still be there when you heal." Hmph. Good point.
I spend a lot of time focused on being present, on living life mindfully and in the moment. I intentionally meditate every day to bring myself back to this NOW space. But what happens when "now" isn't very comfortable, when you're unable to do or have the things you want to do or have in the NOW? I realized that lately when I've focused on the NOW, the state my body is in feels kind of permanent. When I widen my scope, it becomes much more apparent to me that it's likely not permanent at all--after all, I didn't have a knee problem for 31 1/2 years. Rather, it's constantly changing. Each NOW moment something is changing. I'm all for the benefits of living my life in the present moment; I think, however, I need to make sure I'm not getting so lost in how things are presently that I stretch this now into a projection of the future (I hope this all makes sense), as if all future "nows" will look exactly like this one.
In short, I decided to hit the gym yesterday focused on what my body CAN do--NOW--rather than what it can't (the latter is what I've been rather obsessively focusing on for the past 2-6 weeks to varying degrees). Turns out, my body has a pretty impressive repertoire, even with a bum knee! I spent some time walking at a hefty incline (no kneecap slipping or knee pain), using a stepmaster (no kneecap slipping or knee pain), swimming (no kneecap slipping or knee pain), walking half-way up the distance of the empire state building on a stair machine (no kneecap slipping or knee pain), and a few minutes on the elliptical (you guessed it, no kneecap slipping or knee pain). That's a lot! I got a great workout. Even more important, I got a wake up call: who I am is not defined by the things I do, don't do, can or can't do. However, the things I do might be seen as a reflection of the person I am. Yesterday I chose to trade in the identity "sidelined runner" for "able-bodied, active woman," which feels a lot more positive and fair.
I cannot control how my body heals, whether or not I get injured again in the future, or what I may or may not be able to comfortably do down the road. I CAN, however, make a choice about how to handle what's here in front of me now. Why not choose what's positive and energizing rather than defeating and depressing? Goodbye sidelined runner: hello active, able-bodied Melis!