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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!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    That is it accentuate the positive . I swim three times a week and I love it .Go with what you can do ! You are looking awesome !
    3158 days ago
    Great blog!
    3162 days ago
    I am so mucho excited for you and proud of you! Its amazing that you can see what a wonderfully able bodied individual you are! You've worked so hard and come so far, its fabulous that you are beginning to fully understand the implications of taking care of yourself. You are a runner. Even a sidelined runner right now, but that is sooooo far from all you are that its almost comical. It describes only a tiny part of the big athletic picture and that doesn't even include the multitude of non-athletic qualities that help make you...well... you....

    I wish that I could do half of what you can at the gym.
    Congrats on finding out your workouts can be varied and awesome.

    3163 days ago
    love the positive energy beaming out of this! glad the gym has helped you find a wider range of activities you can still enjoy without issue, i think the timing there was just right ;) congrats and best wishes as you continue to push fwd!
    3163 days ago
    Ed the saintly chiropractor sounds much like Rob, my chiropractor. Maybe it's a class they take in school? He's always giving me sage advice and things to think about.

    I'm glad you're on a new path to appreciate your ability, instead of being restrained by your disability. That's the right attitude for sure!
    3163 days ago
    GREAT blog!! I'm so proud of you!!
    3163 days ago
    Melissa, I am so happy for you! You have done a wonderful job of allowing your mind to explore what is beyond the box of self-definition. That is a trap so many of us fall prey too, and to have the maturity and wisdom at your young age, to see the arbitrary and confining nature of such a state, puts you way ahead of the curve on the path to self realization. Of course this principle goes way beyond physical fitness in its application! You have done so beautifully on your journey, and this is yet another example of your tremendous agility. CONGRATS, WONDERFUL, STRONG, HEALTHY, WOMAN!
    3163 days ago
  • BAM0827
    This should be a "Most Popular Blog" because we can all learn from your struggles.

    Sounds like you had an awesome (and humbling for some of us) workout yesterday! Way to keep it all balanced.
    3163 days ago
  • BANAN2
    Awesome, awesome, awesome!!!!!!!!! How exciting that your knee is cooperating in such a wide variety of activities. How awesome that you can climb half the Empire State Building, or would even be willing to try!!!! How much do i love your chiropractor???? The trail WILL still be there! (I would have overlooked that obvious fact as well!) Hooray for able bodied, active, mighty, wise, adaptable,ever growing Melissa! WooHoo!!!!
    3163 days ago
    Wisdom - you have an awful lot of it for a 31 1/2 year old woman and it's one of things that I love the most!!!

    You have been doing a lot of soul searching and I am so happy that you are finally figuring things out. emoticon

    Have a wonderful, fit and awesome day able, active bodied Melissa!!! emoticon
    3163 days ago
    :) that's more like the Melissa I know! I'm so glad you changed your mind state to what YOU CAN do and not the 1 thing you can't do...which like you found out, what you CAN do is about everything else!
    3163 days ago
    I subscribe to your blogs because I find so much wisdom in them every time I visit. Everything you wrote about today has been on my mind in one form or fashion for the past few weeks. I vlogged this morning about the "why" and your point on wisdom sure is a help.

    This pause in your running journey is allowing you to explore all the other facets of your life. I think that's great.
    3163 days ago
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