Challenges, Health, Living, Uncategorized

Bounce Back Mentally after a Physical Setback

This particular post is a little difficult to write because I am in the midst of a shoulder injury of some sort. It’s very embarrassing, but what the hell, here’s what happened: I was getting a massage, and had to get on the bed, roll over onto my stomach while pulling the sheet up over me. While I was twisting like that I felt a severe pain in my shoulder blade, which has resulted in a very uncomfortable night. I couldn’t even roll over in bed without getting a stab of pain, so here I am, sitting bleary-eyed with a big cup of coffee, trying to figure out the next steps.

As detailed in previous posts I’ve been doing lots of weightlifting. What I haven’t been posting is how successful I’ve been. I’ve lost 30 pounds, gained a lot of muscle definition and have become a pretty strong lady. My confidence has shot up at the same time that my overall weight has shot down. I’ve had a couple of minor injuries, plus some chronic knee pain that has been diagnosed as tendonitis, but on the whole I’ve been able to stick to my program and continue lifting. It’s pretty intoxicating; I love feeling like a badass every time I lift something heavier.

And then, of course, something happens to throw a spanner in the works.

Setbacks of many kinds are inevitable. I know this. I’ve lived through a couple of bad setbacks and know that they will pass with time. I also know that I can help them pass through my own mental state and actions that are produced from that. It would be so easy for me to be down in the dumps after this (I had to cancel my session with my trainer this morning) and make bad choices that spiral out of control. We’ve all been there: missing a workout or eating an unhealthy meal suddenly becomes two weeks of unfortunate choices. I choose not to do this. I choose to stay my course, and adapt to the situation. Here’s the steps I’ve decided to take:

  • First and foremost: TAKE CARE OF MYSELF!!! I kid you not, I got up, in quite a bit of pain, and I hinged my hips while squeezing my shoulder blades together – I thought I might be able to do a deadlift with my trainer today because it didn’t hurt so much with that action. No, no, no, no, NO. My body is clearly telling me that something is wrong, and I need to respect that. I need to give it some rest and let it do it’s thing to heal. I’ve also scheduled in a doctor’s appointment for this morning to make sure nothing really sinister is going on.
  • Second: pay very close attention to what goes in my mouth. Since I will probably not be lifting hefty weights any time soon I need to adjust my food intake to meet my needs. Lifting days are a joy for me because I can eat like a horse (all healthy stuff, I’ve been very good at not undoing my work in the gym), but I can keep eating like I do on rest days – lots of veggies and protein, a bit of fat, a bit of carbohydrates. Keep it simple.
  • Third: find something that I can do. Upper body is clearly out of action for a bit, but there ain’t nothing wrong with my legs. I’ve already written down a bodyweight exercise routine that I think I’ll be able to do without aggravating my injury. Squats, lunges, step ups, leg raises – so many options to choose from! This will keep me from feeling like I’m losing my gains, and also open up a new world of things I can do at home whenever I want!
  • Fourth: walk it out. Walking is so good for the body and mind. Everything seems to melt away as I walk through the forest beside my apartment. Even in the shittiest of weather it is the best medicine to me.
  • Fifth: write it down. This blog post has been very cathartic, and I plan on journalling later. If nothing else it gives me accountability, but it also helps to put it in perspective. Yes, I am temporarily hurt, but that does not mean I am done for. It means I have an opportunity to improve another area that I haven’t been focusing on.
  • Sixth: talk it out. Find a sympathetic but non-pandering ear to talk about it with. Don’t whine or complain, but have a genuine conversation about how you feel, physically and mentally. It may make you feel vulnerable, but saying it out loud is very helpful. Pick someone who will understand but won’t let you feel sorry for yourself (this is key). For me it’s my sister, who came back after tearing her ACL in varsity rugby to living her best life. She’s been through it, and she’s a great inspiration. She’s also a proponent of tough love, which is exactly what I need.

A few weeks ago I got my diagnosis of tendonitis in my knees, and it really bummed me out. I had to give up soccer, perhaps permanently, and I felt like I was ageing before my time. It put me in a funk, and it was only because I had already established good habits that I was able to avoid a health spiral. I came out of that funk after a couple of days, and now I am feeling better than ever – my physiotherapist is awesome and has helped me make my knees so much stronger. Thanks to that period of time I am now looking at this new injury with a different attitude. My mental barriers have not come up, because I now know that this isn’t the end of the world (it isn’t even the end of the day). I’ll come through this stronger and healthier regardless of the fact that I can’t do deadlifts, rows and presses for the time being.

It is easy to give up and wallow in self-pity. But in the end you do yourself a massive disservice. Even if you feel like shit, write down a plan of action with steps you can easily follow and you come out the other end feeling so much better. Even more importantly, it helps frame future setbacks in a more positive manner. I feel energetic and optimistic about the day ahead of me, and that can only lead to good things.

The sun continues to rise, and I continue to be a badass bitch.

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