Just What I Was Afraid Of

About four and a half years ago, Gary and I began running and our journey toward fitness and a healthier lifestyle.  For the first several months, I worried that I would quit because that’s what I had always done.  I would get excited about exercise, and then after a few weeks, I would skip a workout, and then another, and soon I just gave it up altogether.  Only four years ago, I didn’t stop.  I kept running until soon I could run 13.1 miles.  I kept running, and friends joined me.  I kept running, and began having others ask for my advice.  We also biked and did some other at-home workouts, and after a couple years, I added Zumba to my workout routine.  Fast forward to Summer 2013, and Gary and I are both instructors at Everbody’s Fitness.  Heck, we two used-to-be-out-of-shape-middle-aged-non-athletes even attended – and survived – a fitness conference.  And now it’s stopped.

Four and a half years later and I am totally struggling with motivation.  We are still coaching a Biggest Loser team, but I need it as much as our team members.  I am back to teaching Zumba, but there are five other days in the week I am not exercising.  Oh, I have excuses.  We have been crazy busy with Addison’s golf and band, and I have a new teaching position this year that is keeping me incredibly busy.  But realistically, I feel worthless.  After my surgery, I was unable to exercise for a few weeks, and that quickly got me out of the habit of making time to workout.  I still can’t do what I really want to do, which is run, so I just don’t do anything.  Every day I tell myself that tomorrow I will do a DVD I bought at the conference, and every day I find some lame reason to avoid it.  Each day I say that the following day I will eat better.  I usually have those little discussions with myself after I’ve seen the number increase on the scale or when I put on a skirt or pants that are too tight.  That seems to be happening a lot.

As I was teaching Zumba last Tuesday night, reality stared me in the face; I was in a mirrored studio for 45 minutes.  All I could see was my once-toned-now-flabby belly and the love handles that are making a repeat appearance.  I worked my ass off that night, and have done nothing since.  Next week I begin teaching Tabata Bootcamp.  I have my group of 15 participants, but I don’t know if they all realize that they will be helping me as much as I help them.  I am going to be working that bootcamp just the same as all of them, and I hope it’s just what I need to get my head back in the game.

I still question whether or not I will be able to run again.  I guess only time will tell.  The thought of starting over from the beginning is something I find nauseating.  It took years to gain the endurance and speed (I use that term lightly) I was finally proud of, and only a few months to lose it completely.  I haven’t had a good run since early April.  I so envy all those who are training for the Evansville Half Marathon, a race I PR’d at last fall.  My husband will be running, and several of our friends will be running their first half marathons that day, so I plan to be at the finish line cheering them on.  I have to admit, though (and my husband can attest to this), the last time I did this it didn’t go so well.  I was so depressed that I wasn’t running that I couldn’t enjoy the race at all.  I was actually a big baby.  I can’t say that I won’t be a little (or extremely) sad, but I will be equally proud of those who thought they’d never run a 13.1, and will cross that line.  I remember my first time…it was incredible!

I don’t share this blog for sympathy or accolades.  I share it because I want everyone who is struggling to know that we all struggle at some point.  Even those of us who have been working at this whole fitness thing for a long time have days when we want to eat every sweet and every chip we see.  We have days we go through Walmart and shop in the middle (supposedly the healthy foods are all on the perimeter of the store).  We have days we eat pancakes, sausage, eggs, and fried potatoes for supper (well, it was really good).  And then we suck it up and get back to business.  It’s time for me to suck it up.  It’s time for me stop sucking it in.  Tomorrow.  I’ll start tomorrow.

Two Steps Forward, Three Weeks Back

When I talked with the nurse to schedule my knee surgery, she told me I would be able to run after four weeks.  When I questioned my doctor right before surgery, he confirmed what the nurse had said.  At my post-op appointment, the orthopedic nurse practitioner also said I could run after four weeks (Gary was there, and also heard this).   I actually rested more than was recommended.  I was told that after two weeks I could bike, do the elliptical, and begin doing some easy workouts.  I chose to continue to rest, and the only exercise I tried was walking.  I walked about twice a week.  I have been determined to recover fully so I can get back to doing everything I love.

Yesterday morning, I went to town to walk.  I had decided that since it had been four weeks (okay, I was two days early, but really, two days wouldn’t have made a difference), I was going to attempt to run a little.  I was alone, so I didn’t have to worry about keeping up with anyone, or making anyone stop because I couldn’t do it.  I walked my favorite route, which includes the River Walk, a one-mile stretch along the Ohio.  My plan was to run that stretch.  I have to admit, as I approached  my starting spot, I began to get really nervous.  I had no idea what to expect, but gosh, I wanted to run.

I got to the starting line, and slowly began to run.  It hurt.  My knee felt tight, and it just felt awkward.  I was going at a snail’s pace, and though it wasn’t comfortable, I thought that since it was my first run since surgery, that was probably to be expected.  I made it the full mile; it wasn’t pretty and it certainly felt awful, but I did it.  And then I limped another mile and a half back to my car.  I don’t think I was ready.

Throughout the next hour, my limp became more obvious, and my IT band throbbed.  Crap.  I went home, propped my leg, and iced.  Since that time, my knee has felt like it did one week after surgery.  I can’t walk without a heavy limp, and any sort of twist or quick move makes me cringe.  So for those few steps of forward running, I set myself back three weeks.  While I was icing, I searched for some info via Google.  I found a woman’s blog, and she had had the same type of surgery.  She had physical therapy after, and was not released to run for eight weeks.  I am not sure why our post-op advice was so different, but I know that I won’t be attempting a run for a few more weeks.

What now?  I am going to get on my trusty bike, though today even that sounds painful.  I might hit the gym and try my least favorite machine, the elliptical.  I had planned to go back to Zumba September 16, but I don’t even know if that’s possible.  I was originally told I could begin teaching within four weeks, but I am not even close to being ready to squat, jump, shimmy, or twist.  I have to find something that works because I’ve also found that not exercising leads me to eating more crap.  Burgers, pizza, and sweets have been my good friends the past month.  I know it’s bad, heck, I went to nutrition classes while we were in Atlanta, but I have no self-control.  As I type this, a plate that once had three cinnamon rolls on it sits beside me.  They were good.

My husband and friends are training for fall half marathons, and I so wish I were training with them.  I just hope that I can eventually run again because after yesterday, I really question whether I will ever run again.  It was that bad.   Do I regret surgery?  Right now, yes.  My hope is that in a few months I will look back and see this as just a little hurdle.

Run a mile for me!  I’ll eat a cinnamon roll for you!