The source of the tears had started in an aerobics class a little over a month earlier. I did a jump and when I came down, I must have landed wrong on my left knee. I remember thinking, “That hurt,” but being a little bit stupid, I kept going in the class. Then I kept trying to work out, not slowing down. Which resulted in the knee getting a lot worse. Right before Thanksgiving, I was getting ready to travel for work, so I finally broke down and took two weeks off from the gym. I expected I would heal in two weeks, but as the end of the time approached, I realized I couldn’t straighten my leg.
I have been extremely fortunate in my life to have not had a lot of illnesses or injuries. A cold every few years, a sore throat and maybe a sprained ankle. I pretty much take for granted that I will be able to haul a PA, clean out my own gutters and bring home a dresser by myself from the Goodwill. Although I have a lot of compassion for people who have constant pain or real sickness, for myself, I have never really had to deal with it.
I finally broke down and saw a doctor, who prescribed some muscle relaxants, a knee brace and no high impact work outs until it healed.
“No worries,” I thought. “It will be back to normal by Christmas.”
Which brings me to the New Year’s Eve class. I was doing my little low impact version in the back, when I suddenly started crying. Because everybody had sweat running down their faces, no one noticed. Thank goodness, because I felt like an idiot. I just got overwhelmed watching everybody doing box jumps, burpees, and jumping jacks, while all I could do was step in and out. It probably didn’t help that my birthday had been a week before, but for the first time in my life, I felt very old and very broken. Those exercises that I usually dreaded doing, now were the only things I wanted to be able to do.
I happen to walk out at the same time as the teacher, still wearing my unfashionable knee brace. “I really like your class,” I told him. “I wish I could do more, but I have been trying to get back from this knee thing….”
“You just need to focus on what you CAN do and not push too hard,” he said. “I tore up my knee playing semi-professional ball about ten years ago and it took me two years to get it back to normal. It takes time.”
Two years to get back to normal? Here I was crying over a couple of months, focusing on what I wasn’t able to do, not looking at all the things I still could do.
I had spent my birthday, walking all over Magic Mountain, riding rollercoasters with the D-Man, with only a little knee stiffness. I had hosted a wonderful Christmas Eve for 20 people that went on until 2:00am. I had spent a lovely Christmas Day with family.
New Year’s Eve, after my little pity party, I hauled in an entire sound system and we entertained a great group of people, helping them ring in the New Year. Yes, my knee hurt, but I didn’t start until near the end of the night and at least I was able to move around on stage.
Then the day after New Year’s, I was able to walk and see all the great floats from the Rose Parade. Like I said, a great holiday season. No burpees, no jumping jacks, but still the best.
My workouts have taken a new turn. I am focusing more on Cycle classes and I finally feel like, at least on the bike, I can do a normal workout. The return to high impact is still a work in process and I wouldn’t be honest if I said I wasn’t a little frustrated, but today, I realized, I can almost straighten my leg all the way! Not a burpee, but progress. Something I couldn’t do a few months ago.
I know everyone is making New Year’s resolutions. Lose 20 pounds, get a new job, fall in love.
When these things don’t work out immediately, it is easy to abandon them and feel like a failure. But what we don’t realize, is sometimes we expect too much.
Maybe you won’t lose 20 pounds, but you can take a 15 minute walk every night to get in a little better shape. Maybe you aren’t hired yet, but you can take a class to learn a new skill or work on putting together a great resume. Volunteering, starting a new hobby, just going to see some live music is going to increase your chances of meeting someone new.
Focus on what you CAN do. Come to think of it, maybe that’s the best resolution of all.