A few years ago, I penned a post about ugly crying while mountain biking. I was working with a coach at the time and he took me out of my comfort zone. The outer limits at that time involved a steep incline with a sharp hairpin turn to the right followed by an equally steep descent. There was no backside or opposite side of the hill. It was climb, turn, descend. If you made a misstep you were going over the hill. Period.
I was terrified. I made a few approaches that I intentionally bailed on. A few times I climbed the hill only to bail at the top—which is bad because you now have to fight gravity as you make your way back down while maneuvering a bike alongside you.
I will never forget the feeling I had when I finally made it up and down safely that first time. When I got to the bottom where my coach was standing, I began to cry. Not just cry. I was sobbing. I cried big, huge alligator tears while full on snotting my head off. I was an absolute mess. The involuntary emotional relief I experienced after conquering this “mountain” was overwhelming to me. It was all the fear leading up to it followed by the release of getting over it that just broke a dam inside me.
You’re probably wondering why I’m reliving this experience, today. And no, it has nothing to do with #tbt. It’s because I experienced a similar experience today, on a much, much smaller scale.
If you know me, you know it’s been a long seven months of back-to-back injuries beginning with fracturing my left foot and tearing my ligaments in June, followed by a fall down the stairs in November, which re-injured the same foot and ankle—but worse. The pièce de résistance happened two days before Christmas when I fractured my right wrist while snowboarding, requiring surgery to implant a plate and nine screws. These events have left me at rock bottom physically and, more often than not, emotionally.
Blessedly, and despite my fresh injury, my husband drug me to his gym the day after Christmas. He urged me to obtain a membership and enlist the services of a trainer. I was terrified. I had so much self-doubt, I didn’t know which end was up, let along where to begin physically. The owner of the gym paired me with a young woman named Rachel. He assured me she was experienced with injuries and would be very good for me. I trusted him and committed to a twice-weekly, three-month training regimen with Rachel. It was the best thing I could’ve ever done for myself.
I began working with Rachel five days post-surgery. This week marks five weeks we’ve been working together to get me back on track. I had (and still have) so much work to do on my physical body. When I began this journey back to me, my endurance was zilch. I couldn’t walk on the treadmill or ride a bike without being winded almost immediately. I lacked overall strength and had zero stability in my left foot and ankle. I felt like a newborn babe, but Rachel took great care with my “fragile” self.
Rachel asked me a couple of days ago how I felt things were going. I answered her honestly. I told her we’ve come so far from those early days of passive exercise. She has steadily added challenging and innovative exercises and increased weights. Mind you, I’ve been working out with ONE hand and ONE arm. We’ve adapted and kicked butt over the past five weeks. As of Tuesday, I am now free to work out without restriction.
Today, Rachel’s workout included box jumps. I’ve never done a box jump in my life and doubted my ability to do one on a good day, let along during my process of rebuilding. We started small, just three risers with an aerobic step. Rachel then set up five risers because she felt I was having too easy of a time with three risers. Oh, that girl, she challenges me. I approached the “box” and try as I might, could not commit to making the leap. I simply could not do it mentally. I would bend my knees, throw my arms behind me for momentum, go up on my toes and freeze. I bet I tried ten times before asking Rachel to remove a riser. After completing ten (mentally challenging) box jumps at this height, my heart was racing and I had an all-too-familiar lump in my throat. I was transported back to that day on the mountain bike trail. It was that same overwhelming emotional release. A different day. A different year. A different place. A different situation. A different woman. The same feeling.
Why am I telling you this? Why is it important? Because I want you to press on with whatever it is that has set you back. Don’t give up or give in. Push whatever it is that’s defeating you aside and take back your life. Living a life with a new benchmark for normal is better than not living life at all. Trust me when I tell you, it’s easy to sit on the couch and think of better days. But once you commit, it’s just as easy to get off the couch and make today a better day. You deserve it.