As most of you already know, I’m sitting here (literally sitting) recovering from what seems like my hardest surgery/injury yet. I’m on orthopedic surgery number seven in fewer than 20 years so you’d think I’d be used the recovery and rest period by now. But low and behold, this has been a serious gut punch for me; the true difficulty of it all was just unexpected. This girl needs to get back to being badass with the quickness!
Many of you may have already seen my Facebook Live video from last week where I bared my soul to everyone about how hard I’d been struggling. Hell, I even shed a few tears and opened myself up to the world; or at least the FB world of those that follow me. If you missed it, be sure to catch all of my soul baring, heat-wrenching boo-hoo fest here.
It’s funny actually; so many people tell me I’m brave for sharing my struggles so publicly the way I do. Maybe I am brave, who knows. I know it’s hard for most to be vulnerable at all let alone in a public venue. But the truth is, sharing my story is what helps me get through hard times. Knowing that I am possibly helping someone else who may be struggling with the same or something similar…THAT is MY therapy! So, yeah, there’s a selfish aspect to it I guess, but ultimately, this just all falls into my passion for coaching and to be the very best coach I can be, opening myself up and exposing my vulnerabilities is one of the best qualities I think I can offer a client, or a friend, or maybe even just a random social media stranger.
If you don’t have time to catch up on the video, here’s a recap for you:
- I’m an athlete and coach (duh) recovering from surgery, on crutches, unable to do much of anything in order to maintain my badass credentials.
- I’m an addict and my drug of choice is the endorphin rush I get from training. Being able to be physical, get my heart rate up and workup a sweat are the things that make me feel like a badass. I’m in a better mood; I’m a better mom, wife and coach. I NEED my fix! I need to push my physical limits and I can’t.
- I’m going through withdraw now because I haven’t been able to train at all since surgery two weeks ago. I can’t do anything to get my heart rate up, or work up a sweat. There are no endorphins or adrenaline. I don’t have my fix. I am suffering from badass withraw.
- I suffer from depression. I realized in 2007 after back-to-back surgeries to repair my torn bicep and labrum in my shoulder, that I suffer with bouts of depression. My lack of physical activity sent me into a tailspin. One, which took me over a year to overcome. Once I got through it and came out stronger on the other side, I swore I would never end up there again and would do everything in my power to avoid it; yet here I am, sitting on the ledge, with my former badass self, trying not to go over the edge.
So that pretty much sums up the video, which was incredibly cathartic in and of itself, but now it’s time to share what I’m actually doing about it and how I’m getting through it all. I want to share with you, exactly how I’m going from boohooing to getting back to the business of badassary. While my specific struggles right now are related to recovering from my recent hip labrum surgery, these are strategies I have learned to use throughout my life and many different challenges. I use these same strategies when coaching clients as well. So here we go:
This is the number one strategy for me. There’s a quote I saw once that said, “Positive people aren’t ones that never have negative thoughts, they just don’t let the negative thoughts run their lives.” I use this strategy with my clients quite a bit too. What people don’t realize is that THIS ONE IS THE HARDEST for most. We are always so quick to judge ourselves negatively, thinking that we must be perfect, and we forget to practice self-kindness. If you wouldn’t say it to a friend (something negative), why would you say it to yourself? Positive self-talk does NOT happen over night, and like with anything, it takes practice to become a habit. I have to practice this daily (sometimes hourly) as the negative committee comes knocking at my door. I literally (and sometimes out loud) have to have a conversation with myself and convince me that there is something positive in whatever the situation. For instance, when I’m feeling especially blue because I can’t do something, I remind myself of how much I’m going to inspire others with my recovery. When I come back (in my mind) better and more badass than ever, it’s going to inspire someone. So this little blip on my radar, it’s meant for a bigger purpose. Now, I may have to say this to myself over and over to actually believe it, but like I said, it takes practice. It’s not something that will come naturally or easily. But once you start, with consistency and practice it will become a habit, and soon you will find that you are suddenly as kind to yourself as you would be a friend. Your situation does NOT define who you are!
Ok, so I know I said my movement is seriously limited right now and it is, which is why this time has been so much harder for me. Last December I had shoulder surgery (again) and since I KNEW I wasn’t going to let myself slip into the “all or nothing” mentality and depression like I did in 2007, I was PREPARED to do whatever I could. I used to be so all or nothing that if I couldn’t train the way I wanted (lifting heavy ass shit) I would do nothing at all, and hence the depression set in. So last year, within two days after surgery, I was walking on the treadmill (arm in a sling), or walking outdoors when the weather was nice, and within a week I was riding my spin bike one armed. A few weeks later, arm still in a sling, I was squatting and doing what I could with one arm and my legs. THIS HELPED KEEP ME SANE! So, I thought, well this hip surgery would be no different. I WAS PREPARED for this one the way I was last year. Except…I didn’t realize exactly how hard it would be to get around on crutches. The last time I was on them, was for a knee surgery in my very early 20s (20 yrs ago), and I only required them for about a week. This time, life is much busier than in my 20s and there is so much more to do that simply cannot be done on crutches. Have you ever tried to carry a cup of coffee on crutches or show someone how to bikini or figure pose??? I seriously underestimated my ability to have movement. Oh and to top it all off, because I also had an injection in my AC joint of my shoulder, I had to be careful how much time I spent on the crutches so as not to tweak the shoulder more. That said, I’m still getting in WHATEVER I can. This includes a whopping 20 min on my spin bike with NO tension and physical therapy exercises; absolutely nothing that gets my heart rate up or makes me sweat. I literally have to drag myself out to my garage gym to do these things. I hate them. They remind me of what I CAN’T do and what I’d rather be doing. But the point is, I FUCKING DO IT! This falls right in hand with the positive self-talk from above. I have to talk myself into doing this every day. It doesn’t come easy and I don’t like it. But I do it. Movement is movement and I know that this is what I must to in order to survive and not fall off the depression ledge. So do whatever you are able because anything is better than nothing!
Eat Well and Be Well
Look, I’m the first one to admit that I like to eat my emotions when I’m sad; and this particular struggle has been no different. However, I’m still ensuring that I’m taking care of my body with the nutrients that it needs to heal. Whether recovering from an injury, or just something else that’s really fucking hard, your body needs GOOD FOOD to help it thrive and heal. Eating crap will only make you feel more like crap, especially if you can’t get that movement in the way you want to. I didn’t decide (this time unlike in 2007) to just turn my boohhoo into a binge fest too. How is additional weight that I have to lose post recovery going to help me feel any better? It isn’t, so I’m watching my nutrition to ensure that doesn’t happen, at least not too much. Now, the other part of this, the “Be Well” part, for me that does take into account a little emotional eating here and there; and that’s ok with moderation. I allow myself the things that, for the moment, make me feel better: potato chips, peppermint patties and the occasional french fries or wine. The key to allowing myself to have some emotional eating without the guilt is being very mindful about it. I am very purposely and strategically allowing myself to have these treats, pretty much every day, because they are foods that fuel my emotions and my soul, just like the other foods I eat fuel my body, as an emotional being, these are equally necessary to me. BUT IT CAN’T GET OUT OF CONTROL! If you fall into the guilt of eating something, “bad,” this goes against the number one rule of positive self-talk. It’s OK to have some treats that make you feel good, but it’s NOT ok to feel bad about it. ALL FOOD HAS A PURPOSE! If you are mindful about what you are doing with your nutrition, it can be a powerful tool in your recovery.
Flex Your Inner Strength Muscles
Yes, I know it sucks and the emotions that come with it are the worst. But I have to let myself grieve. It’s OK to be pissed at the world. It’s ok to be sad. It’s OK to cry and be angry and frustrated. It’s OK to cuss, kick and scream. It’s OK to FEEL emotions. I have to get it out and then move on; I can’t let it linger into something (depression) that it doesn’t need to be. This, once again, goes back to #1 (positive self-talk) in that I have to be kind to myself and know that it does NOT make me weak because I am sad, angry and on the verge of tears most of the time. Giving myself permission to FEEL the emotions, embracing them for the moment and then moving on is what gives me strength. Strong people are not the ones who never cry or share their emotions; in fact it’s just the opposite. It takes some serious strength and courage to allow myself to be vulnerable in the moments when I need to be. I feel, reflect and learn from these moments; these are the moments where my inner strength muscles are making “gainz.” Just like flexing my muscles in the gym, flexing my inner strength muscles are equally necessary to my mental health survival. I feel it, and then move on, I don’t wallow in those negative emotions for very long. With every struggle comes increased strength and with every set back there’s a opportunity for a comeback. I have to embrace the suck change the recording in my head rom “why me,” to “try me,” in order to get back to the business of badassary.
Find Your Inspiration and Motivation
It’s super hard to stay motivated when I am feeling like my body is broken and I can no longer do the things I love. It’s tempting to feel like I’m somehow how less of a person because I can no longer be a badass. I go through this nearly every day at some point. When things get really tough, as corny as it sounds, I search out motivational quotes. I have a few that are my favorites; I keep these close and read and re-read them often. I also use music quite a bit as inspiration when I’m feeling especially blue. I have an entire playlist of “inspirational” music where the lyrics speak to me and help to uplift me. I’ll often use the inspiration music playlist for those moments when I hate my physical therapy exercises because it’s not all “beast mode” like I want it to be. Sometimes, we just need a little extra encouragement from an external source to boost us back into badassary.
Find a New Focus
If you’re suffering through an injury that has you sidelined with not much to do (physically), like me, find something to do that challenges you mentally. If you’ve wanted to take a class, or read a book, or anything you don’t normally have the time to do; now is the time to do it! I’ve spent much of my down time working on business things that require me to be sedentary and on the laptop. Things I can never seem to get to when I’m working with clients in person on a regular basis or out and about running errands. As much as I HATE sitting still, I’m doing my very best to make good use of the time that I’m forced to sit. I find that having a new focus or goal during my recovery time has helped, even if just a little, in distracting me from the fact that I “can’t” do the things I want to. I’m currently studying up on how to be even more badass!
I know this can be the hardest thing to do for many. It goes hand in hand with embracing the suck and flexing my inner strength muscles. We are programmed to “not feel” or “not show weakness and vulnerability.” After all, athletes are STRONG; we eat weakness for breakfast right? Whether you share with someone close to you, or the social media world, or maybe even just with yourself by means of journaling, sharing enables you to verbalize instead of internalize. I’ll admit, as open a person as I am, it can be hard for even me to show my emotions to clients; to share with them that I struggle and that even the strong Mama T feels weak and vulnerable sometimes. It doesn’t make me less of a coach or a weak woman; in fact it’s quite the opposite. It makes me real and helps those around me see that we ALL struggle. If can share a part of myself with others to help them through something they may be struggling with, this gives me the opportunity to make me a better coach and really, just a better human. And of course, it contributes to increased badassary.
Look, I’m not a doctor or therapist (although I might play one on TV), and these are not the be all end all of strategies that can be used to overcome adversity. But I can tell you that these are tried and true strategies that I consistently rely upon to get through even the toughest of situations. Yes, I’ve related this to my recovery from surgery, but I fall back to these often when life throws me curveballs. I won’t lie; my emotions are still all over the place. I have kinda good days, and some really bad days; and I still feel sad and helpless sometimes, but when I do, I give myself a good ole fashioned “inner bitch slap,” use one or more of my strategies, and get back to the business of being badass! If I can do it, you can too!