BACKSQUAT THAT THING UP
By: Lauren Anderson
It’s been four stupid months of healing for this gal— and my tiny little wrist injury.
I don’t know if any of you recall, but early in May I twonked my wrist lifting a tote bag with a pair of jeans in it. Wait… not from weightlifting you say? NOPE. From trying to tidy up my apartment.
(Injury added to the insult of chores… DOUBLE UGH.)
The doc called it tendinitis. But I’ll tell you, this tiny little pain in my wrist, has been one big pain in my ass. I mean, I guess it’s healing. If you want to call it that. “Healing.” In quotes. It is getting better, but man, it’s taking a stupid amount of time.
Frankly, this injury has taken so long to heal that I’m kinda beside myself about it. My doctor, and other specialists I’ve talked to familiar with tendinitis, said to try and think of the healing process like the seasons. This injury, like a bruise or something, is not like the weather changing rapidly from day to day. It is a slow and almost imperceptible process.
It’s like moving slowly from summer to fall.
Which is exactly what it’s doing. Moving slowly from ALL SUMMER LONG to halfway through September already. Like happily walking around minding our own summer business when some chump walks past with a pumpkin spiced latte, and bam! Summer’s over.
Thank God I can pull of this whole black-wrist-brace-bowling-injury look, otherwise I’d be screwed.
On the more positive note, this wrist brace kind of forced me to fall in love with the Endurance programming at Solcana. Because I can’t lift anything over 15 pounds, I’ve been skipping a lot of the regular CrossFit-style classes and opting to endure instead. (See what I did there? Metaphor alert!)
The class I’ve been most consistent about attending is Wednesday night LONG CARDIO class. If you’ve been following this blog, you’ve heard a lot about it. The classes are definitely challenging, and I always walk away feeling like I put in a good workout. Not just for my body, but also my mind.
Nothing helps clear the brain like long stretches of continuous movement.
Through it all, I’ve tried to stay true to my workouts. I tried to keep showing up. But it’s been hard. My doctor and the coaches encouraged me to keep working out like I had been doing. And all the coaches have gone above and beyond to modify the programming for me. But I still got really discouraged.
And if I’m being REALLY honest with myself, I think I kind of started using my injury as an excuse to take it easy. At first I felt justified. But now here I am 4 months later, and I feel squishier. I’ve lost a little of that muscle density that I’ve grown accustomed to feeling and enjoying in my body. I miss the hardness, the firmness that pops out when you lift weights. I miss feeling super STRONG.
Which in a way, is kind of a blessing that I’m noticing it now. It’s like that Joni Mitchell song– or the Counting Crows version if you’re a 90’s kid like me—SING IT WITH ME!
“Don’t it always seem to go, you don’t know what you got till it’s gone.”
I’ve always been on the strong side. But once I started lifting weights, I had visible muscles to back it up. I wore my muscles like a certificate hung up in an doctor’s office. It’s like, not only was I strong, but my muscles were the paperwork that proved it.
And I kind of cling to that sometimes. Since I’ve started working out, any negative feelings I might have about the way I look, could always be tempered by reminding myself of my strength.
In my mind, I would catch myself saying stuff like, “My face is meh today, but at least I’m super strong.” Or, “How do I have a pimple when I’m over 30… HOW?! But Oooooo, look at my bicep!”
Or on the really bad days, “The whole world thinks I’m a fat monster, but at least I’m strong enough to f*ck it up!”
And those muscles would almost be a life jacket on the sea of potential body shame. Is that the best way to cope with negative self talk? Uh, probably not. In a perfect world, I wouldn’t talk that way to myself AT ALL. And I believe that I can get there one day. But in the meantime, this kind of self talk is a band-aid on the wound.
But after a summer of minimal effort, I started noticing that I was losing some of my edge. Some of that sweet sweet fitness that I worked so hard for, and had almost started to take for granted, was leaving me. I started noticing little things– like walking up flights of stairs were getting harder again. My breathing got more wheezy. My arms, squishier. Little stuff.
Oh no! I don’t want this! I’ve worked too hard! I don’t want to go backwards. I know what I need to do. I’ve got to re-up my effort.
I’ve got to re-commit. Wrist injury or not. I cannot just pave paradise and put up a parking lot.
* * *
So last week, Coach Jenn and I were texting back and forth. She was trying to go get me to see the movie “IT” with her, and I was like um, HELL NO. I saw the first one, and I still have nightmares.
She invited me instead to join her for powerlifting class instead. I, of course, made an excuse.
I texted, “I wish! But I can’t lift anything over 15 pounds cause of my wrist.”
And she texted back, “Yeah, but you can still back squat can’t you?”
And I was like, “Uh…yes. YES I CAN!!!”
I’ve been dealing with this injury for so long, I forgot there is a whole rest of my body that could use a workout! And it needs attention too.
As soon as I was able, I got my butt back into the gym. I put that bar on the rack for the first time all summer and did some front squats and some back squats. I started with lighter weight, and my body responded. So I added more, and then even more still.
My legs and butt were like, “YES! Finally! Thank you!” And I felt powerful and engaged and strong AF once again. I had been so focused on that tiny part of my tiny wrist, that I neglected the whole rest of my body. But squatting it out the other day was the wake up call I needed.
And because I’m always looking for the deeper meaning in things, I couldn’t help but think that this is a pretty good lesson. So often I walk through this world focusing on the things that I CAN’T do. The things I’m not good at. The things that hold me back Etc etc etc. Anyone else?
But when I do that, it’s really easy to forget about all the stuff I CAN do. The stuff I’m good at. The things that I can do even better than others. What propels me forward.
When I was done and I put the barbell back my brain was buzzing with this notion: Even when I’m faced with challenges, I must not forget the arsenal of skills I have left at my disposal. There is a way forward. I am a whole person, not just a tiny part.
The glass isn’t half full or half empty. It’s what’s IN THE GLASS, and HOW CAN I USE IT.
I may not be able to use my wrist yet, but I’m healing. Slow and steady like the seasons.
I am grateful for the reminder that there is always HOPE.
And even when my arms don’t work, I can still back squat the shhhhhh out of it.