How My Ankle Injury Taught Me To Love My Body

OK, so I’ve been writing this post in my head all morning.

I woke up thinking about it. I went to the gym with my head so full of ideas that I couldn’t wait to get home to write them all down. Of course, a shower and breakfast were necessary, so I kept writing thinking about this post as I went through my routine. And now, as I finally sit down to write it, I don’t know where to start. Maybe with this:

I ran today.

For the first time in almost two months, I ran. The doctor gave me permission to on Monday, but I was afraid to. I was afraid that I’d hurt my ankle even more. I was afraid that it would be hard, and that I wouldn’t like it anymore. 

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Finally, I decided to just do it.

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First, I did the rehab exercises that the doctor gave me for my hip. (If you missed it, the doc. thinks the reason I have ankle tendonitis to begin with is because I have a weakness in my right hip. He gave me exercises to strengthen it)

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He said: Do you know how to do a plank?

I said: I hate plank.

He said: That’s why you need to do it.

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Then, I wrapped my ankle, put on my FIGHT Bondiband, and headed out the door.

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I took it easy. I let my iPod determine when I would run and when I would walk. Two songs: run. One song: walk. Galloway Style.

Thirty-five minutes and two and a half miles later, I hopped off the treadmill and stretched with a smile on my face.

I did it. I felt happy. I felt strong.

A few days ago, Heather wrote a post about how taking a break from running helped her to become a stronger runner. I’d have to say that I agree with her completely.

But that’s not the only benefit I’ve gained from not working out for two months.

I’ve also learned to love my body in ways that I never have before.

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A year ago, I exercised to lose weight. If I missed a day at the gym, I’d feel guilty. If I missed two days at the gym, I’d feel like I’d ruined everything I had worked for.

As I exercised more and more, something shifted in my brain. I no longer wanted to exercise every day just to be fit.

I wanted to exercise because it made me feel good. It made me stress less. It made me happy.

Soon, exercising five or six days a week became part of who I was (and who I still am).

So, when I first hurt my ankle (and shoulder) in July, and the doctor told me not to exercise until the end of August, I was beside myself.

What would I do? I thought.

I’m not going to lie. I was definitely guilty of occasional fat talk. I lost muscle tone, and there were times when I broke down and actually cried about the situation.

But, I learned a valuable lesson in the last two months. I learned to love my body just the way it is.

Now, I’m about to say something that is totally cliché, but it’s something I think that needs to be said over and over again:

Nobody is perfect.

Nobody. Not me. Not you. We all have imperfections that make us who we are. And that’s OK.

In the time I spent away from the gym, I learned that I’m no longer the type of person who needs to work out every day to feel good about my body. If my workout hiatus has taught me anything, it’s that:

If the only time you feel good about your body is after you’ve worked out, something is wrong.

You should feel good about your body ALL THE TIME.

You should exercise because you love to, not because you feel like you have to. The mental benefits are more important than the physical ones. If you’re working out just so you can reach a desired goal, you’re never going to be truly happy with your body, because you’re never going to feel like you’ve done enough.

If you miss a few days, a few weeks, a few months of working out, so what? When your body is ready, you’ll get back into it.

Meanwhile, focus on loving your body and yourself just the way you are. I promise, you’ll feel so much happier when you do.

How did you learn to love your body? How can we help others do the same?

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11 comments

  1. Love this post because I’m in a position similar to yours. I’m 38 weeks pregnant with a herniated disk. I was a hardcore runner for 8 years, but benched June 9 with a back injury. Not running these past 3 months was really hard at first, but now I’ve learned that it has been good for me because I was overdoing it before. So now in a couple weeks when I’m not pregnant and can start exercising again I know I will appreciate it so much more!
    P.S. I need to get one of those bondiband things, my hair is always a mess exercising and those are cute!

  2. Injuries have a way of making us appreciate things more. When I couldn’t run for like 2 weeks because of a hip injury, I was bummed and depressed…then when I was able to run again I loved it! It wasn’t a chore or a pain anymore. I WANTED to do it.

  3. Thank you so much for this. I was so upset when I first hurt my calf and now 5 months later instead of pushing myself to further injury and beating myself up I’m doing what I can and what I’m allowed to help heal.

    For me the biggest push was not just eating the points I could with WW but eating things that didn’t make me sick. I’m a bit heavier than before but not flipping out like the last time. I’m proud of taking care of myself for the long term instead of just to lose weight.

    BTW Love the headband :-) I need to wear mine on the bike tonight :-)

  4. Yay for your first run! I am so happy you felt good during it.

    I am in a place where I exercise because I love it, but I miss it so much when I can’t, either because of injury or otherwise. So I think I still need to work on that bad feeling I get when I don’t do it… :)

  5. SUCH an amazing point that we should love our bodies all the time, not just because of a workout we just had… I think that many of us have moments when we do feel love toward our bodies MORE often after a workout, but it is another thing entirely to be able to feel that same love for no reason whatsoever.

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