It’s been a rough couple of months as I’ve been dealing with a spinal injury and adapting to a less-active lifestyle. And to be honest I have been so unmotivated to blog or share anything on my Instagram page lately. But, I had to remind myself why I started Just a Libra Girl in the first place… to inspire, motivate, and encourage self-love. The very things that I have been lacking lately.
With that, I am proud to share my “new” health and fitness journey with you and how to change your perspective after any big life changes.
Blood, Sweat & Tears
Growing up playing sports, you’ll likely experience at least one injury throughout your lifetime: a pulled hamstring, a twisted ankle, or even a fractured wrist. All of which I’ve experience firsthand. But when you’re a three-sport high school athlete year-around, nothing can stop you. Or at least that’s what you believe at the time.
Everyone who knows me knows that being active (and playing contact sports) is in my DNA. I’ve played soccer since I was 4 years old – playing on traveling club teams, the high school varsity team and intramural leagues in college. Not to mention I played just about every sport you could think of throughout my teenage years: volleyball, cross-country running, track & field, water polo, competitive swim, softball and even flag football. I was tough physically, mentally and always pushed my limits – traits that would inevitably get me into trouble.
I stayed active here and there throughout college but after, I really took a dive into fitness and decided to give amateur boxing a try. I trained twice a day for weeks on end, while still maintaining a 9-5 job. I ran two or three miles every morning before work and then did two hours of training and sparring in the evenings. I eventually had my first real amateur fight in July of 2016, and won!
I was ecstatic and probably in the best shape of my life. Boxing was my new passion. But the harsh reality was that all of that training coupled with nearly two decades of stress on my body prior to boxing really took a toll on me.
I always knew something wasn’t quite right with my body, but being the person that I am, I kind of ignored it. Over the years I was slowly eliminating certain workouts because of lower back pain but it still didn’t phase me. No more running? No problem, I’ll push myself harder with an extra hour in the gym weight lifting. Can’t do squats anymore? That’s okay, I’ll go extra heavy on the leg press.
I continued to punish my body because I refused to accept my body couldn’t do the things it used to do. I continued to punish my body because I hated not being good at something. I continued to punish my body for vanity. I attributed this to determination and discipline, but really it was just stubbornness. After countless years of blood and sweat, now come the tears.
My Rude Awakening
Fast forward to a few weeks ago, when I came to the realization that I’m actually not invincible. Shocker. After years of ignoring pain, I finally decided to see an orthopedic spine specialist. X-Rays and an MRI revealed that I have bilateral spondylosis, or pars defect, of the lumbar spine – AKA my lower spine is fractured in not one, but TWO places.
Come to find out, this is a fairly common injury for football linebackers and gymnasts. I am neither of those, but knowing my history, it makes for a good laugh.
After putting it through years of sports and physically activity, my body is finally forcing me to sit down and chill out. Life-changing for ME. It’s hard to talk to friends and family about my injury because physically, I don’t look injured. And that’s the problem with chronic pain… you can wear a smile and heels but the pain is constantly there. Everyday tasks like walking up a flight of stairs, driving or even sitting in a movie theater for too long are things I have to think twice about doing to avoid being in pain after.
Accepting my “New” Lifestyle
The good news is, I won’t have to undergo surgery. The “bad” news about my injury is that there is not much that can be done about it due to years of repeated stress and trauma. Instead, I’ll have to learn how to adapt to a new lifestyle and manage my pain with non-invasive treatments, physical therapy, and low-impact exercises.
The hardest pill to swallow for me was knowing I wouldn’t be able to workout or have an active life like I used to. Working out is my way of relieving stress, not just keeping my physical health in check but also my mental health. So, knowing I couldn’t be active everyday pissed me off. I was mad at myself. Mad at everyone else. All I could think about how much weight I could gain or how limited and boring my lifestyle was going to be. Yup, bring on the pity party.
And this negative mindset is more damaging than any injury, pain or stress you could have.
Changing Your Perspective
After sulking for a few days I realized… you are a living, breathing, walking, healthy human being and you’re sitting here whining about a minor setback? I thought, this isn’t me. I don’t lose. I don’t back down. And I sure as hell am not going to sit here and pout about it!
READ IT AGAIN. Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it. Remember that even your most difficult circumstances (which are usually temporary anyways) are not the enemy, but your own negative thoughts are. After figuratively slapping myself in the face for being a Negative Nancy, I made a list of daily affirmations to remember:
- I appreciate my body for allowing me to enjoy life
- I am young and have no other health issues
- Everyday I am given another chance to live life to the fullest
- I have a huge, loving support system
- I have a roof over my head and plenty to eat
- I am able to inspire, motivate and encourage self-love
- I love myself
Now, I challenge you to write down yours. Think about what you’re grateful for, even when nothing seems to be going your way. Maybe you received bad news about a family member, lost your job, had a big lifestyle change – whatever it is, choose to see the positive. (And if you can’t or need help, there are tons of mental health resources available to help you get through tough time. You are not alone!)
Today and every day moving forward I am choosing to change my perspective and wake up everyday with a grateful heart. Keyword is choosing. Not everything is sunshine and rainbows all the time, but attitude is truly everything.
Until next time,