Thursday, March 22, 2012

March Madness

My personal version of March Madness included two different sets of company breaking in our new guest room, starting up with a personal trainer, co-hosting my sister's baby shower, and celebrating one year of marriage.  Needless to say, I have a lot to write about, so I'll be breaking it up into multiple posts.

Overall, we've been living a very full and definitely not dull life, lately.  And speaking of fullness of life, the outdoors has come completely alive in a matter of weeks.  It's SO GREEN outside thanks to all the rain we've had, it's unbelievable.  In Texas, however, it's hard not to have a sense of foreboding at what summer will bring.  Even the recent heavy rains haven't made a dent in the damage last summer's drought did to nearby lakes and rivers.  And since 2012 is supposed to be as dry or drier than 2011, I suppose we should enjoy the plant life as long as possible.

There is something about this time of year that makes you want to feel as healthy and happy as the outdoors looks.  Perhaps it's the always frightening thought that in a few, VERY short months you might be forced into a swimsuit, or maybe it's knowing that in the summer heat you can't function in anything more than cutoffs and tank tops.  I'm sure both these things influenced my decision to start putting my money where my fears where, and start getting fit with a personal trainer.  But despite what many will think, this isn't some radical plan to get skinny.  No.  I was tired of feeling weak.  

Two years ago, I was six months into my first desk job, ironically as a receptionist for a Physical Therapy office, when I started experiencing back pain.  Correction: I started experiencing the worst back pain of my life.  From a dangerously young age I complained about back pain to my parents.  Finally, I was complaining about it so much my mom took me to our family doctor.  He ruled out scoliosis, the primary concern, and told me to do abdominal exercises.  Instead I popped Motrin like skittles.  I'm sure that getting sat on by heavy centers in high school basketball games didn't help much either.  So I was pretty used to chronic discomfort... but nothing like what I started feeling two years ago.  Eventually the pain was so bad I asked one of the therapists I worked for to take a look at me.  The diagnosis was an acute bulging disc in the L3-L5 range, which was causing severe sciatica (shooting nerve pain) down both legs and tingling in my feet.  In addition, I was experiencing piriformis disorder, tight hamstrings and IT band.  It was utterly debilitating.  I was warned not to do any high impact exercise or activity, and that I should probably never run again.  It hurt just to walk my dog around the block.  I remember on our first and only trip to NYC we were walking near Central Park and I was suddenly frozen on a busy sidewalk because of stinging shooting pain down my right leg.  I felt ugly and awful all the time.  And suddenly, I understood the burden people who deal with chronic pain of any kind carry with them everywhere.

Then I decided to do something about it.  I bought a membership for unlimited monthly yoga for stretching.  I started doing Pilates to strengthen my core.  I let the most amazing sports massage therapist push and prod my muscles back into something that resembled "functional."  And I felt better!  I was still in pain, but it was manageable!  Then we moved to Texas.  I got lazy.  I stopped all rehabilitative methods.  And I got afraid.  Afraid of re-injuring myself, of having to live with more pain.  

I think this fear permeated my being.  I didn't feel strong, I felt restricted and timid.  I didn't believe in myself and I started to accept this as a way of life: I was never going to feel youthfully and healthy.  ever.  again.  I was convinced I was weak, and the same fear that told my body this, also told my mind.  Some of you might remember my post titled Fear Zone from about a month ago.  Writing that post was sort of a turning point for me.  I realized I didn't want to be weak anymore.  I wanted to be able to participate in activities again, lift heavy items, defend myself if necessary.  I wanted muscles, strength, and confidence!

And then fate happened, as it often will: in the form of a tablecloth.  I was selling a lace tablecloth on Craigslist and the nice lady who responded that she wanted to buy it from me had this link at the bottom of her email:  I followed it out of curiosity and on the other end I found Diana, a personal trainer here in Austin who specializes in rehabilitative strength and core training for women.

Imagine that.  I just might be brave enough to take my shirt off this summer.  

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