I am bullheaded. Instead of listening to my ankle when it was screaming at me that it was in pain, I made the bad choice to turn a deaf ear to it. It was begging me to stop the torture I was putting it through, but I pretended not to hear it. So not smart. So still paying the price for not heeding the warning.
Prior to my stupidly stubborn decision, I had been on top of my workouts and moving steadily towards my fitness goals. Then one cold day on a February Monday, my forward progress stalled because of my unwillingness to dial it back.
I walked into the gym that afternoon feeling full of vigor and vim, ready to take on leg day. I approached one of my favorite machines, the leg press. When my eyes met the shiny metal of the foot plate, an uncanny confidence spread through my veins. Instead the 25 pound plate I normally put on each end, I went for the 45 pound big momma. Two reps in, the extra 40 pounds felt like 400. But I didn’t let the heaviness get in the way of my goal of 12 reps for three sets. I forcefully exhaled and struggled with each extension of my legs. Slowly but surely I finally pressed my way to the last rep. My legs felt like my flesh had been replaced with lead. I stood up, shook them out, and knew I would feel it in the morning.
The very next day was Cardio Tuesday. I climbed on the treadmill, increased the incline and ramped up the speed. Quickly, an annoying pain began radiating from the inside of my right ankle. I told myself to breathe through it, that it was just a kink that had to be worked out. I inhaled slowly and as I exhaled, I imagined the pain dispersing. Unfortunately, the pain stayed and intensified. Doubly unfortunate, my determination to make it to my 30 minute goal also intensified.
Never was I so happy to see the 30:00 appear on the treadmill’s display. I slowed down to cool down, wincing with every step of my right foot.
For the next two days, I watched my ankle swell, become sensitive to touch and almost unbearable to put weight on. By the Friday, I was in agony. Every breath rattled the fibers in my ankle and brought tears to my eyes.
My bullheaded decision has left me with a three and a half month and counting recovery. My body told me that something was not right. It told me to stop, to take a break. My eyes were so fixed on reaching my workout goal, that I didn’t listen to the voice that was trying to save me from setback. Now this setback is so long that I have to start from the beginning and climb back up the ladder.
This has been an easy lesson to learn and one I will not forget any time soon. So I share this bit of recently acquired knowledge with you: Listen to your body. It is wise. It wants the best for you. The repercussions of defiance, could be long lasting, course altering and not fun. When it says it’s too much, pull it back. Better yet, push the stop button. Rest, relax, shift gears, go another direction. Do whatever you need to do to make sure your body temple stays healthy, able and ready to go.
Happily, I can report that my ankle is feeling better and I am regaining mobility and strength every day. Soon, I hope to reconnect with the leg press and treadmill. I guarantee you that if any part of my body yells at me, I will listen.