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Learning to listen to my body

Posted Sep 14 2008 1:32pm

I'm not even sure how to start this. I've always thought of myself as a relatively healthy person. Sure I went to the emergency room a few times as a kid, but who didn't? I've always trusted my body, and my mind, to be there when I need them and to work flawlessly. It's a strange feeling of helplessness when your mind and body can no longer do what you've so long taken for granted.

The first time this happened, or maybe just the first time I remember it, was just after I went off to college. I was depressed, feeling abandoned by my family and just didn't know where to turn. Adjusting to college was hard enough without this added pressure. Therapy was a life saver, just having someone to talk to, someone who was on my side and wouldn't judge me, was a new and wonderful experience. I felt safe in that room, safe to cry my eyes out when I needed to, safe to say things that I was ashamed to admit to anyone, and safe to realize that the abandonment was not something I deserved. Since that time, my mind has been good to me. Like anyone, I have my ups and downs, but thankfully more of the up variety.

My body has probably been better to me than I deserve with all the abuse I've heaped on it through my yo-yoing weight, cigarette smoking, and lack of exercise. When it's good it's very very good, but when it's bad, I'm in trouble. My body has carried me through three marathons, several half marathons, and a host of other distance events. It's good to me when I'm good to it, but sometimes I think we have communication problems.

I've struggled with my weight most of my life, and would love for that to be a thing of the past. I've managed to drop a bunch of weight several times but then it all comes back. I'm about half way to my goal, achieved through both diet and exercise, and this time it's for keeps. I just can't to this to my poor body again. It stops here.

When I was at my heaviest my body was trying to tell me how unhappy it was, but I wasn't really listening, I wasn't ready to listen. I had terrible lower back pains, aching knees, and ankles that turned at the drop of a hat, even occasionally spraining one to make an even louder point. I know my body was telling me that I was asking too much of it, but my mind wasn't ready to listen. Instead of dropping the weight I was seeing a chiropractor and getting physical therapy to strengthen my back. When I finally realized that I was being awfully unfair to my body and decided to do something about it by eating better, exercising, and losing weight, all the problems magically cleared up. I can now stand at the sink and do dishes without my back screaming at me, I can cross my legs without my knees protesting, and I can wear my three and four inch heels again without fear of falling on my head from a twisted ankle (well mostly). I'm glad my body seems to have forgiven me the abuse I doled out and is behaving again. Though I won't mention my left knee which seems to hate me today.

Every so often the tendonitis in my wrists will start bothering me again, and sometimes I'll get a cold, but I'm still a pretty healthy person. I just need to take care of the body and mind I was given and work with them to keep me running like a well oiled machine.

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