I just granny jogged 2 miles in the sand.
I’m so relieved I could cry.
That sounds overdramatic, but hear me out.
A year ago, in April 2021, I had to stop working out completely.
Like most fitness enthusiasts, I don’t work out just to like what I see in the mirror. Fitness is one of my main tools for coping with stress. It’s a crucial part of my mental health care.
Plus, it helped me reverse childhood allergies and asthma. I used to get 4 months of asthmatic bronchitis every fall. I had to be on a nebulizer, that machine you breathe with for 10 minutes at a time, every couple of hours even during the night.
I distinctly remember the terror of my lungs closing completely, so that I was gasping but literally not a drop of air was entering. I instinctively learned to relax in order to encourage my lungs to open up, and intuitively discovered that I could press two places on my upper chest to help this process. Remembering this now, I’m realizing that this was the beginning of my mind-body awareness journey.
I started working out the summer after high school because I thought I was fat. It quickly became much more than that.
By living a fit and healthy lifestyle, I got to the point that I treated my fall allergies only with oregano oil. I had an inhaler but didn’t use it for years at a time, only if I got a bad chest cold.
It was life-changing to trust my body, to feel strong, to have mental clarity, and experience the improvements in my mood.
In college, most of my friends would study nonstop for days before finals. I would make sure I went for a run the night before.
Over the next decade-plus, fitness slowly became part of my career. I even had a martial arts gym at one point.
Fast forward to April 2021.
I had injured my knee running. It was the latest of a series of overuse injuries up and down my right side, from my neck to my knee. I even felt discomfort in my right foot and feared that would be next.
In 2012, I tripped on a loose plank on the Rockaway Beach boardwalk while running and injured my right hip. (For those of you familiar, yes, this was a few months before Hurricane Sandy, back when the boardwalk was made of planks of wood.)
I couldn’t immediately get it treated due to a gap in insurance and other factors. It healed badly.
When I finally did get treatment, I became pregnant soon after. I had a rough pregnancy and made dealing with that my priority. Treatment for my injury was on hold again.
With pregnancy, the injury snowballed to my lower back. I started treatment again after my son was born, but they missed something.
What likely happened was that, due to the hip injury, my pregnancy expanded weirdly. Then, my son’s birth didn’t go smoothly and involved 4 hours of pushing followed by an emergency C-section. This was likely when a tiny muscle directly interior to the injured hip also got injured. My current physical therapist definitely doesn’t think the location of this injured muscle is a coincidence.
Yet, despite me telling this entire story, with all the red flags to check for pelvic floor issues, multiple practitioners over the next 9 years missed this crucial component of my injury.
This injured pelvic floor muscle is involved in things like breathing and stability. Without it working properly, my entire kinetic chain had to compensate. In other words, all of my muscles had to change the way they worked together. This is what caused the series of overuse injuries up and down my right side over the next several years.
Unfortunately, the various practitioners I saw treated each injury separately or thought the core issue was overactive nerves.
Overactive nerves are part of the issue for sure. Basically, after all, they’ve been through, my muscles are traumatized. They react to everyday stimuli by tensing up as if there is danger, injury, or pain. These unhelpful contractions affect my entire kinetic chain.
That little pelvic floor muscle had been contracted for at least 7 years by the time a talented sports medicine doctor found the issue. Recognizing the overactive nerves was important, but without addressing that little muscle directly my kinetic chain continued to function improperly.
That is why, a year ago, I had to completely stop working out.
Prior to that, my practitioners had encouraged me to keep up my routine to the extent possible. That wasn’t the best idea.
My current physical therapist said that I could keep up my routine as long as it didn’t cause flare-ups.
Well, anything but lying down caused flare-ups. I couldn’t lie in bed all day, but, out of fear of more overuse injuries, I stopped doing any workouts beyond physical therapy, and eventually light walking and stretching when I could handle it.
Physical therapy exercises, light walking, and stretching are NOT enough to provide the physical and mental health benefits of fitness that I had come to depend on.
It’s been a rough year.
I leaned deeper into my nutrition and mindfulness regimens to compensate, but that wasn’t enough.
I did ok mentally but felt the difference. My mood was consistently a couple of notches lower than before.
Physically was worse. After a year, my childhood asthma and allergies are coming back. Even with a diet so strict that I started seeing signs of malnutrition, I have had a cough and congestion. I have been getting an inflammatory response to too many foods. My allergist recommended I use iron infusions to combat anemia so I can stick to the restricted diet, rather than consume foods that are contributing to flare-ups.
Unfortunately, I don’t react well to asthma meds or supplements. The anxiety usually isn’t worth it. I’ve been going back and forth between dealing with the effects of asthma and dealing with the effects of the meds, depending on what I can better tolerate at the moment.
I’ve started taking allergy meds frequently and had the worst swelling I’ve ever experienced from being around pets.
But I still couldn’t work out.
For the first few months after that knee injury, my physical therapist worked on getting me to the point that I didn’t dread the subway stairs on the way to her sessions. We also started retraining my breathing pattern.
After four months, we moved from breathing while lying down to breathing while standing up. It was frustratingly slow progress.
By the end of last season, I was permitted to try three 2-minute runs in a day, as long as there was no flare-up. I felt minor flare-ups, but the boost in my mental health was worth it sometimes.
I stopped these s short runs in the winter. It sucked to be in the NYC cold in workout gear when I couldn’t run enough to warm up. I shifted my focus to other things.
About a month ago, my physical therapy exercises finally crossed over into the realm of light workouts. That’s still not enough to experience the benefits I had come to depend on, but there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.
Now that it’s warming up, I tested running again. My physical therapist had me run on a treadmill and cleared me to try it.
Cautiously, yesterday I did a walk-run with six or so sets of 3-minute walks followed by 2-minute light runs. My knees weren’t happy but they weren’t too bad either.
I woke up today expecting to feel the familiar pain in my back and knees, but it wasn’t there. I felt great!
So I set out again and decided to see how long I could go beyond 2 minutes. I granny jogged, but I went for over 2 miles in the sand without stopping.
Unless you’ve experienced it, I can’t describe the sense of relief I felt. I am unconditioned enough that this short granny jog felt like a cardio workout. I had been yearning for this feeling for a year! The immediate peace, calm, opening of my lungs – I live for this!
It will be a long road back to the state in which I wake up on a Saturday and run 10 miles for fun. It will be 6-12 months before I can lift what I used to without defaulting to the dysfunctional kinetic chain. But I’ll get there.
At the urging of my amazing team, I’ll share my journey back to health and fitness.
Of course, if any of you feel stuck in your own journeys or want some support feel free to reach out.
Thank you to all of you who have been supporting and encouraging me along the way.
𝘐𝘧 𝘺𝘰𝘶’𝘳𝘦 𝘯𝘦𝘸, 𝘸𝘦𝘭𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘦 𝘵𝘰 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘤𝘰𝘯𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘴𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯. 𝘋𝘰𝘯’𝘵 𝘣𝘦 𝘴𝘩𝘺 – 𝘧𝘦𝘦𝘭 𝘧𝘳𝘦𝘦 𝘵𝘰 𝘫𝘰𝘪𝘯 𝘪𝘯 𝘣𝘦𝘭𝘰𝘸 𝘰𝘳 𝘮𝘦𝘴𝘴𝘢𝘨𝘦 𝘮𝘦 𝘱𝘳𝘪𝘷𝘢𝘵𝘦𝘭𝘺.
𝘍𝘰𝘳 𝘵𝘩𝘰𝘴𝘦 𝘸𝘩𝘰 𝘮𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵 𝘣𝘦 𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘦𝘴𝘵𝘦𝘥, 𝘐 𝘩𝘢𝘷𝘦 4 𝘴𝘱𝘰𝘵𝘴 𝘭𝘦𝘧𝘵 𝘵𝘰 𝘵𝘦𝘴𝘵 𝘮𝘺 𝘯𝘦𝘸 𝘱𝘳𝘰𝘨𝘳𝘢𝘮 𝘢𝘵 𝘢 𝘥𝘪𝘴𝘤𝘰𝘶𝘯𝘵. 𝘐𝘵 𝘩𝘦𝘭𝘱𝘴 𝘴𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘭𝘦 𝘱𝘢𝘳𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘴 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘰𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘴 𝘪𝘯 𝘥𝘪𝘧𝘧𝘪𝘤𝘶𝘭𝘵 𝘴𝘪𝘵𝘶𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯𝘴 𝘵𝘰 𝘰𝘱𝘵𝘪𝘮𝘪𝘻𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘪𝘳 𝘣𝘰𝘥𝘺 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘮𝘪𝘯𝘥, 𝘨𝘦𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘳𝘰𝘶𝘨𝘩 𝘵𝘰𝘶𝘨𝘩 𝘵𝘪𝘮𝘦𝘴, 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘤𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘵𝘦 𝘢 𝘭𝘪𝘧𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘺 𝘭𝘰𝘷𝘦. 𝘋𝘔 “Stopped by Nothing” 𝘵𝘰 𝘴𝘦𝘦 𝘪𝘧 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘲𝘶𝘢𝘭𝘪𝘧𝘺. ✅
Here’s one of my high-profile programs, feel free to check it out and then DM me about it!