Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Listening to My Body

I mentioned in my previous post that I sprained my left ankle — badly — twice in the span of 5 weeks. Sprain #2 happened on Christmas Eve, and since sprain #1 hadn't even totally healed at that point (I was wearing a [crappy] ankle brace when I re-sprained my ankle, as a matter of fact), it's taken a good 8 weeks for me to feel like my ankle is well on the road to recovery. I still wear a brace (a much better one than the one I was wearing for sprain #2) when I work out, but for the most part it feels pretty good.

Because of my ankle's self-destructive streak, from early November through the end of January, I didn't exercise at all. So when I got back to the gym at the end of January, I wasn't able to do very much at first, partly because my ankle couldn't tolerate much exercise, and partly because 10+ weeks of inactivity left me extremely out of shape. It almost felt like I was starting a "fitness regime" from scratch. And, I guess, in a way I was.

At first, all I could do was walk around the track for 10 minutes, at a fairly slow pace, before my ankle screamed in protest. I limited that to twice a week in the beginning. And then as my ankle got stronger, allowing me to increase the time and pace and frequency of workouts, the rest of my body screamed in protest. My body at rest wanted to stay at rest.

I'm up to 3 times a week, 30 minutes of walking or stationary biking at a time, and I feel pretty good about that. I mean to say — my body feels good with that level of activity. I love the endorphin buzz I get when it's all over, and I love that I'm starting to feel stronger and more energetic.

Adding more activity is making me hungrier on a daily basis, which makes sense. And I'm doing pretty well at not berating myself for needing more food to fuel my activity, which is a nice mental change.

However, adding more activity is also leading to muscle fatigue when I increase the amount of time or intensity of my workout. This also makes sense. And yet, when I decided to skip my workout yesterday because my legs were sore and trembling, I felt like I had just committed a HUGE sin. Like the equivalent of eating a puppy. A cute puppy.

But here's the thing: despite the guilt, I still listened to my body and actually gave it what it needed. I didn't try to push through the fatigue and get in a workout because I "was supposed" to. I went home, pulled out my MegaYoga book, and did some yoga poses for about 20 minutes to try to alleviate the soreness in my legs. And then I ate a good dinner because I was hungry, watched some TV with the boyfriend, and got a good night's sleep.

Today, I don't feel one bit of guilt about not going to the gym. And it's weird, but I can feel my body thanking me.


Lillian said...

I find eating starching food after working out helps. I do about an hour of strength training four or five times a week. I'm trying to add some walking. Keep up the good work.

TropicalChrome said...

It's amazing how clearly our bodies talk to us if we'll just listen. And the message isn't always the same - it's good to listen to your body even if it wasn't what you thought it should be saying!