I’d like to start this off by giving you a little background about me and my connection to physical activity. It has been at my core since I can remember. From a very young age, I loved to be active, I would ride my horse, help on my dad’s farm, climb all the apple trees at my moms’ house, do Mary Lou Retton workouts (oh geesh I am dating myself here, HAHA!), or make huge forts in the snow, all on my own accord.
The clearest memories of my love for physical activity started when I was in 4th grade. That was the year I quickly realized, if I was involved in sports my social connections were very high. I am a very socially extroverted person if we would like to put a label on it. So, the combination of being active AND being with my friends was a win-win! From 4th grade through my junior year of high school I was a 2-3 sport athlete. I loved every minute of it. It made me feel good to know I was taking care of my body.
Unfortunately, in my younger years “taking care” of my body meant I stayed thin, not necessarily healthy.
Because of the positive experiences I had had with being active, it stuck with me into adulthood.
When I turned 18 I moved out on my own. Moving from southern MN to Laramie, WY. Even then I would go for runs and explore the outdoors~which is another huge passion of mine.
Don’t get me wrong, there have been times in my life when physical activity has taken a back seat. For example, when I was 19 I moved from Laramie to Eugene, OR. This was a huge shift and a major change for me. It ended up being a two-year span where physical activity was nearly non-existent in my life. It was not pretty, and looking back I can see the toll it took on, not only, on my body but my mind.
Nonetheless, physical activity and I always seem to find our way back to each other. It just makes me feel good.
There was a very significant time in my journey when physical activity actually saved me.
Here’s what went down. It all happened after I had my second son, CJ. I lost the feeling in my right leg after giving birth.
I tried so hard to have a natural birth with both of my boys, but in the end, I had an epidural with both of them. During labor with CJ, the anesthesiologist was inserting the needle. I remember saying “Ow, my back.” Then after two and a half hours~yes 150 minutes of pushing, Cooper was finally born.
It was about an hour after they moved me into a recovery room, the nurse walked in and asked me to stand up and use the restroom. I told her I was not able to feel my right leg and was nervous to get up and try to walk. She acted as if this was a little strange but, it could just be taking a while for the medication to wear off. So, she left and returned about thirty minutes later.
Still, there was no change. I had to have her help me into a wheelchair to get to the restroom. The next day, there was only a slight change and could now use a walker to get around.
They ran all sorts of tests on me, MRI’s, Cat scans, and all sorts of other things. The doctors found NOTHING!
It was a nightmare, I was 30 years old, had two young boys, I was a physical education teacher and was using a walker.
When I was discharged from the hospital, I was to the point of using a cane, so it felt like progress. However, everything seemed to stall out.
At the time, the house we owned was a story and a half, with our bedroom in the half story. Due to not having the full feeling of my leg and the fact that it would randomly give out on me, we had to set up a mattress in the baby’s room so I could feed him in the middle of the night.
If I did NEED to go down the stairs, I had to sit down and go down on my butt. It was embarrassing, frustrating, and a struggle at a time that should have been filled with joy and happiness.
As weeks passed, I tried all sorts of treatments, chiropractors, massages, acupressure, Reiki, you name it. Due to just having a baby and not cleared for physical activity I felt limited and nothing seemed to be working.
I swore to myself that when I WAS cleared, I was going to overcome this bullshit. I was going to be stronger than ever on the other side of this.
When I went in for my 6-week postpartum appointment and was finally cleared to resume physical activity, I was ecstatic!
I started slow for about the first month, then I jumped in hard and fast. I purchased the Beachbody P90X program. If any of you have done this you, know how hard those workouts are. But, I made a promise to myself, I did not miss a single workout. After the two month program, I felt strong, my leg no longer gave out on me, and I felt like I could take on the world.
I was back, and I’d be damned if I was going to take the ability to move body how I chose for granted ever again.
This newfound strength and determination led me to the start of my running career. I got a wild hair up my ass to run in a race. My husband, Isaac, and I registered for our first 5k. It was a Thanksgiving Turkey Trot. I bawled, during and after. The thoughts swirling through my head were, “Six months ago I was in using a wheelchair, and now I am strong and running 3 miles.” Also, thinking, “It feels so good to be such a positive role model for my own kids and my students at school.”
Left Photo: Isaac and I before our first half marathon St. Cloud, Minnesota 2010
Right Photo: I’m coming down the home stretch of my second half marathon of the year
Brainerd, Minnesota 2010
My first race complete and I felt like a million bucks. I was so damn proud of myself.
Within a year’s time, we ran multiple 5 and 10k’s and three half marathons. With each race, my time got better, and I felt So. Fucking. Good.
Left Photo: Hardest race of my life, the MS Mud Run Somerset, Wisconsin 2010
Right Photo: Book Across The Bay snowshoe race across a bay of Lake Superior in Bayfield, Wisconsin 2011
Now, despite having my strength back and feeling good, there was always a slight pain in my right hip. It was dull, a little obnoxious, but I always pushed past it. I did know at some point I would have to take care of that.
I will fill you in on that story later.
Now as I am in my 40’s, living in my dream state, I stay active by skiing, hiking, yoga, trail running, paddle boarding, riding bike or finding new workouts online. I just need to move my body every day.
Being a physical education teacher I get to inspire my middle school students to find a love for movement with the ultimate goal of guiding them to discover an activity they can do for a lifetime. What an honor!
An important take away from this is when you set your mind to something it becomes your reality. I could have easily said, “Ok, this is my new norm, I will forever walk with a cane, live in pain, and have a lower quality of life.”
But I didn’t.
Rewire your thoughts, rewire your life.
It’s always an adventure. Adventure awaits!
Instilling a love for movement in our oldest.
Zeke completing his first “race”.
Sartell, Minnesota 2010
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