Fitness

TRANSPARENCY TUESDAY: I HURT MY BACK AND I’M PISSED

“You have to look through the rain to see the window!”

“Everything happens for a reason.”

“Let go…and let GOD.”

“When life gives you lemons…”

If you’ve had a bad day at any point during your time on this planet, you’ve likely been on the receiving end of one of the aforementioned phrases. If you’re like me, you’ve also looked at the person(s) saying these things and have fantasized about jamming a very sour lemon down this person’s very peppy throat.

Now, I can be a bit of a pessimist. “You don’t say?!”  I know, I know. I’m the poster child for all things bright and shiny. “If that girl could shit rainbows, she probably would” is something that I’m sure my friends and family whisper to one another when I leave the room, a trail of glitter in my wake.

I’m kidding. Obviously (she says in a long drawl, mimicking the notorious Severus Snape). I recognize that my pessimism is a problem, and I’ve been trying to work on it. There are so many people in the world that would gladly trade places with me. In many ways, I am beyond blessed. I know this. Have you met my husband? He’s exquisite. My friends? #NoNewFriends is my motto because who needs ‘em with friends like mine? My family is nothing short of incredible, and I have the greatest three cats in the history of cats. All of my limbs are (somewhat) intact. I am not deaf, dumb, or (fully) blind. Money is tight, but I can still afford weekly takeout (where my Thai lovers at?!). All-in-all, life isn’t bad; in fact, it’s pretty damn swell.

Well, guess what?!

You can have a “swell” life and still feel negative emotions. You can still have bad days. Yesterday, I had a bad day. My back did something that it tends to do from time to time: it gave out on me. I wasn’t working out. I wasn’t bending over. I was moving eggs from a skillet to a plate, fantasizing about the glorious lower body workout I had planned, and my SI joint went, “HA! No leg day for you!”

If you’re an athlete, fitness enthusiast, gym rat, or someone whose hobbies largely revolve around being active, you know the feeling of dread that immediately follows any injury, illness, or setback. I’ve written about my joint issues in a previous post, so I won’t bore you with all of my ailments, but the two biggest pains in my (literal) ass are my right hip (torn labrum) and my lower back (more specifically, both of my SI joints). I blame these issues for my inability to grow an ass worthy of a peach emoji. Nevertheless, that hasn’t stopped me from trying and I’m pretty damn certain that’s what landed me at the chiropractor at 9:00 a.m. on a goddamn Tuesday.

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Everything happens for a reason, right? If you are a seasoned Instagrammer, you’re aware that this is when fitspiration accounts typically write some motivational message about their predicament and how they can get through this; they (and you) will come out on the other end stronger! They see this as an opportunity! They are unicorns! YAS THEM!

What they don’t write is that they’re pissed. They’re angry. They’re frustrated and they’re feeling a little sorry for themselves.

I know I can get through this. I also know that I.am.PISSED. I am angry. I’m infuriated, frustrated, agitated, [insert another synonym here]. Point blank: I can’t help but sit here and cry out to the heavens, “Come ON!” I have the discipline of a seasoned athlete, but the body of someone decades older than my 28-year-old self…and it sucks. I could blame CrossFit (sometimes, I do). I could blame myself (all of the time, I do). I could blame genetics, posture, or sheer dumb luck. At the end of the day, it really comes down to the simple fact that this is just the way the cookie (i.e. my back) crumbles.

Unfortunately, along with my physical shitstorm, my brain is a reeeeeal bitch. It latches on to injuries and illnesses and permeates them similarly to the way those little alien spores in that one movie seep into people and climb out of human stomachs as slimy alien toddlers (juicy). A tickle in my throat becomes pneumonia. A pinch in my hip, bone cancer. Back pain? Say goodbyeeeee to living past 30. It’s a super fun game.

One of my brain’s more notorious dick moves is convincing me that I will lose all of the muscle I’ve worked so hard to build and that I will gain body fat. I don’t want more body fat. I don’t want my muscles to atrophy. I want to feel good in this sack of skin. Taking even a week off from exercising scares the bejeezus out of me. I worry about not being able to ever be where I truly want to be physically because of my limitations. I worry that people will look at me and think to themselves, “She’s put on some weight…” or “She’s gotten soft.” I worry that I will look in the mirror, pinch my stomach, and realize that there’s a lot more to grab onto. These are superficial worries. I know they are rooted in vanity; that said, it doesn’t make them suck any less. It doesn’t dissolve the anxiety. It doesn’t make me feel any better. In fact, it makes me feel worse because I am painfully aware of how vain and self-obsessed I sound. In layman’s terms, I kinda feel like a giant douchebag. 

Unfortunately, we live in a world where imperfection is frowned upon unless it’s marketable. We are constantly blasted with photos of ripped guys and gals standing in front of mirrors with captions that read, “It’s taken me a long time to get to the point where I love my body and the skin I’m in, despite all of my imperfections!” or, the even more infuriating, “Stop saying you can’t! Start saying you will! The only thing standing between you and your goals is a lack of self-discipline, patience, and determination!” Oh yeah? Tell my back that.

There’s a good majority of us out there that will never look like fitness models. Further, there’s a larger chunk of people out there that simply don’t want to. Even though I don’t feel the need to be shredded, I can’t help but hate myself every single time my joints act up. I can’t help but feel bitter. Jealousy runs through my veins when friends check into gyms or post progress pics. I hate it so much that I unfollow people because, mentally, I can’t take it.

I think transparency is important, especially in this day and age. Despite what I post on Instagram and Facebook, I don’t have it all figured out. When I post body-positive graphics and spew out lengthy captions about loving yourself, I’m not just doing that for my followers — I post the things that I would want to see if I were to scroll through social media. I post what would make me feel less alone. I want someone to make me feel like it’s okay if I don’t have a six-pack. I want someone to tell me it’s fine if I don’t really want one. This is why I will never post a progress picture. I will never compliment someone on their size. I will never say, “You look so skinny!” or, “You look so strong/toned!” (strong is the “new” skinny and I don’t mean that in a good way. What started as a positive message has turned into a new obsession — if you aren’t toned, if you don’t look like you lift weights, you’re inferior. No bueno). I have no idea what that person is going through. Maybe they look thinner because they’re ill or they lost a loved one, which resulted in a loss of an appetite. Maybe they look jacked, but they’ve lost their period, have damaged their bones and fertility, and despite having a body you “envy,” they hate every single thing about themselves.

I’m so tired of worrying about every square inch of my body. Will the worries subside anytime soon? I doubt it. All I can do is take this day by day. Today, I will do my best to not pick and poke my stomach, arms, and legs in front of a mirror. That’s about all of the self-love I can muster up right now; and, you know what…

That’s perfectly okay.

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