For me, a schedule has always been a comfort blanket. Mapping my day out is a form of protection; I know what to expect and when to expect it. So, naturally, I tend to cling to a habitual routine.
One of my daily tasks that I have always carved out time for (no matter how busy I am) is working out. What began as an outlet for my anxiety, slowly turned into part of my daily routine. It gave me a sense of control, a feeling of affirmation, a reason to pat myself on the back.
However, I started to defeat the purpose of working out when I sought the gym knowing full well that my body craved rest. Sick days were never an excuse. A rainy day could not stop me from running the (increasingly slippery) trails. In order to hand myself that gold-star sticker before going to bed, a check next to “workout” on my schedule had to be ticked off.
But with four consecutive years of high-impact training came many aches and pains that I could no longer control. Suddenly, my physical body began to wither — doing the exact opposite of what my internal voice was demanding.
I tore my meniscus in 2015. Aside from the physical pain I dealt with, the mental pain was almost more taxing. “You’re going to get fat,” I convinced myself. “You shouldn’t eat this because you can’t workout later.” “It’s an outlet for stress, you have to do this.” And when it came time for working out, I always had an excuse: “I’m literally jogging one mile. I’ll be fine.”
Low and behold, my knee got worse and I was demanded to stop — not only by my doctor but by my friends and family. And so I found a restorative yoga class, and, alas, hung up my running shoes.
At first I was going stir crazy. I felt mentally trapped and isolated. But each morning getting out of bed and limping to the bathroom got easier and easier. Slowly but surely, I began to watch my body heal.
Looking back now I see it as an external injury redirected inward (with much more mental digging than prescribed).
What started as a check on my to-do list transformed into an outlook I would have never expected to adopt.
I learned that rest days are okay (and, in fact, necessary). I learned my body’s limits. I learned that modifications are essential. I learned gratitude for health. I learned that I will survive if I have to sit out certain yoga poses or trail runs. I learned that it’s okay to choose a night in over the gym. I learned to give daily thanks to my body.
Yes, I am still working on letting some of the negative thoughts and workout nagging fade away. Yes, I am still working on self acceptance. Yes, I am still working on giving myself grace.
But through this life lesson, I came to understand my body and the intricacies that allow it to function — mental health being one of them. It’s ironic, but my mind healed while my body was broken. And I’m a better person for it.
Emily Moore is a Loyola Marymount University summa cum laude graduate. She is an avid trinket collector, self-proclaimed poet, hot yoga practitioner, and lover of all things found in Erewhon Market (especially the Saffron Latte). She is the community & marketing manager at the fullest. Find her on the ‘gram here.