I’m Glad I Got Injured and Gained Weight

Heavier, happier…but not giving up on heels (sometimes).

My God I used to be obnoxious.

I mean, some might argue that I still am, but I was worse.

After a refreshing yoga class last Saturday, I reflected that my pervasive perfectionism had at one time made its way into something I’ve done for the last twenty-five years. Before my injury and eating disorder recovery I had to look thin and fit in the mirror at all times. I had to be the most pliable person in the class. I had to do the poses perfectly. And blocks? Those are for people who aren’t as good as I am at yoga.

Give me a break. Now I never go to class without at least two blocks ready to shove under my legs when my right knee feels tight.

And don’t get me started on Body Combat. I’d wriggle my way up to the front row and throw in spin kicks, jump back kicks–I was a show-off. Thank God my ACL didn’t blow out there or I’d never be able to show my face at the gym again. These days when I occasionally take a class I’m happy doing a light jog when others are doing jumps, and I keep my kicks grounded.

That show-offy-ness? That purported gracefulness? All of that came from a place of deep insecurity and body hatred. I couldn’t even appreciate the healthy, strong body I had because I hated it and myself so much.

So when I was knocked off my feet with a serious injury I learned to be more patient with my body. It also helped me be less judgmental about other people’s bodies and abilities.

I also recovered from anorexia in 2021, and, due to not severely restricting food for years at a time, gained a certain amount of weight. While that might sound troubling at first in our diet/looks-obsessed culture (and I had my moments of doubt) I’m fine with it: (1) My body was finally being nourished properly and amazingly, my mental health improved (2) I had way too many clothes to begin with so it was nice to do a closet purge of items that no longer fit me and (3) I had the hard realization that I’d put way too much stock and value into my looks and the supposed value that gave me. I still very much enjoy putting together a fashionable outfit, but I just don’t care about how thin or perfect I should look. That’s incredibly freeing and much more respectful to my poor mind and body that I had abused for decades.

So yeah, I’m heavier, I’m slower…and I’m a lot happier.

My Guest Post: Are You in a Martial Arts Cult?

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Be careful, folks, it’s culty out there! Martial arts breeds loyalty, respect, and a sense of community. These are all great things, but when taken to the extreme people can be taken advantage of. In this month’s Martial Journal I share my martial arts cult experience and share some warning signs of when martial arts can go from good to bad.

Are You in a Martial Arts Cult?

 

I Don’t Practice Every Day. Here’s Why.

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There are a few things I do every day, and most of them pertain to keeping me alive and healthy: eat, bathe, drink water, take my prescribed medications, and sleep. Lately I’ve been enjoying journaling every morning while I drink my first cup of coffee. For the past two years I’ve done something, no matter how small, nearly every day to rehab my right knee.

Other than that, my daily activities vary, even my true passions and beloved hobbies.

GASP!!
Continue reading “I Don’t Practice Every Day. Here’s Why.”

Martial Artists and Goal-Setting

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I’ve gotten soft.

I don’t mean physically, although after having two knee surgeries and gaining weight as I recovered from anorexia, that’s partially true (in a good way). I mean my determination, drive, and hunger seem muted.

I miss doggedly pursuing a goal. I miss the hunger of seeing something on the horizon and working until I reach it. I feel like my brain has been on pause for the last two years.

Continue reading “Martial Artists and Goal-Setting”

Stop Wishing; Appreciate What You Have RIGHT THIS MINUTE

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A few weeks ago I was telling a friend about my weekend, which included my partner and I walking from our urban condo down the road to a fun little pub (and adjacent taco truck).

“I wish I lived close enough to walk places,” she said wistfully. She lives in a nice-sized home with a pool in the suburbs.

Lately I’ve been wishing I lived in a big house with a pool in the suburbs. I dream of big houses almost every night and wake up feeling disappointed.

Several months ago a friend remarked on Facebook that her daughter desperately wished they lived near a Target and Home Goods. They live in our rural west Texas hometown. I live within a mile of Target and Home Goods and would love to move back to a small rural town. Every time I drive to the Texas Hill Country to visit my parents I threaten to leave the metropolitan area where I live and move to one of the little towns along the way. (Ideally to a big house with a pool.)

I know successful authors and content creators who speak longingly of health insurance and retirement, which I get with my corporate job. Meanwhile I dream of being a successful full-time writer.

You see where I’m going with this?

There’s nothing wrong with having aspirations, but you also have to make sure you don’t get into the trap of never being satisfied, of thinking the grass is always greener. 

During my Great 2021 Depression, I hated everything about my life: my job, my home, my “writing career.” The only things that remained steady were my close relationships. Therapy helped, but so did getting back into taekwondo. It gets me out of my house and out of my head. I’ve also cut WAY down on my social media time.

I don’t have a long-term solution to that nagging feeling of FOMO or dissatisfaction, but a hobby certainly helps, and for me, I can count on taekwondo.

And tonight, my partner and I are going to enjoy the HOA-cared-for pool at my paid-off condo and walk to a restaurant. Sounds like a good time to me. 

Guest Writer: First Strike – Introducing Exercise into Your Routine

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One of the many things the 2020 pandemic disrupted was our ability to exercise–gyms shut down, we were stuck at home, people faced financial hardships, and people dealt with anxiety and depression that inhibited their ability to keep up a regular exercise routine.

Here at Little Black Belt, we believe fitness should be a priority and, with the right methods, exercise can empower other areas of life. Using martial arts, yoga, and other physical activities, you can introduce fun workouts into your and your family’s routine.

Guest writer Emma Grace Brown, who wrote a post in 2020 about creating a martial arts studio at home, returns with suggestions on making exercise a fun and regular part of your routine.

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Planning Your Post-Injury Return to Martial Arts

Enjoy this month’s article from Martial Journal! After taking a year and a half off to recover from two knee surgeries, I’m back in taekwondo and feeling great. Returning to your sport and avoiding re-injury takes some thought and planning that is well worth the time and effort. Click the link to read my tips on returning to your sport, and of course, consult with your healthcare providers.

 

Planning Your Post-Injury Return to Martial Arts

Learning Taeguk Forms

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I’m still calling walking stance “broken knee stance.”

There sure are a lot of outside-to-inside blocks in Taeguk forms.

When I joined my new dojang at the end of 2018 I began learning Taeguk forms. I’d learned the Palgwe style in my other dojang, and since I can’t remember which forms I learned as a child (other than the universal kibon), I’ll claim Palgwe as my foundational set.

I started thinking about the new language I was learning. If Palgwes could be summed up in one or two moves I’d say they’re very heavy on using the front (or long) stance and double knife hand block (in a back stance of course).
Taeguk’s main theme seems to be the outside block…from the back hand…in walking stance.

Sigh…

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Taking My Own Advice on Feeling Unstuck

Part Two

July 24, 2022, was the two year “an-knee-versary” (yes, I’m going to keep using that word) of my ACL reconstruction surgery.

I had a great weekend using my reconstructed and rehabbed knee. My partner and I swam in our pool Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. On Saturday after my first post-op Body Combat class, we walked about half a mile to a local pub to play pool, have drinks, and eat delicious street tacos, and we did strength training on Sunday before our afternoon swim. Unlike this time last summer, I was not recovering from another arthroscopy. I haven’t reached 100% flexion and extension, but I’m so much closer than I was a year ago.

Despite the current state of the world, I’m feeling more relaxed and optimistic about my future than I have in a long time.

This time last year I wrote a post about “feeling unstuck when there’s no end in sight.” I’d made a lot of progress with my knee, but, progress was still difficult, slow, and at times felt as if it were moving backward.

My life felt like that too. 

I had plenty of moments of feeling pretty bad, but overall I did take the advice I shared in last year’s article. I learned to be patient with my frustration and not get caught in an emotional spiral. I worked on what I could control. I very slowly let go of the need for everything to be perfect and “right.”

The most helpful and yet most infuriating factor: time. I just had to keep doing what I could do to stay sane and get more physically fit and let things work out in time. The deus ex machina I prayed for never came other than a big change at work, and even then, that has required several months of learning and adjusting.

My old therapist Ramona, who is mentioned in my memoir, used to say, “One day at a time…It. Will All. Work. Out.”

So, how to get unstuck? Go back to last year’s article and read the tips. Do what you can, give yourself grace when you can’t, and be patient.

The Pain of a Pretty Facade: Becoming More Authentic

These pictures were taken about two years and five months apart. I am smiling in both and seem to have gotten my hair to cooperate.

The first photo was taken by a professional photographer as part of a photo shoot package to use for my upcoming book promotion. The second was taken by my partner after we had a delicious dinner to celebrate my upcoming birthday. One photo was taken pre-knee injury, pre-mental breakdown, and pre-weight gain.

Guess which one shows the happier, more authentic me?

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