In May 2023 I published my “comprehensive guide” to suffering an ACL tear and all the fun that ensues. My partner had torn his ACL a month prior playing basketball so I wanted to share the resources I had from a patient’s perspective. We thought it wouldn’t take long for him to get into surgery since it was a full tear.
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.
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.
I may have mentioned a time or two that I’ve had a devastating knee injury and two surgeries (and am still not counting out a third). 🙂
An injury like that changed not only my physical focus, but my mental one as well. I realized how much I had both lost and gained when I started taekwondo training again in January of this year. A dormant part of my brain re-awakened, and it was both strange and wonderful. Whether you’re a martial artist or not, the takeaway is that if you’re in a rut, you may benefit from going back to something you enjoyed earlier in your life or learning something new that stimulates and challenges you.
My story of the weirdness and joy of re-awakening my black belt brain is in this month’s Martial Journal. Click here to read.
Some time in late November, my publisher advertised a webinar focused on preparing authors to give a TED Talk or TED Talk-like speech.
“I want to give a TED Talk!” I thought. Why not? My book is interesting; talking about mental health is very timely; and I have ten years of public speaking experience.
The problem was…I wasn’t really living my imaginary TED Talk. With my memoir and various articles and podcasts I’ve told a compelling beginning and middle of a story, but I find myself further from the end (or a picturesque “happy ending”) than I thought I’d be.
I’m pleased to announce my debut as a writer for Martial Journal! This site is a collective of martial artists from different backgrounds sharing knowledge, opinions, tips, and thoughts about what they love.
My article “Recovering From an Injury: Four Things Athletes Want You To Know” is written by an athlete for athletes and those who love them. Recovering from an injury can be a long, frustrating, and lonely process. We need the people who care about us to understand how we’re feeling and what we need along the way.
July 24, 2021, was the one year anniversary (or “ann-knee-versary” if you will allow me one pun) of my ACL reconstruction surgery. I had a fun day lined up to celebrate my progress and mobility: a morning yoga class, an afternoon swim, and dinner at my favorite neighborhood Italian bistro. I thought the day would run as smoothly as my repurposed quadriceps tendon.
My knee had other plans.
When I rolled out my yoga mat and set up my trusty blocks (now a staple of my yoga practice) I knew my knee was not in a good mood. It ached and felt more tight than it had in days. God help me if I had to do a child’s pose. I inwardly rolled my eyes at my ornery joint and clumsily followed along with the instructor’s commands.
As I winced at the pain and tried to breathe more flexion into my leg I thought about my year long journey. I have lived with some kind of pain and discomfort every day for a year. Sometimes I feel frustrated and exhausted. Sometimes I long for a light at the end of the tunnel, a deus ex machina, a sudden whirlwind change that grants me perfect, pain-free full extension and flexion. Sometimes I feel stuck and don’t see an end in sight.
You may be wondering how I ended up in this predicament in the first place. Take a look at this post (“POP! Goes My ACL”) for the detailed story of how I injured myself and what followed in the immediate aftermath.
The short version is I tore my ACL doing a jump kick, and not even a good one at that.