How to love your body when it’s broken

At the beginning of September I sprained my knee (did you know knees could be sprained? I didn’t. It was very educational). The nurse told me it would take at least 6 weeks to heal, which turned out to be seriously optimistic;  12 weeks later and I’m now counting the days since it last hurt, although not quite daring to call it healed.

strapped-up-knee
At least the KT tape was pretty.

 

Because I’ve been out of action for 3 months, my fitness level has pretty much reset to zero. Absolute zero. I can’t describe the feeling of looking at all my running medals while I gasp for breath after climbing one flight of stairs, but trust me when I say it’s not a good one.

I suspect my knee is only better now because I was forced to rest completely last week by the worst case of tonsillitis I’ve ever had. Swallowing hurt so much I couldn’t even take water, and solid food was so out of the question I was actually glad my appetite had vanished. The antibiotics are finished, but my throat is still sore and my glands are still swollen.

Then I woke up at 3am on Monday with a cracking headache, and ran to the bathroom to be sick. I’ve caught a bug that’s making the rounds at work.

And of course my knackered kidneys meant I couldn’t take ibuprofen for my knee, had to lower the dose of antibiotics for my tonsils, and tried to get rid of my headache by drinking a lot of water and leaving the lights off when I was at home. Is it bad that I sometimes daydream of taking nurofen?

It can be difficult to love your body when it feels like it’s broken.

I confess over the last few months I’ve cursed my body several times, for taking so long, for letting me down, for turning against me. As though ‘me’ and ‘my body’ are separate entities that can be at war. As though either one would be anything without the other.

That’s how I’m working at still loving my body, even though I’m so, so tired of being ill. I remind myself that it’s as much a part of me as the voice that moans about it. That it isn’t some malevolent thing that wants to be ill; my tonsils didn’t get infected just to annoy me, my stomach didn’t decide to make me sick just to see how I would react, and I’m positive my kidneys would really rather be whole.

Rather than being against me, it is me. And one thing I’m getting better at is looking after myself. So I’m taking my sore throat to the doctor again, even though I don’t like going. I’m resisting the urge to jump back into running and salsa and ceroc and pole, even though my knee feels fine, because I know I need time to get well again. I’m even taking naps if I need them, much to the horror of my must-always-be-doing-something-useful brain.

Of course I’m more than just my body, but it is a part of me, and I’m working on giving it the love and care that every bit of me deserves.

Running up that hill

Limit #11: fat people shouldn’t run.

Because we must do anything and everything, healthy or not, to force our bodies into that one definition of beauty society is so desperate to hold on to – except for running.

I don’t know why. I’m not in the habit of making up rules for what someone other than me can’t do based on their outward appearance. Because that’s stupid.

But a world-weary guess would be that these bullies believe fat people should be neither seen nor heard. That we are supposed to become hermits, working out to DVDs and youtube videos at home until we make it to the ‘correct’ size, and only then are we allowed to show our face in the outside world.

Nuts to that.

First and foremost, I think you’ll find I can. I’ve run 5Ks…

RFL 5k

and 10Ks…

RFL 10k

and every distance in between. Being fat never stopped me. In fact, when I started running I was bigger than I am now and that still didn’t stop me.

I did initially take up running to help me lose weight, but it’s years since that stopped being my motivation to lace up my trainers. Why would anyone do that to themselves if not to lose weight? Well:

  • Running feels like escaping, even if only for 20 minutes.
  • I get so focused on my breathing it’s like meditation.
  • It helps me process when I can’t handle all of the feels.
  • I get to explore my city.
  • It’s easy to measure and track improvements in speed or distance.
  • I surprise myself with what I can do, more than in any other area of my life (although this blog is catching up!).
  • I feel like a superhero when I’m done.
  • Runners always say hi in Glasgow – I get some human interaction when I pass a fellow runner, without having to stress about small talk.
  • Medals.
Two 5Ks and two 10Ks
I love me some bling

And if you’re wondering, that thing about your knees is really not true. Yes, I’ve had knee problems before but I sorted them with stretching and foam rolling and now they are fine.

Running is good for me mentally, physically, emotionally and probably any other -ally you can think of. But I’m not ‘allowed’ to get any of those benefits because I’m not a size 8. I just don’t see the logic there. Probably because there isn’t any.

Anyone can do any activity they enjoy, regardless of size, and it’s nobody’s job or right to tell them they can’t. Ever.

So I’ll see yous at the next Parkrun.