Think about some of the longest relationships you’ve been in: your parents (since the moment you were born), siblings (if you have any), relatives, long-time friends, your spouse/significant other. What do all of these relationships have in common? They require effort and good communication to keep them strong. There are easier times and there are harder times. But you always keep working at the relationship because it’s worth it. The rewards far outweigh the effort.
It’s the same with our bodies. We are in a lifelong relationship, so to say, with our own body. There will be ups and downs. There will be times you give it the silent treatment and times you will think it’s the most amazing creation. There will be times when you don’t have time for the relationship.
But in the end, the more effort you put into this relationship, the more you will get out of it. The more time you invest in nourishing it, moving it, resting it, and respecting it, the better your life will be. You’ll have energy when you need it. Your body will do what you want it to do (within reason). It will try its hardest not to get sick.
Granted, it’s not always that easy. Sometimes your body will do things you don’t want it to do. Despite all of your efforts you may get sick or some part may not function correctly. Perhaps there’s a kink in your genes that makes something go awry. It is especially important to listen to our bodies during this time. Don’t push aside those instincts that we all have built into us.
Are you starting to get sick? I beg you to take it easy! Are you feeling a twinge somewhere, but power through your workout anyway? Take note of it and though you shouldn’t necessarily worry about it, don’t ignore it. Have you been burning the candle at both ends? Make a real effort to cross something off your list that’s really not very important and get to bed earlier than usual. Your health comes first. If you can’t take care of yourself, how can you take care of others?
Sometimes our bodies can “trick” us. Say you don’t get enough sleep. Ever notice that your body is signaling it’s hungry a bit more the next day or two? This is because the less you sleep, the more leptin is decreased (satiety hormone) and ghrelin (hunger hormone) is increased. In this case you don’t necessarily want to listen to your body in the conventional sense (obeying the hunger by eating), but instead notice the hunger, think about why you may have the hungry horros, down some water, and make sure to get enough sleep that night!
Sometimes the relationship can be especially frustrating and we can get really mad at our body. Really, really mad. I had never experienced such anger at my body as I did last summer. I felt it had betrayed me even though I was doing everything to try to make it healthy. The harder I tried to make it better, the worse I seemed to get, which only fueled a terrible cycle of worry and anxiety, causing my body to pump out stress hormones, which only continued to inhibit healing.
Once I started to adopt a more relaxed attitude, one of understanding and acceptance, I could feel my body loosen up and start to heal. I wasn’t fighting it; I was working with it. It didn’t happen overnight and there were some steps back, but the overall progress was forward.
I know I’ve touched on this topic before, but I feel it’s an important one that bears repeating. Of course, I’m say this as I’ve reached another frustrating plateau in my tennis elbow saga because I know that I need to continue this attitude moving forward and that it’s what has gotten through my other injuries. I want to be mad and I want to just throw up my hands and give up, I want to fight my body, but it won’t get me anywhere in the end.
Occupational therapy helped for a time. I have better strength and range of motion in my arm and hand than when I started, but I still have pain every day that inhibits my activities. I’m too young to throw in the towel; there’s so much I want to do.
So, after talking through my probable options with my OT and seeking the opinions of a few other people, I have finally accepted taking (oral) prednisone for the next couple of weeks. The idea is that it can hopefully get me over this hump that seems insurmountable. After that? A possible second cortisone injection that I am still very iffy about. Otherwise a very complicated surgery in which they cut open my tendons in order to get that darn calcium deposit causing all of this drama.
Questions: Do you have a good relationship with your body? Do you listen to it most of the time? Ever gotten in a fight with it?