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The Link Between Injuries, Failing Fitness Goals, & Depression

The Link Between Injuries, Failing Fitness Goals, & Depression

Today’s shorter blog is a bit “touchy-feely,” but I think many—perhaps even most—people deal with these thoughts and issues and wish more people would open the gate for dialogue. In fact, these types of tough conversations are perfectly in alignment with my main mission statement:

"To Create and Live a life of discipline and engaging content that inspires others to become better versions of themselves."

That is wayyy easier to type than do. I still struggle with the discipline part daily; but to give myself the proper credit, if I looked at my life’s discipline journey in a chart, it would be a flat line (near zero) from 2009 to about 2021 and then the peaks and valleys start to trend upwards over time.

As I’ve never hidden, and my longer-term readers and social media friends know, I finally came to terms with lifelong clinical depression back in 2020. Like alcoholism for others, this will be my daily fight for the rest of my life. But I’m not alone. I know everyone goes through bouts of depression; but I think there’s more of us “clinicals” than freely admit.

Last fall, I had some injuries that derailed my fitness journey. Not serious, but painful and chronic. And that derailment triggered all of the negative feelings: anger, insecurity, guilt… Here’s how one lead to the other.

I’d dumped over 40 pounds on this discipline program called 75 Hard/Live Hard. Improved fitness is the benefit of the the 75/Live program, not the goal. In short, if gives you several daily tasks you must complete. [The real discipline in that program is a future blog post. The real test comes after the first 75 day period, when it forces you off and on program several times for the rest of the year.]

But I’d inflamed my arthritic knees, and given my right meniscus a fresh tear. I’d also injured the L1- and L2 lumbar area with dead lifts a few times, each getting worse. The X-ray revealed that injury, as well as a possible cause in the degenerating SI joint in my pelvis. Between the sciatica and the knees, I just quit trying altogether.

Slowly the weight came back on. I felt like a victim. “It’s not my fault!” Eventually the no-sugar, no carbs-processed junk I’d been avoiding slipped back into the diet. I’d gone from a journey documented through uplifting “cannonball” stories I was posting daily, back to being a fat imposter. Just like you shouldn’t trust a skinny chef, nobody takes a fat prepper/post-apoc author seriously.

That is harsh, I know, but the truth is that if a person can’t lock-down something as simple as healthy-eating and fitness, they will not be taken (fully) seriously trying to discuss preparedness with folks. Writers already have crippling imposter syndrome. (Don’t take my word for it. Just ask any one of them, and they’ll tell you.) But when you feel “victimized” by injuries that derail your life-improvement attempts, it can set you back mentally.

This past spring, I decided to stop moping about it and get back on the horse. The beauty of the Live Hard program is that you choose your workouts based on what you can do. So this year, my focus has been on physical therapy and making better use of my step count.

And this is where I’ll lose some of you. And that’s too bad. Most of us in middle age deal with chronic pain. But few of us don’t have work-arounds we could be doing. We just choose not to. Of course there are outliers—people with serious medical conditions. But the majority of us give up too easily, and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. There’s a saying: “choose your pain.”

In other words, if you do nothing for your body… workouts suck and hurt and are too painful… then all you’re doing is choosing a different pain later in life. So I’m choosing my pain. I walk, though on days doing a lot of homestead chores or working at the part time job, I try to augment my daily walk with additional therapy and mild exercises. For my other daily workout, I do nothing but therapy and exercises that are designed to work the whole chain from knees to shoulders, mainly in the hips and lower back. It sucks. It is boring. But it is helping. And it all counts as "two daily workouts."

But more importantly than the 20 pounds I’ve lost again, it is helping my mind. The imposter syndrome is slipping away with each new belt notched earned. I’ve regained a feeling of control, despite pain. It breeds a new confidence when you can lose weight while dealing with various pains. And the depression starts to dissolve almost immediately when you’ve decided to live to a new standard.

Folks, I’m on the rebound. And you can be, too. We’re all given the same 24 hours a day. Choosing the lesser pain just has to be a priority. Guilt has no place in the journey. Can’t run? Walk. Can’t lift weights or do yoga? Do basic stretches. But choose to do something. Your mind will thank you.



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