Today’s post is for days 14, 15 and 16 (that’s today, yesterday and tomorrow) as I didn’t post yesterday and have committed to an Internet-free weekend (hooray for good intentions!). This is all part of my search for balance and follows a realisation that, while I’m really enjoying writing this blog and am very grateful to own an iPhone, I’m not good at moderation and I really deserve a reasonable chunk of time offline. Let’s just hope nobody invites me to the movies – I’ve forgotten how to get film times without the Internet.
So on to today’s topic: the quick fix versus the long, hard slog. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’ve had a dodgy ankle for a few years, after falling down some stairs. Before the fall, I was a big runner. I’d trained for the London marathon, although I didn’t run it in the end (my Dad died, I got very run down and it seemed a good idea to stop hardcore training). I ran a half marathon, though, and generally loved running. It gave me a great sense of freedom and oneness with nature, once I’d stopped using exercise to punish myself or burn off excess food, that is.
Unfortunately, the ankle injury put a stop to all that. Despite many visits to doctors, ankle experts and physios plus a number of X-rays and scans, nobody has been able to tell me exactly what’s wrong with it. I’ve been running now and then but always end up with a sore foot. I was told, however, that if I consistently did the physio exercises, for a period of 3 to 6 months, the ankle would get a lot stronger and maybe I could even get back to pain-free running. So what did I do? Well, I did the exercises consistently for a number of days, then stopped. Then I’d do them again for a week or two, maybe even enough to notice a small improvement, but then I’d stop again. I’ve got an appointment with another physio in a few weeks and I’m promising myself I’ll actually do the exercises properly this time around. I hope the NHS (National Health Service for non-British readers) isn’t reading this as they’d cancel my appointment!
I remember a few years ago when my 99-year-old Grandad (he must have been about 97 back then) was given some physio exercises to strengthen his wrist and arm. He did them religiously, every day, with dogged determination and commitment. Now, I consider myself to be quite a determined person, but only in certain areas, and self-care isn’t one of them. I obviously didn’t get my Grandad’s genes when it comes to physio. In fact, I’ve been holding out for a quick fix for my ankle for a few years now. I can’t remember the number of times I’ve prayed for my ankle to be healed or asked my friends to pray for a miracle. I even allowed a rather large Indian masseur to stamp very hard on my foot after he told me he’d been known to cure people’s joint problems with a localised application of brute force. Ouch. And it didn’t work.
So what’s the lesson behind all these musings? Well, the lesson for me is that there are rarely any quick fixes. If I want to get back to running and playing the competitive sport I wrote about the other day, then I really need to put in the hard work on a daily basis and stick with it. Of course, it’s entirely possible I’ll write this today, do a few ankle lifts and wobble board exercises over the next few days, and then fall back into moaning about my sore ankle but doing very little to help it. But at least I know I have absolutely no right to moan and the solution, most likely, is in my own hands – or feet in this case. After all, not being as mobile as I’d like to be really does effect the way I feel about myself and my body. And that also goes for my lower back. I’ve been told daily Pilates exercises would really help my back pain and posture. Where did I learn that daily meant twice monthly?
Returning to the topic of body image, I’m astounded at how much great information I’ve come across since I’ve started writing this blog and plugged into the debate on Twitter. So check out the video below by Jean Kilbourne, a feminist author, speaker and filmmaker. It’s from her Killing Us Softly series and is a brilliant critique of the impact of advertising on the sexualisation of women and girls and the need for media literacy around the digital alteration of images.
I stumbled upon this video via another blog, You are Priceless, written by Liz, who describes herself on Twitter (@YouArePriceless) as “just a 20-something girl on a journey to spread confidence to girls and women”. There are some other great posts on her website. My research has also taken me onto the site of Empowering Girls (also on Twitter @GirlEmpowerment) whose self-stated mission is to empower girls all over the world to grow up healthy, happy, self-assured and educated, allowing them to achieve all their dreams. If you have young daughters, I think you’ll find some great resources on their site.
On that note, here’s to a weekend of ankle exercises, outdoor activity, self-acceptance and feeling at peace with ourselves.