I was never the “heartiest” kid growing up. I wasn’t sickly by any means, but growing up with a bunch of hearty-Dutch-farming-type people did make me feel a little scrawny. I was always the one getting hoisted through windows to pull a prank, having to squeeze into the middle, back seat of a car, and occasionally being “thrown around” by my friends, just because they could.
There was definitely a part of my life where I did feel scrawny and weak though. If I remember correctly, I think it started around 6th or 7th grade. We were in a car accident around then, that gave both my mom and I fairly bad whiplash. Both of us spent months going to the chiropractor, massage therapist and/or physical therapist every week. Not long after that, I started getting sick all the time. After I spent about 3 months sleeping through most of the day and having severe stomach pain the rest of the time, we found out I have IBS (“Irritable Bowel Syndrome”) and cannot digest dairy products. Also around that time, I sprained my knee, which instead of going to the doctor for, I just limped around on my good knee, until my good knee became my bad knee. When I got to the point that I could barely walk without my knees buckling, I finally decided “I should probably get that checked out.”
So, by my freshman or sophomore year of high school, I felt like an old woman. I didn’t have the doctor, chiropractor or physical therapy appointments anymore, but I was still weak. If someone jumped on my back, I’d be sore for days. I could walk just fine, but I couldn’t run at all without being in extreme pain 10 minutes later.
My junior year of high school I started my first job as a custodian at our church. It was a fairly physical job and I had to move, setup, and take down tables and chairs, as well as haul cleaning equipment around the church. By my senior year, I had gained quite a bit of strength back. My back rarely gave me any problems, my IBS was under control as long as I watched what I ate, and I usually didn’t have issues with my knees (I still couldn’t run, but I had come to accept that).
The next couple of years were more of the same. If I watched my diet and took it easy on my knees, I felt pretty good. If I decided to eat ice cream or run across the street, I’d have to deal with the consequences. It wasn’t ideal, but it was do-able.
When I was in my early 20s, I started taking a weekly yoga class at my gym. The yoga instructor wasn’t all “earth-loving” or weird, and we didn’t have to close our eyes and picture a waterfall or anything like that. We just stretched, did some strengthening exercises, and had a “cardio yoga” time at the end. As I continued going to that class, I started to feel much stronger and I even have the triceps to prove it!
Now that I’m 25, I’m feeling my strongest. I still go to my weekly yoga class and haven’t had to go to a chiropractor since. I can eat small amounts of dairy without having a terrible reaction. And now, I’ve been able to be more active than ever. Last year, I went to Zumba classes for a few months, until the teacher left. And now… Jason and I just started doing the Couch-to-5k plan! The idea is that non-runners can build up to running a 5k in 8 weeks. We just completed week 2 and so far, so good. I’m still skeptical that my knees will make it through the whole training plan, but the fact that I’m able to run at all without any pain is a major accomplishment for me.
We’ll definitely keep you updated on our progress (it will help keep us accountable!). 🙂