(My limited ROM in my knee doesn’t allow it to bend like I want it to causing me to squat incorrectly. Oh, and that whole only having 4 lumbar vertebrae – as opposed to 5 – also doesn’t help the situation.)
[TL;DR since I didn’t expect to write this much: overwhelming stress from work and my knee injury caused me to get chubby and depressed creating a vicious cycle. Didn’t realize how chubby I got until I saw a picture of myself taken yesterday. Knee surgery on Friday, June 20 to fix torn meniscus.]
So, tomorrow is the big day – surgery day! This is something that I’ve been wanting to do for a very long time, but wasn’t sure if it was something that I should do. I’ve had pain in my right knee since my ACL reconstructive surgery back in 1998, but I just learned to deal with the pain. I would say about 5 years ago, prior to my starting CrossFit the pain started getting worse, which is why I decided to start exercising again. I figured my being inactive for about 10 years was causing all of my knee and back pain.
I started CrossFit in January of 2010, and at first I couldn’t run. It hurt and my endurance sucked balls. After a few months of CrossFit and getting my body moving again, my knee pain slowly went away and I actually didn’t mind running. I’ve had a couple of injuries (strained right Achilles, Bankart tear in my left shoulder) during my time with CrossFit, but they were caused by me doing stupid things while playing adult co-ed softball (I have since retired in case you were wondering). As with any injury or life-changing situation, I felt a bit depressed due to the immediate change in what I was and wasn’t able to do. The depression slowly went away as I found ways to workout around my injuries – I got really good at pull-ups during my Achilles injury and my legs got really strong during my shoulder injury. So, you’d think that this current injury would be no prob. Nope, completely the opposite.
Rewind to late 2013/early 2014 – I was finally starting to feel good again, normal even, and not feeling any pain. I also felt like I was finally getting my eating habits under control. As such, I started to increase my training and pushing myself that much harder. No excuses. My first full week of training after my shoulder injury was the first week of the 2013 CrossFit Open, so when the 2014 Open came around, I wanted to be ready and injury free. I started deadlifting more, my front and back squat weights were increasing. I was stoked. I did well in the Open – I ended up in the top 27% in the world and 29% in the region – and was proud of what I accomplished (I also placed 36th in the SoCal region for 36 year old women! Haha, if only CrossFit were categorized by age…).
Unfortunately, due to the increase in my training and my limited abilities and range of motion in my right knee due to my previous ACL injury and surgery, my knee started acting up again. I hit a point with my squats where I couldn’t increase the weight anymore. I was cautious with my training and slowed down when it hurt and forged on when it felt good. As a precaution, I decided to get an MRI to make sure that I didn’t re-injure my ACL.
My friend Black Widow (BW) and I are pretty similar in abilities and height, and well, when I had long hair people would get us confused, so, we’re a pretty good match for partner competitions. We signed up for the Dynamic Duel partner competition this past April 26, the weekend after my MRI. That was my last full-on workout. Sad face.
The Dynamic Duel consisted of lots of heavy squats and my knee did not enjoy them. I had practiced the 95lb squat cleans the Monday prior to the competition and felt pretty good about them, and felt ready for the comp. Unfortunately, the overwhelming stress at work didn’t do my body good.
My supervisor went on maternity leave a couple weeks early leaving me with the added stress to figure out some of the tasks that I was to take over while she was out. The week prior to the competition was her program’s HUGE annual review week-long meeting that I had to take over with the planning and organizing on top of my regular job. I didn’t sleep much, my meal schedule was off, and I was working tons of overtime. I was T.I.R.E.D. Regardless, I was looking forward to competing with BW.
The first WOD of the competition was difficult but we managed to get through most of it. My body was tired, but nothing felt off. The last WOD of the day was squat heavy and it messed me up.
The WOD was:
Every minute on the minute for 10 min:
1st partner starts with 7 goblet squats with a 35lb kettlebell, then does 5 kettlebell swings.
2nd partner then does 95lb squat cleans for the remaining time in the minute.
At the top of the minute, the partners switch.
(This was me waiting for my turn at squat cleans looking at BW while she was doing her goblet squats like, “I don’t want to do this anymore”.)
(At home after the comp. I felt super old and broken.)
After the end of that WOD, my knee did not feel right. I could barely walk and it hurt so bad. I took a week off from working out to give my body a rest. After two weeks, I still felt off. This is when I received the results of the MRI. Verdict: a small medial, posterior horn meniscal tear. So this is the pain that I’ve been feeling for YEARS! After receiving the results, I decided to give my body a break. I’ve been definitely feeling physically older, and I attribute a lot of that to the stress that I’ve been feeling at work. I had planned on doing upper body workouts and still exercising regularly. Nope, that didn’t happen. Stress got the best of me.
I stopped working out. I started eating horribly. I still wasn’t sleeping well. I started to become depressed, which led to not wanting to workout, eating crap, and no sleep. It’s such an effing vicious cycle. Oh, and guess what? Work got even MORE stressful. So not only was I doing two positions, my student assistant quit and I, therefore, had to take on her work. Oh, I was also voluntold to assist with planning four retirement parties all in the month of June. Sure, I’ll do three positions and plan huge parties at the university on top of my coaching and operations duties at the gym. Sure, no problem at all. So you can imagine how vicious the above-mentioned cycle got recently. I need to learn to not be so nice and to say no.
Yesterday, I had BW take pictures of me doing various squats from all different angles, so I could compare the differences in my body mechanics before and after surgery. I knew I was getting a bit soft in the middle but I was not expecting to see what I saw in my squat pictures – my big ol’ gut chillin’ right in front of the camera (see below – enjoy!). It’s gross and embarrassing and I’m upset that I’ve let myself get to this point. This is what stress and depression has done to me. Ugh.
(Chubby little Ninja with giant spider bite on her leg that you can see bulging out!)
I am very much looking forward to having surgery and getting back in the gym and using my entire body. My doctor said that I will pretty much be ready to start working out again after two weeks. I sure hope so! I also recently (as of yesterday!) hired a new student assistant to work for me over the summer and can start June 30, and I also found out that my supervisor will be coming back part-time July 1. So, things are looking up! As much as stress and depression are dumb, I do learn a lot from what I experience during those rough times. Although there were days where I wanted to crawl into the fetal position and cry for days, or stab a beeotch in the ear, I forced myself to keep my head up no matter how difficult it was.
No matter how exhausted or pissed off I was from work, I found solace at the gym and from my members. It’s amazing how much better I felt once I got there and saw my CrossFit family even after working 8-10 hours and being at the gym for another 3, and getting home around 9pm. So big THANKS and giant internet hug to my CFSB family. Y’all are pretty neat, and I look forward to working out with you again soon! I’ll get through this, I always do.