Down But Not Out

If you happen to be a CrossFitter, you know that being injured, getting cut, scraped, bruised, abraded, and sore is all part of the scene.  How many of us have shown off our callouses to each other?  Am I right?  In fact, just a few weeks ago I attended the wedding of two people who go to my box and so there were a fair number of CrossFitters at the reception.  We all looked so nice for the occasion, but yet our conversation eventually turned to bruise comparison, dead-lift shin scrapes, and post hand ripping healing advice.  My point is, getting a bit banged up seems to be the norm as does shaking off a bit of pain from minor injuries.
However, yesterday I really hurt myself.  And the strange thing was, it wasn’t a CrossFit injury, it was a fluke.  No rope climbing burns, no abrasion on my back from doing sit-ups.  I rolled my left ankle.  It could have happened anywhere but I just happened to be at CrossFit.  And man, does it hurt.  This is not going to be one of those easy-to-shake-off things.
I am very fortunate that one of my fellow athletes is a physician’s assistant and she took a look at it for me on the spot.  No breaks, I just really sprained the heck out of it.
So now I can barely walk.  It has swelled up like a small balloon, it’s extremely painful, and I’m really not happy about it.  I’m out of commission for a while – no CrossFit, no Pilates, no yoga, no running.  My job is to let the sprain/strain heal.  Oh, and did I also mention I am going on vacation tomorrow and was looking forward to lots of walking, hiking, and visiting at least two CrossFits on this trip?  Yeah, I’m REALLY not happy at the moment.

(Boo hoo!!  It’s all puffy and bruised!  Also, do you know how difficult it is to take a photo of the outside of your left ankle?)

This morning I woke up in foul spirits after a fitful, restless night.  “I’m tired!  My ankle hurts!  Our vacation is ruined! I can’t workout! I can’t even walk! WAA!
But then I thought about it.  I’m all about health and wellness, right?  I mean, it’s my identity, my lifestyle, and my job.  What is healthy about being an infantile whiner?  Nothing.  The only thing that whining and feeling bad for myself will get me is myself in a worse mood and I’d probably bring Dude down with me.
Health isn’t solely about eating cleanly and moving your body.  It’s about a good attitude and perspective.  It’s about keeping your emotional and spiritual side in good shape too.  It’s about mental health and wellness and not just physical health and wellness.
So, in light of this, I started listing some of the things that I have going for me:

  • This ankle injury is very minor and will heal quickly.
  • I am fortunate to be able to go on vacation at all.  We’re still going.
  • I will have one whole week with my Dude.  I won’t have to share him with his job for 7 days!
  • I have a great family and great friends who have already checked in on me today.

Now, I realize that mental and emotional health and wellness isn’t as simple as making a list of all the frown-upside-down jolly glass-half-full things in your life, but remembering the good before the bad is a good start.
Here are a few tips for staying emotionally well even when things aren’t going your way:

  • Let yourself feel badly – This almost sounds contrary to what I just said above, but it’s true.  I can’t stand when I’m sad about something and someone comes along to remind me of how WORSE someone else has it.  That does not take away my right to feel down.  Feel what you feel.  It’s ok to be sad, disappointed, angry, frustrated.  Recognize your emotions, know where they’re coming from, and feel them.  They are legitimate no matter what anyone else is going through. Your emotions are real and legitimate.
  • Be grateful – Yes, recognize that things could be better but there are inevitably things that are going well too.  Recognize those things and be thankful for them.  That’s what I did in my list above.  I am so grateful that I didn’t break my ankle and that I’m still going to be spending some time away with the person I love most in the world.  I’d say I’m coming out on top here.
  • Make the conscious decision to set a positive tone each day – It is said that the trajectory of each day is determined by the shape of your mouth.  Frown = down and smile = up.  Although rather simplistic, it’s also quite true in many cases.
  • Know your limits – I can provide you with a mile-long list of platitudes and inspiration to try to make you feel good about things, but there comes a time when achieving emotional and mental wellness is out of our hands and we need some outside help.  There is positively NO shame in asking a friend, family member, doctor, health coach, counselor, or pastor for a boost.  We’ve all been there.  If you can’t do it alone, find someone to help you because it’s worth it.

Please don’t skimp on this side of wellness.  Very often we are more than willing to spend money on a personal trainer or gym membership and all kinds of healthy grass-fed local wild caught organic sustainable free-range foodstuffs to keep our physical side in good health, but our intangible side needs lots of care too.
So, this is what I will be concentrating on today.  This, and sending all kinds of healing vibes to my ankle.  I also would love it if I got tons of blog comments and Facebook messages with stories about how you take care of your mental and emotional side.  Tell me all about how you overcame a crappy situation and turned it into a positive one.  Tell me all your stories!  I’m couch-bound today!


  1. Lori
    June 7, 2012 11:10 am

    Great post Jill…and sorry to hear about your ankle. Couldn’t agree more with everything you’ve said. I was slightly hobbled in the same manner a few weeks ago and can understand the frustration! I do recommend grabbing some Arctic Ease cryotherapy wraps ( if you’re going on vacation but still want to be able to ice your ankle while on the go. They are awesome, reusable cold therapy wraps that aren’t messy or inconvenient like ice can be. Walgreen’s, some Dick’s locations, Dunham’s and some Giant Eagle stores carry them.
    Heal quickly and enjoy your vacation!

    • Jill
      June 7, 2012 12:31 pm

      Thanks, Lori. I’ll have to send Dude out for some of those Arctic Ease wraps. I recall you mentioning them to me before.
      It’s hard not to be depressed over this, but I’ve got to look on the bright side! Thanks for the tip. 🙂

  2. Mallory
    June 7, 2012 12:38 pm

    This is perfect timing – I way overdid it with squats on Monday and have had to take three days off so far. It’s a very temporary situation, but it’s still so frustrating! This has reminded me that the health and wellness of my body should come first. The bright side: I’ve been using this week to get an extra hour of sleep in the morning!

    • Jill
      June 7, 2012 12:58 pm

      Great idea with the extra sleep! Isn’t being out of commission so frustrating?! I hope you have a speedy trip back to the gym. 🙂

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