Last week I was thrown off my horse and landed on my ankle. It broke in a number of places and I ended up having surgery that night with 2 plates inserted into either side of my leg. My surgeon has instructed me to bed rest for 2 weeks, a cast or boot (depending how I’m healing) and crutches for another 4 weeks, then a boot for another 6 after that. I won’t be walking on it without a boot for 3 months and won’t be able to start doing my normal activities for 4 months. Full recovery will take 1 year.
I’m a personal trainer. I was headed for yoga teacher training in November in India for 4 weeks and I horse ride twice a week. I have four dogs who I take for long bush walks and I move my body through yoga or a workout every day and spend the majority of my time at work and home on my feet (we have a 2.5 acre property with gardens and chickens so there’s a lot to do). Needless to say, my new prescription from the surgeon has me pretty stumped (‘scuse the pun).
Of course, as soon as you hear you’re not moving for the next while your mind goes straight to “shit I’m going to put on weight”. But as soon as I had the thought I dismissed it because I know my body will look after me. When it comes to movement, I have no choice. Pain is my conductor, and although I could obsessively crutch down the hallway trying to get my heart rate up (which I probably would have done in the past) my ankle absolutely kills when I’m upright and I want this thing to heal as quickly and as well as possible! So that’s just not an option. Sure, when I’m off crutches and have my Dr’s permission I’ll get back into some upper body workouts and even now 5 days later I’ve been doing some stretches to keep movement and mobility up (mainly because I’m very stiff from lying down all day) but I’m pretty limited by pain and I don’t want to push it so I let my body be my guide and if it feels good I do it, and if it doesn’t, I don’t.
When it comes to food it’s amazing already to observe how my body knows what it needs. From the first morning in hospital my appetite has been severely diminished. I’m not as hungry as often, and my meals have been much smaller because I just don’t feel like eating. I am thirsty like nothing else, so my water intake has been much higher than usual (possibly my liver needing it to flush all the drugs, but I’m sure a lot of water is used in healing and all the processes happening down at my ankle too). I am craving fruit and fresh veggies like nothing else, and really just want light meals. When it’s time to eat I ask myself what I feel like, and then choose that. I’m sure this will change with time. I’m detoxing all the drugs at the moment and so have been feeling quite nauseous. I’ve also slept a lot and sometimes just couldn’t be bothered eating because I’m tired and drowsy. But when I am out of bed and up a lot more my appetite will change. Luckily, I don’t have to do anything different – I’ll continue to check in with what I want and I’ll let my hunger and fullness be my guides as to when I eat and how much I eat.
This is the glorious thing about intuitive eating – I haven’t had to stress. I know inherently that my body will be my guide, and it has so far to a tee. I don’t have to count my calories (which would really be impossible anyway because my partner prepares my meals and asking him to weigh and measure and track all my food on top of the enormous strain of doing absolutely everything else would neither be practicable nor fair). I don’t have to worry for one second that I’ll gain weight, because I know my appetite will be adjusted for how limited my movement and energy expenditure are so my body will figure it out for me.
The best thing about all of this is that I know I can practice the greatest self-love of all – allowing my body to heal in the way that it knows how without interfering. Right now all I need to do is repair these broken bones and me, as in the conscious thinking me, has no idea how to do that! I do not instruct my body to heal, it just does it, intuitively, magically, marvellously. I am so in awe of this incredible thing known as my body, from the way it initially spared me from pain when I came off my horse, to all the things it did up until and post-surgery to protect that ankle from any further damage so it could start the healing process.
Intuitive eating is about so much more than finding food freedom. It has taught me to respect and honour my body and relinquish control from things that my body can look after itself. Now, more than ever, I am so grateful that I learned to shut up and listen.