Hope everyone had a wonderful Fourth of July! Mine was filled with running so it was pretty ExoSymplyAmazing!
I was asked by fellow Hanger Clinic ExoSym patient Liz Edwards, to write a post about how to deal with the “hard days”, because let’s be honest, with our injuries and conditions, we all face difficult days. It’s just a part of life. So whether you are just getting the device or you’ve had it for some time, I’d like to offer up some inspiration and advice for when you face setbacks, struggles or just a plain old rough day. In order to do this, I think it will help if I go back to the early days of receiving my device.
When I first got the ExoSym (about 2.5 years ago), it had been well over two years since I had walked without pain or really walked at all. While extremely challenging to see my life changing that quickly from my injury, it was also very disheartening to be that immobile & living in debilitating pain at such a young age. To get through those times, I always believed for better days, never losing hope. When I received the ExoSym in 2013, I, like many of you, not only had to re-learn to walk with a normal gait, but also how to use the device and develop skills to keep me moving forward. I talk about all the awesome days at the clinic, but I want you to know I, too, had training days where I pushed myself too hard and had to rest (if Jared’s ever told you to take it slow, that’s because of me… ☺). I had aches and pains because of how I had overcompensated for so long and I had forgotten how to walk normally. Because of my nerve condition, my leg is very sensitive to pressure changes and kind Ryan adjusted my device more times than I can count (so thankful for his patience!). At the end of the sessions, I would go back and rest in my hotel room at night and wake up and do it all again the next day. But guess what? I kept moving forward. Little by little, every day, I began to see progress. Ryan always told me to “trust the process” and he was right (/when is Ryan ever wrong?!). I’ll still never forget the day I ran for the first time at the clinic. That moment will live with me forever.
When I returned back home to Texas, I joined an outdoor boot camp to build on my core strength, started gradually running (I was really slow & had to walk a lot, but it didn’t matter to me, because I was moving!), and kept up my daily PT exercises. I started to see the ExoSym as an extension of myself – not just a device that I wore, but literally as my new leg and with that came the understanding that I needed to learn to be one with it. #weateam As an athlete, I know what it’s like to feel sore & tired and with the device you’re not only learning to walk/run again, but your body is learning to adapt & recover as well. With all the things I began to take part in again – walking, running, biking, jumping, etc, I had forgotten that my body had been dormant & overcompensating for the injury for the last several years and I realized that I really needed to remember how far I had come… and not forget to continue working on mobility and stretching exercises from the clinic and that is something I still take time to focus on today. (love my pink foam roller and green lacrosse ball — colors make it more fun I promise!) From there I gradually increased my stamina & endurance and kept “trusting the process.” Within a year I began training for an endurance multisport adventure, another year later a half marathon, then I jumped into CrossFit and more endurance events which is where I am today. And nowhere along this journey was it a straight line easy ride to the top. I had setbacks and I still do experience them, but I choose not to dwell on them, I keep moving forward.
What I’ve learned is that it’s okay to have hard days. The key is not to get discouraged, but instead keep looking forward. Keep looking up. Keep goals in your future and always have something to look forward to on the calendar – it will keep you motivated. I continue to stay focused with my mobility work & listen to my body and know when I’ve done too much and need to give it rest (well still working on that rest part haha…). I am active six out of seven days of the week working hard & living ExoSymplyAmazing, but it doesn’t mean life is a chocolate covered sprinkled cupcake. I have hard days too. It’s a learning process. It’s a mindset. I work really hard at my fitness & have accomplished some cool things & I do it because I love it, but I want you to know not every day is sunshine and rainbows. In life, in order to push yourself to new levels, you are going to face hard times, but you can’t let that deter you. There are going to be days when you have pain, your energy levels are low when you’re out for a run, your shoe breaks, people give you weird looks, or you may feel like you aren’t making as quick of progress as someone else, but it’s in those moments when you need to stop and take a moment and look back at how far YOU’VE come. Trust YOUR journey. Trust the process. Overcoming challenges reminds us we can keep moving forward, but hard days remind us of who we are. Never forget that you can do anything you set your mind to as long as you never give up.
Live strong my friends, believe in yourself and keep moving forward. ♥ #TeamExoSym
#beYOU #beAMAZING #ExoSymplyAMAZING