A Strong Spirited Spotlight
Set the time aside to read this spotlight, if you are having trouble, whether it be emotional, physical, or a combination of both. If this doesn't make you want to run through a wall then I don't know what to tell you, because it sure as heck makes me want to. I have been so unbelievably proud of the way Andrea has handled her time her and even more so how she is handling her current injury. I’m more than happy to admit that reading this in full was uplifting, I very seriously suggest you do the same. In Andrea’s own words;
“I started at GetFit nearly a year and a half ago, though it sometimes feels like a world away. It had been 6 months since me and my family uprooted our lives in the midwest and came to New Hampshire - a homecoming for me, though it still meant leaving a decade’s-worth of friendships. I was feeling unmoored and unhealthy, eating whatever and whenever I’d like, and never really exercising. It was when my knees started to really hurt when climbing stairs that I actively sought out GetFit NH and got on the 5am wait list. After a few months of the lovely 6:45pm class, I made it into the 5am class, where I’ve been nearly every morning ever since.
I still love the things that initially drew me to GetFit - the comraderie, the lack of mirrors, the truly judgement-free atmosphere, and how I’ve always been able to participate at some level. When I began at GFNH I was incredibly self-conscious - uncomfortable in my own skin and hyper-aware of both my colorful bands and my limitations. But by coming consistently over these past 16 months, I gained - muscle, confidence, and skills, while at the same time losing quite a bit of weight. My goals shifted from weight-loss and shedding my bands, to climbing the FitRanx levels and training again for a half-marathon (something I enjoyed many years ago!) I was looking forward to better weather for the start of my training, but then life, with it’s best laid plans, had other ideas.
You see, along with strength and confidence, I had rediscovered a love of sports. Now, I have never considered myself an athlete - my sister was always the one that excelled with grace and drive (and loads of skill). Yet here I was in my 30s, lifting heavy weights, running, and playing field hockey again! I also returned to skiing, something I did every winter growing up. So the decision to go on a big family ski trip out west was a no brainer - I was feeling great, able to really dig in and go fast, enjoying the experience. But I couldn’t control for that grassy patch of ice or the novice skier that didn’t know to check uphill when merging. As I fell (yep, it was a big one), I could hear and feel everything tear in my right knee. And when my dad skied up behind my crumpled body on the ground, just seconds later, my first words (along with many swears) were, “I just blew out my knee!” And boy did I. After a trip to the ER, a rough plane ride home, and an MRI I was diagnosed with a fully torn ACL, fully torn MCL, and torn meniscus - the aptly named “unhappy triad.”
I’m not going to lie, this injury has been painful - both physically (obviously!) and emotionally. I lost a lot in that silly fall - gone were all my goals, gone were the sports and teammates I had finally returned to, gone was my progress. What laid ahead (and still lays ahead) for me is lots of physical therapy, surgery for both my ACL and meniscus, nearly two months of crutches, and more physical therapy. Then, once that’s all done, I’ll be starting again. It felt, at first, like I would have to start from the beginning, a thought that made me cry.
But here’s the thing about me - I am both stubborn and absurdly optimistic. I cannot undo that fall, but you had better believe I can make it to the gym every day and do upper body sprints until my heart rate is at 94%. I can’t test up to the next FitRanx level, but I can work on my push-ups and core strength with the best of them. I can’t play field hockey or run, but I can do my physical therapy to help ensure my surgery and recovery go as smoothly as possible. Just because I can’t show up in the ways I had been, doesn’t mean I won’t show up at all. I believe in living a full life, and this experience is just one part of it - an opportunity to practice grit and drive, to learn how to slow down and care for myself, to accept help and even (shock!) ask for it when I need it.
In the days and week after my injury I kept in touch with Dean and Nancy, updating them on my predicament. I was most afraid they would tell me that I was being too difficult, that making up different workouts just for me was too much, and that I couldn’t return. Instead, I was told that if I could get myself to the gym, they would train me. A week and a half after my fall I limped back into the gym with my new goal. Show up. Just show up - no matter the circumstance, the limitation, the fear, and sometimes even, the pain (as long as your doctor OKs it) - keep showing up. Because this is just one small part in life and in the end I’ll be back (with my newly reconstructed knee) and darn it if I won’t be better and stronger than ever!”