I have to admit I overuse the phrase “listen to your body.” It is easy to say, but the older I get the more mixed messages my body sends, making it harder to listen! The problem is my brain is saying one thing and my muscles are on a totally different page. This became painfully (literally) obvious last week when I hurt my shoulder. Now I wish I could tell you how I did it, but I can’t. That is part of getting older too. Maybe I slept on it wrong. Maybe the long drive to the Adirondacks and back caused it. Maybe the boat ride on Sunday wrenched something. All I know for sure is that by Wednesday my right arm was pretty useless. More on that in a little bit.
When I was in my twenties I don't remember getting injured. I think that is because even if I overdid a work out or pushed my body in any way, all I needed to recover was a good night’s sleep. Then in my thirties I found it took longer to come back from a strain or pull. A little ibuprofen and a day off usually did the trick. Then my forties hit. My body started rebelling! So I responded by being lazy. About 20 pounds later, I realized I wasn't helping myself. My body was screaming “get moving!” So I did. Unfortunately, I thought I could still do the same workouts from my twenties. I spent hours in the gym, the weight started coming off and my body was one big muscle ache! I was so worried about gaining back a pound I would power through any soreness, stiffness or injury. When I twisted my ankle my husband had to just about sit on me to prevent me from going to the gym to do an upper body workout! After ending up in physical therapy three times, (once for that ankle, once for my knee and once for my hip), I realized it was time to face reality. I am 49 and my body needs some TLC. Losing weight was not easy, but taking 25 pounds off my joints helps me keep moving with less pain. Getting moving in the morning takes longer, but motion is lotion! When I go for a walk or jog the first ten minutes are the worst. Once I am past them my muscles and joints feel better and I can go for a long time. I have devoted more time to yoga. One of the best lessons learned from yoga is it is okay to modify poses so they work for you. That is much more important than competing with the super flexible person next to me! So, while I have to accept a little more pain in my life, I won't let that stop me from keeping my body going. I have to find the right balance between my brain saying “go harder!” and my body saying “go back to bed!”
Back to my shoulder. I had an awesome massage last Tuesday (thank you Bodywork by Bobbi!), I took time off from yoga (downward dog would not have been a smart move), I went for walks instead of runs (to minimize the pounding on my body) and rested my arm as much as possible (I used my left arm for many things). Yesterday I did a resistance workout without weights. Today I feel about 95% healed. So I didn't just throw my arms up (which actually would have been impossible) and give up my schedule completely. I modified it to fit my capabilities and I am slowly improving. Much smarter than a few years ago when I would have ended up in physical therapy because I refused to compromise between my brain and my body.
Another way of listening to your body is to know when it is full! Mindful eating means paying attention to what you put in your mouth and knowing when to say you have had enough. As good as homemade cookies, french fries, ice cream, etc. taste, I overrule the urge to over indulge so that my body can stay healthy. Oh yeah, and so my clothes still fit! This week’s recipe is a great way to fill up on good-for-you food. You can serve it over a bed of greens or on a whole grain to make it a complete meal. Here is one more summer salad! As always, you can make it your own by changing up the herbs, adding extra or different vegetables, using a different bean or using flavored oil or a different vinegar.
From Food Network Magazine
Serves 8 as a side dish. Serves 4 as a main dish
2 cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups diced tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped kalamata olives
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup chopped mint
6 Tbsp good olive oil
3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Crumbled feta to top (optional)
Mix chickpeas, tomatoes, olives and herbs together in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk oil and vinegar together. Pour over chick pea mixture, season with salt and pepper and stir well.
Serve topped with feta, if using.