I’ll give you prior warning, this may get a little dark at times, and it’s certainly not short, but if you want an insight into what makes me tick and what motivates me to stay in shape, it’s worth sticking with!
You may have noticed, I’ve not posted anything for nearly a month now. This beast of a post is why.
And yes, it is a beast, so if you stick with me, you’ll want to put the kettle on first!
Now I understand I’m putting myself out there in this post, and allowing myself to be seen as vulnerable (which I’m not great at), but screw it! As the world renowned medic Dr Pepper says, “What’s the worst that can happen?”
I think it’s important to be transparent, so I’m going to lay it all out there for you.
Plus I can delete this at any time, then it’ll just be my word against yours it was ever published! 😉
So here we go…
Monday 13th February was the date it all started going downhill for me.
I woke up that morning with a mild aching right at the base of my spine. Nothing to worry about hopefully, just a bit of an ache from sleeping funny.
Whenever I get any kind of ache in my lumbar spine, I’m always immediately suspicious. If you don’t know already, I have a history of lower back pain. Several years ago I had an ‘incident’ which left me unable to walk for nearly two days. To this day I don’t know what ‘event’ specifically brought that on, but a year or so afterwards, after being bounced around the NHS for God knows how long, I was diagnosed with a sacroiliac joint dysfunction.
Great. I finally had a name. Something I can work on rather than suffer through!
Rehabilitation from this is the reason I became qualified as a lower back pain specialist, and the reason I can keep myself pain free and fully functional 99.9% of the time.
An interesting side note is that the weekend I couldn’t function from the waist down was a weekend I was visiting Worthing from my home town just outside London. It was also a weekend there was absolute torrential rain and wind that would make Katrina look like somebody sneezed, both of which we got caught in the evening before ‘the incident’. By rights it should have been the worst weekend of my life, and you’d think a weekend like that would put you off of anywhere in the world!
But it was the same weekend me and the missus discovered Worthing town and was a big factor in our decision to move here out of London!
So anyway, back to the pain story!
The pain didn’t get any better throughout the day. I hobbled through, lugging my equipment around, but still doing a pretty good job of hiding it from my awesome clients and bootcampers that day.
After all, I’m supposed to be indestructible, right? Bullet proof.
Tuesday the 14th (Valentines Day) it got progressively worse. A couple of clients actually noticed me compensating when I was moving, but I played it down and got on with it. I’m actually pretty good at hiding my own pain when I don’t want people to catch on.
That same evening was the evening I filmed myself making the Valentine’s dinner on this very blog, and I can tell you, I hobbled around the shops buying stuff for that dinner like an arthritic Cranky Kong! If you look really closely on the video, you can see I’m not moving very, shall we say, smoothly. But I’m still doing a pretty good job of covering it up if I do say so!
That whole dinner I spent struggling to get up and down from the table, and by time I’d got to bed that night, I could barely support my own bodyweight again.
Ollocks. With a capital B.
It was almost exactly like that weekend several years ago.
This was not good. I had Bootcamp in the morning, and I really don’t like letting people down.
I pulled all the tricks out. Busted out the ice pack. Downed Ibuprofen like they were skittles. Adjusted my pillows and myself into the perfect sleeping position.
Then Wednesday morning came about. I got up (carefully!) and could stand.
I did still have mild pain in my lumbar spine, nerve pain down my left thigh, aching in my left calf, serious pain in my left ankle, and parts of my left foot and two of my toes had gone completely numb.
However, I could walk! Score! (If you don’t know me that well, I’m all about the silver linings!)
Unfortunately cartwheels would have been a step too far. Plus they would have woken up the missus. Then I’d really have been in pain!
I dug out my back support and strapped myself up tight. I must have taken two inches off my waist. That thing was so tight I was one step away from being a busty medieval wench. (Well two actually, if you know what I mean…)
I got myself down to bootcamp and again (I think) did a great job of keeping the pain to myself. I kept the demonstrations to a bare minimum, and got up and down from the floor at least semi-smoothly, if a little wobbly. And of course kept my usual ‘rainbows and puppies’ disposition.
I got to work on the usual rehab work I did to stay in tip-top condition, but it didn’t improve the situation.
Over the week, it pretty much stayed stable, not getting worse or better, but there was a snag. I was doing a 7k Army Assault Course the following weekend.
Now, I assess a lot of people with back pain, and I know when to refer someone out. It’s just difficult to refer myself out, because that means I’d have to admit I couldn’t fix it! Or in short I’d have to ask for help.
I hate that.
So I grew a pair, got over it, and with the approaching assault course getting closer, I made a physio appointment to get checked out and see what I could be doing to get this puppy under control.
10 days out, I got assessed. Turns out I’d, shall we say, pissed off a nerve in my lower spine.
Luckily, it was text book. Even more luckily, I now have an excellent physio.
I’ve worked with several physios over the years, either professionally or personally, and I can tell you, Matt is exceptional. He’s the only person I’d trust with overseeing me while I pull a Steve Rogers (did I just give away my age there?) and rebuild myself.
Matt, as expected, advised me to pull out of the assault course, and I, just as expectedly, stubbornly refused!
I had a whole team of people doing this, and we were raising money for the kids! You know how it is.
So we got to work on mediating the slight disagreement going on between the nerve and the vertebrae enough that I could get to the finish line without being carried over it.
We did some work on ‘opening up’ the joint, I went home and did the same there (as best as I could on my own), and come the next week, I’d improved significantly. I’d even impressed myself! Most of the pain in my ankle and calf had gone, the nerve pain had dropped right down, and I was much more stable on my feet.
Great news because I was only 3 days out from the assault course!
My awesome team made it through, with me just about in tow, and as expected, the next day I was limping like a lame donkey. It took a few days to get back to a fairly even keel again.
Now here’s the thing. Not training regularly for most people brings about all kinds of negatives:
- being lethargic
- getting regular headaches
- random aches and pains
- poor self confidence
Man, I could go on. Being out of shape is not fun!
For me, as someone who did train regularly previously and had that taken away, it gradually ate away at me in the same way, but was amplified by the frustration of not being able to do anything about it.
I was gradually getting into worse and worse shape, and all I could do was watch.
You see, I have skinny-fat genes. Or you could say, “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t” genes.
One side of my family is naturally skinny, and the other side is naturally overweight. I fall mostly on the skinny side, so for me that means if I can’t train properly, I drop muscle mass faster than you can say Mr Bean.
On top of that, if I eat enough calories to slow down the process, I then get chubby quick.
So I gradually let myself go more and more, having binges I’m not proud of (and that made it all worse), and becoming more and more lethargic while all I could do to train was some stretching.
So over the past two months, I’ve gradually dropped about 25% of the muscle I’d built (you can see the photo from several years back where I look like I’m auditioning for a Mr Muscle commercial at my Worthing Personal Training website) and replaced that with lard.
However, my disaster is your gain!
Last Friday was like that day you get the news that after ploughing money into it for the past 20 years, your lottery numbers have finally come up.
I got the all clear to train again!
I started on an intense (Jesus, that was an understatement!) physio routine to quite literally get back on my feet again, and over the next couple of months, like when Mr Incredible got the call to take out Syndrome’s robots, I’ll be getting fighting fit again.
And you get to watch and learn.
I’m going to post up what I’m eating, video clips of my training sessions, and you can even see some of my physio sessions where I’m at my most vulnerable looking like Bambi learning to walk.
Only a skinny, yet chubby-under-the-t-shirt Bambi. (Just promise not to laugh. Alright you can laugh a little bit…)
So stay tuned. If you’re getting in shape as well, you’ll see me use every trick in the book which you can ‘borrow’ for your own use.
If nothing else, good or bad, you’ll have learned from this post I’m not as bullet proof as I’d like you to think I am!
Tell me what you think below in the comments! 🙂