I haven’t quite felt like myself lately. Many are battling early-onset Winter Doldrums at the moment, but the whole weather thing isn’t what’s actually getting to me. While I do prefer the warmer months, I actually LOVE Winter and the way it allows me to embrace my inner homebody. I cherish those couch-potato movie days, snuggling in front of the open fire, forgivable Saturday nights in, entire days devoted to baking and reading, Sunday afternoons spent in quaint teahouses amongst fairy gardens, the awe-inspiring fashion, training at the gym because there’s nothing better to do outside and, of course, the comfort food.
No, I can’t just point my finger at Winter and justify this unfamiliar gloom as seasonal. So, I’ve figured that it must be a combination of a few things: my head is still stuck up in the clouds of nostalgia as I slowly recover from Post-Bali-Blues, and I’ve got a whopping head cold that’s blurring any clarity my mind can muster (First World Problems, eat your heart out). But, primarily, I’m trying to come to grips with something I’ve never had to before: back and hip injury. Never before now have I been stopped so abruptly from pursuing a goal I’m so desperate to achieve.
Given the gym rat that I am, you can imagine my reaction when my chiropractor took one look at the X-Rays of my abnormally aligned neck, spine and hips and prohibited me from doing any physical activity besides slow-paced walking until I show signs of recovery. Until I registered what he’d actually said, all I could focus on was how lop-sided my boobs appeared in the life-size X-Rays mounted on the wall before us. I silently prayed that he hadn’t noticed. The smirk on my boyfriend’s face suggested that even if the chiropractor wasn’t aware of my apparent inconsistencies, he certainly was. That was over a month ago and I’ve still made next to no progress in my recovery.
You see, I’ve been struggling with all-over back pain and severe headaches for about 5 months, but was adamant that the pain would just pass. Being the non-stop weirdo that I am, I didn’t seek proper help because I was terrified of being told that I couldn’t work out for a while (just to paint a more vivid picture of my uncanny thought processes, I scheduled my first chiropractic appointment at 11:45 on a Saturday Morning so that I could squeeze in what I knew could-be-the-last-one-for-a-while High Energy class at the gym beforehand). I should’ve listened to my body because all those weighted squats, burpees and kicking and jumping between boxing sets was worsening my injuries by the day, but I pushed through the pain regardless, in stubborn pursuit of my fitness goals.
After returning from Bali and having done nothing whilst over there except for walking, some sneaky yoga and a few light beach jogs (I was strictly told not to do yoga or running), my back was feeling great and I was given the all-clear to ease back into my usual routine. “AWESOME!”, I gasped. I couldn’t wait to get back on the road to becoming fitter, stronger and leaner than ever. I headed straight to the gym, thinking that BodyPump would be a great way to “ease” back into weights instead of smashing out a proper program. Wrong. The second I went down for the first set of that horrid squat track (why I didn’t lower my weights significantly, I’ll never know), I felt that familiar pang rip through my back and hips and I knew that I’d screwed up. Royally. I went back to the chiropractor the next day and was told that I’d have to go back to just walking for a few weeks until I started to progress again. Great.
Moral of my story? LISTEN TO YOUR BODIES, KIDS! There’s “the burn” –that awesome muscle-rippling, tear-inducing torture during a great workout that leaves you paralysed the next day in a sore-today-strong-tomorrow kinda way — and there’s bad pain. And no matter how stubborn and deliberately ignorant you might be, you know the difference between the two. Please trust me when I say that no matter how determined you are to fulfill your fitness aspirations, it’s just not worth pushing through an injury for. If you choose to ignore the symptoms, you’ll only have yourself to blame when you can’t go about everyday life without pain and have to put your fitness (and thus optimal health) on hold for longer than you ever envisaged in the first place.
It’s very disheartening to have all the passion, motivation and determination in the world and not be able to do anything with it, especially when exercise is how I clear my mind and keep myself grounded. It also sucks to see something you’ve worked so hard at for a year slowly slip away before your very eyes. Somehow, I don’t think my fitso/thinspo/ bikini-clad-fitness-model infested Instagram feed is helping to ease my sorrow, either. Once daily motivators, all those gorgeous long-legged, toned and tanned superhuman babes are now evil reminders of what could have been (except for the long-legged part – no amount of squats and lunges could ever give me that). I can’t even begin to describe how much I miss that post-sweat sesh adrenaline rush. It’s a truly addictive high, and I guess that’s why they call us Gym Junkies. Still, I’ve just got to remain positive and grateful for what I do have. There could be so much worse wrong with me. I’m alive, I’m healthy and I’m able to love and be loved, and I shouldn’t take that for granted for a second. So, in the desperate hope that I’ll be sweating it out again in my new Lorna Jane getup ASAP, I’m being an obedient little patient for my chiro and steering clear of all strenuous activity. I know I’ll get back to it eventually, and when I do, I’ll appreciate my body’s very ability to move like never before. It’s quite funny, really, how each day I stay out of the gym is a day closer I become to getting back on track on my fitness journey. Ironic, huh?
Anyway, yesterday being a Sunday, I had a little extra time on my hands to make something super comforting; something to take the edge off my melancholia just a little. I was craving something warm and rich with a particular crunch. So, I decided that this something would be something new, too: a dessert-esque fruity brunch pizza. Marvellous. While it’s high carb, it’s also high protein and high fibre. The recipe serves 2 as a breakfast meal, or 4 as a small snack. Being the piggy depresso that I’ve been lately, I ate the entire thing to myself. Before my boyfriend had even finished his porridge and could ask for a taste, I’d scoffed every last morsel. Yeah, yeah, I know I should be watching my portions since I’m barely exercising at all, but I’m going through an ordeal, okay?! (Ha!)
Tutti Frutti Brunch Pizza
Serves 1 if you’re as fat as me, or 2 as a normal meal & 4 as a small snack
- 1 gluten free or wholemeal wrap/tortilla/lebanese pita (I use Old Time Bakery’s Certified Organic Gluten & Wheat Free Wraps – they’re made mainly from buckwheat and soy flour, so they’re super high in protein and fibre and very low in sugar)
- 1 heaped tbsp natural peanut butter
- 150g greek yoghurt (I use Chobani), combined with a little stevia and 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 large ripe banana, sliced
- 1 cup fresh or frozen mixed berries (I used fresh strawbs, blueberries & raspberries)
- Sprinkle the sliced banana with cinnamon and place under the grill. Once they start to caramelise, add the pizza ‘base’ to the grill. The banana is ready when it’s golden, brown and bubbling, and the base is ready when it’s warmed through and crispy. Keep a close eye on what’s going on, because 30 seconds can be the difference between gorgeous caramelised banana and charcoal. Trust me.
- Meanwhile, add the berries, a tiny sprinkle of Stevia and a few teaspoons of water to a small saucepan. Stir over low heat until the berries soften and the liquid begins to bubble. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Spread the warm base with peanut butter, then with the greek yoghurt/cinnamon mixture. Top with the grilled banana, berries and an extra sprinkle of cinnamon. Scoff immediately.