The day I came out of hospital on crutches for the third time in two years, I sat on my bed and cried. The frustration of not being able to get dressed on my own, not being able to get in the shower on my own, or even carry a cup of tea across the room was too much. As I sat there feeling sorry for myself, Tania ‘phoned me and told me that I would be up and about in no time at all, walking up mountains by the summer and skiing by Christmas. “That is absolutely impossible” I thought. Kind of Tania to say such words but I didn’t dare to dream.
Over the first few weeks all I could do was to take baby steps towards my recovery.
I set myself little targets. By the end of the first week, I set out to dress myself. Underpants, socks and tights were tricky but soon I had conquered them.
Being non-weight bearing on my leg for six weeks was a challenge. Yet within two weeks I was able to walk down the stairs on my crutches and on to the end of the road and back. Just being outside, seeing blue sky above me and hearing the birds chirping in the trees was pure heaven. To celebrate my new-found freedom, I hopped across the road to a café and had a coffee outside in the spring sunshine.
As time went on my targets got bigger and more challenging. A hop on my crutches around the park. After 6 weeks of non-load bearing on my crutches, I started to walk further and even attempted little hills. If I pushed it too far my knee swelled up and was hot and sore, then I had to backtrack and slow down, let the swelling subside for a day or two, ice it, compress it and then start again. It was hard and if truth be told if I hadn’t had Tania telling me all the while that it would get better and I would be walking up mountains by the end of the summer, I may not have carried on pushing or more importantly, how to pace myself.
Reconnecting with nature
Living in the alps I had a veritable playground in my back garden. In the summer the gondola operates to take walkers up the mountains so Tania and I would walk up to the lake, swim in the freezing cold waters which was fantastic for my knee, and then I would take the gondola down whilst Tania walked with the dogs. Soon I was walking up on my own, swimming and walking down.
Rather than walk with friends or family, I often walked alone with the dogs as I wanted to concentrate on how I walked. Tania had taught me to pay attention to where I put my feet, to look ahead rather than down, to keep my legs apart and engage my bum and thigh muscles to support me especially on the downhill slopes.
As the weeks went on and the challenges increased and so did my confidence. By mid-July, when my youngest son was home from university, he and I and his girlfriend walked up to the Miage Glacier and had lunch before walking back down. We walked for about three hours up a relatively steep path and then three hours down a different, but equally steep, route. This was so much more than I had been able to do for the previous two summers and I was thrilled. So too were the dogs. We were back on track.
But still I kept on setting targets. Weight targets. Swimming targets. Biking targets. I took up yoga again which I love but I find is quite stressful on my knee and hip, so I set targets at yoga. Happy Baby pose fine, next step the Half Pigeon pose. During the ski season I skied, at first tentatively, and then over the weeks harder and faster as I regained the confidence in my knee, my hip and my not-so-young body. I was doing so much better than I ever dared to imagine. For the first time in three years I was feeling strong, able, confident and brave.
Hope-full not hopeless
When I look back to those black days when I was fresh out of hospital, my knee tightly bandaged, swollen and sore, I genuinely didn’t think I would ever be able to achieve what I have achieved in a year. I am so grateful to Tania for showing me how to become MovementWise, for giving me direction, instruction and most of all hope.
This year I want to walk the Tour du Mont Blanc. Next winter I want to ski off piste with my children. And what seemed an impossible dream three years ago, I plan to ride my bike up Mont Joly and picnic at the top. NOW I’M DARING TO DREAM!
MovementWise Journey Insights
If there was only 1 thing that you could do today that would have the biggest positive impact on your life over time, what would that be? In terms of your posture and movement habits?
The hardest part of any journey is often the first step especially if you have experienced repeated setbacks. Too many people get told that they have to ‘give up’ doing the things they love to do which often isolates them from the people they love to do those things with.
The most common causes of failure to move forward from pain, injury, and disease towards living a life that is rich and rewarding are:
- Not being able to set realistic and achievable goals when you have lost confidence in your body and in yourself.
- Not knowing how to get started and then how to keep moving forwards.
- Doing ‘exercises’ that have no relatable context – they are not attached to any meaningful purposeful direction that is motivating for YOU.
Well, I have great good news for you! The body loves to move, and when you move in an efficient way, a healthy way, with your mindset, motivation and movements, the body is unbelievably adaptable. It is hard to believe what is possible when you have persistent pain, recurrent injuries and chronic disease. This is when you really need a guide, someone who knows what is possible and can use that experience to give you the golden keys that will unlock YOUR performance potential.
When we don’t have our own positive experiences to learn from, it is important to be able to learn from the experiences of others. Storytelling is one of the most powerful way in which we can learn about things that are critically important to our health and wellbeing. This is the reason we began making the MovementWise films to show you how YOU can overcome health and performance challenges to do things in YOUR life that you may currently believe impossible.
Every journey begins with AWARENESS of what is possible, where you are now, where you want to go – meaning the things you want to do in YOUR life. The secret to success is taking small sustainable steps towards meaningful, purposeful goals.
‘It’s not just if you move, it’s how you move and why that is important.’
Our MovementWise Mantra
Many people fail at the outset by trying to do too much too soon which drives them into a cycle of dis-ability and despair. They overdo it, so the next day they feel incapable of doing anything, and so frustrated by this setback, they try to do all the things they couldn’t do when they were having a ‘bad day’ on this ‘good day’. Gradually the bad days become more common than the good days. This is the painfully common pattern of how many people tumble into a downward spiral of chronic disease and disability which is TOTALLY AVOIDABLE. Here are some top tips:
- Set realistic and achievable short and long-term goals.
- Pace don’t race – and give your body time to adapt.
- Learn about movement strategies that harm and those that heal.
- Focus on quality before quantity so that your body becomes enabled rather than disabled, and adaptable rather than adapted.
- GET A GOOD GUIDE – it’s hard to do this on your own.
‘Until you commit your goals to paper your intentions are like seeds without soil’
Find your meaning, purpose and direction:
- Write down what you need to do and want to do in your life?
- Write down the top 10 things on your bucket list and put a date by the first one.
- Short-term Goals: set yourself realistic and achievable goals each week, and month.
Long-term Goals: set yourself realistic and achievable goals for each year, in 5 years.
It’s normal to have ups and downs – progress is never linear. The key consistency. Tiny steps on a daily basis will lead to significant success over time. Remember: ‘Less is More’ and your success mantra should be ‘Pace Don’t Race’! It’s better to under-do and build up gradually, than to overdo-it and bail out!
A year ago, Mairi would never have believed that she would be walking up mountains, skiing down them, and now she is learning how to ride a mountain bike and loving every minute of it! A few weeks ago, what felt like a big effort physically and mentally, now feels comfortable. In just one month she can go twice as far and feels confident in more challenging terrain.
A year ago, Mairi believed that the best years of her life were over. Little did she realise that the best years of her life were about to begin. I hope that Mairi’s Story and all of the real transformative Journeys you can watch in our MovementWise films will give you the courage and conviction to DARE TO DREAM!
Watch our films and be inspired, to be MovementWise.