I used to do an at-home TV workout when I was in my teens and it was the depths of winter in Canada (I wasn't into running at the time and, frankly, even if I had been, I'm still not the insane/hardcore variety of runner who enjoys doing it in -20C!) and one of the phrases the host used a lot to motivate people to keep going was 'Use it or lose it!'
I've been discovering the truth of this cliché so, so much in the past month.
Image from watchfit.com
Today is five weeks post surgery and I haven't been able to do anything 'normal' in that time. Normal, for me, being getting sweaty in a class or running at least a few times a week. For most of the five weeks, even walking was a pain in the butt and involved at least one crutch if not two. My left leg has lost pretty much any tone it ever had (*not much) and even doing very basic leg raises and light resistance band work is painful and hard, compared to the fact that I used to be able to crank out dozens of single-leg squats even the day before surgery.
The scar doesn't look very big considering how much trouble this knee has caused. Thank you to my surgeon for doing an amazing job!
What really drove home the 'use it' reminder, though, was a visit to the almost-in-laws this weekend. While I've been doing most of my physio religiously and easily noticed the difference from week to week, and sometimes even day to day, I haven't been able to do steps, which are part of the assigned exercises. When I first got home from hospital I thought that being on the ground floor and having only one small step at the front and back doors was a huge relief--and it was!--but it isn't anymore. Chez the fam, there are stairs EVERYWHERE. Three here, two there, an L-shaped staircase there. I was a bit worried about whether I'd be able to get around so, although I've been off crutches inside the house for over a week, I took my crutch with me just in case. But since the physio told me I should be doing step-ups, I tried to do the stairs without the crutch most of the time. It hurt and my left leg is still a wuss, but I did it. And, amazingly, at the end of the three-day weekend, I was SO much more mobile than I was before going there!
It was such a 'duh' lightbulb moment but clearly I needed the reminder. Doing the stairs and feeling better about doing the stairs was empowering. It made me feel I wasn't quite as far away from getting back to my old routines as I thought I was last week, and I even started researching pools nearby to see if there's one that doesn't need a membership to go and start to get some of my cardio fitness back.
So sometimes clichés and old adages still do have a big chunk of truth. Get out there and use your body and muscles -- you don't want to lose it, and your body will thank you for it!