A Twisted Ankle, a Bum Knee, and Dancing All Night

Why do I exercise? How do I stay motivated to do it? Those have been some of your favorite questions for me lately.

Why do I exercise? That’s an easy one, because to begin with I went to the gym to stay out of surgery. I twisted my ankle over five years ago now, and I didn’t think anything of the sprain. I mean we all sprain our ankles now and then, right? Except I twisted it about three times in two weeks. Apparently, I have permanently damaged my Achilles’ tendon. Orthopedist told me that she could do surgery with an almost guaranteed loss of movement, or I could hit the gym and put more muscle around the injury – think of it as an internal splint. I chose gym. I hit it with a vengeance and when I went back months later, she said, “You really did it. You went to the gym.”

“You told me to,” I said.

“I tell a lot of people that, but they never go.”

Hmm . . . surgery in my 40s with a almost certain loss of movement forever in my ankle, so I’d never run again. I’d never . . . do a lot of things again, or I could exercise more. It seemed an easy choice to me, and one I’m very glad I made.

When I walked into the gym three, or is it four years ago, I was medically not allowed to run. Now I can hit 6 mph on the treadmill for sustained periods, not for long sustained periods, but I can do it. Before, the ortho told me, “You can run to save your life, like if a car is about to hit you, but other than that, don’t.” Now I’m looking at signing up for a Monster Run.

It was my ankle injury that got me into the gym, but my back and hip stopped hurting from all those hours typing at my desk. At the very end of a book I give up nearly all gym time, and most everything else that isn’t writing, and my back starts aching again, so exercise is better for all of me, not just my ankle.

I admit that about three years ago I was doing more cardio, eating better, and had attained the weight I wanted, and then I lost my workout partner – a lot of things happened and I started to lose some of my progress. I hadn’t realized how much until my knees started hurting. I went to a different orthopedist, one for knees and found out that if I don’t lean down and take off the weight I’ve gained back, and put the muscle I’ve lost back on, I’m headed for knee replacement with in two to five years, and probably more like two, or I can hit the gym harder. I’m going to hit the gym, thanks.

I haven’t gained that much weight back, but it’s not how much you weigh, it’s how much your body can tolerate. Think of your body as a car, some can pull heavier loads than others without ruining their suspension. Apparently, I’m over my weight limit and need to get some strengthening done to my undercarriage, that would be the muscle I need back. So, Jon and I have started eating better again, but this time we mean to stay with it as a permanent nutrition change, a lifestyle change. He was told that he, too, needs to lean down and muscle up if he doesn’t want to have another knee surgery, and since early heart attacks run in his family that’s another good reason to exercise and eat healthier.

And before you ask, we do not exercise together. It’s one of the few areas where we are not compatible.

So, we exercise to stay healthy and out of the operating room as the patient. I like that I’m a size 8, but it would never have been enough reward on it’s own for me to do all this, but being able to go up a flight of stairs without pain, now that’s a reward. I also find that my mood is lighter, happier, and just all around better when I exercise consistently. That’s not just me, studies have shown that exercise truly is a mood lifter, and a natural antidepressant. It won’t cure serious depression on it’s own, but it helps.

If your body doesn’t need as much exercise as mine does to stay healthy, great for you. It really is a genetic thing how much weight your body can carry and be in good working order. The same goes for how much junk food you can eat without upsetting your system. Everyone is different, so do what makes you feel good, but I’ll add that the older you get the harder it is to stay in shape, especially if you don’t exercise and eat junk food. Our goal is to get Jon at his “fighting” weight before he hits 40, because that is a metabolic milestone that makes everything harder. Whatever weight you want to lose, muscle you want to gain, doing it before you hit another decade is usually a smart idea, because it does get harder from there. I love every decade, life just gets better, but the one thing I have noticed is that its harder to get in shape and stay there, but thanks in part to the fact that I do workout, it’s the only downside to getting older that I’ve found. I believe sincerely that the amount of good, consistent exercise, and healthier eating habits are a large part of why I get mistaken for being ten to twenty years younger than I am. I admit that part is awesome, but I’m also happier, healthier, not in constant pain, and Jon and I can dance for hours again. We danced a lot when we dated, but injuries and lack of exercise had stolen that from us. Hard work in the gym and the kitchen won back what we thought was gone forever and we just recently proved that we can literally dance the night away again. That was a very sweet extra to all this healthy stuff, and more romantic than we could have imagined. Yay, gym workout and eating better, who knew they could be so damned romantic?

Posted by at 2:15:28 pm on March 28, 2014

16 Responses to A Twisted Ankle, a Bum Knee, and Dancing All Night

  1. Megan says:

    Thank you Laurell! I LOVE reading about your personal life from YOU (it’s like you really are a friend) and hopefully I find that motivation to become a gym lover as well… I’m only in my 20′s and I fear becoming overweight but can’t bring myself to actually DEDICATE myself to working out… So thank you for showing me that I don’t struggle with this as well… Hopefully in the coming years I will find that ability in myself to do what you do! Love and rockets, Meg

  2. Tina M. says:

    Kudos to both of you! I’m glad you have stuck with it and I wish you all the strength you need to continue to do so. Working out is not for me, and I’m quite a bit over weight. I did the walking on a treadmill several years ago and lost about 40lbs, and I was miserable, I just don’t think I’m meant to be skinny. Have you not found a replacement workout partner yet? Its good that you and jon realize you are not compatible there and don’t try to force it.

    • Tiffany Weible says:

      I did the same thing, I hated working out until I started trying different workouts. Turns out I think Zumba is so fun I actually look forward to going! And when I need a nice relaxing workout I do flow yoga. And don’t think I’m some skinny minny either when I started this journey I was over 300lbs and thought this it’s just “who I was” but “who I was” would make me so sad that only food could comfort me. Now even when it’s a bad day going to class cheers me up :) I think all I’m trying to say is before you decide make any decisions maybe try to play with it and see if there is a workout out there that’s not only not miserable but not really work either :) Please know that I like LKH want you happy and loving yourself however you are comfortable and that I send you love, prayers, and happiness <3

  3. Amy THacker says:

    Thanks for sharing the hard truths. I am slowly climbing back into the wagon or maybe I should say I am climbing out from under it. It seems as if every time I fall off the darn thing it rolls back over me and just parks there. Time for me to sign up for another race, maybe a 5K.

  4. Cheryl says:

    Could there be anything else about you that doesn’t scream, “this woman totally rocks”? Awesome job on the motivation to do what you need to do to keep you healthy, that is amazing because I know for most, you get this hair up your butt, decide you’re going to do what you need to do to get yourself in shape and after a few weeks at the gym, that wonderful motivation you had that started you there, some how disappeared out the window (or maybe that is just me). Also, is it absolutely silly that here I am a woman in my early 30′s am totally obsessed with your novels, and love reading everything about you that I’m to the point that I think, this woman is totally my role model. Of course I love love love your work however, allowing us the insight to your life, how you feel and what you think on a personal level is awesome. I often think, this is totally the person I want to be when I grow up. Yes, I know I am grown up, with 2 young children, a part time job and a full time student although, you inspire me to keep doing what I want to do that is going to make me happy as well as the inspiration to keep motivated towards accomplishing my goals and dreams. Just over all, thank you for being you!!!

  5. Toni Adwell says:

    Best of luck getting back into the exercise groove! I know how difficult it can be; especially with the weather the way it is now. My husband and I aren’t compatible workout partners, either–hah! So I do my thing, which is certain workouts that I love (don’t know if I can name them here without getting in trouble, heh), while he does more traditional stuff like weightlifting and running. I exercise to help with an injury as well, and can definitely feel when I don’t exercise the way I should. Unfortunately I’m in the same boat as you, and my body tends to be very reactive toward what I eat and how much I exercise. On the other hand I guess we could view it as a blessing since it is more likely to keep us motivated in the long run!

  6. Derek K. says:

    This is pretty damn inspiring. If I hadn’t read your previous blog, I’d have never guessed you were 51. I seriously thought you were Maybe 30 at the oldest. I’m glad this has all improved your life and your enjoyment of it.

    I myself am underweight, or maybe my peak weight since I’ve tried for years to get myself over 120 pounds but at 22- going to be 23 in a few months- I just seem to have a metabolism that doesn’t know what slow is. I know that will change, and I know that I should watch what I eat now because even if I don’t gain weight, it will and probably is causing me health issues that could be far worse and deadlier than just gaining weight. Oh well. I’m rambling.

  7. Tiffany Weible says:

    The love, light, and darkness in you life that you share with us
    Is it true inspiration to just be our happy selves no matter how we each active that happiness, thank you for sharing your ups, downs, and everyday normal with us LKH. BLESSED IT BE

  8. Mary says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your help and story. I have just turned 50 and while active duty I weight what I was supposed to and as a competitive powerlifter I torn up more muscle groups then most know they own. But in my late 30s I had to have the first of 8 total knee replacements. .. and retired from the usaf. I gained so much weight because I didn’t think to change the way I ate and with no exercise I grew to 385. Found out I had stomach cancer 6 yrs ago and had the necessary surgery not gastric by pass and lost almost 200 and didn’t understand why I didn’t feel better. Come to find out I have 4 differ types of arthritis and need 2 shoulder rebuilds and total hips. As of Christmas this yr I was to I have MS. And it has progressed very rapidly in 3 mths. So I definitely agree keep your butt in the gym and eat right. I never gained my weight but now must face another total knee due to infection. I like you have an ankle tendon issue and so forth but it is what it is. Depression is such a huge issue and my chair and I are best friends moat days. Books give me the peace I need from my body. But the joys in my life like my art and quilt and jewelry design are being taken away because of my muscle deterioration. So it’s time to take my life back from the docs and see if I can find some help someplace for little money and go work out till I can’t do more. It’s not supposed to be like this but I never regret my military life or the power lifting or only child who is also military. All I can say is Laurell is so right. .. ! Wish I had someone to help at least eat right with lol! Hugs and thanks again! Mary w.

  9. David Austin says:

    I had semi-blocked arteries and was heading for a heart attack, so I started taking an enzyme called Serrapeptase as a preventative. Worked like a charm. You might check it out for Jon. You deserve to be happy together a long time :)

  10. Samantha says:

    I love reading your blogs and other peoples comments on them. It’s amazing how many things people have in common. I was lucky to take after my mother, a high metabolism so Ive always been pretty thin but I do have to say not so thin in some places. My mother is Latina and I definitely got the hips and thighs and butt (curves) that came with taking after her side. I never thought I would have to work out more than the bare minimum I did, at least until I was older. That was until my knee started acting up a few months after a bad fall trying to do a trick on my rollerblades. Low and behold a patella tracking disorder which basically means my patella goes its own road when I decide to bend my knee instead of on it’s intended ‘track’. My physical therapist told me that if I didn’t want my knee in excruciating pain at random moments during the day and if I didn’t want to eventually have to get knee surgery that I would have to start exercising the muscles in my leg more frequently to keep my patella aligned. I choose the same route you did. Knee surgery, heck no I’m only 24. I’d rather go through strenuous sweaty exercises that I dislike greatly than go through something I would dislike even more. Three months later and I’m still sticking to it and my knee is doing better than it ever has but it’s something I will have to do the rest of my life to keep from having pain or surgery. If that wasn’t reason enough to stick to it my ass looks better now than it ever did before. Yay exercise!

  11. Leandra LeMaster says:

    You made a great choice. My son had to have both of his tendons reconstructed(no choice if he hadn’t would have been in a wheelchair now at 28). Forget the loss of movement, the pain that comes with the surgery is some of the most horrific I have seen. He had muscle spams that picked his leg(cast and all) up off the bed a good 12 inches. It took him a full year to get back to normal and he was 13 at the time of his first surgery. I had a similar choice to make myself about 2 years ago and after seeing him go through what he had
    I was like you, anything to avoid the surgery.

    Love your books.

  12. deb says:

    I am confused. Didn’t Anita kill Haven????? then in Skin Trade he was resurrected. Am I dreaming?????

    • Toni Adwell says:

      Haven was killed in Bullet, I believe, which is book 19, and Skin Trade is book 17–so he would still be alive.

      • deb says:

        Ah-ha! I read them out of sequence, and I thought I was being so darn careful!! Thanks, Toni – now I feel like an idiot :)

        • Toni Adwell says:

          Oh, no! That wasn’t my intent, heh. Once a series gets into the 20′s it can be difficult to keep up with what number the book is in the series. Plus, I know I buy the books in hardcover and not all of them have the book lists at the beginning of the book. So it’s easy enough to make that mistake. :)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>