As a physical therapist and coach, I've heard it more than once throughout the years: "I'm so out of shape because of this injury, all I can do is sit on the couch and (insert favorite time-wasting activity here), and now I'm overweight and feel like shit and my life is a wreck." Or something to that effect. Yikes.
It doesn't have to be this way.
Your body has many parts. Just because one part is out of commission doesn't mean every part has to suffer. If you have an injured shoulder, you can take steps to keep your lower body and your core fit and strong. If you have an injured knee, you can hit the gym and work your upper body and core. No matter what limitations you may have in your body, you can almost always work on developing or maintaining your general fitness and your core.
When you can't do what you really love, of course it's a bummer, but time does not have to be wasted. You can focus your attention on other things: getting proper rest and nutrition so that you can heal, rehabilitating the injured part, building strength and endurance in other ways such as hiking instead of cycling, or cycling instead of running; and finding your core.
The same can be said about your life.
When circumstance takes you away from the activities and commitments you prefer to focus your time and energy on, you may suddenly find yourself with a lot of free time, and time to think. Since I haven't been able to ride my bike, I have spent a lot of time on long hikes, in rehab, training other areas of my body, and reflecting on my life and what I'm "about." For me, "finding my core" has taken on a different meaning. Your core is the center of your body and the center of your life. Where is my core?
While other aspects in your life- your passions, your career, your activities, your relationships- may change, your core remains steady. Personally, the values that are at my core, underneath everything, are about creating a life of strength and sustainability. In everything I do, I seek to build both inner and outer strength through pursuing activities and projects that challenge me physically, mentally, and emotionally. I also seek to cultivate habits that support me in making sustainable choices for my life: creating holistic health in my body, relationships, lifestyle, and also a healthy natural environment to support me in all of these things.
Furthermore, looking back at the times in my life when I most experienced unhappiness and discontent, it is likely not a coincidence that at those times I was living in a way that wasn't true to my core. At times it has been a result of losing too much of myself in a relationship; at times it has been completely my own mindless doing. When I have made choices that have turned out to be unsustainable for me, ignored my inner drive to pursue personal challenge, or not stood up for these values in my life, I have become extremely restless. I can keep it up for some time... sometimes for quite a long time... but eventually something has to give.
This isn't something I just chose last week. These are themes I have been pursuing my entire life, even when I wasn't aware of it. When I look back at the events of my life, I have always sought out experiences and chosen paths that would provide me with the opportunities to grow in the areas of strength and sustainability. And- I won't lie, it isn't easy! It has been, and will continue to be, very challenging for me. Sometimes I'm good at it; sometimes I suck. I will never be perfect or "finished," there will always be ways to improve; which is likely what intrinsically draws me to these pursuits. Just like endurance bike racing, it's the journey that is the real reward. And it's not a walk in the park.
Having these steady core values present and active in my life is what keeps me looking forward to getting out of bed in the morning, and what gives me a sense of fulfillment when I close my eyes at night; despite the inability to do some of the activities I love. It is both calming and exciting to me to know that in everything I do in my life, as long as I stay true to my core in the choices I make and in the ways I spend my time, I can't lose, because I am truly being myself.
So, I challenge you to look beneath the surface: Where is your core? What are you about, and what do you stand for? What fulfills you and sustains you in your life, in your body, and in your soul? Are you ready for the challenge of aligning your life with your core? It might be worthwhile to think about while doing a set of bicycle kicks or planks. ;)