I didn’t exercise for a month. Guess what happened?

Back in June, at about the same time as my oral exam (OSCE) I hurt my self. At the gym. Stretching.

Yeah, ridiculous I know.

I’ve always had dodgy knees and apparently that fine Monday my numbers came up and my knee dislocated. Completely and fully- it wouldn’t go back in on its own. So, an ambulance was called and I was bundled off to hospital to have the good doctors put my kneecap back where it belonged. I was given a set of crutches, a crash course in how to use them and sent on my merry way.

Well, shit I thought to myself- what am I going to do now?

I really value exercise as a stress relief tool and now I was facing two very scary exams without an outlet. I also couldn’t drive and had a very hard time putting on pants- leggings were a god send here as they would stretch around all the swelling.

Mum drove me everywhere including to my oral exam (thanks mum!). The total dependency on others and lack of ability to do even the most basic of tasks really got to me. It was a long and lonely three weeks of sitting at home while everyone else was busy living their lives.

Eventually I was allowed back to the gym. All I could muster was gentle rowing, modified pushups, modified lunges and ring rows. I felt as weak as a newborn kitten. Strangely, this didn’t bother me as I was just so excited to have the social stimulus and the chance to at least do some sort of exercise.

I’d had a month off exercise- the longest stint since joining a gym several years ago.

So what happened to me?

Well, not much actually.

I felt on edge.

I mentioned earlier that I find exercise such a great tool for stress relief. Probably the biggest thing I noticed was how wound up and on edge I was without my daily dose of endorphins.

I wasn’t as hungry any more.

Gone were the days when I’d eat hearty meals and snacks- I found I was more than satisfied on far less food than I was used to eating. I’m assuming that this was because I was literally sitting or lying down all day. I didn’t mind this, as it was such an effort to get food for myself (mum would help me make a sandwich before she went to work) even when I had worked out how to hobble on one crutch. I did miss tucking into all my usual meals though.

But that’s it.

My body shape didn’t change. My thighs didn’t suddenly become enormous. One certainly lost muscle tone but that’s what happens when you don’t walk on it for weeks at a time. My stomach stayed the same, as did the size and shape of my hips.

I put on a grand total of 1 kilo. If I’m honest with myself, some of that was a result of boredom eating. I was in the house, alone all day with nothing by my study notes for company. I was bored, stressed and in pain. Looking back, I certainly don’t blame myself for doing some non-hungry eating. When I’d managed to ditch the crutches I expressed nothing but gratitude and respect for a body that had healed so rapidly from a major injury. I wasn’t beating myself up about gaining weight. I did my best to let my body tell me when it needed food and when it needed to rest.

Being injured forced me to confront my fears. As Dietitians and Student Dietitians we can certainly seem like the ones who have it all figured out. We have all this information available to us and it can feel like we aren’t meant to be the vulnerable ones. This was a really good reminder to myself that sometimes the experts need some TLC.

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