Leah vs. The Machines (or 4 Strikes at the Gym)

So I didn’t cry in my car; I made it all the way home. The time in the car was more like a period of shell shock.

I thought I had my expectations set low. I went to the gym for the first time, expecting to merely go through the motions (no resistance, no pushing, no incline). I anticipated a light sweat–nothing like I’d normally do at the gym but just enough to give me that “I worked out!”little bit of glee I’d been craving.

The reality was harsh.

The first thing that gave me pause was putting on my shoe. I thought my left foot/ankle seemed a little swollen; the reality, as demonstrated by WEDGING my foot into my Nike Free, is that my ankle is huge. I hadn’t seen my foot in a regular shoe since the ankle break; looking down at what bulged over the mouth of the shoe was sobering. My foot was already squished and uncomfortable, and I hadn’t even DONE anything. Trying as ever to be positive, I thought that this would be a good thing, as I could easily see when I began to swell, um, MORE.

I tried the elliptical first.

My ankle’s range of motion was not comfortable, but bordering on painful. I made 5 minutes going forward and then decided to try 5 minutes striding backward. Backward actually worked better…until my left calf cramped up 5 minutes later. Ok.

Next, I decided to hop on the recumbent stationary bike.

This was fine in the sense that the movement did not bother my ankle overly much. However, I couldn’t put any resistance on the machine, and it felt like my legs were flailing, like I was some rodent simply working a laboratory wheel. I lasted 10 minutes before I decided to try some upper body weights. This was okay…except I had to think about my ankle more than you’d imagine. I did all the upper body machines upstairs by the cardio machines and then I decided to try something else.

I checked out the ergometer.

This looked like a good option on paper:  my feet stay positioned in the foot rests while my upper body does the work. I think this is what pushed me over the edge…my ankle won’t bend enough for my seat to come forward fully. I can come about half way. And it hurts. I did 5 easy, slow minutes to see if perhaps the range of motion might improve after some limbering up. It didn’t, and I got off.

So I thought I’d attempt the treadmill.

I opted to just work a regular walk (I have a hard time not limping but it’s getting rapidly better). I set my limit–I could only go as fast as I could walk without limping. And that, friends, was one mile per hour. 1/10 of a mile took 6 minutes. I got off the treadmill, done.

I tried to roll out my legs but I can’t put pressure where the break is. I have a hard time supporting my weight on that busted leg in order to roll out the non-gimpy leg. I gave up and left the gym.

There was no sweat. My heart rate got to 110, max. The experience was more uncomfortable than not. I found little joy.

And for that, I have to come home, ice, put my foot up. Which means all the other things that I needed to do aren’t going to get done until I can get back on my feet today. It is very, very hard not to be depressed. Honestly, I am very sad.

I’ll see how I feel tomorrow, and I’ll just keep going back, doing exactly what I did today. In two weeks, if I don’t see that what I’m doing is bringing any improvement, I’ll have the doc give me the PT info and I’ll get started. And I’m going to try swimming this weekend. Maybe that will be the magic ticket.

I hope.

Published by Leah Nyfeler

I'm a writer, editor, runner, and adventurer who is always looking for the next new story, exciting adventure, and good meal/book/movie. My focus is on helping people find their best, healthiest self through sharing what I know and how I've come to learn it. In addition to my blog "Enjoying the Journey: Observations on the Fit Life" at www.leahruns100.com, my articles have appeared in a variety of print and online magazines. You can hear me as part of the 2015 Austin cast of Listen To Your Mother.

0 thoughts on “Leah vs. The Machines (or 4 Strikes at the Gym)

  1. Oh Leah, that\’s so frustrating. I can\’t believe the doctor didn\’t recommend PT for you. Seems like you need someone designing a program for you that won\’t let you overdo and will strengthen the muscles that can take it, and baby the ones that can\’t yet. I\’m sorry you\’re so unhappy. Maybe swimming will be good.

    1. Thanks, Pam. If I understood the doc right, he felt for the next period I could go it on my own and that PT would be the next phase. My big fear is that the doc\’s \”100%\” recovery vision doesn\’t really encompass what it is my ankle does for me…i.e., bomb down steep inclines on piles of moveable rock. Maybe I\’m being impatient. No–I\’m sure I\’m being impatient.

      James pointed out to me last night that my rational mind set expectations but my body was expecting something different. The last time I was on a treadmill and stationary bike was with you and Shayla…remember? I think my body did. Well, I\’m going back today, dammit, and not being depressed because you know what? I had more flexibility in my ankle by bedtime last night than I did in the morning. I just gotta build that down time into my day as part of my workout. I can do this!

      1. That\’s the spirit! I do remember that workout at the gym together so long ago. You had just returned from Palo Duro, right? That was a completely different recovery workout. Go back there today and make forward progress! Slowly. And carefully. And then take a well earned nap 🙂

  2. So sorry to hear that Leah – sounds like a really crappy time at the gym. Hopefully this is the low point and it will gradually improve over time.

    I think you are right about swimming! Swimming for a while might also give you the strength and additional flexibility needed to do the other machines.

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