I used to tell myself that I couldn’t run anymore. When I was younger, I loved to run. It was great for my heart, for my legs and most importantly for my mental health. But as I got older, running became more difficult. My knees hurt. My ankles hurt. I gained weight and I told myself that the weight was stressing my joints. That in order to run I needed to be thinner, so I stopped running.
Isn’t it ironic how the story I told myself about my weight, actually made me less likely to do something that would help me stay healthy? Ironically, it might have even helped me lose the weight (but maybe not and that’s ok, not really the point.) Did I know FOR SURE that the pain in my ankles was related to my weight? Or was that a story I made up?
Many of you know about the struggle I had with our past pediatrician. He was convinced that my son’s weight was a problem. When I discussed it with him, I insisted that he not talk about it in front of my son (that’s how eating disorders start y’all). While I was at that same appointment, I told the pediatrician that my son had complained about his feet hurting for a long time. He blamed the foot pain on my son’s weight. He literally said my 8-year-old was having joint pain entirely due to his weight. When I said, “If you think his weight is an issue then wouldn’t you encourage me to have him exercise? How can I do that if he says his feet hurt?” The pediatrician had no good answer for that. He looked at his feet and said there was nothing structurally wrong. Then he said to not let my kid have chips and soda and to have a nice day.
Being the momma bear I am, I took that same kid to the podiatrist. Turns out my kid did have swelling in the growth plate in his heel. Turns out it’s a very common problem in kids (called Sever’s Disease if you want to be a google MD). Let me be clear, I AM NOT against the medical establishment. My care team has made my life better in more ways than I can count. This same podiatrist was the ONLY one who was able to diagnose and treat a rare foot condition that my spouse ended up in the hospital with. I don’t think I know better than doctors, but I do think that we ALL come to the table with biases and if we are not able to check those biases at the door, we open ourselves up to do harm to the people we treat/counsel/teach, etc..
And you know what is ENGRAINED in our societal playbook? The idea that joint pain is caused by weight. (How many times has someone told you they lost weight and their joint pain disappeared?) You know what I never even considered when I was blaming my ankle pain on my weight? I never considered trying to strengthen my ankles. NEVER. It never once dawned on me that the pain could be because of anything else. I only focused on my weight.
Then one day I noticed that I was rolling my ankles all the time. I was having severe plantar fasciitis. I went to a physical therapist who worked with me to loosen what needed loosening, to strengthen what needed strengthening and to stop focusing on my weight as the issue. I got stronger, felt WAY less pain and was back to walking without feeling like I was gonna die when I stepped out of bed the next day.
Then recently, I went walking in one of the amazing parks near our new house. And I felt the strong desire to run that I remembered from my past. It was a desire I hadn’t felt in a long time. So I took off. Let my heart pound, my legs propel and my mind clear. And just like that, I let my story dissolve away.
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