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The Hidden Benefits of Injury

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I made it through my entire childhood and teen years without a single broken bone. Then, at age 21, I fractured my ankle in a darkened laser-tag stadium while illegally running for cover behind a boulder. What can I say; I play an aggressive game of laser tag.

The break wasn't too bad, but it was enough to still require a removable boot, physical therapy, and crutches. I remember sitting in the doctor’s office and crying as I wondered how I would be able to keep up with my workouts. I had an extreme attachment to exercise. That’s because it was never a chore for me; it was something I actually looked forward to. It was my emotional outlet when I needed to work through sorority drama, breakups, or approaching finals. Now, as I entered my final semester of college, I was terrified to have my emotional crutch replaced by actual crutches.

Until then, my exercise routine had remained the same since high school: I’d hop on the elliptical or treadmill for 30 minutes, then hit the weight room for some basic dumbbell exercises. This was a few years ago, before interval training, CrossFit, and functional bodyweight training had gone mainstream—and before gyms had TRX equipment or kettlebells. It was before SoulCycle made indoor cycling cool, and when group fitness classes (at least in Florida) were something your mother did. In college, you just went to the gym wearing Soffe shorts (with the band rolled down) and a unisex cotton shirt. You did your thing, and you left. And, for some reason, I loved it.

Without my daily training sessions, I suddenly had an influx of free time. So, I slept in (guilt-free) instead of waking up early to rush through a cardio session. I started cooking more often, and I made more plans with friends. But, I still missed exercising, and I wasn't willing to give it up entirely. So, in the beginning, I used a resistance band to do upper-body exercises while seated. And, once given the all-clear by a physical therapist (who also happens to be my mother), I hobbled into the gym with my boot, sans crutches. [Click here to read the full story on Refinery29!]

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