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Keep Moving Forward

marilyn-braceStuff happens, right?!? You get sick, you get injured, someone you love gets sick or injured and you have to stop everything and take care of him or her.

The truth is, the path to good health isn’t a straight line. 

In weight loss we aim for “good enough,” not “perfect” (whatever that is anyway). The same is true when pursuing fitness goals.

I’m kind of a late bloomer and came to running in my mid-40s. I found I loved it and chased after it with a passion. Less than two years after lacing up my shoes I crossed the finish line of my first marathon. I went on to do several half marathons, lots of shorter distance races and two more full marathons.

That’s when the trouble started. 

Little did I know that because of the extra body weight I carried around for decades – I’d been morbidly obese for 20 years before losing 120 lbs. – and also some genetic predisposition, I had osteoarthris. All that pounding combined with the added stress from years of obesity meant that I had shredded the cartilage in my knee.

To say that I was disappointed that I couldn’t run without excruciating pain would be a gross understatement. I was devastated.

But then I had a little conversation with myself. (I do that. Mostly I try to do it in my head so that people won’t think I’m crazy.) It went something like this:

“You know, just because you can’t run anymore doesn’t mean you can’t still exercise. There are lots of other things you can do!”

“Yeah, but I wanna run! It’s my favorite; it’s what I’m good at!”

“Ah, but you can’t do with without further damaging your knee, plus you said yourself it doesn’t feel good anymore.”

“I like racing! I like the medals!”

“I see that, but which outcome is better: the medals and possibly ending up debilitated, or lifelong fitness?”

“Geez, if you’re gonna put it that way … “

As a result of that conversation with myself – and of course in consultation with my orthopedic surgeon – I was fitted for a Ossur OA Unloader One Brace at the Center for Prosthetics Orthotics. Now I wear it when I run, walk, bike and do strength training. It literally helps “take a load off” because it aligns my knee to maximize my remaining cartilage, thereby reducing my pain. Knee replacement is probably in my future, but my knee brace will buy me some time until that happens.

For now, I’m thrilled I get to keep doing what I love to do: (a little bit of) running, cycling and all the other active things that keep me happy and healthy!

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