“Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could have been any different”- Oprah WinfreyIf not approached correctly, stress injuries can be a death sentence for an athlete. However, in most cases, an injury can be viewed under many different lights. For me, my knee injury has opened my eyes and told me to slow down and focus on other aspects of my health.

Taking an Injury as a Blessing in Disguise

It may seem like an injury can be the end of the world, but looking at it from another perspective, an injury can be a message from your body saying, “hey! I need to heal! Slow down and recover!” An injury is a signal to take it easy.

I have worked pretty hard over these past few months, and my body composition has changed because of it. While I remain the same weight, my body looks and feels different. I’m stronger, quicker, and faster getting to the basketball. I can last longer. Coming from smoking half a pack of cigarettes a day to playing basketball for four hours straight is great progress—it’s an accomplishment.

The reason I got this injury was because I wasn’t satisfied with the gains I had gathered over the past few months. I neglected to listen to the signals my body sent me and continued to push myself until I hurt myself. And now, this injury threatens to sideline me for good.

I’ve been so laser-focused on accomplishing one goal that I’ve neglected to focus on improving other aspects of my fitness, like diet and yoga. While I’ve been vegan for a while now, which is definitely a big step towards the right direction, I haven’t been building on top of my diet nor addressing my recovery periods. I’ve just been focused on lifting weights and playing basketball. My body was screaming for attention.

So, instead of sulking over an injury, I have taken this time to study and think about the other aspects of nutrition and fitness. This is a time to slow down and focus on the many facets of keeping in shape, such as practicing yoga, meditating, and even taking time off to recover and enjoy myself.

I was afraid that I would lose my gains if I stayed away from the gym for a prolonged period of time. I hadn’t played basketball nor worked out for at least a three weeks. I went back into the gym yesterday, and I felt as strong as ever, if not stronger. I lifted more than I had previously been able to lift and maintained the same level of intensity throughout my workout. While I’m still a ways away from getting back into game-ready shape, I’m headed in the right direction towards complete recovery. I know my gains are slow, but this is sustainable. I don’t mind living the way that I do for the rest of my life. I love it.

Focusing on General Health and Sustainability

Now that I’ve been injured for a prolonged period of time, I’ve taken a step back to look at the foods I eat. I’ve been a vegan for five months now, and I love it. I have settled into a good routine at work where I’m eating what feels like enough to sustain. I started using cronometer.com, and it has been interesting to see how I supplement my diet—I eat anywhere between 2.5k to 3k calories a day, and fulfill my vitamins and minerals requirements on whole foods, plant-based diet, though after workouts I like to supplement a protein shake (comprised of plant protein powder, one or two bananas, three tablespoons of chia seeds, two cups of almond milk and a large dollop of peanut butter) I obviously supplement B12 as well, but other than that, I just try to eat as much as possible and in great varieties. I’m always willing to try something new.

For this week, I have challenged myself to drink lemon water in the morning, inspired by Try Living With Lucie from Refinery29. I read that drinking lemon water in the morning boost metabolism and fat burning, alkalizes the body, and increase the bodies immune system. This small change will be a keystone habit that I complete every morning to jumpstart my day and get my body in the mood to do the rest of my routine in the morning, which is to stretch, shower, and listen to an audiobook or podcast on my way to work.

With an injury, it’s important to focus on the diet. It’s important to eat foods that will promote the body’s natural healing. It’s important to focus on recovery through proper rehabilitation. An injury is a message to strengthen the part of the body through sustained exercise, and don’t aggravate it by doing the same activity that hurt it, which I have done before.

This injury took me away from the basketball court for a while, but it was important to do this so I can continue to build on all aspects of my health. As a vegan athlete, it’s important to focus on all aspects of nutrition and fitness, not just lifting weights and exercise. This injury has shown me that.