So I've been thinking some more about--and working on quieting--the green-eyed monster since my post the other day about experiencing envy at the Y.
One of my instructors tore her meniscus recently. It's clearly a very painful injury, and there's nothing you can to do fix it except rest it; you can't cast it, or medicate it. In some cases it can require surgery, but from what I've read, that's a less desirable solution. For a person whose entire livelihood depends on being able to teach fitness classes, and that career depends on being fit in the first place, a torn meniscus is really, really bad news. Healing takes time.
Our instructor has continued to come and teach classes, demonstrating the exercises when she can, sometimes on one leg, pushing herself and us as hard as she can, stepping back when she has to, and often--I can tell by her contorted facial expressions--working through the pain.
(This in itself has given me pause. When we injure ourselves, do we push through the pain? Or do we stop and rest? What does taking care of ourselves mean to us? Is it different psychologically than physically? I know that I've run or exercised despite injuries more times than I can count, altering my gait, gritting my teeth and telling myself that if I just work through it, I'll be fine. Sometimes I am, and sometimes I'm not. Is this a cultural thing? I have worried for my instructor, but on the other hand, everyone else in the class seems to accept her presence, despite her injury, as a matter of course.)
The class I go to on Tuesdays is Tabata, which is essentially a high-intensity interval training class, with new exercises every week, which each person does as hard and as fast as she can, until we feel that our hearts will just about burst through our chests, and we suck in our air in great gasping gulps. The great thing about Tabata is that it's an intense workout that is completely scalable to your ability and fitness level, and that you are called to do your personal best in a fitness class where no one passes judgement on what that personal best might be. Though the Y is really supposed to be about community anyway, in some ways, Tabata unintentionally promotes mudita -- that empathetic joy I was talking about -- even more so in group fitness. And just being together in that class encourages everyone to challenge themselves as they need to be challenged: so we are quite literally part of the larger energy that makes the work possible.
About halfway through Tuesday's class, my instructor, who had been nursing her knee for half an hour, finally sat on the floor, bent over her leg in obvious agony. It was the worst it has been so far since her injury. I watched her, and I wanted desperately for her to stop moving, to ice her knee, to sit there and call 9-1-1. But she got up and finished the class on one leg, cheering us on. She must have hated us then, in some way, being able to move and run and jump, but instead, she hollered and urged us to go faster-higher-harder, taking out her camera to film us, capturing the class energy in her pocket for posterity.
I thought about how incredibly generous that was ...what a gift it was to be there for us when she could not do the same for herself. (I also wondered if it might be slightly insane, given that just being there and trying to teach might have jeopardized her healing process.)
Have you ever cheered someone on when you've wanted what they had, even though you couldn't attain it yourself? Are you the kind of person who pushes on, despite an injury or illness? What are the limits you draw on working through the pain?
Arugula and Pear Salad with Maple Dressing
adapted from Cooking Close to Home: A Year of Seasonal Recipes
When I make an arugula and pear salad, I tend to throw in the same things all the time: goat cheese and cranberries. This isn't incredibly original, either, but I enjoyed the more earthy sweetness of the maple syrup paired with the pecans and pairs. The original suggests adding shaved cheddar, but I'm trying to eat more vegan, so I opted not to include it. You should feel free to add it back in if you like.
1/2 t. garlic, minced
2 T. olive oil
2 T. balsalmic vinegar
1 T. maple syrup
4 c. arugula, stems removed
1 pear, sliced 1/4" thick
4 thin slices red onion
1/4 c. pecan halves
Toast the pecan halves on a baking sheet or rimmed piece of foil in a toaster oven for a few minutes, or until fragrant. Set aside.
Blend the dressing ingredients together using an immersion blender (great for emulsifying) or whisk. Set aside.
Place all of the salad items in a large bowl, add the dressing, and toss to coat. Or have your two year old divide the ingredients between the serving dishes and see what happens, then pour dressing over each plate.