You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.
– Steve Jobs
One of my biggest lessons learned during my fitness journey was an injury that eventually became a gift. It started out as a small tweak to my left Sacroiliac joint (back left side of the hip) back in 2012 that I didn’t take seriously, and I eventually reinjured it three more times over a six month period (with each injury getting worse and worse). At my lowest point, I couldn’t walk for more than a minute without limping badly, and it felt like my left hip was wound so tight that I might pull something just from walking. I could feel nerve irritation on the back side of my left leg constantly and for the first time in my life I had to deal with neck pain. It felt like I was going to be permanently broken and in discomfort for the rest of my life.
At the time I had some knowledge of how the human body worked during movement (biomechanics), and almost little to no knowledge of self care. I would still go out drinking with my friends every weekend (a habit from the college days) and instead of developing proper movement patterns or massaging my fascia, my solution was to push through the pain and pop Ibuprofen pills. I had low body fat (5-6%) from doing macros, did pretty well in CrossFit workouts and I thought I was healthy because I was mostly doing Paleo.
The injury sent me on a journey because I wanted to feel better. I’m 37 now, and I can authentically say that overall I’ve gotten healthier every year in the last 9 years. It didn’t all come at once. I discovered how movement patterns, muscle balance and body awareness are intricately connected and how injuries are not as “random” as I thought. I discovered that our emotional and mental state actually shows up in our body physically and my metric for wellness before was completely off. I discovered subtle allergies I had (dairy, cats, etc.) and found people who can fix it. It made me a better coach and honestly I’m not sure what level my fitness would be at now if I didn’t hurt myself. What I was doing was not sustainable (but when I was in my 20s it didn’t really matter what the consequences were in my late 30s. When I do feel something is off now health wise, I proactively address it (what’s the cause?). People at the gym joke that I don’t work out anymore, but I’m able to maintain a fairly high level of fitness by using what I have learned to be efficient. I can see myself being fit (and enjoying it) for the rest of my life.
The injury was a gift. It just took a few years to see it. If you feel like you are in a funk or encountered a setback, I get it. I still experience that all the time. However, at the same time there is a knowing and surrender to something bigger. Life is teaching me a lesson. What do I need to learn from this experience? If I don’t learn and change, life tends to have a habit of telling me louder and louder until I do. You can only connect the dots looking backwards. The sooner we can acknowledge and accept what’s happening in the present and surrender, the sooner we can start following our gut instincts and discovering what the dots connect to.
Hi! My name is Kuang, and I’m a co-owner of Uncanny Fitness. I’ve been exercising consistently for 17 years, doing CrossFit for 10 years, coaching for 8 years and a gym owner for about 6 years. For those that know me personally, I process things conceptually big picture first, and love talking about the principles behind how things are working in real life. Nothing I write is “the truth”. I’m wrong all the time. These posts more resemble a diary of what goes on in my mind and observations I’ve made with my own experiences and watching others. Almost none of the concepts are original. They’re almost always concepts and principles I learned or read from someone else.