I am 29 and for the first time in my life, I actually believe it when I say the words, “I can.”
When I was eight years old, I was involved in a horrific car accident that completely crushed my right arm. From that point on, “can’t” became a daily part of my life. Doctors expressed all the can’ts my life would now hold:
You can’t move your arm.
You can’t participate in the activities you used to.
You can’t leave the hospital.
You can’t go home.
You can’t play with friends.
You can’t do anything remotely active.
I’d like to say I tuned these can’t phrases out and rose above the adversity I faced, maybe even followed ideas from a Disney movie and instantly became a resilient bad-ass female who became the first one-armed surfer—because if she put her mind to it, she could do anything…but that wasn’t the case.
Years of surgery, a lot of sadness, frustration, and self-doubt followed. The can’ts in my life prevented me from trying, from believing in myself. Even when I found doctors who believed in my making progress, the damage was already done.
I hated my arm, my scars, my limited motion, the physical therapy. I hated it all. I became very inactive and leaned on food to make me happy. I became overweight and unhealthy and remained this way for quite some time.
In high school, my body image was so poor that I began to try out some of the current fad diets and was thrilled with my weight loss. However, I also began to battle a very unhealthy relationship with food and myself. If I couldn’t control what occurred from my accident, I decided I would control what I ate, which led to constant weight loss, weight gain, starvation, over-exercising, frustration, and unhappiness.
It wasn’t until the past few years that I finally decided to stop treating myself so terribly, I began to get to know myself and my self-worth. I learned that I could ADAPT and was determined to discover everything that I could do. I began finding a healthier balance with food and fell in love with the gym. In the gym, I’ve learned that there are so many things I can do. I learned that I am stronger than I ever thought I could be.
There are days where the “can’ts” flood back into my mind, but then I reflect on all that I can do, all that I have done. I’m finally believing it when I say, “I can.”
Today, at 29, I have found a love for myself that has transformed me inside and out—all by taking care of my body, eating healthy and balanced foods, and believing in my physical capabilities.