Di Westaway: ‘For the first time in ten years, nothing hurts’

By Di Westaway | CEO Wild Women On Top

For the first time in ten years, nothing hurts.

For the past decade, I have always had something to complain about; something a little broken. An ache or pain somewhere, a little niggle which forced me to modify my activities.

In fact, I sometimes looked for a new injury to take my mind off the old one! Dull 4 out of 10 pain in one or more of my joints, for no apparent reason, had become the norm.

I told myself it was because I was always going wild, pushing the boundaries, striving to go higher, faster, further or longer than before. My life is about inspiring women to transform their lives through adventure, and I wasn’t going to let a little pain in the knee stop me from sharing my passion.

But in reality, the pain continued because I was failing to really listen to my body, make changes, learn how to prevent the injuries and give it what it needed.

Then one night, while bushwalking along the coast, I stepped across from one boulder to the next and my knee went pop.

I was a cripple. The sound alone was enough to make me cry. The pain was intense. My leg was completely useless. The agonising trek back to the car, slumped over my trekking poles, tears streaming down my face eyes trying to pretend that nothing was wrong, felt like forever.

My kids brought me sweet honey tea, friends dropped crutches off and I raced off to get an MRI.

The verdict? ‘A burst Bakers Cyst, torn meniscus, and for your age (55 years young!), pretty good knees.’

I loved that last bit, “pretty good knees”. Because I’m an uber optimist, I clung to that. But, I knew I had to make changes and learn more about my body. Time to turn over a new leaf and find out what was causing all this tension which was stopping me from doing stuff I love, and fix it.

Six months later, I’m injury free with full mobility in all joints and the flexibility of the gymnast I used to be, for the first time in 10 years. Here’s what I did:

Rest

I couldn’t walk for a week or so after the burst cyst, so I took the time to rest my body and learn everything about how to heal. 

Investment: The time usually spent exercising can now be spent learning. FREE.

Modified Trek Training

A maximum of 2 x 1-3 hour weight baring interval training sessions in nature, or Trek Training. I carried a light pack, modified all activities to low impact and stretched my tight bits. This allowed me to get my happy hormones, endorphins, and all the other benefits of group walks in nature without stressing joints, muscles or fascia.

Investment: 4 hours per week. FREE once you know how to train safely in the bush

No high impact activities

This includes running or walking on hard surfaces, jogging on soft sand, leaping or ballistic moves like jumping.

Investment: None.

Bike Therapy

I got on my bike at least 3 times a week to get my cardio without impact. It’s the ultimate freedom. Love the hills! Embrace them. It takes roughly double the time of driving but it’s great for multi-tasking & fitness and is environmentally friendly.  

Investment: 1.5 hours per week. FREE.

Indoor Rock Climbing

I committed to indoor rock climbing twice a week to keep my static active flexibility, upper body strength, balance and core working and to have fun with friends. If it’s not fun and social, you won’t do it, so this was a great one for me - you’ve got to have a belay partner!

Investment: 2 hours per week. $20 per week

Yoga

I made sure to practice yoga at least twice a week. The benefits include improved flexibility, the healing power of meditation and reduced stress.

Investment: 2 hours per week. $35 per week for unlimited yoga or FREE online.

Massage Therapy

This is one time where I thought ‘to hell with the expense!’ It is important to invest in your health. I had fortnightly sessions with my awesome remedial masseuse, Emily, the magic hands goddess who is an expert in trigger point therapy and myofascial release. Emily found sore spots in unmentionable places and released them as well as rolling my fascia out and giving me immediate relief in the most amazing way.

Investment: 30 min per week. $30 per week ($60 per fortnightly session)

Do the exercises!

I undertook religious practice of Emily’s exercises which included deep massage with a tennis ball, to support the massage therapy. I followed particular stretches which helped maintain the releases she had initiated and helped the breakdown or scar tissue I’d accumulated from years of neglect. And rolling the fascia on my legs a Nalgene bottle filled with boiling water.

Investment: 20 min per day, 2 hours per week. FREE.

Stretching

I stretched my problem areas regularly everywhere I went, including while I was on the phone, or drying my hair and in the shower

Investment: 20 min per day, 2 hours per week. FREE.

Hot Baths

I had a hot bath at least once a week to relax my muscles and stretch.

Investment: 30 min per week. FREE.

Get enough sleep

I slept for at least 8 hours and woke without the alarm at least 3 times a week. All sorts of healing happens while we’re sleeping and there’s some evidence to suggest that just before we wake naturally is when the best healing hormones are released.

Investment: Possibly an extra hour of sleep! FREE.

Eat real food

As Michael Pollon tells us, ‘Eat real food, mostly plants, not too much’. I try to avoid sugar and never eat white flour or processed foods from packets.

Investment: Hopefully you’re already doing this, but if not, check out Dr Joanna’s get lean program.

Total Investment in feeling and functioning 10 years younger: Approx 12 hours per week of fun, fitness, friends and feeling fab, from $50 depending on your skills and training.

So, don’t make the same mistake as me and wait 10 years to learn this stuff. Do it now. Don’t accept mild pain of any kind. Make your healthy happy body and mind your project now and learn everything you can from every health professional you engage.

Check out the links here, put it into practice and have your healthy happy body and mind till you die. That’s my plan. I want to get another 40 years, of fun adventures out of this body. 

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