Every Christmas I return to my roots and I go home to Boston and stay with my family for a week. It’s a week of good times, lots of laughs, tons of swearing, and good food. It’s also a great opportunity for me to catch up with old college and high school friends. I was doing just that when I suffered a REALLY nasty, debilitating ankle sprain. For those who have never visited the greater Boston area, navigating the busy streets on foot can extremely dangerous. Typically, you have to just close your eyes, dash across the street, and pray you don’t get hit. I was trying to meet an old college buddy for lunch when I suddenly found myself playing Frogger (I hope someone gets the Seinfeld reference, here) in the middle of a very busy street. To avoid being turned into road kill, I sprinted across the street in a pair of high heels and stumbled over some uneven pavement. The 5 inch heels combined with the uneven surface ended up being a recipe for disaster, and I went down hard in the middle of the road. Now, anyone who knows me well will tell you that I cannot stop myself from laughing when I see people fall, so perhaps this was karma returning the favor. Whatever the case, my left foot rotated about 45 degrees out to the left, and my entire lower leg immediately got warm. I’m sure people were laughing at me in their cars, but I didn’t care: I could barely put any weight on my left foot and I was in the worst physical pain I have been in since I blew out my knee in 1999. I knew I was in trouble. Ultimately, I suffered a really severe high ankle sprain, and I had some nice blood pooling and even had to hobble around on crutches and an air cast for a week. The worst part? This all coincided with having to look decent in a sports bra and boy shorts for Beast at the Arnold. How was I going to get my MET workout on with a busted up ankle? I knew leg plyo was absolutely out of the question, as was any and all sprinting. I sat down with LA to discuss my options, and I was vigilant about icing and massaging my ankle and doing some exercises to get back my range of motion. LA devised a program that kept me off of my feet, yet kept my heart rate high, especially on leg day. Although I couldn’t perform most of my tried and true booty-slimming plyometric exercises, I was able to lose the holiday weight pretty quickly with my intensity. But the point of this article isn’t to talk about my Arnold prep: it’s about being injured, listening to your body, and knowing when to rest. I know many, many athletes and competitors who try to push through injuries. They say they’re “toughing it out” and their friends even encourage the madness. I see so many idiotic Facebook posts that say something like, “C’mon, you can do it! Push through it!” I want to slap these “friends” who try to push others into danger. Surely, with most athletes, there is a sense of pride that comes with persevering through adversity and injury: it proves that we’re tough, right? Not so much. It really just proves that we’re stupid. I’ve had many, many injuries in my athletic career. Some have sidelined me for an entire season, others for just a week or so; regardless, I always listen to my body and to my doctors. I don’t have an MD after my name, folks, so I’m not sure what would qualify me to make medical decisions. I assume the same is for most of you who are reading this. I don’t need to jump up and down on a severely busted up ankle to prove to myself or to anyone else that I’m a beast. My work ethic, my dedication, and my intensity are enough for me, and they’re noticed by others in the gym. The members at O2 know I mean business when I’m there working out, and there’s a certain respect that I’ve earned for busting my butt on a daily basis. I don’t need to incapacitate myself to prove anything to anyone. Additionally, I like to think of myself as a role model for other athletes, so I like to lead by example. If a client of mine is hurt and I tell her to take 2 weeks off, she’ll continue to push if she sees me doing the same. Just like with our kids, as fitness professionals, we must do as we say. I did not perform any weight-bearing exercises until I felt good and ready, nor did I wear high heels. And, my girlfriends will tell you, seeing me without high heels is a rare, rare occurrence. People at work asked me why I looked so short, and I even had to go buy shorter pants so I could wear flats. Total BS!! All in all, I was out of commission for 8 weeks. My ankle never felt strong or stable enough to support all of my body weight for a full 2 months. Today, 3-4 months later, I still have some swelling and there are days that I find myself only at about 90%. When those days arise, I change my workout plans and opt for a heavy shoulder or back workout instead of a plyo leg workout or an intense metabolic conditioning circuit that requires me to be suspended in the air or moving laterally for any amount of time. The moral of the story is this: if you don’t take the proper time to recover from an injury you’re going to end up in a really unfortunate situation. Not allowing the body to rest and recover is one of the worst things you can do as an athlete. You only have 1 body in your lifetime, so treat it right. Minor sprains can turn into full-blown ruptures, hairline fractures can morph into full breaks, and you can really end up with permanent damage. Take the time to ice, heat, elevate, go get a massage or an adjustment, etc. An injury that would normally require a few weeks of rest can turn into something that takes months or even years to rehab; by then, your athletic career may be over. Where does that leave you then, oh fearless one? On the sidelines? You’ll get to watch others steal your glory and accomplish YOUR goals because you were too stubborn and too proud to take a few weeks off. Will it be worth it then? Of course this is easier said than done, but there will always be another show; there will always be another event in which you can participate AFTER you’ve healed. So stop the madness and get some rest. Beth is an NPC and OCB figure competitor and has been competing for 3 years. When she’s not rocking the stage in her stiletto heels, she’s either at work as Project Manager at a Pharmaceutical company in Durham, NC or she’s in the gym training clients or teaching spin classes. In her very minimal free time, Beth likes to sleep, eat, play with her dog, and spend time with her friends (who also like to sleep and eat).