I’m now in the fourth month out from my ACL surgery, and I’m feeling very good. I’m getting all my strength back, and feeling really positive about where I’m at. I’m happy and feeling the spirit.

Having gone through this before has helped me because I know now that, whatever happens, it’s God’s plan. I don’t know what God has in store for me. I don’t know what the plan is going to be in the future, but I’m going to be waiting patiently to see what is ahead of me. I know this is a mental lesson for me. The prize is always better later on.

[Visit store.jamaalcharles25.com for my exclusive gear!]

I’m just going to be patient. That positive outlook was instilled in me from a young age. I’ve always had good people on my side and I was raised in the church.

I’m thankful to have so many people in my corner, supporting me, wishing me well, sending me positive thoughts. People don’t have to do that. They don’t have to give me motivation. They don’t have to help me work out. They don’t have to do any of the stuff they’re doing.

So I just appreciate everybody that has helped me out in this process.

I know the outside perspective can be that I was hurt last year, so I don’t get as much respect as the person that played the whole season. It’s about what you’ve done lately. You can have a great season one year, and then the next year not play the whole season, and you don’t get the same benefit of the doubt. I know that comes with the territory. People feel like they don’t know what I can do anymore. But that’s motivation for me to show what I can do now. The people that supported me in all the hard times and the bad times, I love them, but I’ve still got to show people what I can do for next year. Everything is earned. Nothing is given to you. And anything can be in store. You’ve just always got to show what you can do.

My perspective also comes from a desire to give back to what has brought me so much. I feel like I haven’t really had the chance yet to give back to the game for all that it has offered me. That’s where it comes from. I want to give all I can in return.

I’ve always been like that. That’s just me. I want everybody to be successful. Not just me. I’ve never been one to hold anybody back. I want the best person that comes out from anybody that I know. I want them to be the best. I want them to enjoy life. Because this life, you only get one turn. You only get one life. You don’t get this back.

RECOVERY ROAD

This recovery itself has been a lot different than the one I went through in 2011.

Now I’m married with two kids, and I’ve got a family I’ve got to worry about. So I can’t just think about me; I’ve got to think about my whole family. When I go to work, I’ve got to drop my kids off for school and go to work, go to rehab. So it’s definitely different this time because it’s not just me. It’s my whole family going through what I’ve got to go through.

There’s a process. I’ve basically got to change, and that’s part of getting older, too.

When I did the ACL recovery the first time, I was younger. I didn’t have those things to think about. We picked up and moved down to Pensacola to do my rehab work with Dr. Andrews and his staff. But we can’t do that this time. I’ve got the future ahead of me. My daughters are in school and we’re used to being stable here, so I can’t pick up everybody and just go. That’s what I have to think about: what’s best for me and what’s best for my family.

What makes me happy, and comfortable, is staying here in Kansas City and getting myself right.

When I do go to see Dr. Andrews, I rehab down there for about a week, just to see what they have in store for me, too. I’m hoping to find out soon if I can start running, but I’m ready for whatever challenge they give me next. I like getting different perspectives from different types of people, his rehab people and my rehab people. I think that can only help me get better.

For the last month or so, I’ve been working out about five times a week in KC with the team trainers at the Chiefs facility. That’s been really good for me. This is actually the first time I’ve ever spent the whole offseason based out of Kansas City, and I’m really loving it. Normally, I go back to my house in Austin during the offseason and stay there. But I really like being up here.

For one, it’s just easier because my kids get to stay in the same school with their friends, and we don’t have to switch them to a different school mid-year. That’s easier on all of us. But I also made it a point to stay here in KC to work out with some of my teammates, and go through the offseason process with them. It’s important to see where their minds are at, and to motivate each other.

I’ve been spending a lot of time working out with Phillip Gaines, who tore his ACL last season too. He had his surgery the week before I had mine, so I get to watch him and see how his knee is reacting to each workout. It’s good to get a look at where he is in his process, and then go from there with mine. We’ve both got somebody going through the same struggle as we are.

It’s similar to how it was with Eric Berry and I, when I tore my other ACL. EB was going through the same process then and we were back-to-back each week. I’m back-to-back with Phillip right now. We know we’re in this together, so we watch each other’s backs.

MY WORKOUT ROUTINE

Right now, I feel like everything is going very well. I think the stem cell treatments in my knee have been working really well and I’ve been pushing myself. I’ve been eating right. I basically just work out and go home, and I’ve got a meal plan that comes to me, so we eat at home all the time. I don’t get to go anywhere at night really. I’m dedicated to getting back.

Our average day of rehab starts with breakfast at 9:30, and then I start working out at 10 a.m.

I go for about three or four hours every day, depending on what we’re doing. We usually start with about 20 minutes of stretching, which is really important. I roll out and stretch my quad so I can get it back to where it was before the injury. It’s looking pretty good, too. I’m basically back at where I would normally stretch to at this point, so that’s a good plus.

Once I get done stretching, I go into a warm-up phase and ride the bike for about 10 minutes. I’m doing pretty well on the bike, keeping my legs loose. After the bike, I do about five minutes of jump rope before moving into the actual workout.

Nobody else doing this four months after surgery! #WorkToWin

A video posted by Jamaal Charles (@djcharles25) on

Two of the five days of the week, we do balance work. I’ve been doing a lot of work on the Vew-Do board, which is pretty fun. It reminds me of skating, because it’s all reliant on your balance. There’s a wood roller underneath the board, and you have to balance the board on it. When I first started doing it, I thought they were crazy. It was hard for me. But you get used to it. The key is not touching either end of it and just staying in the middle with balance.

I’ve already moved from just balancing on it to having them throw a ball to me, and catching it while I’m balancing on the board. That’s pretty cool. We usually do one minute sets on that, and up to five minutes catching on it. The next step is probably me jumping down off my leg.

The other three days of rehab, we do strength work, which involves a lot of upper body stuff right now. I’m working out with the strength coach, getting my upper body right and getting stronger. I’m liking that, because I can feel my strength gaining each and every week.

My first day doing strength work, I couldn’t really do as much weight. Especially squats on the machine. That was tough. They put weight on the machine and I couldn’t do it.

Then when the next week came, I was like, “Whoa! Put some more on there!”

From doing the squats and those things, I’ve made so much progress that now I’m doing the ladder. I couldn’t really do the ladder before, and if I did, I was very slow. Now I’m just amazed what I can do. I started off on the ladder probably like 20 or 30 percent. Now I’m close to 60 percent, so I’m moving a lot faster.

I also started improving on the bench, the incline, and all my upper body workouts. My game has never been about strength, it’s been all about my speed and my moves. But I’m getting wiser and I’m getting older, and this has given me the opportunity to work on things that I haven’t worked on.

Getting all of that in line is just as important as getting my knee right, because I feel like if I can get bigger and stronger, and have fresh legs, I can come back like a freak. The trainers here in KC are going to help me make that happen.

A LONG WAY IN A SHORT TIME

Technology has changed so much even in the four years since my last recovery.

Everything is new, and they have all these things you should be doing with your knee to help it recover. I love going to rehab because I like to see what they have for me.

Sometimes when I go to rehab, it’s a challenge for me. But I’m really motivated to overcome that challenge. I’m 29 years old, and this year and next year are going to really be my prime years of my career. So this is really a chance for me to make sure I do it right this time. I’m really trying to hit it hard. I’m going to make sure this will be my last time having an injury like this. So I have to be on point this time. I’m really focused and really dedicated.

I know I can’t play football forever. My wife knows I can’t play football forever. I want to be able to look back on my career, look back at how I handled the adversity, and be able to say I don’t have any regrets. So every time I do something, I want to do it to the best of my ability. And I want it to challenge me, because that’s what I like doing in life.

I’ve made a lot of progress in my recovery and my rehab from month to month, and the trainers and doctors are impressed with how far I’ve come. When they come up with what I do each day, they’re amazed at how easily I do it. They’re like, “Wow!” Like they forgot what I can do.

It’s encouraging to me. When a week goes by and I’m doing it right, I feel confident. I feel like, “Man! I came a long way!” Once that week goes by, then I’m like, “What’s next?” Like when you’re playing a video game. It takes you a while to beat a level. Then you move up to the next level. I’m ready for the next level. I’m always ready to move ahead a step. Every week I go in, I’m going to be like, “Give me a surprise with what I’m doing next!”

I’ve been in the NFL for nine years, but I feel like I have some great days still ahead of me because I’ve missed almost two full seasons. I got injured in the second game of 2011 and the fifth game last year. I also didn’t play much my rookie year, so it’s kind of like I’ve only played six seasons. That leaves me with a lot more to give the game and my team.

THE BRIGHT FUTURE OF THE CHIEFS

It was disappointing to not be a bigger part of this past season, but I was so happy for this team and this franchise, and all that they accomplished. I was thrilled for my coaches, and everything they did. And I was happiest for my teammates, because I believed in them the whole time, even when nobody believed in them.

I knew what we were capable of doing.

I know they earned it. We started 1-5. They could have hung their heads and stayed at the bottom all season. But they overcame everything. They worked hard and they deserve everything that was given to them. They had a great season, winning 11 in a row at one point.

Even though I wasn’t playing a part in it, I wanted them to go all the way. When you’ve got an opportunity like that, you’ve got to take advantage of it. You don’t get those opportunities often. I was trying to motivate my teammates and be there for them.

[Visit store.jamaalcharles25.com for my exclusive gear!]

The way it ended is hard to swallow. When you end up only two games away from playing in the Super Bowl, you get that feeling like, “That could have been us.” With it being the 50th Super Bowl—the anniversary of a game the Chiefs played in—anybody would want to be a part of that. But every year, our goal is to make it to the Super Bowl. We fell short this time, but there’s always next season, and we look forward to seeing what this year has in store for us.

For me, not being a big part of that run was motivation. It didn’t discourage me. It definitely made me stronger, because I want that same kind of success, and more. I’m trying my hardest to come back next year stronger than ever, and to be a part of that, to participate in the same thing they did, so I can feel that feeling again. If we can just feed on that energy from last year, I think we can do something special in 2016

I can’t wait.