Obviously I have written here more about my fitness journey than any other topic. It’s been a huge part of my personal growth journey, and even though it’s been rocky and slow and frustrating at times, especially the past few years, it have learned so much- not just about food and exercise, but about myself, about my own strength of body and mind and spirit. I’ve also, particularly in the past year or so, really come to terms with my own tendency to overrestrict, overtrain, over-control, in order to get results, and how unhealthy that is. Jillian Michaels has talked at length about how fitness is a microcosm of our whole selves, how making progress in this area, overcoming obstacles and changing our relationships with food and our bodies can feed into other areas, particularly those associated with trauma. I have definitely experienced the increased general confidence boost from improving my fitness and eating in a way that fuels my body, but not until more recently have I learned that the pendulum can swing the other way in that fitness can be used as a funnel for control that a trauma survivor has never had in other areas. I’ve fallen into that trap as I’ve started dealing with my meant health more actively- and been so frustrated because it hasn’t yielded the outcome I’ve wanted. My body has been so swamped but the heavy stress, physically, from pregnancy and birth and intense postpartum sleep deprivation, to the mental/emotional stress of the postpartum depression/anxiety/OCD that then turned very sharply into full blown Social Anxiety and Crippling OCD and finally manifestation of PTSD from trauma accrued over the course of my entire life. Layering massive amounts of exercise and restricting food on top of that was likely not the most productive way to get my body “back”. I’ve been trying so hard for the past almost 4.5 years to beat my body into submission- with periods of trying to do better at rest, and I’ve had short periods of things getting better, only for them to get worse. I can’t really look back and see anything clear that defines those times other than maybe lower stress and less pressure in general. So that’s a big part of my mission going forward- to really keep the pressure off of myself. I don’t know exactly what that looks like, but i have a vision of where I’m starting from, and I am going to commit to sharing every step along the way, so that i hopefully *can* see what makes the difference and maybe *hopefully* help someone else in the same position to find healing, to find freedom and victory.
I Know, you’re like ” Ummmm the title of this post talks about fitness… can we get to that? ” Yeah, ok- but al that preamble was important, and if it’s not relevant to you, maybe it will be to someone else who has been running themselves into the ground. So. Fitness.
This first week, I’m going very gently , much more gently than I want to, really, back into lifting and yoga.
- I performed a full body circuit on Tuesday, which took a little over an hour, and has left me, two days later, moderately sore.
- Today, I am going to do some lower body work, and hopefully 30 minutes of yoga.
- Tomorrow will be upper body and hopefully 45 minutes of yoga.
- Saturday I’ll just do a full body strength circuit, and some stretching and restorative yoga.
Starting next week, and going forward, I will follow this formula:
- Strength training (weight lifting, cycling through a few different training programs, using progressive overload to increase performance.)
- 30-45 minutes of yoga
- 5-15 minutes of core training (with Scott)
- *if i have the resources* a Peloton ride (starting at 20 minutes, increasing based on the strain i can take that day- more on this later.)
- 30-60 min walk outside
- 15-30 minutes of restorative yoga and stretching
- Strength training
- 15-30 min stretching/restorative yoga
- A low impact ride. Or something active with the family if able
Family walks a can happen anytime, since they are a very low ask for my body.
Which brings us to recovery. I think, more than anything else I’ve learned about fitness in the past few years, recovery, and its importance has been the most, well, important. I’ve really struggled with many aspects of it, especially getting enough quality and quantity sleep. I feel like, since the major breakthrough I had in June/July, both aspects of sleep have been improving, but there is still much room to improve-especially in the areas of going to bed at a decent hour and not using my phone in or right before bed.
Sleep isn’t the only factor in recovery, though. I’ve come to realize that making time to do what i enjoy, to read, to create, to consume media that I enjoy and uplifts me, to soak in a bath (preferably with Epsom salts to aid in muscle recovery as well), to work in my garden…to intentionally take *me* time, not once a week, but EVERY. SINGLE.DAY. It feels insanely selfish to even write that, but y’all, every year when we go to the beach and I actually have an opportunity to take a couple hours a day on the beach with a book and a glass of wine all alone, with nobody to care for out of the corner of my eye, nobody about to bust in on me and demand something- it feeds me. I cant express the renewal. Guys, other than that handful of afternoons a year the past three summers, I have had almost zero time like that in the past seven years. I joked with my tattoo artist last fall that the 4 hours I spent in the tattoo chair that day was the most time I had spent kid free since I got pregnant (almost 8 years ago)- but it wasn’t a joke. This topic is a whole other essay, and it’s on my list to write about, but reflecting on this fact makes me realize what a disservice I’m doing myself. So that’s something to work on too.
In my search for a better balance between training and recovery and for the best way to pursue my fitness goals, I encountered information about the Whoop strap.
Kelsey Heenan, my very favorite wellness ambassador was the first person i saw who had one, and I was fascinated by the ability to track and see my sleep, recovery, and the physical strain of not only my workouts but just going about my day, all interact and how i could get a better picture of my physical wellness by using this data to influence my activity choices. I received it right before we left for the beach last week, so I have not really gotten to use it for training, but it’s given me a clearer picture of my sleep and recovery (both of which were not great while on vacation, probably erasing a lot of the benefit of that “me time”), and I’m really excited to keep using it and share with y’all what I am learning from it.
I am still, understandably, I think, a bit low on hope that I can have what I want, as far as physical wellness and fitness, but I’m not giving up, and I feel like I’m moving in the right direction and learning to pursue my best me, instead of trying to fit myself in a size or shape box or follow some arbitrary rules.