If you follow me on social media, you may have noticed that lately I have been sharing a lot about low impact workouts, like walking and yoga. This has been a big change from my ‘usual’ weight lifting updates. Some of you have reached out and asked me, “why the change?” Well, lately I have been in a bit of a holding pattern when it comes to exercising.
After spending the first 6 months (I was still only a few months postpartum at this time) of 2015 doing high intensity workouts five to six days a week, I ended up hurt. I strained my bicep tendon and damaged my knee this past July. This was partially do to the amount of relaxin (hormone) in my system post-partum and also partially due to not taking the time to properly stretch and warm up because I was cramming in workouts during naps. On a side note- this very experience is now the reason why I started to shift my focus to post-natal training. I strongly believe in creating carefully crafted, restorative exercise programs for moms during the 6-8 months they are postpartum. I learned the hard way, Yo. Don’t let someone pressure you into hurting your body, even if that someone is you.
At the time, I could not have been more upset about this injury. I had finally gotten into a good rhythm with working out and balancing work, life, & baby. Except, what I was failing to realize was that I was driving myself into the ground. Not only that, but in reality I was not seeing healthy progress despite pushing harder and harder every day.
My stress level was through the roof, my mood was all in a funk, and my body was struggling to have enough energy to keep up with all these demands. My weight plummeted and my hormones were completely out of whack.
After over thinking the whole thing, it suddenly hit me like a ton of bricks.
Since I refused to slow my body down and listen to the warning signs, my body decided to just bring me to a screeching halt instead. Bam- Stay Down.
At the time, when the doctors told me no more lifting, I felt panic. “This was how I de-stress,” I thought. This is “my thing!”
Moreover- I going to get fat now, wasn’t I? Cellulite, love handles, what was going to happen to my body?! How will I survive?
What I didn’t realize at the time was that my injury would turn into a life changing experience for my health and happiness
But it took some time for me to see this.
At first, since I was ‘benched’ I sort of just wallowed in my injury. I would say things like “I’d like to workout, but I just can’t anymore.” Can you relate? Have you ever had knee pain, or joint pain that prevented you from certain exercise? I don’t know about you, but not moving started to impact my mood. I was grouchy, had low energy and all I wanted to do was eat carbs and cookies after a long and stressful work day. The thought of starting to exercise again was incredibly daunting.
One evening, I started to complain to my husband about how gross I felt. “I am disgusting and there is nothing I can even do about it.”
I’ll never forget the look on his face. You see, he isn’t the type that accepts pity parties. You know, the annoyingly optimistic type. 😉
He said, “Okay, you can’t work out like you used to for a while. So what are you going to do instead?”
I stared at him.
He laughed and said “Why is it that eating healthy or feeling healthy only can happen when you are working out?”
Uh- I sort of hated him for this extremely simple truth bomb.
So it got me thinking. Why is it that we have this all or nothing mindset where we feel like eating healthy is a waste of time, if we aren’t also killing ourselves in workout mode?
After our conversation, I started to make some changes.
Changes that allowed me to embrace this slower version of healthy living. A slower version that was focused on feeling better not looking better.
And something incredible happened
I started to have improved energy, my cravings settled down, I laughed more, and my weight slowly started to balance. How could this be? I was feeling better and looking better by doing less?
What I realized is that sometimes the idea of pushing harder, faster, stronger is the very thing that is keeping you fat, stressed, and stuck.
So here is what I started to do, after realizing that I didn’t have to just give up on myself because things had changed.
- I started walk 30-60 minutes every day (at least 5 days if possible)- I’m talking leisure walking here, not power walking or walking to boost my heart rate. Walking has this amazing secret ability of lowering cortisol in our bodies, which means our stress is lower, and big picture our fat storage hormones chill the heck out. When these hormones chill out, they release fat and allow it to burn. I walk outside, in the mall, at target (heyyy), or on the track- usually with Natalie because she needs to get outside too. Don’t be afraid to get creative.
- I scaled back, since I had to, on workouts. Instead of 6 days a week, I would do 2-3 movement days. This may maybe included yoga and two days of body weight exercises that increased my metabolism but didn’t upset my injuries
- SLEEP– okay- if you are a mom you burst out laughing at this one. This is the hardest one because we basically are walking zombies. But, what I try to do is go to sleep by 9 every night at the latest and hope for at least 4 hours. Ideally, 6-8 is what we want if there is a way to make it happen. I also highly encourage napping when you can. If your husband asks, tell him it’s science- you have to nap. I said so.
- Try not to get too hungry during the day. Eat a good protein source at every meal and make sure you drink water as much as possible. Focus on fibrous veggies and a side of carbs. This will keep energy up and prevent the binge monster from coming at 6pm when you get home from work.
I wonder if you are thinking, “These are not new ideas, Kristen.”
And you’re right. These are not earth shattering revelations. Except, here is the thing. It isn’t the four things I listed here that actually create the magic.
It is the permission you give yourself to change your thinking when it comes to what being healthy looks like at different seasons of your life.
I can tell you from experience, when you take the pressure off the numbers, the sizes, the physical appearance of fitness and instead focus on how you feel, you’ll be amazed at how good life gets.
If you are thinking this is great Kristen, but I don’t know HOW to start any of this. My schedule is crazy, my kid doesn’t sleep, I am stressed. I am in those trenches with you and I am here for you. Don’t hesitate to send me a quick email with your story. I am here to support you in this!