Is your body screaming at you?

Is your body screaming at you?

“Most people have no idea how good their body is designed to feel”Kevin Trudeau

I hurt my low back badly a couple of weeks ago. In the last couple of months, I had increased my training volume a lot. Before going to the megaformer class up to three times per week and Orangetheory one time per week, I was weight training three times per week and doing vinyasa yoga three times per week. This means that I doubled up on three days of the week (on my non weight-training days). I knew that I was exercising A LOT more than I was used to but I was eating more to fuel the additional exercise and I did not feel too sore or worn out so I thought I was doing everything right. I started having low back tightness a few weeks ago but it always felt better after any of the workouts. Two weeks ago during my weight-training session, I could feel that my low back felt a little tighter than normal while I was doing Romanian deadlifts and while picking up weights for another exercise. I felt great by the end of the workout. When I got home, I bent down to pick up the food processor from a low cabinet (which is very heavy and awkward) and when I stood up with it, I felt something pinch in the center of my low back. All I wanted to do was make pesto sauce! About a half hour later, I started having severe pain down both legs and could barely walk because of how painful and weak they felt. I have never felt this much pain in my whole life. I don’t remember what my pain was like after my back surgery 18 years ago but I’m sure it was pretty close to this. I felt defeated and I felt like all of the hard work I had put into making my body feel good would be quickly img_1316reversed. One of the daily practices that all of the trainers and chiropractors at the gym stress the importance of is breathing with the legs supported at 90 degrees. Zolie was keeping me company while I was doing this practice to relieve some of the tension right after I hurt myself. Isn’t it interesting how our pets know when something is wrong? He always makes me feel better even when I am in severe pain 🙂

Since reducing my weight training and overall exercise volume over the last couple of weeks, I have found peace with my lower intensity exercise routine. I have incorporated upper-body exercises and walking in my pool and am doing several rehabilitation exercises every day. These gentle forms of movement are peaceful and almost meditative because they are performed slowly and require concentration. Even though I am not sweating or working my body to exhaustion while performing these exercises, I am still able to find joy in moving my body in a way that makes it talk a little more quietly.

As the quote above indicates, a lot of people don’t realize that their body is designed to move well and feel good on both the inside and on the outside. Both people who have not adopted an exercise routine and healthy eating habits and those who exercise a lot and eat a nutritious diet have the privilege of experiencing what a healthy body feels like. There are downsides to extremes and our bodies may ultimately feel the best somewhere in the middle. My body doesn’t feel healthy right now but I know it will get back to normal soon because I am listening to its cues and giving it what it needs to heal including plenty of food and rest. I plan to reintroduce the classes slowly but take one or two rest days which I was not doing before the injury. And when I do go back to the classes, I will give 50% effort to avoid re-injury and to determine if those classes are ultimately beneficial for my mind and body. Even when we feel like we can take another class or complete another set of an exercise in the gym, it is important to rest and to pay closer attention to our body’s cues. A little low back tightness can eventually turn into something more extreme if it is ignored.

Fitness Fridays

Fitness Fridays

Throughout high school, I was never satisfied with my body. I envied my sisters who were thin and athletic and could share clothes

I hated exercise when I was younger. PE class in elementary and middle school was my least favorite class because I could not keep up with everyone and I felt like everyone was criticizing and taking advantage of that. I was always picked last to be on teams and wasn’t treated like everyone else. Fast forward to the summer after 5th grade when I needed a major surgery for severe scoliosis. I had a spinal fusion from T1-T12 (the whole thoracic spine) and was on bed rest for the rest of the summer and into the beginning of the fall school year. My doctor said that I would never be able to participate in contact sports and that I would need to be careful with other strenuous exercise. I had a personal trainer when I was in middle school but always hated going. I didn’t enjoy PE in high school either. I tried out for volleyball my freshman year but didn’t make the team. Throughout high school, I was never satisfied with my body. I envied my sisters who were thin and athletic and could share clothes. It wasn’t until the summer after I graduated high school that I started working out. I quickly noticed how my body was changing and how much energy I had. I eventually got a personal trainer, learned how to eat better to fuel my body, and saw my own transformation. This was my first aha! moment. Another big aha! moment came when I visited a health and fitness spa during my freshman year in college. I loved every aspect of fitness, wellness, and spirituality that this resort embodies and my life had been changed for the better. Throughout the following 10 years of returning to the spa every year, I developed a passion for movement and mindfulness that I am not sure I would have found if I never went to this resort. About 4 years ago, I decided to try a private yoga lesson at the resort. I was very cautious about yoga previously because of my back, but the care and joy that my instructor brought to my practice made me feel like I didn’t have to be as flexible or as daring as someone else and that it is okay to listen to my body. Over the next few years returning to the spa, I continued to work with the same instructor and she watched me grow in my practice.
When I returned to the spa back in March of this year, I decided that it was time to try something new since my instructor was not there. I had a private Zumba lesson and a private Pilates reformer lesson. Now more than I have in the past, I love every aspect of how different forms of movement make my body feel. Upon returning home from the spa, I felt a sense of emptiness that I did not have when I was there. I needed to complement my strength training sessions and yoga lessons with something else. I had been wanting to try Orangetheory since a studio recently opened close to my house and another class using a megaformer (I would describe this as a combination of barre and Pilates reformer but on a machine that is referred to as a reformer on steroids!). It’s not as scary as it sounds! Not only have a gained a sense of peace with my body, but I have found a balance and variety with my exercise regimen that makes me happy and brings me joy.

In the coming weeks (on Fridays!) look for glimpses into my workout routine  🙂

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