Exercise Growing Up
I can still remember being 4 years old, putting on my bright pink and purple tights, layered with a pink swimsuit, scrunched up socks, and a messy pony tail on the top of my head. Then my Mom and I would turn on Sweatin’ to the Oldies with Richard Simmons and we’d dance our hearts out. Afterwards I would get a sugar free chocolate pop-sickle.
In fifth grade, I was tired of being the “chubby girl” and so I began eating less and working out twice most days. Simultaneously, I grew nearly 12 inches that year, and yes that growth spurt was painful. I remember my body and hips aching from growing so fast. Mid way through the year, I had lost 20 pounds and had curves. I finally felt ok with my body- but not really positive. About to enter middle school, I felt that awkward shift of puberty and insecurity creeping in on me and I never quite understood how I was supposed to feel or what thoughts or actions were normal.
In middle school and high school I found my weight constantly shifting. Up ten pounds, then back down ten pounds, but would often go back to my tried and true method of “eat less, work more” and get to an “ok” place- a place where I was hungry and tired, but didn’t feel like I stuck out in the crowd. Looking back, I think that was always my fear- standing out. I didn’t want to look a certain way that others would notice. I wanted to be “normal.” Whatever that meant.
Once married, it was easy to put on a few pounds with being so busy working a full time job and commuting and birth control struggles. It wasn’t until we began having fertility problems that I considered a new approach to my health.
Exercise As Healing
With my doctors help, I began eating mostly organic, whole foods. I began a consistent workout program that had a balance of intense days and active rest days. She had me on a regiment of supplements to support the hormonal imbalances my body was showing. And it worked. I felt great, and began losing weight naturally.
Through my first pregnancy I continued working out. Mainly, I focused on cardio. I still thought cardio was the key to weight loss, and again that thought of “standing out” began to creep in and I didn’t want to grow. It was so hard for me. And yet, I couldn’t control the cravings. I didn’t continue eating solely organic whole foods, and I attempted to work off what I was eating. But if you’ve ever been pregnant, you know this isn’t possible. You body is meant to gain weight, and it’s our job to keep it healthy and strong while we can.
After our first son was born, I found myself feeling more weak and exhausted and more out of control of my life than ever before. I was exhausted from an overdue pregnancy that ended in a long and forced traumatic labor and my son was born via cesarean section. My body felt broken, ripped apart, in pain, and soon I realized I was suffering from post-partum depression and anxiety.
But 6 months later, a friend helped me remember the power of diet and exercise and I fell back in love with fitness. Slowly, strength returned.
As my son grew older, and began walking and talking, my introverted self started feeling quite tired again. Each day, by noon, it was like my mind was buzzing and exhausted. All of the noise, my messy house, the to-do list, the never ending worry, anxiety, the constant “doing”, I needed silence and space. Each day when my husband would come home, I would leave for 20-30 minutes. Sometimes, I would time it so that I had just put dinner in the oven and would run long enough to get home and take it out. And some days I was just waiting on the door step with my shoes laced staring at the clock. This quickly became my time for quiet. I couldn’t even listen to music I was so overstimulated.
Exercise As Therapy
Running was not natural to me. I didn’t really like it. With each step, my legs would feel heavy. My muscles would burn. My mind and my body wanted to stop. Inevitably, I’d find thoughts traveling through memories, anxieties, struggles… I’d think “what if” and would be faced with things I’d left unsettled. Now not only was my body aching, but so was my mind. It hurt at first. And then with each step, I’d work through the pain. Pressing on further each day. Learning when to walk and when to run faster. Some days I’d find freedom from thoughts weighing me down. Others I would need to run harder and longer and would need to revisit those struggles again and again. It was as if, in my running, I was discovering painful times lodged in my body, and daily it was my therapy to work them out–massaging them from my back, legs, or arms, and into my consciousness. Then processing them, acknowledging their existence, and sweating them out. Daily running and exercise became my time and my relief.
Exercise As Discipline
Through my second pregnancy, I didn’t feel like working out most days. Quickly into the first trimester, running no longer felt right. I was tired, and by about 20 weeks, high intensity workouts and running were triggering contractions and I knew I needed to slow down. My goal was to stay strong through this pregnancy, which I aimed to attain through four workouts a week, daily walking and stretching, and maintaining a clean whole foods based diet. Overall, I did fairly well with a balance of the occasional dessert.
Exercise As Reward
I do believe the more we know and learn, the better able we are to make beneficial life changes and habits. The first part of my life, I viewed diet and exercise as a means to shrink myself. Now, I know the benefits to my whole being and those around me. I continue to gather information on the benefits of regular exercise and various types of activity.
Exercise isn’t just a means for me to hide in the background.
Through both knowledge and experience, I am able to understand that exercise is a reward. I can celebrate the strength I have and simultaneously strive for more. I know that it helps me unwind when my anxiety is high. I have felt the weight of my anger release through yoga and HIIT workouts. I have noticed an improvement in my insomnia. Exercise is proven to increase dopamine (the chemical associated with a happy mood), boosts energy, increased memory capabilities (us moms need all of this that we can get!), and a ton of benefits during pregnancy for you and baby. When our thinking truly shifts from pain and punishment, to enjoyment and reward, we can look forward to our workout. We can begin to crave it.
Exercise As Inspiration
Two years ago, I launched Rise Up and Go Fitness as a movement for women, who see the value in fitness and nutrition, but needed help. I think that in my finding breakthrough in my health, that I can help you find it too!
Motherhood is tough. Busy schedules, post partum depression, pregnancy struggles, marriage, work, burn out, anxiety, fears, insecurities, my faith… these are just a few of the areas that I’ve seen breakthrough in by being healthy. Ultimately, God has been with me each step of the way. God equips me with strength when I’m weary, creativity when I want to communicate, courage to share with others and stand out, and air to wake up each morning and run each step of this race. I get to hold God’s hand and run and jump and choose healthy food and rest.
I know that if I can find a way to be healthy and reach goals, you can achieve what “healthy” looks like for you. How do I know? I know because I’m not particularly strong. I am strong willed and stubborn, but we each have our own strengths, am I right? 😉
I know that you can reach your goals because you were created with a plan. A huge beautiful plan! Your goals, body, daily activities, family… everything in your life won’t look like mine and mine won’t look like yours. And that is exactly why you can do it. You were made for it.
It will require failure and breaking and weakness. Without those things, you won’t grow. In those places, God will give you strength, and you will choose to accept it. And guess what happens then? You’ll be strong! It’s amazing the pattern you’ll find. In your weakness, you’ll find God’s strength. You’ll receive discipline, and joy, and success, and peace. It won’t be easy– remember I mentioned failure, breaking, weakness… but it will be worth it. And day by day, you’ll see your goals achieved.
So, if you want to learn more about how I can help you reach your goal, please comment below or check out how to get started.