After having my second kid I was FIRED UP to get back into shape. I'd gained more weight than the pregnancy prior, and I was so ready to prove to myself that I could get back to my pre-baby self.
I had a c-section, so I had to wait the full six weeks to recover. I grew so antsy waiting to heal, that the moment I was given the OK by my doc, I started going on jogs.
By the time my son was five months old, I was training for a half-marathon.
Awesome, right? I'm a total badass, right?
It wasn't until my son was about a year old that I started to notice chronic pain in my hips, even from walking. Was it tightness? Had I injured myself? I wasn't entirely sure.
All I know is that my son is now 7, and I still feel the pain in my hips. I've tried all kinds of healing therapies. But I have a sinking suspicion that in my eagerness to "be healthy" I made an incredibly unhealthy choice.
I am a lifelong exerciser. While both my brothers are natural musicians, I couldn't sit still long enough to learn to play a damn thing. I had to get moving, be outside, get a sweat going. Learning scales and notes and whatever the heck else is associated with music took too much of my time.
I also have a high level of self-discipline. Both a good thing and a bad thing. When it comes to exercise, it's rare that I miss 2 days in a row.
But lately, I've started to get curious about the relationship I have with exercise. I've noticed a subtle aggression underlying my need to exercise. I can push myself through any pain, and wake up even when I feel like crud to make it to the gym. Sometimes I question my unwavering commitment, like maybe it's not coming from the right place.
It's my belief that there are two main emotions we humans experience, and all the others stem from these: LOVE and FEAR.
I've started to wonder if many of us exercise more out of fear than of love. Sure, it feels good and it is undeniably healthy. This is the love side.
But what drives the unrelenting frequency of it? What about how we make ourselves feel when we skip a couple of days? Even when we're feeling bad, or haven't slept? Does drive override our ability to sense and listen to our bodies?
This is the fear side. We become addicted to the opiates our body secretes from exercise to feel good. We fear being heavy or unhealthy. We worry that if we skip too many days, we'll loose it all. We fear our aging bodies and slowing down. We fear our mortality.
It's a fundamental distrust of ourselves, leaving exercise to be an easy emotional addiction that we can hide because it "appears" healthy.
Research shows some interesting rationale behind why you may not wanna sign up for that next marathon. "Centenarians don't belong to fancy gyms and run marathons," says Dan Buettner, author of Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer for People Who've Lived the Longest. "They move naturally in their day to day to avoid the sedentary lifestyle. They take brisk walks or hikes, the lift items in their homes, they take the stairs."
And Dave Asprey, the coach and author of Game Changers: What Leaders, Innovators and Mavericks do to Win at Life says that for high achievers, many of them credit their exercise routines as being what helps them stay on top of their game.
But what he notices in coaching them, is many of these same achievers are dealing with chronic pain, severe immobility and ultimately, injury. Often, it's these leaders that are addicted to stress and chaos. For them, exercise is just another way to project their unhealthy addiction to stress.
In honor of this, here are 3 times when you should NOT exercise:
1. When you have not slept:
Exercise is essentially stressing the body so it can bounce back stronger. When you do not have adequate sleep, your body cannot recover and cannot translate the "damage" (exercise) you do to your body to an adaptive response (muscle growth, tone or fat loss). It only propels more stress hormones in the body.
So if you slept like shit last night, skip your workout today.
2. If you're hurt:
If you feel PAIN when you exercise, stop. You ARE doing more harm than good. You will only prolong your recovery and will likely come back (if you do at all) weaker than you started. Joints are replaceable, but wouldn't it be nice to keep the ones we have?
Give yourself a break or try different, more gentle way to exercise -- walk, swim, hike (as centenarians do). Or consider 20 minutes of ass-busting sprinting rather than a 2 hour jog.
3. If you're sick:
It's an old wive's tale that working out when your sick makes you feel better. A small walk around the 'hood? Sure. But working out is the wrong call.
Yes, it will spike your cortisol making you feel better for a short period of time. But in the end, it will only prolong your sickness because illness needs recovery, not further stimulation.
There you have it, gals.
Here's to working out when we need stimulus as opposed to when we're already feeling stressed. Here's to be gentle with this incredible body we were given, and exercising because of LOVE and not fear.
Wanna know how to LOVE yourself even more?
JOIN US ON RETREAT!!
A little #inspo for how to workout with love :).