Re-writing your rules of working out

I wrote this entry 2 months ago, but I never did hit publish. However, my upcoming posts will make a lot more sense if you have the back story. The story of the rise is only complete if it begins with the story of the fall.

My Rules:

  • Squats have to be below 90 degrees.
  • When working out, do what you enjoy.
  • Workouts should be structured and programmed.
  • Trainers need to have their shit together - in the gym and in the kitchen.
  • Country music isn't working out music.

All false.

All things I at one time believed, and made myself abide by. Except maybe the country music part, I've been deadlifting to Eric Church for years.

If there's one thing I love(d), it's structure. Routine. Rules. Rules keep things in order, and leave no room for second-guessing.

But what happens when your routine is broken? When there is no structure? When your whole life and what you thought you knew is turned up side down?

The rules then become handcuffs, road blocks, complete show-stoppers.

It has taken me 15 months postpartum to realize this. FIFTEEN MONTHS.

I used to LOVE my (almost) daily workouts. I couldn't wait to go. My whole schedule was set around them. Prep time for pre-workout pancakes. Post-workout socializing. Staying in my workout clothes just a little longer than socially (more like hygienically) acceptable. Getting stronger, fine-tuning skill work. Defining myself based on my physical strength.

When my routine was halted by pregnancy joint pain, followed by the postpartum whirlwind, then adding on ongoing injuries and pain, none of my rules worked anymore.

I can't squat below 90 without pain.

I have zero, and I mean zero, desire to go to the gym. 

When I try to structure myself a program, at the first sign of pain I write the whole thing off, again. Over and over.

I definitely don't have my shit together in the gym or in the kitchen. Unless macaroni and cheese and chocolate have been added to the "top foods trainers recommend list" since I last checked.

Country music is still good:)

I'm taking a new approach to working out as of this week. And I'm not sure I even want to call it working out for now. That brings too much pressure with it.

I'm calling it movement. I'm calling it therapy.

If you've ever been to therapy, you know how much the drive there sucks, because you know you're going to have to get uncomfortable. While therapy is beneficial, the act itself kinda sucks. You know in a few days, a few weeks, a few months, after repeatedly going, the therapy will pay off. But you have to continually do something uncomfortable that you really don't want to do, over and over, to get there.

So, this is how I'm viewing movement now. It's a part of my mental health therapy, and while I don't want to do it, I know over the long term it will pay off. And I am not talking paying off in jean size here. I could actually give less f@cks if I ever fit into my pre-pregnancy jeans again. I am much more concerned about clearing the mental fog, reducing the postpartum rage, and bringing more laughter into my life again.

So. I'm changing the rules.

The New Rules:

  • Squats look like whatever feels good for your body.
  • Sometimes working out won't be fun, you might not even *love* or enjoy it. But sometimes you have to buck up and do it anyways, knowing you will be better for it.
  • Just move in various ways, consistently. Stop stressing about the "best program.”
  • Trainers are human, they're going to mess up, and that's okay. More than okay. And hi, same goes for everybody else, because, well, we're all human.
  • Move to whatever music you are feeling. Or silence. It really doesn't matter.

I'm requiring a 30 minute commitment to movement from myself. Tonight I wrote a workout on the board, it was a little optimistic, but I wrote it out anyways. When I got to 30 minutes, I had completed the strength portion but hadn't made it to the met con yet. I didn't feel like it, I wanted to be done. I had given my 30 minutes, so I turned off Eric and called it a night. It was still a success, still a checkmark for the day. And this - THIS is a HUGE checkmark for my mindset. Two years ago what I did tonight would be a warm-up. "Half-assed." "Quitter." Not anymore.

I would encourage you to write down and look at the rules you have created for yourself. Are they helping you, truly? If not, how can you alter them?

If you're feeling the need to add movement to your day, email me or comment below with what is holding you back the most right now.

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That feeling when "trusting the process" delivers your reward

You know when you make a decision and at the time it really sucks because it means giving up something you really want right that moment (instant gratification) in exchange for something way down the road, and even though you know the trade off will greatly trump all those little "need right now" moments it's still so hard to trust the process at the time? And every time you have to pass on that want, over and over, you question, "is it worth it?".

But then the day comes where your patience and months (perhaps years) of tough decision making rewards you. This applies to so many things in life. Today I got one of those long-awaited rewards after months of having to trust the process.

I am so excited that 8 months of trusting the process has led me to this moment. Eight months ago I knew I needed to change my mindset on workouts, based on my knowledge of pelvic floor health and diastasis recti. I was doing Crossfit 5x/week, and am, as my husband describes me "insanely competitive". The competitive streak is directed against myself - I'm not trying to beat anyone else in the gym, just myself, always wanting to learn new skills or improve my previous weights or sets. While the gym is a great place to unleash this, it is not a good combo when pregnant and long term health and fitness well into my senior years is the goal.

So I held back. I changed gyms. My pregnancy workouts felt more like my old warm ups did, but I trusted the process. Mentally it sucked a lot of days, trying to match logical brain to emotion-driven brain.

I cried numerous times. I felt like I'd lost a piece of my identity. I've identified as an athlete for years, and as a trainer since changing careers a few years ago. And now I hadn't run in months. Hadn't touched a barbell in as many. My workouts involved lots of seated isolated muscle exercises. I missed my old coaches, and the noon crew that pushed me (and heckled me) and provided me a space to mentally reset each day as well as provided a physical outlet.

I had melt downs when I wondered if I'd ever be able to do what I could pre-pregnancy again. But again, I committed to trusting the process. Some days I hated the process. I had to remind myself:  isn't being able to do 70% of what I could pre-pregnancy for the rest of my life way better than being able to do 100% of what I could pre-pregnancy but only for 2-5 years because of the damage and beating I'd do to myself by pushing for that extra 30%, just to "prove that I could"?

The smile on my face today is after a visit to my pelvic floor physio, where I received that long term reward of being smart these past 8 months instead of just going for it because I could day after day at the gym. I don't have any pelvic organ prolapse and my ab separation is in a good place for only 6 weeks postpartum and the tone feels like it should at this point. This might sound tiny to you, but the alternatives I hear way too many women talking about post partum because they just didn't know how to care for their pregnant and/or postpartum bodies makes me incredibly happy to be where I am right now.

This is just the first of a mini-series of blogs I'll be releasing, so be sure to check back if any of the below apply to you:

  • You like nerding out about body stuff.
  • You're an athlete who "leaks" (regardless of if you've had kids or not) - this was me in University when doing large amounts of bounding and plyometric workouts as a middle-distance sprinter. I just didn't know better.
  • You're currently pregnant.
  • You plan on being pregnant at any point in your life.
  • You've had kids.
  • You have someone in your life who fits the above and you want to help educate them about how to better care for their body.

Stay tuned:) 

Burpees for Chocolate?

So, how many burpees DO you have to do to work off a chocolate bunny's ears? How about a bag of mini eggs?

The answer, is ZERO.

Here's why.

 

Exercise is not a punishment for something "bad" you did. Exercise is something you do for your body, because you actually like your body. Hopefully, because you love your body. You care enough about it to engage in activities that get your heart rate up for heart health, that challenge your muscles for strength, that engage your mind for improved cognitive function. Or get those endorphins going as you crush goals. Or to participate in a supportive community. Any of those reasons. But not for punishment.


Exercise is not to be interchangeable with sitting on a chair in the corner in time out, or being grounded, or getting your credit card cut up. It is not a punishment, it is a privilege, and a chance to better yourself from the inside out.

You work out because you know that even though it kinda sucks during the breathless sweaty part, you know it makes you feel oh-so-good afterwards. You know that by working out, you make better food choices to fuel those workouts, because you want to perform better. You work out because you want BALANCE - balance between eating for health and fuel, and eating for pleasure and socialization - and not feeling guilty or deprived when switching back and forth from one to the other. Of course, there is a limit to how much chocolate you can eat before yes, the negative effects take place. But a little chocolate is not going to kill you. Everything in moderation.

Changing your mindset will change your outcome. Replace guilt and punishment with compassion and self-love, and the impact will be greater than any diet or workout regime you've tried.


Final thoughts: This isn't jail. Working out is not punishment. So enjoy that chocolate, and then work out because you WANT to, not because you HAVE to.