Why I Don’t Work Out Anymore

Phew! Long time no talk…

I think the last time I wrote a blog post was in April and now here we are in June and I can’t believe how much life has changed over the past two months.

As a little apology for those of you who are new around here, I’ve been sharing updates on my newsletter about how and why the blog schedule is different [sign up here if you’d like to read the newsletter] but I realized I never left an FYI here on the blog, too. Here’s a quick recap about what’s been going on with me before I jump into the content of today’s post:

First of all…I’m pregnant! My husband and I are expecting our first baby (a boy!) at the end of this summer. His due date is actually on my birthday, which I think is hilarious and awesome and I’m not-so-secretly hoping that he is born that day because I think that would be the best ever birthday present. Alternatively, if he comes on Labor Day, I’d think that would be hilarious and funny too. But alas, he will come when he is good and ready.

Given the pregnancy, this is one of the most joyful and exciting times of my life, but it also has brought a massive shift in priorities. I’ve had a hard time staying motivated to do hobbies/side-hustle type activities, and at times literally have not been able to bring myself to write. This was especially challenging because my passion for writing evaporated right around the time that my book launched which was pretty inconvenient since writing and talking about my book online is a great way to spread the message. On that note, if you’re interested…

So in addition to not quite launching my book as I’d hoped I would (many thanks to everyone who helped pick up the slack for me on that) I also pulled back from writing blog posts and newsletters, disengaged from Instagram (sorry about the recycled posts for those of you who have been around for a while) and actually have been pretty offline in general.

I think busyness in other areas of life probably contributed to the slow-down as well, such as:

  • my husband and I were both sick for a week
  • we celebrated our anniversary
  • we are trying to buy a house…which has been more of a journey than anticipated
  • I have been reading much more than writing lately
  • work picked up like crazy for me (writing charts leaves less time for writing blog posts)
  • the weather has been amazing so I’ve been outside rather than inside
  • we have been taking a Bradley Method childbirth class which is 10 weeks of 2.5 hour classes
  • I switched to a different midwife group that better aligns with my values BUT their office is an hour away from my house which means my appointments (which are now every two weeks) take a solid 3 hours out of my day
  • I’m just tired, and I think that’s okay.

So anyway, I hope you can forgive my prolonged absence(s) and I’m so grateful to all of you who have stuck around! Thank you!

Now…onto today’s topic!

Why I stopped working out…

Like I mentioned, I’m pregnant. As of today, 27 weeks and a few days.

That alone isn’t the reason I stopped doing formal workouts. After all, it’s important to stay active during pregnancy for the sake of my health and the baby’s health, and also to make labor quicker and easier (as if there’s every anything quick or easy about childbirth.) Knowing this, I stayed very active during my first trimester and for much of the second. In fact, my activity level for the first half of my pregnancy was actually pretty similar to what it was before we conceived: I kept up with jogs, yoga, body weight circuits and of course long walks with my husband and puppy.

Then, right around the 20-week mark, I started feeling nudges from my body to slow down. For example, I started noticing aching and spasming in my pelvis when I was jogging, causing me to stop and walk more frequently than I felt like I needed to (I wasn’t tired, just uncomfortable.) Then, that spasm/achy feeling became twinges and soreness in my hips and back which started to linger throughout the day even after I finished exercising. Stretching wasn’t helping to alleviate or prevent the discomfort, which was really confusing to me. I even tried an abdominal support belt for le belly but that didn’t help at all and only made me feel restricted in my breathing.

I naturally transitioned away from running for this reason…it just didn’t feel as good (during or after) as it had previously. I was really bummed about this because I used to really enjoy how running made me feel, but it was easy to accept the transition because I was used to exercising intuitively (aka when I felt like it). I still went for frequent long walks and did yoga when I mustered up the motivation (I often lack the patience required for yoga, but feel better when I do it.) Body weight exercises took a bit of a back seat for a few months simply because I generally prefer to exercise outside on my feet rather than inside with weights, and the weather has been ahhh-mazing.

However, I recently had an unexpectedly stressful day and came home itching to tie up my shoes and just run away from my problems for a few minutes. I was craving that running high. However, it was 90 degrees, humid and sunny and while I would’ve previously enjoyed running in that pre-pregnancy, I’ve noticed an increase sensitivity to heat lately and didn’t want to do anything that would possibly put me or the baby in danger. Quite frankly, it was so hot outside that I didn’t even feel comfortable going for a long walk. Besides, I was craving some more intense sort of movement, so I pulled out the dumbbells and started working through one of the weight circuit plans I’d frequently followed in the first trimester (all pregnancy-safe moves). I felt amazing for the first half, but then by about 2/3 of the way through I knew I’d had enough and decided it was a good time to stop. So, I did. My stressed feelings had eased and I felt that post-workout glow, so I hopped in the shower to rinse away the cares of the day once and for all.

It was after I got out of my (cold) shower that I started to notice something was wrong. It was like my whole body had seized up…legs, back, shoulders, all the muscles in my pelvis. It wasn’t just the post-workout fatigue feeling either, it was intense soreness and quite frankly painful. Throughout the weekend, the pain got worse and worse and by three days later I was still in so much pain I felt like I could barely walk and was borderline in tears. I spent the weekend in epsom salts baths, rolling out my legs and back with the foam roller, stretching in every direction…you name it, I did it. It was the longest “workout recovery period” I’d ever experienced, and it highlighted to me one very important fact: the point of exercise is to empower mobility and strength for my daily life, not wipe me out for the day/weekend/week. The whole concept of “no pain no gain” is complete baloney. If there’s pain, it’s a big, red flag that you need to STOP. By day three, I point blank told my husband: I’m not working out anymore in this pregnancy. It’s yoga and walking only from here on out.

The point of exercise is to empower mobility and strength for your daily life, not wipe you out for the day/weekend/week

I expected to feel tired in pregnancy. I expected to have to modify my activities. I expected to shift my habits, schedule, and priorities to make room for baby. But these shifts came in ways that I didn’t expect, or at least the experience of those changes was different than I expected. (But what good are expectations, really?) This massive shift in my body’s ability to tolerate exercise shocked me a little bit because it happened so suddenly. However, I’m grateful that I’d already been in a mindset of commitment to my body’s cues. If I was in a mindset of feeling compulsion to exercise in a certain way, or I had fears about the relationship between exercise and the appearance of my body (and the value of my body in determining my identity) these transitions would be much, much harder.

Whether pregnant or not, it’s important to me to keep exercise in its rightful place in my life. That means, keeping exercise as something I do to add joy to my life and empower mobility and strength for the relationships, passions, and things that really matter, not to become an idol, or an “ultimate” thing that matters most. My exercise habits don’t define who I am, and the effect of exercise on my body doesn’t define who I am, either. Whenever I face twists or challenges like this, which remind me how far I’ve come in my relationship with food, exercise, and my body, I’m awed by the grace of God in leading me out of that bondage and into His freedom.

So, as far as movement goes…there will be no more workouts for me for the foreseeable future. No more running shoes, no more circuits, and when it comes to exercise equipment, the only thing I’ll be using is my foam roller, which is still playing an instrumental role in helping me recover from whatever happened with those dumbbells last week.

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