I haven't worked out in over three years, here is why, and how I feel about it today.
So, I was addicted to working out for a period of time. When I started to slow down a bit, my body started showing the damage I had done. When I say "slowing down" I mean going from working out at least once daily, and also teaching an average of 13 classes a week to just working out about 5 times a week. I was teaching yoga, strength and tone classes, kickboxing, and boot camps. And then I quit teaching almost all at once, and simply did workouts, classes, kickboxing, at the local gym.
Working out was my escape from my abusive relationship, and the further I got away from him, the less and less I depended on the safety of the gym. I no longer needed the escape and so as my injuries presented I started really looking at what I was doing and why. One of the main injuries, which was determined by my doctors to be inflicted originally by the abuse was the herniated and bulging discs in my lower spine. I was able to keep the debilitating nature at bay, because I was doing just enough yoga, to tolerate the pain. When I wasn't teaching yoga any longer, and had replaced it with weight lifting and strengthening exercises, it became so bad that it would often take 10-15 steps before I could fully straighten and walk with out a dramatic limp. I finally couldn't handle it any longer quit working out so strenuously, and then almost all together.
The next few months were brutal. I went to doctor after doctor, had MRI's, Cortisone shots, physical therapy replaced work outs, and then finally I had an epidural shot directly in to the damaged area. I would be in too much pain to work out, and then I would berate myself for hours for not sucking it up and going to the gym anyway. The next day I would pack my gym bag again and drive right past the gym on the way home, internally beating myself up for not going. The only thing worse than not going, was how poorly I treated myself afterwards.
Of course no one really knew what was going on, in fact looking back now, I am not sure it was entirely clear to me at first. I was so used to the belittling, the mocking, never being good enough, the mental and physical assaults, that when they were no longer a part of my every day life from him, I began to mistreat myself. Subconsciously I imagine. I never worked out hard enough or fast enough, I was never strong enough to beat him, I would never be strong enough period. So after several months of this nonsense, I reluctantly started packing my bag one morning and I said "you know what, no more! The gym is off the table!" I really did actually say those words, out loud, I tossed the bag to the corner and I grounded myself from the gym, just like that. Until I could work through what I was dealing with, I needed to find some peace, and shortly there after, realized I also need to have a little grace for myself.
I needed to turn my compassion inward, and love myself a little more. Actually, a lot more.
The word grace has been with me all of my life. I was born on a Tuesday, and it is said that Tuesday's child is full of grace. So there was my word, I needed to incorporate grace for myself in to my daily routine, where I once was so vehement about my workouts and self torture. So I got myself a sweet little reminder....
With the gym off the table, by my own doing, I was suddenly relieved. I didn't stress about going or not, and not going didn't make me feel like a useless slob. It was not overnight, of course, but slowly I started feeling more confident, I self coached, I complimented myself every time I passed a mirror instead of being critical. I stopped hearing his words in my own voice, and you know what happened?
I began to heal.
My back was feeling somewhat better, my body was responding to the love. It was and still is truly amazing. We are so willing to extend grace to others in need of our compassion, but it was like learning myself all over again to accept it for myself. With out judgement, without any other persons voice telling me how to look, or what to feel, I freed myself.
Now, I still do yoga, at least a little in the morning, I meditate, and work towards a healthy mental state. Anxiety has always and will always be a part of my make up, PTSD is newer issue, but when it comes to my body, I am adopting to be healthy instead of specific number. It is not always easy. But I catch myself when I slip, I work through whatever it is that is failing. Sometimes I don't eat, because I am a stress starver. Sometimes I over eat because I fear being too thin. Mostly I try to land somewhere in the middle, lovin on this ol body of mine... And I have to say, she has been through hell, more than once, and bounced back better and stronger, so when I lose focus, I remind myself what a badass my body is, and know I owe it to myself to be better.
Recently I did some physically laborious things, and it was the first time, in a very long time, that I didn't feel strong. I criticized myself three or four times before I caught myself doing it. The awareness of the trigger, needing someone to help me, feeling inadequate, the weakness throwing me way off, the awareness brought me to full attention. Which I suppose if half the battle. I felt weak, but I was okay, I was safe in the environment I put back together from nothing. So if I felt physically weak, I was still way ahead of the game, and being mentally strong, to be compassionate towards myself, showed me just how very far I have come as a survivor.
My body is not perfect in some people's opinions, those who don't matter. To me, my body is lovely, I am finally comfortable in my own skin. Released from all of the constraints. I shed everything, through life and this blog, because the core of me is strong enough again. Stronger. Mother. Survivor. Lover. Friend.
Photo (of me) credit: The extremely talented, Starla Rogers
Ink credit: Joey Nobody
P.S. I am not suggesting that not working out is a great option for everyone. Whatever makes you healthy, and happy, do more of that. Sending love! xo
P.P.S. The more we talk, speak our truths, the less control the pain and damage has on us.