Hey, Friends! Thanks so much for all the kind birthday wishes! I spent my day relaxing as much as possible, because I caught the cold my kids have been struggling with for the last week!:( Ben and I postponed our birthday date to a day when I’m feeling better, but at least we had babysitting all lined up, so I spent down time on the couch with some Gilmore Girls episodes. Not really that exciting, but now we have more time to anticipate our birthday date.:)
For today’s birthday favorites, it’s all about exercise. This last year was my year to start strengthening my body, and that’s a big deal for me, as I explained in this post.
It’s funny, because I’ve spent most of my life thinking I wasn’t athletic in any way, and it took 37 years to figure out I was wrong. The school I attended was all about basketball and volleyball, which I couldn’t stand. I liked biking and walks in the sunset, but those weren’t considered “exercise”. When Ben and I first got married, I went through an aerobics video phase, but didn’t really enjoy that either. Exercise was something I felt negative about in every possible way, and I tried to force myself to do it, but nothing stuck.
It’s probably a large part of why I ended up with all the issues I’ve had with my back and hips, although there are other contributing factors. I had a crooked spine, and because I’ve always been very small, I just didn’t have the strength to do things other people would find easy. I tried to make up for lack of strength with tension, and the muscles in my body got pretty messed up, especially during pregnancy.
After spending a few years working on flexibility with yoga, massage, and physiotherapy, this was the year to finally begin strengthening my unhappy muscles. Besides my little team of therapists, who take fantastic care of me, I have four parts to my strengthening program which have been changing my life. That sounds dramatic, but seriously – there are major shifts happening in my body, and I delight in them every single day! When I pick up Everett, or open a heavy door, and am able to do these things easily, I feel very excited about my progress!! Someday soon, I’m going to ride my bike and mop the floor, and it will be a beautiful day….
In the meantime, here’s what I’m loving right now:
Going for Walks
For years, I couldn’t go for a walk, because my hips just hurt far too much. I was always really sad about this, because I had so many beautiful memories of walking down the gravel road with my mom when I was in high school – half a mile west into the sunset, and then back home again.
Last spring, Ben encouraged me to start getting out of the house for a walk, no matter how short it might be. He kept saying a little bit was better than nothing, so I listened to him, even though it felt really dumb to walk past four houses down our street, and then turn around, because that was as far as I could possibly go. But very slowly, I started getting stronger, and I could get past five or six houses. All winter long, no matter how cold it was, I put on a million layers, and I got outside for a walk. My anxiety got less, my sleep improved, and my body got stronger. I love it. Now I go for a daily 20 minute walk, and every single time I head out our door for a walk, I am so full of joy and thankfulness because I can walk again.
Oh, I have such a love/hate relationship with planking!! I love how it’s strengthening my body, but it is so hard to do it! In the beginning, I would actually cry because I dreaded it so much! But my therapist has said it is the BEST thing for back issues. He promised I’d start noticing the difference by two minutes, be in a great place by five minutes, and not even feel my back by ten.
I thought he was insane.
I started with 30 seconds, and it seemed completely impossible to plank for one minute, never mind five or ten. I started in December, and I’ve made it to four minutes. Suddenly five doesn’t seem so impossible anymore! I like to flex in front of the mirror now, because I’m still trying to believe weak little me is actually able to have some muscles in those arms. Anything is possible, I tell ya!!!
This isn’t exactly new – I’ve been doing it for about three years now, but this last year has been exciting because I’m really able to notice the health benefits. There are many different types of yoga, but this is my muscle therapist’s favorite, and it’s incredibly effective. You can check it out on youtube here, but the white spandex shorts are a bit much, so I bought this book, since I don’t want to turn the TV on every night when I do yoga. There are pictures of each pose at the back, if I can’t remember the new stuff I’m working on.
Trigger Point Ball
I love this ball. The idea is very basic – find a sore muscle, and lie on the ball. Sooo much pain, but it makes such a difference!! Unfortunately, Everett also loves it, too, and he runs away with my ball all the time. It rolls under furniture, and sometimes it takes me days to find it! I am very sore those days – I might need to consider getting a back-up. I’m told a lacrosse ball works just as well, and I’ve also used a baseball in desperation!
There you have it – the tools an unsporty girl is using to get strong and active! What’s your favorite way to exercise? Do you enjoy being active, or is it hard to get into the habit?