Gratitude for My Experience With Chronic Pain

2021, FITNESS

I’m not out of the woods yet but I see the sun peeking through. I am at least 13 weeks into getting structural body work done as well as putting in significant daily efforts to recover and rebuild my mind/body connection. Last week was the first week that I noticed my CNS waking up.

I didn’t realize how much bandwidth had been dedicated to ignoring, minimizing, pushing through or addressing pain signals. I didn’t realize I wasn’t tasting my coffee, hearing the birds chirp or feeling my sons laughter. It wasn’t for lack of trying.

My knee jerk reaction was that I began thinking of all the moments I must have missed simply because I hadn’t been present enough to fully experience them. Each time my mind goes down that road I have to remind myself that I did the best I could.

Sometimes our best has to be enough even when it falls short.

As I slowly heal I have realized many ways in which this experience has impacted my life. In some ways for the worse but in many ways for the better.

-I am a more compassionate and empathetic human being because I have had to rely on the compassion and empathy of others to get through.

-I am learning to recieve help from others.

-I am learning to recognize when others are struggling and I try to reach out rather than squirm away in discomfort because I know the feeling of isolation.

-I work hard to appreciate the little things and celebrate small wins because sometimes big wins are few and far between.

-I learned self care and self love because I had to pull myself out of some pretty dark places.

-I am learning patience and how to have faith in the process because I am finally seeing healing after years of effort.

-I am moving from a perfectionism mindset to healthy striving because I have failed to meet the vision I had for myself many times over.

-I am only beginning to scratch the surface of what I’m capable of and I am so excited to test those limits on a healthy body.

All things in time. Lifting is a long game.

For now, I am going to soak in more of these experiences with my boys.

Spandex is the Fabric of My Life/ Part 4/ Misadventures in College Cheer, Fitness and Marathon Running

FITNESS
SHOES/ Nike By You AF1 Low SWEATS/ Under Armor

It is odd to me that when I look back at my time participating in athletics that I have labeled college cheerleading a misadventure. I spent five years working consciously toward that goal and three years before that honing gymnastics skills that directly transferred.

I put the idea of college cheer up on a pedestal and I beat myself up for a long time for having quit. Looking back, I was just an 18 year old kid who was trying to salvage and piece back together a healthy relationship with her body. I had spent my senior year leading up to the experience on so many diet pills I couldn’t sleep or think straight. My mom even confronted me at one point and asked if I was on drugs. I didn’t think I so because I purchased them at GNC but let’s just say there is a reason ephedrine is now a banned substance. You live and learn.

At the same time I began dating a college wrestler (my now husband) who at the time had to undergo some pretty significant weight cuts. It was the perfect storm in which unhealthy foods behavior could go unnoticed. Restriction and binging, both with food and exercise, became the norm and while I was safely hovering ten pounds below the weight limit I never felt small enough. I felt like a bulldozer in a skirt next to my new Polly Pocket sized teammates and I panicked. No matter how much I tried, I could not diet down my shoulders, in fact, the leaner I was the more they stood out. Eventually I decided to walk because I could no longer punish my body for being what it naturally wanted to be. I was over that relationship with myself.

So my husband and I spent a lot of time lifting (because cardio is hardio). I embraced my body for what it was and started nurturing its strength instead of trying to hide it. Which leads me, of course, to another misadventure…

I gave fitness one try and promptly realized it was not for me. It did confirm for me, however, that aesthetics can not be my why and that I don’t enjoy having my body judged even if it fits the template.

For many years I tried a lot of things that kept me active but I didn’t find anything that sparked me enough to pursuit it. In fact, I spent a lot of time finding out what I didn’t like which was, not to my surprise, many cardio sports.

I did this, very slowly, but I did this. It wasn’t something I would have sought out to do on my own and was completely out of character but my husband challenged me and I very reluctantly agreed. He was training for triathlon nationals and it gave us something we could do together. We would run the same routes though he would lap me many times over. While this aspect of togetherness was fun I did not actually enjoy the running part. I could appreciate the programming, training approach and process but at the end of the day I just didn’t enjoy it and I didn’t want to spend that much time doing it. I can safely say I will probably never run another marathon but that said, I now know I can put in the work even when it is not enjoyable and that I also have the grit to hang in there and pull through when it counts!

Despite a lack of passion for any particular sport, these years provided a lot of cross training, learning experiences and of course many memories were made along the way.

They Say Cotton is the Fabric of Our Lives But I’m Pretty Sure Spandex is the Fabric of Mine/ Series Part 1/ Gymnastics

2021, FITNESS
NIKE Romaleos 4

What is a sidelined athlete to do while antsy to get training again? Reminisce the past of course! No really, it provides context as to why I live in active wear and why changing that entirely isn’t going to happen any time soon.

ORIGINAL PHOTO/ Lifestyle Portraits

This is where my love affair with Spandex started. Actually it was much earlier than this but this was the earliest athletic photo I could find. I think I was in 7th grade here and was a very quiet being at this point (note the awkward not sure what to do with my hands smile). I loved the discipline of gymnastics and it was the foundation that built me as an athlete.

It taught me how to calculate movement and sense where my body was in space and how to adapt to subtle coaching cues to change the outcome of whatever skill I was working on. It taught me physics before I knew what that even meant. Through gymnastics I felt gravity upside down, sideways all while moving backwards on a regular basis. It is where I first learned how to manipulate the variables of Force = Mass × Acceleration.

It was within the four walls of the chalky small town gym that I learned how to set goals and chase them; how to put in the repetitions and daily work to inch toward a larger goal.

Most importantly, gymnastics taught me that success doesn’t happen easily and not without a lot of failure first. I couldn’t even begin to guess how many times I missed skills, fell off the apparatus or crashed a landing. It would be in the thousands.

I had great coaches who invested in me as an athlete and also gave me my very first job teaching preschool gymnastics which I did off and on for a total of 10 years.

At the end of the year pictured here, I told my mom I wanted to try out for cheerleading and that if I made it I wanted to quit gymnastics. I was really shy and I wanted to put myself out there and try some new things. I made the cheer team going into 8th grade so I quit without much hesitation. Just months later over the summer of 1996 the Olympics were on and I started to regret my decision. I went back to a couple team practices 18 pounds heavier after going through puberty and gaining weight from no longer training 15-20 hours a week and realized just how important the variable mass was to the equation. It was an entirely different game. So I fully committed to cheerleading and even tried basketball which I failed miserably at and pole vault which was fun to learn but I never bothered to pursuit further.

In every athletic endeavor I have explored in my almost 38 years, gymnastics has helped me in some way and for that I will forever be grateful.

Part 2/ Cheerleading…