Today I went for a walk. I know that doesn’t seem like a real big thing since people walk every day. But this particular walk wasn’t a walk for fitness, or for vanity purposes (gotta walk off those cupcakes ya know). This walk was for me.
Almost 2 months ago I wrote Me and the Mat, and at the time I was full of motivation and excitement to finally be finding my groove in my fitness journey. I had surrounded myself with motivation, from the Herbalife “gotta be posting about my fitness 24/7” Facebook friends to the Instagram Health Coaches who are obsessed with “No Pain, No Gain” and “The Early Bird Gets the Worm” mantras and I was determined to be that same way. I had a goal to be fit and fantastic by the time June came around.
I downloaded the Lose It! App on my phone and tracked my meals, I did 3-5 yoga sessions a week, I was losing weight and toning up and I was hurting. I was in so much pain. I was so motivated by all the super fit gym bunnies on my social media that I forgot for a moment that their physical limits are not near what mine are. I paid for it in the form of a pain flare so intense that I was out of commission for the entire month of March.
The lesson here isn’t that I should not have set fitness goals; the lesson here is that I allowed the perception of what others see as fitness to become my perception of fitness. I mean, let’s face it, fitness and being healthy isn’t just important to people anymore; it’s a cult like mentality. It’s over run with constant posts on Facebook with check-ins saying “look at me! I’m working out!!” and pictures of all the healthy things our fitness buffs eat. It’s listening to (or reading rather) posts about how outraged the fit folk get at the cookies in their fellow shoppers grocery cart. I mean, come on, how could I not feel like I needed to step it up?
None of this is to say, of course, that they are somehow at fault for my failure here. It’s all on me. I came down so hard on myself and pushed myself to be better. And then when it didn’t work out and I had to sit out of life for a month I was outraged. I hated my body for failing me –again. I mean, doesn’t my body understand “No Pain, No Gain”? But it wasn’t my body’s fault either, it was mine. I needed to learn that for me the mantra needs to be more along the lines of “Pain = No Gain”.
This past month was my own personal version of hitting rock bottom. I could hardly walk; I couldn’t drive or lift anything. I couldn’t bend over to pick anything up and I could tolerate only 7 minutes on my feet before I was in excruciating pain. I cancelled plans after plans with friends and literally spent weeks lying down. I have never felt so insanely suffocated and hopeless in my life. Every day I would wake up and think; how am I going to get through this? When is this going to get better? I cried almost every day, pleading with my body to just stop hating me. I could feel the hopelessness of it, I’ve never felt hopeless in any of this before, but I could feel it eating away at my soul.
In the last 10 days things have gotten a lot better. I am moving around easier and I finally got to spend some time out of the house with a friend. It’s slow going and I need to be extra aware of my back especially. I still take more time-outs than normal but I am starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel here. That whole month I was resting I would think to myself the things I would do once I was able again. I would get back to yoga, and with the warmer weather coming (hopefully) I wanted to try walking a few times a week.
This morning I was up early to take A to choir practice and after catching up on a few shows and doing some work online I was feeling restless. All coffee-d up and nothing to do at 10:00 am I had this itch to go for a walk. It’s going to snow soon, wait for sunshine I thought. Today isn’t a good day for that, you’re already sore today. Don’t push it. I knew that if I walked I would pay for it later. And then, an “ah ha” moment when I realized I didn’t have to suit up in workout gear with my iPod and head out for a 45 minute power walk. I just wanted to walk.
I set my laptop down, threw on my socks and shoes, grabbed my hat and winter jacket (it’s only 32 here in MN today and we’re expecting 6-10 inches of snow by tomorrow afternoon) and my phone and I walked out the door. I didn’t have any pulse pounding music, just the sounds of the birds, the wind and the drizzling rain. I didn’t work my way up to a power walk, I just sort of wandered.
I walked around the pond by our house once, and then decided I was good for a second time around. I watched the birds flit from tree to tree making their way down the trail just in front of me. I listened to the drizzle hit the puddles, I listened to my feet hitting the ground, I listened to my body. I stopped to take a few photos along the way and found the beautiful in the still frozen pond. I found the contentment in just walking to walk and nothing more.
I had become so wrapped up in needing to be fit, needing spring to come, needing just one more thing to make me happy that I forgot how to just accept what is right now and be happy. Instead of waiting for the sunshine and warm weather to come I just went for a walk, and I really enjoyed it. Rain and pain and all.