Moving towards health and wellness is definitely a holistic process; one that calls on patience, self-love, forgiveness, and grace. About 10 years ago, I was hitting the gym 5 days a week and I felt pretty good about my health. Fast forward to desk job, a little one, 6 years worth of 2 hour/day commutes, a lifestyle that wasn’t super active, lots of wine, and a diet that wasn’t always consistent with the most nourishing foods.
Increasingly, my ability to manage my stress also began to wain, I was feeling more overwhelmed by the littlest things and I found making decisions, no matter how small, very hard. I always prided myself on being easy going; very little bothered me. I was able to let most things roll off my back, so these new feelings, well…didn’t feel so good and I didn’t like it.
The more overwhelmed and stressed I felt, the more tired I became, which kept me less active and also more likely to make unhealthy food choices as I was seeking my go-to comfort foods (that coincidentally enough, involved little to no decision making).
It’s been 2 years since I began my studies with CSNN as Holistic Nutritionist. While I still had the 2 hour/day commute to a desk job, we slowly been changing the quality of foods that we have in our home. We have a beautiful backyard garden that my partner works so hard on to ensure that we can pick vegetables any time. Don’t get me wrong, you may find me eating a bag of chips for dinner one night or having an extra glass or two of wine, but I’m working on it.
Over time, while I work on the nutrition and movement side of things, more importantly, I need to work on moving myself out of sympathetic nervous system (stress response) and more into my parasympathetic system (rest and digest), or things will only improve so much.
As a result of my lifestyle, my body began to yell at me. Besides needing my gallbladder removed 5 or 6 years ago, my feet, knees, shoulders, and lower back were also beginning to talk to me a little louder in expressing it’s unhappiness. While I would try different things, like the treadmill, walking, etc. I gave up soon after starting because it caused too much pain, and not the “hurts so good” pain from a good workout, but rather a “my feet and knees hurt so bad when I get out of bed that I have to psych myself up to put my feet on the ground” pain. So I would stop; partly from the pain and fear of doing actual damage, but also partly because it was easier to do nothing.
As I approached my 39th birthday, and I looked at my amazing 7 year old daughter, I knew I needed to do something; I needed to be a strong role model for her. I know things will only change more as I hit 40 so it was now or never and I do not want to age where I can’t play with my daughter. I want to play and travel with my family, I want us to hike to the summit of Gros Morne in my home province of Newfoundland next time we’re home. I also look at my mother, who is now in her sixties, battled cancer only a few years ago and I see how she continues to have what seems like an endless supply of energy. I want to have the energy and stamina to play and run with my daughter and be able to get on the ground and not have my body yell when I stand.
So I made the decision to do something about it, but I knew that I could not do it on my own. I needed help, support, and accountability. I met my personal trainer just before I went on vacation where we completed a physical assessment and discussed some goals. I’ve seen her a few times over the past few weeks since my return from holidays. It has been such an experience already. While I went in wanting to focus on strength and flexibility, she prioritized moving me out of pain first. What a humbling journey I have now embarked on.
As I work with her, we are going slow. As we work to lengthen and release the tight and congested muscles, I am finding that I need to release so much more than simple tight muscles. I have to release long held emotions and the guilt that I “let” my body get to this point, I have to forgive myself and enter this processes with grace. In releasing the physical tensions, I am learning to really listen and tune into my body. I am growing more aware that there is more than just physical stress bound up in those tight and constricted muscles and joints, there’s a lot of bound up emotion; perhaps fears, sadness, or simply all of those that have gone unexpressed. As I release more physically, my emotions are coming to the surface. I do not over think or analyze them, I just sit with them and trust that I will learn from all of this what I need to. I am grateful for my trainer and I look forward to this part of my journey.