Exercise has been a crucial part of my weight loss journey. It was torture to move all 303 pounds of me originally, but I soon became addicted. I loved the feeling of accomplishment after a good cardio session. The more I lost, the more confidence and motivation I acquired- especially when I discovered my first “runner’s high.” For those that haven’t herd this term, it refers to the feelings of euphoria and reduced anxiety after a long and effective aerobic workout.
As I rounded 150 pounds, I looked forward to my daily 3.3 mile walks. I’d pop Anna in the baby carrier and take her right with me. Bonding, euphoria, weight loss- what could go wrong?
..Until the “POP.”
I wasn’t lifting, or twisting, or doing anything unfamiliar. I was just wearing my 9 month old in the baby carried when I herniated a disk in my back. Driving and sitting is excruciating. I was put on a weight lifting ban, and started physical therapy.
It’s been a few months now, and the pain comes and goes. From what I understand, when the disk bulges on the nerve it causes electric pain in my back and leg. When it’s closer to where it’s supposed to be, I have less pain.
The injury has forced me to change my workout routine- but there’s no way in hell I’m giving up. I can’t imagine carrying those extra 153 pounds around ever again. I will not go back.
So what’s plan ‘B?’ I still walk, but I have to use the stroller or wagon for Anna. Unfortunately that means I cant take her on the track with me at the gym. I’m totally digging HIIT workouts at home. I use a free app as a timer. I warm up with 15 minutes of cardio, then lift and and move in intervals with the timer. I’m careful with lifting, and cross reference with my physical therapist if I’m unsure. For cardio I walk outside with Anna, do step inside, and lots of jumping jacks.
The best thing for my back pain has been yoga. I’ve loved the relaxing aspect of yoga for years, but now that my body is aging I have a new appreciation for the stretching.
This is the routine I’ve found most helpful for back pain:
- Child’s pose – best stretch ever, and great for mental grounding.
- cat/cow pose – gets disks moving and warms up the surrounding muscles.
- downward dog– stretches my back and spine, and often puts enough distance between the vertebrae for my disk to work it’s way back to its painless place.
- Windshield wiper– slow stretches for yoga, slow tight sets for an awesome ab workout.
- repeat child’s pose
- end with shavasana, relax, meditate. Let you back muscles rest for a few moments. enjoy the peacefulness and rest.
Yoga and distance cardio (or HIIT) have been my winning combination lately. As with anything, if you’re hurting consult a doctor.
Just to bring this all full circle, I’d love to tell you how exercise and yoga affect mood. Endorphins released during physical activity diminish the perception of pain- some say it even mimics morphine. It’s been scientifically proved that activity reduces stress when used as an outlet, decreases anxiety and depression, boosts self- esteem, increases productiveness, and creates opportunity for more restful sleep. It increases your energy to assist with depression and lowers blood pressure to ease anxiety. Physically, it strengthens your heart, improves various muscle tones, and makes you feel fit and healthy.
Whether you’re looking for physical or emotional benefits, exercise is the way to go. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, out of shape, or don’t know where to start- start small. Go for a walk. Stretch. Lift a gallon of milk a few times. Tomorrow, walk longer. Stretch deeper. Do a few more reps with the milk. I promise if you just take one extra step each day, you’ll soon be confident enough to try new things.
Believe in yourself as much as I believe in you. You deserve health, you deserve happiness. You can do this.
With healthy hearts,
Kate and the Kids.