Learning To Respect My Body

I haven’t run in almost two weeks. TWO WEEKS. Do you to know when the last time was that I didn’t run for two weeks? Before running even became my passion at least two years ago. And even then, I usually ran a couple of times a week on the treadmill.

So honestly, I can’t even remember the last time.

Yes, I’m going a little stir crazy. Yes, the elliptical is getting old. Yes, I wish I could feel that post run high every morning. Yes, I miss running like crazy. But this is what my body needs and I’m finally in a place that I am finding joy in treating my body with respect.

About two weeks ago I woke up with a pretty bad pain in my lower back/hip region and, as I typically do, I ignored it. I thought “ugh what a nuisance today is leg day. I love leg day. I can’t just not do legs.”

So that’s what I did. Weighted squats, walking lunges, sumo squats… I did the whole nine yards. The pain was still there, so naturally I thought it would be a GREAT idea to then go run my usual 4 miles out on the pavement after legs as well.

Worst. Idea. Ever.

I’m sure my stubbornness that first day is what has caused the pain to last so long, but I truly believe it’s been a blessing in disguise.

I’ll be the first to admit that last school year and summer my relationship with working out was insane. I obsessively worked out, I would have so much anxiety if I didn’t workout in the morning (even if I just pushed it off to after class) that I would sometimes have to leave class, I pushed my body to its limits no matter what aches and pains I had… It was a nightmare. It was literally sucking the life out of me.

IMG_6300.jpg

And okay yes, I still workout a lot, I still stick to a pretty strict weekly weight training schedule and I still LOVE exercising (especially at 6AM), but it’s my mindset around it that has changed drastically.

I no longer feel like working out at 6AM is something I have to do; it’s something I genuinely want and love to do. I no longer push my body to complete exhaustion; if I’m tired, I take it easier. I no longer force myself to run at an extremely fast pace; I listen to my body and if it’s telling me to go slower, I comply. I no longer workout so that my body looks a certain way; I workouts so that my body and mind feel a certain way. I no longer feel like a slave to my workouts; as cheesy as it sounds, I feel like my workouts set me free, clear my mind and help me conquer every day with confidence and positivity.

Around this time last year, during spring break, I developed some sort of ankle injury (I’m never quite sure how I hurt myself LOL) and, once again, stubbornly kept running on it. After the second day of limping my way through my runs and workouts, my mom finally told me I couldn’t run on it the rest of the week. I remember pretty much laying on my bed feeling sorry for myself (yes, there were some tears) for an entire day. How could I just not run? The idea literally baffled me. But, because mothers know best (especially mine), I took cycling classes at the gym all week instead of running and, of course, it got better much faster than if I had kept running on it. But, during that entire week I remember just wishing I could be running and being beyond annoyed that I couldn’t be out doing what I love the most.

IMG_6318.jpg

So here I am one year later with another mystery injury, but this time there was no feeling sorry for myself, no moping around and no one telling me I had to stop doing the workouts that hurt me. After that first stubborn day, I knew I had to switch up my workouts for as long as it takes to heal.

And you know what? I’ve been loving taking care of my body these last two weeks and being in-tune with what it’s telling me.

I’ve been stretching every morning and night, getting my cardio in on the elliptical, taking it extremely easy on leg day, focusing on my form while lifting so I don’t hurt my back and going on more walks throughout the day to keep my hip lose. And it feels dang good.

These last two weeks have kind of been a wake-up call – I’ve been taking my good physical health for granted. I do everything in my power to make sure my health in all other aspects is being taken care, but I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t take the necessary steps to making sure my muscles and joints are healthy.

I had begun neglecting stretching, I never foam rolled, I would push my body to use heavy weights even if I was still sore and I would run even when I wasn’t 100% mentally feeling it.

IMG_6330.jpg

Now that I think about it and have been forced to take it back a notch and truly listen to my body these last two weeks all I can think is, WHAT THE HECK WAS I DOING?!

Thankfully my hip/back is feeling a lot better, but I’ve learned my lesson and I’ll be taking probably at least another week off of running to make sure I don’t aggravate it again. As much as I miss running, I know my health is so much more important. And I've gotten pure joy out of knowing that I'm giving my body what it needs.

So take this as your reminder to listen to your body, respect your body and do what’s going to be best for your body. Maybe that means taking an extra rest day, maybe that means ditching the heavy weights and doing some HIIT instead, maybe that means picking up some heavy weights and ditching cardio. Whatever your body feels like doing, do that. Your body deserves the best care possible. And if you’re feeling 100%, don’t take that for granted. :)

XO nat