Monday, August 15, 2011

Learning to Balance

With pregnancy, I knew a lot of things would change. I knew I would need to adjust and go with the flow. But I didn't realize that one of my main sources of confidence, self-esteem, and mental therapy would be drastically different.

I've been involved in sports and fitness for as long as I can remember. And even when I've stepped away from it for a time, I've always gone back. There's something about pushing your body to its limits that makes you feel humbled and stronger in the same moment. Knowing that, if you wanted to, you could take off on your own two feet and run until you felt like stopping, and then knowing you will have the strength to turn around and run back home. Seeing yourself in the mirror as you lift a weight that's always been too heavy for you before today. Feeling a difference in your shape, your endurance, and your mood.

When I had my miscarriage last fall, I used the gym as a therapist's office. When I was upset, depressed, and lost I ran and I lifted until I was too tired to feel anything. Along the way I got my strength back, both physically and mentally. I was able to run and push myself through the tunnel to the other side.

Now that I'm pregnant again (and halfway through!) I feel like I'm starting over again. For the first few months I felt too nauseated to get off the couch, let alone get myself out the door. Now that I'm in the second trimester and feeling better, I'm trying to get back into the habit of going to the gym each morning, but it's difficult. Despite all I've said, I really don't like working out on a daily basis. It can get monotonous and routine, just like anything else.

When I do manage to drag my lazy ass to the gym, I have to learn how to balance the intensity I love with the limits of my body. I feel like I can only do a half-assed workout, because I'm afraid of pushing myself too hard. But those kinds of workouts are boring, and barely worth getting to the gym for. Moves that are quick to show results (read: painful) like squats and lunges are hard to do when I'm becoming more and more off-balance. So I trade those in for wall squats, which are just as painful if you do them long enough, but don't feel like they hit the same intensity level.

When I was at the gym 5 or 6 days I week I was taking a lot of group classes, which were a great way to keep me motivated and moving throughout the day and the actual workout. But since taking a few months off, I'm not sure if it would be a good idea to go back to those now, halfway through my pregnancy. I know everything you were doing prior is fine to do during, but what about when you took a couple months off in between?

The one exercise routine that feels the best and makes me feel as though I've gotten a great workout is yoga. I simultaneously feel loose and strong, relaxed and energized. I'm so glad I started to do this before I was pregnant so I knew what to expect, and it's given me such a great base that I feel I can still maintain throughout pregnancy. But I can't do yoga every day because if I don't mix things up I get bored.

And now, when something hurts, I don't push through it. General muscle strain, sure, but not any sort of pain around the abdomen that feels somewhat questionable. Before, pain was a measure of how hard I had worked. Now it's a way to tell me to slow down and not push it too far. I'm trying to meet my old fitness routine in the middle with this new one, but it's hard and somewhat frustrating.

Have any of you experienced this? What did you do to get back on track? How did you cope with your new limitations?

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