Workout!!! (In Moderation…)

Imagine Healthy Workouts

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Balance in working out is key to maintaining a fitness program.  That seems incredibly obvious, but if you’ve ever got caught up in a whirlwind workout program, you may understand how it becomes difficult to say, “I’m good; that’s enough.”  I learned this the hard way, building myself up to a crazy-intense workout load, including daily weight-lifting, dance, slacklining, Bikram yoga, 10-35 mile runs, rowing machines, Zumba, and (yes, there’s more…) driving a rickshaw pedicab nearly every night.  Eventually, my body called time-out and stopped me in my tracks.

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I mourned my loss of running, missed my pedicab adventures, and fought the blues as I came down from my ten-year beta-endorphin high.  For a time, everything hurt, sleep was difficult, I was in the midst of a major post-running pout, and my over-the-top workouts were replaced by a few months of marathon Netflix binges. I’d gone at it all-or-nothing, and I found myself in a nothing phase. I felt a bit lost and empty, a gaping hole where running used to be. And my answer to not being able to do everything all the time was to do nothing often.  Not a sustainable plan, either, I soon learned. Something had to change.

I ventured back to the gym; I looked around at the happy people who apparently weren’t training for hundred-milers or trying to max out the squat press machine. People who could sit in the sauna, as opposed to having to do an intense yoga flow at 105*F.  They seemed to be having fun, actually.  Apparently, it didn’t need to be all or nothing.  Doing it all, too often, too hard, and too much, broke my bones and pulled my ligaments, displaced parts, and tore me away from almost everything else in my life. But doing nothing left me in a horrid blue funk.

I realized I had built my persona, and a bit of my ego, around the fact that I was (so I thought) physically invincible, able to run a 50K training run and pop out a nice weights workout before jumping on a rickshaw and pullin’ hard for 8-10 hours.  Sleep?  That was for the weak; I napped between physical exertions.  Heavens, it had become my whole entire life! Until that day when I couldn’t even make it down the steps after walking three blocks to work.

My world had been turned upside-down by the inevitable, and I’d not even realized I was creating the dilemma until it was too late.  I cried as my third-opinion doctor told me I ~really, REALLY~ shouldn’t run anymore, considering what I’d done to the bones in my left leg and foot.  I fell off the fitness chart for six months, feeling like a workout superwoman whose cape was viciously ripped off her back unexpectedly in the midst of a simple stroll.  I lost my superpowers, and a big part of my identity, with the finality of an x-ray which showed definitively that I had overdone it for too long. I felt at a loss, not really knowing how to structure my days without the crazy back-to-back workouts. I had it in my head that if I couldn’t run, it wasn’t even worth picking up my lightest dumbbell.

Slowly, out of boredom and frustration, I finally reconnected…first with yoga, then brought dance back into my life, and finally got back to the gym–and am in the process of creating a more sustainable fitness program for my journey through the next half of my life. I found out (stubborn as I am), that I can still throw down a 20-miler without warning, but actually enjoy a gentle 5k more because it doesn’t leave me in piercing pain for a week.  I was fortunate; I got to do some cool physical adventures and, who knows, perhaps medical science with the cure for all my breaks, rips and tears someday so I can pop out a quick marathon on my 102nd birthday.  Or maybe not, and that would be okay.  For now, the goal is to lovingly heal my body back into shape, with a more gentle, sustainably physical lifestyle.  I’ll share what I’ve learned, and what I learn on the way, in hopes that my journey helps you develop your own healthy and sustainable fitness lifestyle.

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