Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should… I think about this idea, especially when it comes to exercise. It came up for me recently, because I started experiencing some minor pain and swelling in my fingers. I haven’t had pain in my fingers in about a year. Something I’m incredibly proud of —> progress!
Last month, I added some yoga been back to my weekly routine, in addition to my usual strength workouts, and have really been enjoying it. So when the pain and swelling made its appearance last weekend it made me stop and think.
I feel as though we’re bombarded with messages and images of doing more, doing “it” no matter what, pushing ourselves through the pain, going after “it”, crushing “it”, work hard, play harder, and on and on and on…
Of course these media message are certainly my interpretation, but I doubt I’m alone in the ideas that I’m about to share. What if I didn’t listen to my body, where I’m at right now at this moment in my life? What if I just listened to the media messages, as many women do, and always went after “it”, and worked my body harder and harder and harder everyday. For what? What are we all chasing?
A particular body composition? Thin-ness? Beauty? Self-esteem? Acceptance? Confidence? Strength? Endurance? What if all of this “hard work” and go-go-go attitude of working through the pain leaves me exhausted and in worse health? But I still went for it, right?
I don’t know about that anymore. In my 20s and 30s, I definitely pushed my body beyond its limits because I thought that was the ONLY WAY to reach my goals. And I’m here to tell you, 10 and 20 years later, that it’s not.
For many years I did every 5K, 10K, half marathons and triathlons known to mankind because I thought I had to, to show my athleticism, to show that I still had “it” – whatever “it” was, even though I was getting older, even though I became a mom. I thought I had to do these things to stay fit through all of the ups and downs and stages of life as a woman, in a woman’s body. But I wasn’t listening to my body. I wasn’t honoring anything.
Speaking of honoring anything, I certainly didn’t give my body the grace and time that was needed during either postpartum period. I chased my “pre-baby” body, whatever that means, trying hard to get my “body back,” even though it actually never went anywhere. It was right in front of me the entire time.
It’s all bullshit.
You don’t have to work harder because someone else or some media message or some societal standard is telling you to. You should listen to your body and do what makes you happy. Period.
You don’t have to run a freakin’ road race just because everyone else is or to be considered an athlete. What about those of us that are just as athletic, but genuinely dislike running? We’re still athletes.
You don’t have to do Crossfit if you don’t want to, or perform circuits, or do HIIT workouts if you don’t want to, just because someone else is doing it, or someone else achieved some desired result in doing so. It is a great sport for some? Sure. Is it for everyone? Nope.
We need to find what makes us genuinely happy and uniquely us, and do that, consistently, day after day, year after year, for longevity and health. If some desired goals are achieved, even better, but the driving force should be for you to determine and only you, not because someone else or some message is telling you to.
And if you miss a day. Or a week, or even a month. It is okay. You’re not a bad person. You’re not suddenly going to be any less of a person because you rested your body or god forbid, listened to your body.
Autoimmune disease is silent. It’s hidden. It’s invisible. If I didn’t tell you, you wouldn’t know that I have not one, but two of them. I never, ever have used this reality as an excuse for anything, and I certainly don’t let it define me, but these diseases have taught me so much. If I just constantly hit my workouts hard day and and day out, I would be sick and exhausted and useless. It’s taken many, many years of learning to really listen to what my body is telling me from within. It’s a process that takes time. Am I perfect at it? No. Am I always working on it? Yes.
Slowing down and listening takes a lot of patience. The ebbs and flows in life are real and meant to be honored and embraced. Not ignored and “pushed through the pain.”
So just because I can practice yoga and lift weights with pain and swelling in my hands, should I? Nope. I should stop, listen and wait.
I hope this resonates with some and gives you the power to choose what works for you. Do we all need some good positive motivation and butt-kicking sometimes, sure maybe some of us, but what we all really need is to LISTEN. The truth lies within us all.