My Fitness and movement journey has been nothing short of interesting!
Like many Canadian parents, mine put me into figure skating lessons to learn the basics of skating. As someone who has been athletically inclined from a very young age, the grace needed for figure skating did not come naturally to me. I was also quite the tomboy even around that time when I was likely in kindergarten and I hated wearing frilly outfits.
So naturally, I was put into gymnastics which went just as swimmingly! I even made my mom buy me a different practice uniform so I didn’t have to wear the “girly” one that everyone else wore. I think I literally cried every time I went to a class.
In the summers I was naturally put into soccer where you basically just run around in a circle and kick a ball. I didn’t love soccer but I feel like it’s just one of those things a lot of kids do when they are really young to learn basic coordination and teamwork skills and likely let their parents get some much needed time to sit for a solid 30 minutes.
Into elementary school, I joined some teams like volleyball, basketball, track and field (which I am pretty sure everyone was forced to do), hockey, and at one point ringette outside of school.
I started to excel at things like hockey and track and field which was a great outlet for my competitive nature. During my late elementary school years and high school years, I started to train more competitively which meant more gym workouts, cross-training, traveling, etc. At one point my poor mom was driving me an hour away during school nights to train at an indoor track and in hockey when I was playing more competitively, I was driving a good 40 minutes just for home games and practices, not including the away games. Even when I decided to stop playing hockey competitively and moved to my hometown, there was still a decent amount of travel due to the lack of girls' hockey teams.
With that being said, these experiences from a young age taught me to work hard and train hard. That is all good and dandy, but what came with that was pushing myself to the point of injuries. Of course, there are the types of injuries that are inevitable but with track and field especially, I started to get consistent pain in my shins, ankles, and feet.
In high school and especially in university, I also developed poor posture from hunching over and studying but it was also during this time I started going to the gym more. After quitting track, I also turned to long-distance running which eventually led to physiotherapy and laying off all physical activity for quite some time.
This is when things got rough. For starters, I realized that exercise and movement were a huge form of stress relief for me and allowed me to get outside, even in the dead of winter. But the big piece is that I realized I was wrapped up in this identity of being athletic and being one of the best. Even when I went to the gym by myself, I still wanted to be the fastest, hardest working, etc., which was strange because I truthfully didn’t pay attention to what anyone else was doing at the gym. I was simply competing with myself.
When I was able to get back into the gym, my shoulders and neck were a wreck, which was something I had been dealing with since probably grade 7-8, and my knees had pain from track and field and long-distance running as an adult. Instead of easing into exercise and movement and focusing on mobility, I went into high-intensity interval training (HIIT) which is something that us type-A personalities love. It’s about moving hard and hard and requires intensity.
More injuries, more physio, even tendonitis in both wrists and elbows from using my wrists instead of engaging my shoulders and of course tension and tight muscles everywhere. Then it hurt to OPEN DOORS.
At the time I was frustrated but I realize now that I had to get to that low in order to realize that it's much better to LISTEN TO YOUR BODY and ease off then push through.
Once I was able to get to the point of moving again I decided to add a lot more walking, only about 1-4 runs per month, HIIT workouts about 2 times a week, and the rest, whatever I feel like. I also don’t feel guilty for being lazy for taking multiple days off now.
Keep in mind, this is something that took YEARS for me to realize, so if you are currently going through this mentality and feel guilty and lazy if you don’t work out or want to push yourself to the max, it’s not something that is going to change overnight. It also came with accepting my body when it’s less toned and muscular which I was used to my whole life.
Just be mindful and ask yourself why you are moving, if you need to move, how hard you need to move and if you need a day or multiple days off.