The unreasonable number on the scale dogged me, and I increasingly viewed it and myself with loathing. I believed the story my brain was telling me: I should work harder. I should be thinner by now. I was pissed off at my body and figured it deserved punishment. So, I tried that.
By spring 2012, you’d find me working out two, sometimes three, times a day: six days a week of Method 360, daily power walks, a little spinning, and lots of vigorous vinyasa yoga. The number should've been moving faster, so obviously I was doing something wrong. Running must be the only option to get this fat off of me, I told myself. So, I tried that. But, Jen Liddy running is not a good time: it’s painful to do; it’s painful to watch, but I thought I should try it.
My body rebelled as I punished it. My hips hurt; plantar fasciitis was settling in. My herniated disc was not happy, and my psoas muscles were yelling so loudly that I went for an MRI. I broke down one day during a personal training session with Trish, and we spent the hour trying to figure out why my body wasn’t responding to exercise.
When Trish heard what I’d been doing to my body, she was horrified. We did a test to figure out my optimal heart rate. She wanted to know where my fat burning zone was, because apparently it’s different for everyone! After 20 years of hearing that I should be in the 85% heart rate zone with everyone else in the room, I was shocked to learn that my particular body would not let go of fat if I pushed my heart rate too high.
She put me on an exercise diet...kind of a fatigue-junkie rehab. I was only ‘allowed’ to do Method 360 classes 3 to 4 times a week. And because my body loves & responds to yoga, I was to commit to practicing 2 to 3 time a week. Other days I could supplement my fitness routine with interval power walks, low impact & filled with hills. Trish strongly suggested I stop trying to run. “Your body doesn’t like it,” she said. ‘No kidding!’, I thought. I had never given myself permission to do what my body liked.
Hearing that I could respect my body’s preferences for exercise was a shock to me. It was empowering to realize that my body was only physiologically responding to what it needed. It needed respect, but instead I was beating it up for not fitting into the story in my head about what it should be doing.
Is it hard to give up the high of a Method 360 class six days a week? Is it hard to know that I can’t work as fast & furiously as others in a class because then I’m outside of my fat burning zone? Is it hard to baby my body through a class some days to protect it? YES. It’s hard because I am bumping up against my ego. And then I remind myself of my long-term goal: I want to come back & play again tomorrow, without a limp, without pain, without surgery on my back. And I know no one else is here judging me except me.
So I ask you, “What story are you telling yourself?” Stop punishing yourself and figure out what your body needs! What does it like, what does it respond to, and what does it rebel against? If you are struggling with a similar issue, talk to us here: we have ALL been through this: Trish, Leslie, and me. You deserve to stop ‘shoulding’ all over yourself!