Getting to a place where I feel good about my body and general health has been a journey of learning and unlearning – One that I’m still traveling. Teenage Dev, like many others, had zero concept of what being truly healthy was (Dear 16 Year Old Me: That granola bar is loaded with sugar). It wasn’t until I began college that I began learning what real healthy habits were and putting effort into implementing them into my lifestyle.
I’ve always been an active person. As a tyke I took swimming lessons, karate in my tween years, track in middle school, and then theatre* in high school. When it was left up to me to take full control over my health, being my diet and my exercise, I started off with an all or nothing approach. I would go our apartment’s little gym every day for an hour and if I happened to miss a day, I would feel like I let my body down. Then I tried taking to the treadmill every day except the weekends, so that I could eat whatever I wanted on those days *eye roll*.
It was definitely a learning process, but I’m proud of myself for not giving up on getting educated about it all. Eventually I picked up a routine of cardio and weight routines, especially HIIT and plyometrics. I kept it going until I got pregnant, where the bigger my belly got, the less lifting anything I was doing. It was around this time that I began favoring more low impact exercises. By the time Layla was born, I was excited to get the green light from my doctor to pick up weights again, but after a few weeks I realized it wasn’t the same. I just wasn’t enjoying my workouts like I wanted to, which was a big cue that it was time for a change.
*Theatre may not be counted as a sport, but there’s running, heavy lifting, and I’ve seen injuries that you would find on a football field so we’re calling it a sport here.
When you think yoga, an image of a petite woman doing a crazy bendy pose on a beach with the sun rising behind her may pop in your head (Or is this just me?). While this can definitely be part of it, it’s about so much more than just bending your body into a pose. It’s about being present with yourself and being intentional with every little movement down to your breathing. If you think you can’t get a strength workout because yoga is more slow and low impact, try a power yoga class and let me know if you’ve changed your mind! There are many styles of yoga ranging from focus on strength building, flexibility, muscle rehabilitation, and just relaxing.
When I began doing yoga, I found that after a long day of wifing, moming, and bossing, it was the perfect wind-down and often helps me sleep better. If showing up for yourself, getting a wholesome workout in, and better sleep has you raising your hand saying “Yes, please!”, then you would love getting started with the Down Dog Yoga app. It’s a follow along video style and allows you to customize each practice to fit your needs. Another awesome beginner yoga resource is Yoga With Adriene, where you find free videos on her site or YouTube channel. While following an app or live video is awesome, going to a physical class every now and then is very beneficial because an instructor will be able to show you any adjustments you can make that will help you get the most out of your poses.
I still have a handy dandy dumbbell that I use for a few low impact routines that I work into my activity schedule when I’m looking for that kind of exercise and the three of us enjoy taking walks around the neighborhood as well as occasional hiking trips. These slower workouts are what I’ve really come to enjoy in this season of my life.
While I do agree that it’s important to prioritize moving your body a little bit every day, if that is going for a walk or doing a light yoga routine, I also believe in not forcing yourself to complete one particular workout. If you don’t feel like strength training one day, switch it up and go for a walk instead. If the weather isn’t prime, try a vinyasa yoga practice. Whatever your goals are for your body, you can create a workout that you will enjoy and one that will keep you feeling strong! There is no need to feel pressured into joining a gym or stocking up on home workout videos (been there, done that!). Loving your body means celebrating all that it can do, generously encouraging it to reach new milestones, and most importantly, giving it the rest it deserves.