Jessica's Recovery: Month 6

Stress. It really kills. We discredit how much it can affect our lives and our workouts but it really can derail everything. Month 6 I hit a wall and crashed emotionally and physically. With Covid-19 running through our world, my stress built - I also added more things to my plate - I could no longer go to the gym, so I was trying to fit my workouts in at home with kids. I also was adding in two pumping sessions to try to build up an extra supply for my baby in case I got sick and had to be separated. Work was also getting hard to fit in due to not having some occasional evenings to myself because my husband was no longer leaving occasionally in the evenings. Oh, yeah I was also walking 2 miles a day. I was starting to feel the stress of my workouts but didn’t pay attention. I would get done with my workout and I would have crazy neck tightness. I pushed it away and ignored. I decided to move onto Momfit 5 and that increased the neck tightness - I even got a terrible migraine - but still I ignored it. Momfit is so much fun, I didn’t want to face my weaknesses and just plow through.

Then the straw came that broke the camel’s back. I decided that I should probably make my husband and I some masks. Adding that task to my current load seemed unfathomable, not to mention I just wanted to sit and cry and cry as I went through my fabric stash trying to pick out cute options. All I could think about was all the women who came before me and would do what they could during crisis, knitting socks, wrapping bandages. I felt incredibly guilty that I had the skills and the fabric to make masks for nurses and people on the front lines of the virus but just couldn’t...I could barely make them for my family.

I ended up reaching out and asking for help - help with workouts, and clarification on what I needed to be focusing on workwise. I did a 1 on 1 with Anna and she put me through my paces. I had been really struggling with single leg bridges - I had been working on them for months and just not getting them - we came up with a plan. I put a pause on Momfit and started revisiting some of the basics. Anna assigned me to Untwisting for a week, and then to go through PFP Advanced workouts - the first time I ran through untwisting - it felt easy - and it felt like my hips had blown their nose. Next time - my left hip flexor screamed and screamed at me - she encouraged me to slow down- really work through all the steps. I also realized I have been terrible at videoing and posting in the group to ask for advice.

I am not perfect and I still need help!

I posted videos and worked through her tips. Oh goodness, it was so hard to slow down. In the beginning it felt great because I felt like I had a plan - but then slowing down and working through things was so hard! I had to stop and really stare at my weaknesses in the face and that was really uncomfortable.

I also started looking at my life and taking things off of my plate. I remembered from things that Sarah has said and a book that I read called “Burnout” by Emily Nagoski, that our bodies can handle only so much stress. Either it be “good” stress from workouts or “bad” stress from our life, our body has a limit. There is a time to go hard on workouts but the rest of our lives need to be the kind where we could support that stress. As a mom, with two small children - one that physically is still supported by my body - that takes a toll. When I used to train for marathons, I would need the time to sleep, to rest and recover. My body is still healing and recovering from carrying two children, it physically just can’t handle hard cardio workouts, or heavy lifts right now - And that's ok. I will have the season for that - and I can still maintain muscle and get stronger. It just looks different - It looks slower and more meditative.

With this in mind I stopped pumping, I had built up a supply in the freezer of 100 oz - not my initial goal of 2 weeks worth of milk but definitely enough for an emergency. I started slowing down on the walks. If I got it in, great. If not - that was fine! I started to realize that I also had not been eating enough - I was so stressed that my body was suppressing hunger. Workouts started being enjoyable again. Instead of working through them fast, I was working on exercises throughout the day, in bits and pieces - revisiting hands and knees and making sure I videoed everything, or at least had my phone out with the camera on so I could see where I was cheating. I also put my children and myself on more of a schedule and majorly cut down on screen time. Before we let our toddler watch tv whenever he wanted and he was getting so cranky, I also had no time to do anything. Funny how that works. I decided to only do screen time during times when my youngest was napping so I would have set “work times” and have both kids hopefully occupied.

These changes started to pay off. I was able to stop and notice cheats. My serratus started finally catching up in strength. My abs started responding better. I was able to have the head space to work through my neck tightness in lat pulls. I had to drop down to the very lightest band! But I figured out my cheats in that exercise! My pushups started responding as well! I have also been struggling with neck tightness there as well but because I have taken the time to slow down I figured out that my chest needed to be stronger, and my head needed to come up more when I tried them.

I saw this quote the other day that really resonated with me.

“Discomfort is the price of admission to meaningful life”. (Susan David)

I used to think that this applied to cardio. That we just needed to push through the pain to get that run in, or finish that marathon no matter the cost. Now I relate this to slowing down and making sure my body is responding well and paying attention to ensure it is using the right muscles. It really was uncomfortable to stop and slow down and focus on my weaknesses. It is much more fun to ignore and just push through! I am finding instead that this break to work on weaknesses, and down regulate stress is exactly what I need in this season.I needed to take the time to stare at my whole self and sit in the discomfort of my weaknesses, not wallow in them but lovingly slowly tweak things so that my body can be better, stronger.

My body is responding - Over the last month I lost a whole inch around the top of my pelvis and an inch in my bust! This tells me that along with stopping pumps (so my boobs are just smaller) that working on the basics was changing the structure of my bones! My hips are changing and my rib cage is getting smaller!! Which is huge in moving forward in helping my whole body work together better!

I didn’t want to slow down and pay attention to my weaknesses, in my life or in my workouts...but in the end it's paying off. Is it fun? - not all the time but I am seeing fruit and I know my future self will thank me.

Wins from this month

-better ab engagement

-better arch engagement from waking up my glute medius in untwisting

-hamstrings waking up and in turn making my glutes work so much better!

-I am staying on top of neck tightness!

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