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On pain and exercise

Jun 24, 2022

TW: childbirth, weight, intuitive eating

My youngest child was 10 pounds 12 ounces. Eleven pounds basically. I did not have a c-section. No, you didn't ask but it's usually the question that comes right after I tell anyone how much she weighed.

My first child was 9 pounds 8 ounces. That's on the bigger side, too. After that delivery I had to go to physical therapy. My pelvic bones rotated out and never rotated back. Walking was painful. When I would push my baby in a stroller, I'd lean against the handle like it was a walker.

I used to love working out. I took spin classes and Zumba. I loved circuit training, kickboxing and swimming. I lifted weights as well. I wouldn't call myself a gym rat but I spent a good amount of time there.

After my 11 ouncer working out resulted in injury. It wasn't because I pushed myself too hard. Anything I did triggered back or hip pain.

I spent one hundred bucks on one of those Beach Body programs. It demanded exercise 7 days a week. I pulled something after the first workout and was immediately out of commission.

One time? I hurt myself doing...yoga. My body never reset after childbirth. (I use to tease my kids about it but stopped after I read that moms shouldn't do that. Oops.)

I have had to downshift my exercise if I'm able to do it at all. In the past two years I've had covid, pneumonia, a diagnosis of asthma then long haul covid. I still have it. Also, I'm peri-menopausal which is a super neat addition. I am often exhausted, in pain, hormonal, having an asthma attack or taking advantage of a small window of energy. Leaning into that energy ensures I will be exhausted later.

Believe it or not I'm not complaining. I am actually reaching a point of acceptance. I'm embracing movement for movement's sake. For too long, I believed exercising had to be punishing in order for it to be effective. I didn't exercise to enjoy myself or release endorphins. I exercised to maintain my weight or repent for enjoying a good meal or dessert.

I've been following the tenants behind Intuitive Eating. Movement for movement's sake is at the core of its ideology. At the same time I've recently had a surge of consistent energy spurring me want to move every day. Coincidence? I don't know.

Reframing exercise to a dose of self care is working for me. My husband helped me see that?

"Think of it like this," he said. "Vitamins? Check. Supplements? Check. Exercise pill? Check."

Here are some of activities I've been enjoying:

New York Times Joy Workout: An 8 minute 29 second routine that with "six research-backed moves to improve your mood."

Dance party to Beyonce's Break My Soul: Queen Bey released a single and the world went wild. In this anthem she encourages us to quit our jobs and build a new foundation. She may be starting a cult. (Shhh, don't quote me.)

Walking: 15 or 20 minutes around my neighborhood or on a track is a small attainable goal that makes me feel accomplished

Chair Yoga: I take a class at the YMCA. While most of my fellow students are in their 70's I still get a good stretch and even some weight training. It's actually harder than it sounds

Nia: This is intuitive movement led by an instructor. Prompts include phrases like "Be the butterfly," or "You're a wood nymph prancing in the woods". As a former theatre major it's right up my alley. It gets my blood flowing without the pressure to follow exact steps.


I still feel pain. It's there when I don't exercise, too. I'd rather deal with pain and stretch it out than be sedentary. Overall, I am feeling better mentally and physically. I sleep better and it's been a great excuse to buy some new workout clothes.

What kind of movement makes you feel good without pressure?

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