If you would have asked me years back why fitness is important to me, I would have had one response: to look good. Exercising was something I viewed as a chore and something I just didn’t have the time for. On top of that, I have an auto-immune condition which includes joint pain and fatigue as some of its symptoms. I’ve had seasons of life that were a painful struggle to do daily tasks, such as walking up the stairs. The thought of getting into a gym or incorporating fitness in my life on a regular basis seemed completely unrealistic. I’ve always yearned to be an athlete, and was as a kid, but had accepted defeat in the fact that my body was slowly becoming more and more limited in what it could do. Mentally, I lacked the motivation and commitment to start a routine. Not to mention I had experienced large amounts of trauma in my past that I dealt with by stuffing it deep down and avoiding it at all costs. I’ve also struggled since a teen with depression and anxiety. I didn’t realize just how big of an impact this repressed trauma played a part in my physical health.
In more recent years, I realized the importance of processing things I’d experienced and working through my trauma. As I started healing my heart through avenues such as therapy, 12 step meetings, a focus on God and reducing stressors, I noticed my body becoming stronger again. 3 ½ years ago, I was even feeling good enough to start going to a bootcamp style gym. This was great, but my same motivation was lurking in the corner: losing weight to look good.
Although I still have not reached my goal on the scale, I ended up finding something even better after attending on a regular basis. This was a game changer for me mentally! It was a release I got to have each day. A space that’s just for me.
I’ve also learned a lot about trauma and just how powerful a part it plays in the mind body connection. When my body is physically stronger, I feel more motivated to care for myself mentally. Plus, I don’t have the constant distraction of chronic pain. On the other hand, when I’m caring for myself mentally and working through the trauma I experienced, I have more energy and motivation to workout. They go hand in hand. I’ve learned a lot about my body and know all too well what a huge impact stress has on me physically.
I’ve also learned how to be gentle with myself, give myself some grace and listen to my body on the days I’m not feeling well.
Some days I can lift heavy weights, (which was something I NEVER thought I’d be able to do again), and some days I need gentle yoga, a stretching session or a walk. I can’t imagine fitness not being a part of my healing now and wish I would have found it sooner. It’s one of the biggest self-care components on my healing journey both physically and mentally.