Our Happy Healthy Series continues this month with an area of holistic health that is a real struggle for me--exercise. As someone who is a firm believer in holistic wellness, I know 100% that exercise is an essential component. Yet, if I'm being honest, I struggle. Like really struggle in this area. And I think what frustrates me most is that it hasn't always been a struggle for me. When I was a kid I was very active, and that continued throughout high school. I played volleyball competitively, danced on a team and ran track throughout my high school career. Not trying to brag, but I was quite athletic and successful in that area of life.
After high school, I started working as a dance instructor and I stayed active my freshman year at Saint Cloud State, dancing 2-3 nights per week. I took a brief break during a transition to a new college, but by my junior year I was back to dancing two nights per week and also doing pilates classes regularly. The summer after I graduated college I lived in Ventura with my parents and continued to stay active, running 1.5 miles 3-4 times per week. I continued teaching dance and running that next year and the following year after I and Shea got married.
Then June 10, 2009 Lauryn was born.
Everything changed in this area of my life after I had my first baby. There was never time to exercise (in my mind). I am certain that I did no intentional exercise her first two years of life. And by the time Lauryn was two we had adopted our second child. Between chasing a 2-year-old around and having Mikha (whose special needs were very time consuming), exercise was nowhere on my agenda. In 2012, I got pregnant with our third child (Gabby) and intentional exercise became an even more distant thought. By the time Gabby was one I had significantly changed my diet and was living a very healthy life. In fact, I had lost 52 pounds in 52 weeks without doing any intentional exercise. Food alone fueled that success. Unfortunately the discovery that food was very powerful led me to prioritize exercise even less (if that was even possible). My weight was consistent and regulated by the way I was eating and for the most part I was in really good health. Each year when Gabby celebrated a birthday, I stepped on the scale to see if it was still true that diet alone could control my weight and how I felt. In 2014 it was the same. In 2015 it was the same. In 2016 it was the same. In 2017 it was the same.
Then I turned 33.
When I stepped on the scale in October 2018, a few months after my birthday, I noticed that I had put on 5 pounds. At first I thought maybe it was just inflammation because I had been pretty lax with my diet throughout the summer and probably was drinking more wine than I needed to be. But, I figured I could just hop back on the anti-inflammatory diet wagon and the weight would fall back off. It didn't. It hasn't. It's been over 7 months and my weight hasn't budged. In fact, it has gone up another couple pounds. I know fitness and health is not about weight alone. However, I know my body is inflamed and storing fat because it feels not normal. My clothes are tight in my midsection, and it seems that what I eat is not enough to make a change in this season of life. From what I know about stress and cortisol, I'm fairly certain that this belly fat is a direct result of having abnormally high cortisol levels (due to stress) for the last 10 years. Between moving overseas with a newborn, adopting a special needs child, adding a third baby to the mix, starting a business, starting a nonprofit and keeping all the working parts in motion the last decade, my adrenal system hasn't had much of a chance. I'm realizing that although diet is an incredibly important, it is not an end all. Stress management, sleep and exercise need to be equally as important in my life. And while I've made some great improvements in the areas of sleep and stress management, exercise has continued to be an absent piece of my wellness routine.
I feel like a pretty big hypocrite actually even writing a holistic health post about exercise. However, I'm sharing transparently with the hopes that those reading will see that nobody has it all together. We all have our struggle areas in life. For me, I feel even worse about my lack of exercising because my husband is a personal trainer and does everything right in this area of wellness. However, I've decided I need to stop making excuses and start somewhere, so I guess it's timely that I share this today. My relationship with exercise is hopefully headed in the right direction. The first step is admitting you have a problem, right?
I'll let you know how it's going in a few weeks!