As I was doing my “fun run” through the neighborhood late last week (Monday’s Instagram post), I thought to myself…”Self, how long have you been moving just for the sake of movement”?! No goal of any kind, just exercising because I can and let me tell you how liberating and FUN it has been! It’s almost been 4 years since I was diagnosed with Crohn’s and I’M RUNNING!!!! I NEVER thought I would run again OR truly appreciate being able to move just for the sake of movement until I wasn’t able to!
In July of 2016 I was diagnosed with Crohn’s, it had been a loooong time coming. I have struggled with digestive issues the majority of my life. In my late 20’s and early 30’s they became progressively worse and eventually accompanied with total body pain and fatigue. It got to the point where I was feeling “well” one week out of each month and that was really the only time I was able to exercise without concerns of having to stop due to joint pain, extreme pain in my abdomen, sprinting to the bathroom in the middle of a run or a set, or actually having an accident (which became a pretty good joke at the gym J). My ability to recover was poor as well, if I did workout I had to be very careful with my level of intensity because it would take me almost an entire week to recover, IT SUCKED!!
The majority of my life I have been involved in higher level sports or at the least exercising for either a performance or aesthetic goal. When my body started working against me, all of that stopped, even going out for leisure jogs with friends stopped, my entire perspective on movement changed. I learned to appreciate low intensity training and recovery techniques because that was about all I could do; walking, slow flow yoga, foam rolling, etc. I was the weakest I had ever been, had lost a lot of muscle and a little bit of my identity. It took a year and a half after my diagnosis to be able to consistently move again, which meant 2-3 days per week of purposeful movement with my ONLY goal to be able to maintain THAT without pain, fatigue, or long recovery times. NOTHING like what I was used to, BUT I was grateful to be able to do something! Thinking about exercise without having a goal to win or look a certain way was foreign to me, I had never thought about the benefits of simple movement. My mood and my self-esteem were better, I had more energy, I felt accomplished and proud of myself, and I felt HEALTHY!!! Who wouldn’t want to feel these things?! Why had I spent so many years thinking of exercise as something I “had” to do and mainly as a way to look better because I’m supposed to look a certain way?! I am not knocking performance or aesthetic goals, there is NOTHING wrong with them, I encourage them and work with people to help achieve them. I also encourage people to find other reasons to exercise that will last longer than looks and a win. Movement is a privilege, to be able to move and through movement become a happier and healthier version of yourself, both physically and mentally. If you are stuck in a rut with your training or feeling defeated because you haven’t lost that 10-20lbs yet. I challenge you to change your perspective and to be grateful for your body’s ability JUST to move and to find THAT your reason to get out and exercise!