Without that training, I am confident that I would have gone downhill fast. I was largely in denial, avoidance, and deep pain. I lost who I was, and movement helped me find it again.
Many of us call it exercise. At least, I did. However, what is good for our body made not be exercise in the form we think of it -- it may not fit for us to spend hours on a cardio machine or in front of the squat rack. That's what we think of when we think of exercising. Some may even associate it with misery. I know I have in the past.
Many of my clients are missing this piece of their wedge in their life. After working with wellness advocated, Jen Nobo , I have started using the term "movement" instead of exercise. Movement means how it sounds: it means to move.
Movement for me has taken many forms:
In junior high, I moved in the form of weightlifting in a local club and by playing softball.
high school, I moved in volleyball, basketball, and dance team.
In college, I moved by running too many miles a day and used it as a form of punishment.
In grad school, I moved rarely.
Post-graduate school, I worked in gyms.
Movement has been healthy and unhealthy for me. I have used it as an all-or-nothing way of living like I did in many other areas. However, in 2015, movement saved my life.
After experiencing trauma in 2014, I spent that year in denial, loss, and confusion. I was just surviving. I quit being a therapist. I worked in two gyms and nannied to figure out what my next move was. I was a mess, like many of us and my clients are after having something completely unexpected happen in their lives.
That same summer, my friend Shawna (pictured above) briefly stated in passing that she was going to start training to run a marathon, and I without hesitating said I'd join.
The training started out running 3 miles, 3 times per day. Just finishing the 3 miles, whether you had to walk or not, was the goal. It eventually worked its way up until one Saturday, I ran 18 miles in preparation.
Movement helped me trust my body after I lost complete faith in it. Movement helped me push my mental state to more than it could have ever done otherwise. Movement helped me get more in tune with nature--it forced me to see things, to get out of the house and more importantly, out of my own head.
Movement saved my life. After completing the marathon, hallucinating a little, running next to a man in a wheelchair, and so many other ah-ha moments, I found myself as I crossed a finish line I wasn't sure I'd ever reach.
Isn't that how life is? We don't think we can do it until we've put in the work and crossed the finish line. We wonder if we can do it as we're doing the hard work, but after it's done, the joy we feel is indescribable.
Now, for me, movement isn't about running a marathon or long distances --though it is for many!-- Movement is more about becoming stronger with weights, the occasional barre class, joining a gym that I actually like, and figuring out what else my body can do--because I can trust it and it deserves the best.
What's stopping you from incorporating movement into your life?
What is one small step you could do to begin to incorporate it?
It doesn't have to be a marathon, a gym membership, or a fitness competition. It can be as simple as a walk around the block, a yoga class with goats, or seeing how many push-ups you can do. It can be stretching, cycling, or barre. It can be running. It can be lifting. It can be doing squats with your baby on your hip.
Movement saved my life. Given the chance, what can it do for you?
Robin Helget, LMSW, CPT