Back in November 2017, I had a movement routine I was really enjoying. I was walking along the beach, had a regular yoga practice, and had started to take group classes. I was pleased with my flexibility, stamina, and energy. Then I sustained a serious back injury during a class.
I was so disappointed that I needed to stop my regular activities, but I was unsure of what would be okay for me to do. I would walk occasionally or take a relaxing yoga class, but my muscles were weakening in the confines of a brace that supported my back.
My orthopedic physician referred me to physical therapy for a few months which helped immensely. It gave me a more positive perspective about what I was able to do. It was this encouragement in a safe setting that helped me to move forward and toward getting stronger. Even though I was there for physical therapy I found it to be psychologically therapeutic, too!
In a two-part blog post, I’ll share several tools that helped me get back to activity:
Using the right language
At a recent professional training with The International Association Of Eating Disorders Professionals (iaedp) in Orlando, I heard registered dietician Megan Kniskern from ViaMar Health speak about incorporating movement and exercise into eating disorder recovery.
She offered an idea that I’ve been sharing with clients for many years, and that’s the importance of using the terms “activity” and “movement” versus “exercise” (sounds too much like “exert”) or “working out” (sounds too much like “work”), which are not the best words to encourage self-compassion and self-kindness.
Focusing on the benefits
Megan highlighted some motivating points about the value of movement and activity, such as:
- Social engagement (just being in the presence of others taking a class or on our walking route helps keep us from isolation)
- Confidence (some movements help us straighten up our posture, feel stronger, and feel good about our accomplishments and how we’ve followed through with our plans)
- Health markers (even small changes to physical activity can affect lab test results – I have seen this happen in both directions)
- Well-being (it feels good to feel good, and energy is a precious commodity in our warp-speed culture)
While weight or appearance may change as per the medical goals we are working towards, the reasons above are what truly motivate us the most.
Having movement mentors
I remember my parents were very active for fun and socialization. They played tennis and in my childhood we traveled for my father and brother to play in table tennis tournaments. My mother took yoga and later taught yoga. She took walks along the boardwalk in New Jersey where I grew up and then on the beach when she relocated to Florida. She swam at the YMCA and continued this into her later years. She went to the gym and used weights.
My aunt and uncle are in their 80s now and talk about how they look forward to going to the gym located 30 minutes from their home. They inspire me and I am grateful to have been exposed to all these examples of people enjoying being physically active.
In the second part of this post, I’ll share some additional factors that were key to getting me moving again after my injury.