The latest self-improvement books, women's magazines, and commercials remind us that if we follow a simple "everything in moderation" formula, we'll be happy and healthy. Moderation is king; it's the mark of a well-adjusted person, even. CrossFit's gotten an unfairly bad reputation for being too extreme (PS: It's awesome. Try it.). Some think outdoor running is too hard on your shins, and ultra marathon runners? Forget it. Be moderate! Run, but not too much. Swim; it's low-impact. Ride a bike to work, but not so often that you damage your pelvic floor. Take vacation days, but don't be lazy. Enjoy sex, but don't be a slut.
Essentially: Live, but not too much.
For many things, I've found moderation to be the perfect level of indulgence: sweets (vegan Ben & Jerry's ice cream, amiright?); yoga pants purchases; the number of hours I work. I exercise several times per week, but I do different workouts (yoga, barre, HIIT, a light run). I'm a vegan and I eat healthy about 5-6 days per week, often indulging in a vegan pizza with tater tots on the 7th day. But today, as I ran from my physical therapist's clinic to my yoga studio, I was reminded of something that I can't afford to moderate: my courage.
At one point, as I've shared, going to my PT's clinic ("my PT") for tune-ups was a challenge. I wanted to be "better," and I thought that meant "having no need for any medical intervention." As I've grown these past two years, becoming an athlete, a yogi, a 40-pounds-heavier, living, breathing woman, I've changed my mind. My PT is vital to my enjoyment of life, because she allows me to continue to be courageous. She'll be there if I fall (as she's demonstrated oh-so-many times before).
Today, I went into the studio. I always love to see her, but I also feel a slight hesitation (which is unexpected -- even subconscious -- each time). My brain says: "I hope this isn't a pelvic floor thing. Will I need to work out internal muscles again? Go back to the baby steps?" I pause in the elevator, take a deep breath, and quiet the thoughts. Today, I scanned my body and reminded it that I was wearing my workout clothes head-to-toe, I was lugging two purses on one arm that contained everything from a laptop to water bottles to a spare pair of sweats for after yoga, and my "spare" hand held a 16-ounce latte. My latte straw was jammed in my mouth as I paid for my parking on my phone and juggled my keys around my thumb. The details are crucial here, because they illustrate that I'm an active young woman -- normal, even. I felt reassured by my normalcy, shook off the doubt, and bounced into the clinic. The smiling faces inside made those nagging nerves vanish (as they do every single time I enter that gloriously calm space).
It takes courage, though, to get up each day and challenge myself. It takes courage to go to a tricky barre class filled with tucks and squats, after I spent the better part of a decade squeezing my pelvic floor tight without relief. It takes courage to flip upside-down in an aerial yoga hammock that grips firmly and pulls all of my body weight down on my adductors. It takes courage to do a jumping jack. It takes courage to put on yoga pants in the morning. It takes courage to put on underwear in the morning. It takes courage to get up in the morning.
Just two years ago, I couldn't get up in the morning. I remember those days, and I will do everything possible to avoid the powerlessness that I felt as my body turned on me. I've reclaimed control of my body (calling in the experts, like my PT, when I need a little help). I exercise to grow stronger, I eat for fuel, and I feel overwhelming pride of accomplishment each time I leave the gym.
Back to the moderation thing -- perhaps it's a red herring in this whole story. Maybe it's really a tale of overcoming adversity. But I think that some providers / people / teachers would tell me to slow down. "Take it easy! You've been through so much!" They'd tell me to take some restorative yoga classes, to ease into healthy living, to start eating meat again to get more protein (which I haven't eaten for 20 years) . They'd tell me that I'm pushing myself too hard, that I need to be moderate in my activity level. "Don't ________, or you may trigger a flare-up of your pain."
Well, it's BS.
My PT is fearless about my body's potential; she thinks it's able, healed, strong, and resilient. It's her confidence in my strength that formed the bedrock of my self-confidence. She doesn't preach moderation, she preaches "live your life." That means box jumps (which we tried in my session today), jumping jacks, tricky yoga poses, rock climbing, bicycling, swimming in the lake. She encourages me to be brave, and she promises to be there to catch me if I fall. I've spent the past year being incredibly adventurous, and, yes, courageous. And I'm so thoroughly grateful that she never told me to do "everything in moderation" -- because if she had, I wouldn't have all of these glorious memories (or muscles!) that I now so joyfully relish.
© 2017 Inspire Santé, NFP