Starting to Find Myself and My Tribe

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My first day of exercise class at my therapy center went like this. I walk towards the room and was met by another lady, beautiful, older than me, but just so elegant. She asked if it was my first class and what my issues were (because you would not be exercising there if you DID NOT have issues of some kind). As soon as I began to explain my story the tears started. I was so drained at this point. I had been in physical therapy for over a year. I HAD made progress. I was driving myself to class, that alone was huge. But the pain was still everywhere and unbearable. I had tried one-on-one training, but looking back now, I can see I wasn’t ready for that. This class was my last shot. Everyone in the class, at that time, was older than me. But as I joked, my doctor said I have the spine of a 70 year old, so I fit right in. Everyone was very warm, the trainer was full of energy. She was 10 years YOUNGER than me and easily the strongest woman I have ever met.

This class and these women became my source of strength for the next two years. They understood how I was feeling, for the most part and it felt so good to talk to others with similar issues. All of them had improved in the program. So, I started. In the beginning, EVERYTHING was difficult. Do you know we start losing muscle strength after just a week of not using them? It had been a least a year and half for me at that point since I had exercised and I hadn’t even lifted my arms over my head in that long either. Let me say also I was not an exercise class type person. I always exercised but usually I would walk outside or use DVD’s in my house. I had a nice little set up in our basement where I had a DVD player and TV, all my weights, everything I needed. I thought. Here’s what I learned. Form is incredibly important. I didn’t know how important. In this class I learned the CORRECT way to exercise as to not hurt my back and neck further or cause any future problems. God only knows what kind of form I had on my own. Not correct I can tell you that. AND when I had started running, I for sure had poor form. All of that leads to trouble. So, the first few months was just getting through class. I started realizing my pain subsided substantially after class. I always left feeling better. It was a combination of working my body AND the environment. These ladies were smart, caring, kind and confident. And I felt safe there. If I was to start a program at home at that time I would have freaked out every time something hurt. But my trainer would just talk me through all those moments, let me know what was normal and what needed to be modified.

These women were readers, volunteers, teachers, world travelers, mothers and grandmothers. They had similar interests as me, like going to the ballet, museum exhibits, art shows and concerts. And later on more women my age joined and they also were such interesting people. We all became so close. We understood each other’s struggles. But these women were different from my other friends in such that there were no taboo subjects. We just talked. Openly and honestly about everything. From whatever was going on in the news, to family issues, religion, you name it. No one held back and it was fantastic. I loved these women! It’s so freeing to have uncensored conversations and no worry about offending someone. If you disagree you move on. There’s no hiding or not speaking your mind. AHHH, I loved it. And it made me realize that I didn’t have these kind of people in my life before now. I was curating my tribe before I knew I needed to do it. That would come later when I started really working on myself. I’m not blaming anyone. It was me that would hold back. I have A LOT to say and I’m a highly emotional person. And that’s not a bad thing, unless you feel like the minority all the time. I wasn’t with the right people. I think as moms we don’t always choose our own friends. At least this was true for me. I hung out with my kid’s friend’s parents. For years and years. And I truly liked most of them. We would get drinks, go to lunch, etc. But were these my people? No. It was superficial. I was superficial. There was a lot missing. It took me needing REAL friendship and these women showing up in my life at just the right time. I was so beaten down and fragile at this point. Just one of them asking “how are you today?” would send me into tears. Because my life was not normal at that point and they understood that better than anyone else did at that time and they actually listened. I needed that so badly.

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I’ve learned since then, and I will get into this more in depth later, that our social time with others is extremely important to our health.  It is known now to be MORE important to our longevity than exercise or diet!! Don’t be an isolationist!  It’s not good for you.  Read more about that here. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/relationships-boost-survival/

By the end of the first year I was feeling so much better. I was doing more on my own, I was starting to go out to enjoy things again, but I still had pain, quite a bit of pain that was hanging on. Next week I will talk about the HUGE change that happens the second year and how it came about thanks to some incredible insight by my trainer. You can find my trainer, Carrie here https://pnxsolutions.com/

For this week I ask that you look at your own exercise routine.  First, are you exercising at all? Do you feel like you are using correct form in what you are doing?  Are you exercising alone? Do you want the support of a group?  Try the following;

If exercise is new to you, try walking.  Just a few minutes a day to start and then add on a little more time every day.

Try working with a personal trainer, just one time even to have them look at everything you are doing. It’s so important to have those eyes on you to prevent-injury.

Take a group class of some sort. There is SO MUCH out there! And it doesn’t at all need to be expensive. Look at your local recreation centers. Locally I can pay $6 for a day of whatever classes I want and access to all the machines. Quite a deal. Just make sure you like the instructor and they are watching for good form. Not all instructors are created equal. I promise the boost you will get from the people in the group is priceless. And if you don’t, those aren’t your people. Keep trying different groups until you hit on the one.

As always Id love to hear from you!! Comment below  and thanks for being here!