It feels like everyone, everywhere is exercising at home right now out of necessity, but I think the shift to working out at home will have longevity (Peloton’s sales are increasing, for example). Streaming workout platforms are convenient and cost-effective and I’ve found that consistency is more easily achieved when there are less barriers (driving to and from the gym, childcare, etc). Now that I’m working from home, I use the time I would have spent commuting home from the office to exercise.
When I started my adult life (and even before that) I always believed if you wanted to be fit, you had to go to a gym or workout studio and had to do workouts that were super hard and left you out of breath and dripping in sweat.
If you’ve followed me for the decade I’ve been blogging, you know I’ve tried pretty much every workout under the sun – boot camp, personal training, group fitness, pilates, weight training and HIIT classes at the gym, etc. Throughout that decade, my commitment to fitness and exercise can only be described as ebbing and flowing. I had periods where I worked out consistently and intensely and when I didn’t work out at all for months or years. While I have no regrets about exploring various forms of exercise, I wish I hadn’t pushed myself so hard to continue methods that didn’t bring me joy.
In February of 2017, I started working out at a personal training gym that focused on weight lifting and cardio (think lots of weight machines, free weights, assault bikes, rowers, erg machines, etc). At the time, I convinced myself it was fantastic and would make me feel happier and healthier. But the truth is that I was drained, depleted and inflamed. I was SO tired and low energy all day. I ate constantly – probably because excessive tiredness is also linked to excessive hunger. I was so proud of myself for “working so hard” and doing what I was “supposed to do” to be fit and strong. After months of this, I didn’t see any results and I knew being that tired wasn’t sustainable (if I’m being honest, what really did it was that I nearly rear-ended a truck in front of me one morning while driving to work because I was so tired I almost fell asleep at the wheel – which is very scary to admit and something I’m obviously not proud of – but it was a wake-up call that something had to change).
(September 2017 | Summer 2019 )
*As a disclaimer, as with all of my fitness related content, I’m sharing past and current images in this post not because my “before” body was “bad.” Both bodies are good, healthy, worthy and deserve respect. The photos are to illustrate how my body has changed over the years before and after motherhood and beyond, and how finding movement I love affected those changes.
If I ever wanted my body to feel strong and energized I needed one of the most important things that no workout program could give me – SLEEP. So I quit waking up at 5 a.m. and going to that gym. I started to sleep again, which I feel helped regulate my hormones.
After that break and when I was in a much better state because I was actually sleeping enough, I was inspired by all of the women I saw doing the at-home workout program called BBG by Kayla Itsines. In April of 2018, I completed one 12-week round of BBG, which is what convinced me that working out at home was the only sustainable way for me to keep up with a fitness routine. I set up a home gym and never looked back. BBG was a fantastic motivator for me – it was just three 28-minute workouts per week, which felt doable.
(Before BBG | Summer 2019 after BBG and during P.volve, my current workout)
At the same time I was doing BBG, I significantly cleaned up my diet. All my life, I ate whatever I wanted, until I had a dairy and soy free diet for a year due to Lincoln’s MSPI. I was eating much more healthfully while I was pumping for him because I had to eliminate so many processed foods – but I still ate a ton of sugar. I would find allergen-free cookies…but then eat an entire box of them every day. Despite this, I lost weight while pumping because it burns so many calories – no matter how much I ate, I could not gain (partly due to my genetics also, I’m sure). I continued to eat the same way when I stopped pumping, which I why I put on some weight.
I knew from my research that diet was the most critical factor when it came to weight loss, so while doing BBG, I started a modified version of intermittent fasting (not a full 16-hour fast – I was still eating breakfast), ate less sugar, and ate meals that were protein, fiber and veggie-heavy (I still ate dessert every night and still do! Life just isn’t as “sweet” without it). This combination helped me lose the 25lbs I had gained after weaning from pumping for Lincoln.
*Since I’m talking about diet here, I want to add another note in this post that I don’t believe in any foods being “good” or “bad.” Myself and my family eat all food groups and we all eat dessert every single night. I do eat a balanced diet 80% of the time, but still enjoy chocolate daily and also eat out at restaurants and have Chick-fil-a at least once a week. I don’t believe in diet trends like keto, etc. – they are never sustainable. I believe in learning to eat in a way that feels intuitive and listening to your body.
I credit BBG/my new way of eating (focused on real foods) with helping me get stronger and my weight loss. However, after 12 weeks, I began another round and started to feel the “dread” feelings creep up on me when it was time for a workout. BBG involves a lot of jumping, squats, lunges, push ups, etc. It started to become a little but boring/repetitive and I also didn’t love all of the jumping for my joints. However, I still do recommend it as a workout program if you need a very structured program to follow and like more dynamic, plyometric movements.
During my second round of BBG, I learned about a program called P.volve on The Skinny Confidential Podcast and was intrigued. I started to research Stephen Pasterino and read more about his method, which incorporated physical therapy principles and had no jumping, squats or lunges. I felt I had reached a lot of my goals with BBG and was ready for a workout program that was low impact, slow, and focused, that I could do at home to maintain my results. I love mat work, gliders and resistance bands, which P.volve has a ton of, so right off the bat, the program felt more enjoyable.
P.volveended up doing so much more for me – physically and mentally. I finally felt like I was listening to my body – it was movement my body craved and responded to. I have never in my life gotten the “runner’s high” that people talk about when they exercise. Then, during my P.volveworkouts, usually during a longer one, about 25 minutes in I’d get this rush of a feeling – and I thought – THIS IS IT! It was the most bizarre thing. I couldn’t understand why I suddenly felt the “runner’s high” when I was quite literally doing a workout the total opposite of running. How could these slow and controlled movements cause a runner’s high?
I still don’t have an explanation for it and it still happens during some of my workouts. But it has led me to believe that the movement I’m doing now is what my body loves, thus the rush of endorphins. When you do movement your body loves, you will do it more consistently…and thus, the results will appear right before your eyes.
Yet, I’m still taken by surprise when I see my ab muscles flexed during ab work – I have more ab definition now than when I was doing crunches constantly and before I had kids. I’m still taken by surprise when I see my improved balance and strength – because, my entire adult life, I was pushing myself in a way that didn’t feel right, to get the results I have now doing low impact, slow and controlled workouts.
( Before kids/on our honeymoon | Summer 2019)
(July 2012 – before kids | April 2020)
Over the past 8 weeks or so, I’ve also added Melissa Wood healthworkouts into my fitness routine and I’m obsessed with her! Her workouts are incredible – Kevin does the ab ones with me because they are so challenging – we both love them! I do about an equal mix of her workouts and P.volve – I will post a full review of Melissa’s workouts soon.
Melissa’s own journey resonates so much with me. We are the same age, both moms of two and in the past were torturing ourselves at the gym because we thought it was the only way to be fit and get results. You can read more about her journey here. You can also listen to podcasts she has been interviewed on here, here, and here.
I like my body better now than before I had kids – both for the two beautiful and perfect gifts it gave me and also because finally listening to my body and moving in a way that feels good and intuitive gave me the results I was trying to achieve all along – long, lean lines, and feeling strong and energized.
This post isn’t to convince you to do any specific workout – but it is meant to challenge you to ask yourself if you love the way you’re moving your body – or if you’re doing it because you think it’s what you’re supposed to do?
If you love running, pilates, OTF, spinning, etc – and it makes you feel amazing – that is the best movement for you! If you find yourself dreading your next workout, I encourage you to try something different until you find the movement that feels right for YOU. Maybe you’ll have that “ah-ha!” moment like I did.
Over the last decade, my body has changed from year-to-year (including with my pregnancies, of course!) and during that time I have had so many comments made about my body – positive and negative. But I’ve learned that the only person who has to be happy in your body is YOU! Your body does not exist to please anyone else, nor does it need anyone’s approval or commentary (as an aside, I find that those who are vocally critical of other’s bodies are doing so because they’re projecting their own issues and it has nothing to do with your body at all). We all deserve to live in our bodies and be respected, no matter how we look.
Thank you for reading this super long post – I enjoyed reflecting on my exercise journey. I now recognize that it is fluid and that listening to what your body wants (and sometimes, it’s a BREAK!) is so crucial. I hope you have or find movement that makes you happy.
*This is not a sponsored post. Though I do work with P.volve on some paid campaigns and am an ambassador for the program, I was not compensated for this post and did not write it as part of any collaboration or promotion.