Listening to Your Body

When I was pregnant with Sophia and writing about pre-natal fitness, I noticed that a lot of the information I read and received was conflicting.  Can I lay on my back? Can I use weights over my head? Can I do core exercises?  Finding both yes and no’s to all of the questions above, I found that the best answer was “if it doesn’t feel good, it probably isn’t and you should stop.” 

Even before I was pregnant, though, I started to be more in tune to my body.  Yes, I pushed myself hard, but a series of injuries when I was 20 (a stress fracture and tendinitis after the 1998 NYC Marathon) taught me that the more I cross trained the better for me.  I noticed that doing yoga, high intensity interval training, body weight exercises, strength training with weights, all aided in my running and I remained injury free for years working out five to six days a week and completing another three marathons.

Knowing the importance of working your body in multiple ways, this was my mindset when developing fitness classes.   You will see that when taking my class.  A year after Sophia was born, three years ago this month, I became a fitness professional.  I started off teaching about 4-5 classes a week.  Over the first year, the 4-5 a week evolved to an average of 4-5 a day.  Soon I found myself teaching north of 20 classes a week. 

For about 2 years straight now, I have been around 20-25 hours of teaching a week.  This is just teaching hours; it does not include my own workouts, not to mention work that I need to do for the business.  I love teaching and do my best to give myself off days. But I have known for me, this pace, was long term not sustainable.

Two weeks ago, I was speaking with a friend; I told her I felt like I was in the best shape of my life.  I could teach for hours upon hours, cardiovascularly I was strong and body weight exercises were never a problem.  However, I was exhausted.  When I wanted to do my own workouts, such as a run, I often felt unmotivated to get myself out there, or stopping when I knew I could run more.  My body felt overtrained and unbalanced. 

A few days after this conversation, my right foot was really bothering me.  Even walking was painful.  The memory of my first six weeks in a walking boot due to a stress fracture during my semester in Florence seventeen years ago came to the forefront of my mind. 

Sure enough, last week, I was diagnosed with a stress fracture in my right foot.  The break is tiny but the pain and discomfort is real.  I knew once I was diagnosed, I needed to find a doctor who understood what I do for a living; the answer “just don’t do anything for 6 weeks” wasn’t going to work.  This is what the first doctor I saw said.  I quickly moved on.

I then saw Dr. Barkoff on the Upper West Side; he looked at the results of my MRI which confirmed the stress fracture.  He said “If it hurts, don’t do it.  If it doesn’t hurt, it’s fine.” 

Listen to your body.