There’s a shift happening, somewhere deep in my core.
Lifting weights has been a strong part of my identity for years now. I lifted all through my pregnancy, feeling proud that I was a strong, fit woman lifting some serious iron. I love feeling strong and moving my body, but it wasn’t just that. There was an image to consider – I was one of the “fit ones”. One of the elite who was so committed to the goal of strength, to the iron, that it became an inseparable part of me. Of course, I was an enlightened elite, who understood the importance of rest days and not overworking ones body.
And yet, after my son was born and I reflected on his small size and certain pregnancy complaints that might have been bigger concerns than I or my midwives thought, something kept whispering at me from within. Did I work too hard during my pregnancy? Was my healthy exercise actually too much, for my body, at that time?
As I struggled through the first weeks of motherhood, I took my time. I gradually returned to walking, then stretching at home, and eventually lifting weights in the gym, 2-3 times per week. I kept things light and workouts short; I had lost a lot of strength. I struggled on, trying various programs and training styles, but not feeling the drive to lift like I once had. Sure, I was tired, but where was that part of my identity? Squats, deadlifts, shoulder presses, the lifts that used to make me giddy with excitement when they appeared in my workouts, held no appeal. My workouts got fewer and farther between.
Finally, in September, I decided to take an intentional break from the gym. Two weeks off, to see if a rest would reignite my workout fire. I promised myself, I’ll walk every day. I’ll take yoga classes three times per week. I won’t lose my fitness and then I’ll be right back to it. Even then, though, I struggled with my self perception. Who am I without iron?
A month passed, and I’d gone for a few walks. I’d done yoga at home 3-4 times. I’d even gone to one actual yoga class. But my yearning for weightlifting had not returned. And I still felt unsettled.
I have a tug of war happening deep inside me. There is a growing voice, telling me I need to be doing yoga and meditating. It’s telling me that it’s the path to my answer. The answer to the question I’ve been asking for a long time now: who am I and what in the hell am I supposed to be doing with my life?
I took a hot yoga class the other night and to say it felt transformative is an understatement. Tears came during savasana and it seemed the instructor was speaking directly to me, about small demons taking up space in our bellies and how all we need to do is let them go.
I’m still fighting that demon. He’s telling me that I must return to lifting, as after all, I’m no one without it. I will lose everything I’ve built. I’ll become lazy, undisciplined, unworthy.
Maybe it’s time I stopped listening. And come to my mat, again, again and again.