I won't lie, endometriosis is extremely hard to deal with. And for such a long time, it angered me when others who didn't know what I was dealing with, would tell me to work out. Being in so much pain, working out was the last thing on my mind. But the truth is, I really needed to start taking care of my body. And I started to realize that working out didn't have to be intense. I am by no means a cross fitter and the only time you'll see me run, is if I am chasing an ice cream truck.
I don't consider myself a health nut and I wouldn't say my body is perfect. But taking care of myself is important, especially with an illness trying to attack my insides. Having such a weak immune system, I try my hardest to make myself and my body strong enough to fight.
A lot of us don't realize, but exercise is actually really good for endometriosis. Of course, to a certain extent. Because too much or something too intense, can bring on symptoms and make them worse. But in general, exercise releases endorphins. These naturally occurring hormones work like pain relievers to lower pain. Also, regular exercise lowers estrogen in the body. Because a lot of treatments try to lower estrogen in those suffering with endometriosis, exercise can help improve endo symptoms.
So what is it that I do? It's simple. Actually, it's almost embarrassing how simple it is. I walk on the treadmill. Daily. For 30 minutes. The speed I go, depends on how I am feeling that day. Some days, I can work up a pace that allows me to almost 'jog'. Ok, it's more so just a really fast paced walk, but jog sounds better. And some days, my pace is about as slow as a snail. Either way, I make sure to get moving for 30 minutes, each day.
I also do yoga. Not as often as I would like. But I really love it when I am in a lot of pain. The stretching and poses help me find comfort and pain relief. Many women with endometriosis get angered, when yoga is offered as something to try. But for me personally, it has been a great add into my life. I keep it simple. Breathing exercises and poses that do not involve being turned into a pretzel.
I also add in some of my favorite work out DVD's. They are usually about 15-25 mins long. I like to do them before the treadmill. I only do my DVD's Monday through Friday. And I alternate them so that I am doing something different daily. Leslie Sansone has a bunch of fun workout DVD's that I enjoy doing. They are pretty low key, with a couple of them being a little bit higher impact.
Sometimes I throw in light hand weights and do arm exercises. I usually follow silly exercises I find on Pinterest. I like to do crunches and push ups often also. Of course, I moderate them both to what works best for me. Like push ups, I totally do the girl version with my knees on the ground!
If the weather isn't 1,000 degrees or the gnats aren't swarming, I like to go for walks. Whether it is in the neighborhood or through nature; it is just so relaxing and feels good on my legs and my gut! Lastly, I stay pretty active during the day in general. I am constantly getting up and down. Moving around often helps keep my body from stiffening or feeling painful. The only times I lay down for long periods of time, or even skip a workout, is when I truly do not feel well.
But how do I stay motivated? So many of you have asked me this question. When I was first diagnosed, it wasn't easy. But when I got a little taste of how good I felt one morning after yoga, I knew I wanted to get serious about it.
Instead of looking at working out as a chore, I looked at it as something I was LUCKY to be able to do. It became fun. It became something I loved to do. Not had to do. And what motivated me the most, were the moments where I felt really good. Where I didn't feel bloated or pain. I knew I was making my body strong, and that is what motivates me to keep doing what I am doing.
One of the biggest things that motivates me? My activewear. I need to feel comfortable + like how I look. And it isn't to impress others. When I feel good in what I am wearing, it motivates me. It makes me happy. And having endo, finding something to wear that makes me happy and feel good, can be pretty hard. But I found activewear I love, that makes me feel good, that feels good on even flare days + is just the cutest. You can click the bra picture if you want to check it out!
When I finally saw working out as 'making me feel good' instead of 'trying to lose weight', it took a lot of stress off of me. I stopped making excuses as to why I couldn't work out. "My toe hurt, I had my period, I was too tired." And instead replaced those thoughts with, "Think how good I will feel once I do it." Reminding myself that even if I just did a few minutes, it didn't matter. As long as I did it. As long as I showed up for myself and my body.
It can be so discouraging living with a chronic illness, there is no doubt about that. But it is all about how you react. What YOU do to help yourself feel better. Working out is by no means a cure for my endometriosis. But it is something that makes me feel somewhat normal. It is something that has given me a little bit of life back, even on the bad days.
Find what works for you. Maybe running is your thing. Maybe you like kickboxing. Maybe you are like me and enjoy walking. Whatever it is, stop making excuses and do it. Endometriosis is not who you are. So show it whose boss.
Of course, as always, consult with your doctor before you try anything knew. And if you are doing something that is causing extreme pain, obviously stop.