Finding Balance in My Exercise Routine

Balance w/ ExerciseI get a lot of emails and questions about my current exercise regime, especially in relation to managing autoimmunity, so I thought I'd share a little bit about my journey from being an athlete, to taking over 1+ years off, and then all the way to where I am now and how I am finding balance in my exercise routine. Through my personal experience of being both a very active person and not so active, I have found that exercise is an essential part of vibrant living. I am the happiest when I incorporate regular movement into my life in the form of both intentional workouts and by incorporating movement in the form of biking and walking into my life. In fact, abundant movement has been one of the ways that I successfully manage my own Hashimoto's. When I was in the trenches of healing, I had to completely stop most types of exercise but I have happily reintroduced it back into my life and am totally smitten with my current active lifestyle...

Background: I've always been an athelte. I grew up playing tons of different sports like soccer, tennis, volleyball, basketball, etc. When I was thirteen, I started to get super serious about tennis and dropped the rest. When I was sixteen, I decided to go full force with my tennis and moved across the country to Florid to attend the top junior sports academy in the world, where I finished my last two years of high school while competeing alongside junior phenoms. After high school, I moved to Oregon to attend the University of Oregon and to play D1 college tennis. I was on the UO tennis team for two years, at which point I had a burn out and yearned for change. I immediately found crossfit and quickly started competing. I got super intense about Crossfit and was training 5-6 days a week, often doing 2-3 workouts per day. I tend torwards being an extremist or sorts and when I find something I love, it's hard for me to not go full force. After 8 months of crossfitting, I had a major burnout; during a crossfit workout, I got an exercise induced migraine and had to go to the hospital. It was a total wake up call to the fact that I had been overtraining and was dealing with multiple injuries including chronic upper back pain and severe adrenal fatigue. I ended up taking over one year off of ALL exercise and really focused on recovering from years of over training. Torwards the end of that year and a half, my energy improved greatly and my back pain was feeling better. But then, in May of last year (2014), I found out I had Hashimoto's.

Reintroduction: While spending much of 2014 healing, I engaged in light activity like walking, jogging and hiking. I was living in Bend, Oregon at the time so it was easy to be active without doing actual workouts at the gym. During the Fall of 2014 I wanted to rebuild core strength so I started doing light weight training at my physical therapy office. I did that from September-January 2014 and developed some baseline strength. I moved to Portland in the winter of 2015 and did lots of hot yoga at Corepower Yoga—this helped me to continue build strength, some endurance and helped me stay flexible. I always love doing hot yoga in the winter because it helps me warm up. I continued doing yoga through the spring of 2015. During the summer, it got way to hot for me to continue practicing hot yoga, so I started working out at Point Fitness PDX—an awesome female owned gym in Portland, Oregon. I love the workouts there because they are functional fitness style workouts similar to crossfit but in a less competitive enviornment and with less emphasis on weight lifting and more of a focus on body weight movements.

Now (September 2015): So, what am I up to now? I have recently started doing Kayla Istine's Bikini Body Training Guide (a bit of a silly name but a seriously awesome workout guide!) I decided to start this program after months of following Kayla's inspiring Instagram and so far, I love it. The program is a combination of HIIT, LISS and resistance style workouts—three days a week you do resistance style circuit workouts, 2-3 days of LISS and one day of HIIT. All of these terms are explained in the guides. This has been the absolute perfect workout program for me because I am traveling quite a bit this fall for work and other engagements and these workouts can be easily scaled or modified if you don't have access to a gym. The workouts incorporate functional fitness movements like jumping, lunging, squatting and so on, which I love, because it helps prepare me for movements that I would do in real life. I also love that this program was created with women in mind; I always feel really great and energized after doing these workouts instead of feeling totally gassed and exhausted (the way I would often feel after long cardio sessions or intense crossfit workouts). So I'm in week three and have about seven more weeks to go, which alligns perfectly with my digital nomad departure date of November 30th. I'm hoping to continue Kayla's guides while I travel. I'll keep you posted on how the rest of the program goes and how I feel afterwords. I think this is a really great program for those with copromised health because it is very scaleable in terms of intensity; it allows you to do functional fitness movements while still moving at your own pace. On days where my energy is low, I just got a bit slower, but it always feels good to move my body. Aside from intentional workouts, I am also working hard to incorporate movement into my daily life. As a photographer, I move around a lot for my job—I'm constantly walking, lifting stuff up, moving around, squatting, etc. I also try to walk and ride my bike wherever I can. Once I made the intention to incorporate more walking/biking, I actually realized how easy it is to get around this way instead of using my car. All in all, after taking time off to heal my body and adrenals from over training, I have found that a slow reintroduction of fitness has been really important in my health journey. I am more vibrant, emotionally stronger and all around happier when I am an active person. I hope this answers your questions and if I missed anything, please feel free to leave me a comment and I'll do my best to answer it!!