Thursday, February 2, 2012

Doing Hard Things

my dirt road trail
I have never had a fondness for formal exercise.  I can remember being in about 3rd grade and our teacher taking our class out to run to prepare us for the upcoming Field Day. I was the youngest and the smallest in my class and when we went to run I was always the very last in the pack.  I just couldn't keep up no matter how hard I tried. I would huff and puff and feel so tired and like "I just can't do this!  Why is she making me!?"

This frustration with running and aerobic exercise followed me through the rest of my years in school.  In college I would take aerobic classes and even asked a friend to "teach me to run". And I would last about a week or two and then give up.  I always felt terrible after exercise, and when others said, "I get MORE energy when I exercise" or "those endorphins make me feel wonderful", I would quietly roll my eyes.

{Disclaimer: I do like to be active!  I love hiking and camping and swimming. Just at my own pace and not for the purpose of exercise...I just enjoy being out in it all!}

I started believing that my body just couldn't handle much.

In 2003 I started reading about midwives and natural childbirthing after feeling dissatisfied with my three birthing experiences.  I decided that if I ever had another baby I wanted to give natural childbirth a go.  When I got pregnant in 2005 with my 4th child, I knew that my time had come.  In 2006, after a labor of only 4 hours, I peacefully had a waterbirth in my own bedroom.  My labor wasn't too difficult or long and I felt very empowered.  In 2009, I gave birth to another baby naturally...after only being at the hospital for 40 minutes.  My active labor went by so quickly and I was very much in control of myself, the pain and birthing.  Again I felt very strong and proud that I was able to overcome my fear that I wouldn't be able to birth naturally in a hospital setting.

Last year I became pregnant with my 6th child and believed that my birth would be natural, quick and fairly easy like the last two had been. However  this pregnancy ended up being the most tiring pregnancy on my body...my joints and muscles hurt so much and I just ached most of the time.  I was so ready to give birth and to get rid of all the achiness I had struggled with for so many months. When I went into labor, my body didn't fall into the groove of laboring fast.  This labor ended up being 15 exhausting hours.  I felt as if I just couldn't do it because I was SO tired.  It was will-power and sheer physical endurance to make it to the blessed moment of birthing Henry. My attitude stunk most of my labor, but I kept going.  I felt the Lord whisper to me later, "You can do hard things, Aimee!" That was the biggest lesson I learned from that birth.  A very deep and vital lesson after living since childhood with a belief that I can't.

As I am inching my way closer to 40 and also continuing to feel the body-blues after having six children, I decided I would give "exercise" another chance in 2012.  I remembered a friend doing Couch to 5K last year and decided I would give it a go.  Let me tell you, this is huge for me.  I am very anti-exercise :)  So my dear husband said that he would do it with me and we began.

About 2 and 1/2 weeks into the program, I began to hate it.  The jogging made me feel horrible and I had less energy for my family the day after exercising.  My body hurt and I just thought, "See, I can't do this!"  My husband kept encouraging me on and I begrudgingly continued.  A few days ago, the program increased our jog time.  That old rotten mindset of "you just can't do this, Aimee" began to taunt me.  But then I remembered Henry's birth. The 15 hours of laboring when I didn't have any strength within me.  And the Lord whispered, "You can do hard things, Aimee!"  

And in that moment I knew that I CAN do this.  I CAN complete this program. I can jog and soon run.  I realized just how much of the battle to overcome something is mental.  We have to speak truth to ourselves and remind ourselves of what God says about us and to us.  And now?  I actually began looking forward to the jogging segments.  I began to look forward to pushing myself a little harder and seeing that my will makes my body move on.

I can do hard things.

God and birthing told me so.

22 comments:

Rachel Hauser said...

Beautiful! Keep it up, Aimee =). I love walking but not anything faster. My mom and I have added jogging to our walks. Overtime it has gotten easier. I don't honestly enjoy it, but at least it's healthy!

Rita said...

I love your blog Aimee. My daughter and I both get tired easily. We both work hard and then zap our bodies are done. We then rest a while and do more things that need to be done. I did find out that we have MVP and I need medication for mine. I had been told earlier in life by a massage therapist that she thought I or we could have a heart problem. We didn't have problems in the family and believed we just tired out easily. We can get as much done as most we just have to spread it out over a day. My daughter cannot do a long distance run but can sprint. So just in case you might have your heart checked.

Michelle Richards said...

You can do it!! Often times the hardest thing is getting started and you've already done that part. I love your parallel to birth -- SO true!! It's amazing how empowering that natural birth can be for some many body changes. Keep up the great work!

Aimee said...

Rita: I found out a few years ago that I have MVP but have never thought about how that affects me with exercise. Thanks for chiming in!

contentedsparrow said...

Aimee, Yet another area where we are so very similar! Formal exercise all my life has been blah, something I made myself do for periods of time. And, like you, although I love being outside and very active, I've never, ever been able to run. (Well, I could run a little bit but would be dying for air shortly.) And, LIKE YOU, I can't believe what I've been able to do during this C25K training. It is so mental and I just keep telling myself, you can breathe, you can push through, just think of how proud you will be if you complete this whole thing without cheating! I come upstairs from the treadmill all aglow and get to tell Brent that I've run for a longer period of time than I've ever been able to before and that plain feels good! We are so much stronger than we think we are. He's made our bodies amazing things!
So, yeah YOU! Keep it up! We're in it together, girl. (Could cry over wanting to TRULY be doing it together, as in side-by-side.) Love you.

♥ Tina said...

Aimee, I think it's great that you have such determination and drive, but please be careful when pushing yourself. I have fibromyalgia and as much as I have tried and tried to get beyond the pain barrier with exercise, I have had to realise that only gentle walking and tai chi are doable for me.

Do what is right for you, and listen to your body. It's true that the Lord wants us to be willing to try, but He wouldn't want us to push ourselves beyond our healthy limits either.

(I hope I don't sound bossy here! Sending you love and hugs! xx)

Jessie said...

Yay for you! Yes, it is very much mental. How many times my own thoughts have done me in completely.

Good post.

Missy K said...

Aimee-- from another recurring exercise dropout, this is VERY encouraging. My attempts, I believe, don't last long enough to begin to see the benefits. This encourages me to do the hard thing, to get to the good!

gina said...

Aimee, this was a timely and very encouraging post for me. Thank you so much for being open. I am getting ready to deliver my 4th child, but after three natural deliveries, my memories of the "hard parts" are much more vivid and I'm all the sudden a little freaked out. But you're right. I was built for this and I can do hard things. What a great reminder. (Funny, I just announced to my husband that I wanted to do the couch to 5K after the baby came, too!)

Anonymous said...

Beautiful! So glad for you to learn and grow in this way.

Loretta S. said...

"I can do hard things"...same lesson over here for me - different means of learning it...but I feel it.

Andrea said...

yes you CAN Aimee!!!! I am so proud of you...keep running, keep running. maybe next year you will be doing strength training like me now! :) We have to keep healthy and strong for our kiddos.

Bennett and McConnell Family said...

Oh I LOVE this Aimee! Please keep us updated on how C25K goes!!

laurel said...

I love this Aimee, and am SO proud of you for sticking with it. I tell myself "I can do hard things" a lot of the time too. It feels empowering to remember that!

Jeannine said...

It's true...it's been six years since I've given birth, but whenever it's suggested that something would be too hard for me, or I decide that myself, I remember those births and how empowering they were...

Sarah said...

Thank you for the encouragement, from another anti-exercise person!

Sara said...

I like this: "We have to speak truth to ourselves and remind ourselves of what God says about us and to us." I am NOT a runner but I've considered giving it a try, so this is encouraging to me. After birthing six kids myself (including a set of twins---an exhausting pregnancy to be sure) I want more energy to keep up with everyone around here!

Mrs. Pivec said...

So good for you, Aimee! :) I have been AMAZED over the past two years at what running has taught me. Like our walk with God, we learn little by little and like our paths homeschooling we see how little by little adds up over time. Persistence pays off. Pushing yourself in your fitness flows to other areas of your life. The farthest I've run is 7 miles, but I'm back down to a regular 2 to 3 at a go. I was stunned that my body could do the 7 and I do hope to get back there. But the best feeling was after our move and not having run for a couple of weeks. I got a very affordable gym membership through the amazing St. Paul park sysytem ($30 ANNUALLY!) and loved the fact that I finally felt "normal" again... now that I was running again. Something that I used to believe would never be a part of me is now normal and is missed when it's gone. You can do that too. It really shows you just how amazing God made our bodies to be and it's another way to worship Him by using and enjoying it to its fullest! :)

Kimmy said...

It's so true... love this post. ~ kimmy

Becky said...

What a great lesson. Thanks for sharing.

Ann Kroeker said...

I love getting to read about your mental process leading up to the jogging and that realization that you can do hard things! There's something about jogging...it seems so impossible and then, if you just keep going with the plan, you eventually look back after X weeks and realize, "There was that day when I couldn't jog half a mile, and look at me now!"

So wonderful!

Amy Sullivan said...

Clicked over because Ann K. tweeted about this post. Glad I bounced over, Aimee.

Running and I have never gotten along, but lately I've longed for it a bit.