Five years ago I was diagnosed with pelvic organ prolapse. It was a shock because I was an active person who had an easy home birth, and something like this wasn't supposed to happen to me. I was worried about living the active life that I've always dreamed of, because everything I read condemned a woman with POP to a life of being sedentary. And this was not me. I decided to take matters into my own hands, because as an athletic trainer I instinctively knew that there was much more opportunity to heal and return to play - just like any other injury. And while I did find new ways to approach core weakness and become functional enough for high level activities, I also found that there were other factors inhibiting me from getting back to my training. First, I found that it was often difficult to dedicate time to these activities when I had to account for my kids. No childcare meant it was hard to do certain things. Time was precious, and the corrective exercises just didn't take priority. I also realized that some of my active friends had moved on without me, and it was difficult to take that first step back to training on my own. Finally, I realized that some of my interests had changed, but it was difficult to explore those alone and without support. I was also held back because I felt like some of my new interest we're supported by the media, and neither was the progress that I was suppose to be making by the point. When I stopped and reflected, I began to realize how ridiculous this all was, and how so much of my anxiety around my becoming active again was simply the lack of support for me to find my own way. I was torn down for not conforming to the timeline and protocols set up by the fitness industry, and even healthcare professionals. I was shamed because of my taboo condition and made to feel broken, instead of understood and empathized with. I was seen as less than a good mom by putting my family's needs over my transformation back to my pre-pregnancy self. I felt lost in my identity and without the tools to know how to reclaim it. I have always been athletic, but now I was struggling to find that balance between being the active identity I have, the available mother & wife that I wanted to be, and engaging in the activities that interested me.
Fast forward five years and I am still not in that place I dreamed I would be by now, but I have learned quite a few things during my journey. I have worked on myself and with other women, and there's a commonality between us all and that is that we're on different paths. I know this isn't a big revelation to you, but the issue is that the tools we're given assume that we're all the same, and that's where the problem lives. Most rehab and health programs follow protocols instead of looking at a women's individual needs. They are designed around textbook cases that don't take other factors, such as family obligations and life stresses, into account. Not all of us can fit 12 corrective exercises into our day at 3 sets of 10 each, or hit the gym five times per week, nor do all of us want to do that. Instead, we need doable options that fit our lives and adjust for our responsibilities and needs. We need plans that help create a feeling of balance in our lives, while still progressing towards that ultimate goal of finding our active identity. The first step to creating this is allowing ourselves to break through the idea that exercise and rehab look a certain way and fit into an exact hole. We don't have to engage in "exercise" to be fit. There are many movement paths that promote health and fitness, and we need to find the ones that are doable and enjoyable for us right in this moment. Life is dynamic, and so are our movement choices - meaning that we are always free to change and discover. When we start realizing that we all must find our own path back to play, then we truly open ourselves healing. We must take the tools available, educate ourselves on our situations and needs, and then put those tools into place to help us along that path.
There are plenty of tools and information out there for you, and I hope to start making it easier for you to access them and also navigate them.
For now, when you come across a possibility, try asking these questions to see if it's a good fit:
I know that the journey back to feeling like yourself again can be frustrating, and so I want to invite you to connect with me in a few ways, because my goal is to help you find the solutions that work for you. First, please join our free online community of health and active women. I share advice and tips, and it's a place to connect with others who are on a path back to play just like you! Second, feel free to email me directly with questions that you have. If I can't give you a quick answer, then we can set up a time to chat and see if any of my programs are a better fit for your needs.
Finally, if any of these spoke to you, I'd love to hear about it. The inspiration for this post came from a course I'm enrolled in where I was encouraged to share my passion story that led me to wanting to help others. The first part of this blog is just that. Please let me know how it helped you and any other topics I can address that will continue to make your path to play easier. Feel free to comment below!
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