Switching My Dumbbells For Yoga Blocks
Since it’s been getting hotter and hotter by the day, one of the common topics in my weekly sessions with my clients is the heat. Heat intolerance is super common for anyone with an autoimmune; the increasing temperature causes an even more dramatic drop in energy level, seriously increases our fatigue, ramps up the immune system and results in more flares, more sensitivities and more discomfort. This has been the case for not only my clients, but for myself as well. Which is why it’s crucial to adjust our physical activity from season to season.
I’m going to share my own personal experiences on this. This morning I had to trade in my 12 lbs hand weights, my 15 lbs kettlebell and my 45 min (3 - 4 times a week) strength training routine for bare feet, a yoga mat and foam blocks during a 25 - 35 min yoga routine (5 times a week). Yoga isn’t a new things to me and I do find a lot of joy in it, but I’ll be honest, mentally I can fall back into this comparison of everyone else around me. My friend who workouts 6 days a week in the gym and does bodybuilding, the stranger running uphill in 99 degree heat, the Instagram influencer’s post of their HIIT workout every day of the week. All the while… I find myself trying to avoid a flare up by doing Downward Dog and Child’s Pose.
I don’t want this to sound like I’m bad mouthing yoga. It’s not something to turn our noses up at - because that shit is hard. I just so easily get pulled back to these comparisons, and find myself fighting off resentment of my lack of ability. But here’s the thing I have to remind myself:
Having an autoimmune disease doesn’t mean I’m weak, or I lack the ability to be in shape, strong, and healthy. All it means is that my body needs a specific kind of activity to reach these goals.
EXAMPLE: I cannot run, even though I wish I could. The thought of “going for a run” sounds so damn serene and energizing and positive. But, my reality is that the impact on my joints and the strain it puts on my lungs isn’t worth the small amount of time I’ll be able to do it until I have to stay in bed for two days. What I can do is 30 min of pilates 4 times a week and still have some energy, feel strong, and strengthen my body. There is no need to think that only three different kinds of workouts can get us these certain fitness goals* and that if we can’t accomplish them or get through them we’re destined to never feel satisfied in our physical activity.
Still not with me? How about this: If every body is different (which is a truth that is thankfully starting to find its way into everyone’s social media feeds) then that means every body has a kind of physical activity that speaks better to it. This has nothing to do with autoimmune illnesses; this has everything to do with physical individuality. We have every reason and right to find what works for our bodies! This can be fun, experimental and satisfying.
I’ll be real, I felt a struggle knowing it was time to put my strength training aside until it cools off. I started envisioning what my body would look like, all my fitness goals gone to crap - all the toxic things that go around and around until I need a nap. You know what though? The above is the truth - my body has seasonal and individual physical needs - and when I follow that truth I get the results I want without this mental wrestle about what I see others doing and what I need to be doing.
It’s getting easier for me to come to the conclusion that I’d rather do yoga, pilates, and walk around my neighborhood five times a week than feel like a failure because I can’t reach the same bicep curl reps at the same weight that I was in May.
Anyway, I know a handful of people experiencing this struggle of comparison and personal let down - including myself. Hearing that I’m not the only one having to completely adjust multiple times a year gave me peace, and motivation to make the changes I needed to for my body. So, if you’re experiencing these struggles or any challenges with your lupus and/or autoimmune illnesses, send me a DM! I’d love to be there for you while you find what works for you.
Stay cool, stay safe, and enjoy your Summer!
If you’re interested in starting yoga, these are the two YouTube subscriptions I’ve found that I'm on consistently:
Yoga with Adriene (I copied a link for her home page as well as her yoga video for Chronic Pain)
Journey Junkie, Allie Van Fossen
I’ve been following the both of them for four years now, and always find myself back there. If you have any suggestions, videos, workouts, or routines feel free to share them. I’d love to know what everyone else is doing!
*Obviously there are specific workouts, nutritional guidelines and physical rules for certain fitness goals. I’m not speaking about bodybuilders, people looking for massive muscle growth or deep definition here. Contact me if you have questions or comment concerning this.