I’m stuck. I want to get back to exercise, after years of doing nothing. Every time I start working out though, I get this terrible feeling. It’s more than just sore muscles (I’ve got those, too.) I get light-headed, almost nauseous. I try to just keep exercising through it, but it’s not going away. I want to lose weight, but how can I when I feel like I’m going to throw up whenever I exercise?
Sincerely, Losing My Cookies in Radersburgh, MT
Dear Losing My Cookies,
Phat girl feels your pain. When I started working out, I couldn’t even walk ten minutes before my lower back seized up, but I couldn’t even get my shoes tied before a headache began brewing in my brain. Like you, I tried sweating through it, but the pain only worsened. I tried all sorts of medicine; nothing worked. Nothing, that is, until I looked into my headache for the remedy. I say “into” because the cure came from within. In simple terms, my body needed to release a lot of pent up emotion. Before I could begin burning fat, I needed to burn up some embedded feelings. Years of carrying extra weight had spackled layers of nastiness like shame, anger, and humiliation deep within. The headaches eventually disappeared, but I had to release some toxic baggage first.
Emotional release is a natural part of exercise. It will always happen, and always to your benefit. Moving helps us metabolize the tiny hits we experience daily just by being alive in this world. That process requires release. Unfortunately, we cannot script the release. Feelings seem to arise in the order they want. Nor have I found any shortcuts.
I like that you haven’t let the nausea stop you, but — just in case — be sure to visit with your doctor about it. In the meantime, let’s add one more facet to your workout routine. When you feel nauseous, stay with it. Be with whatever comes up. I remember, when I got back on a recumbent bike, how my stomach jiggled every time I pushed the peddles. I felt so angry as I thought, How could I let myself go like this?! That’s o.k. That’s honest. It’s what wanted to be felt. Staying with your feelings might seem scary at first, but – in reality — our fear of feeling these emotions is often ten times worse than the actual experience of them. Let’s be real, too. No one wants to throw up on the treadmill, so find a safe place to move while you allow some buffer time to ramp up your workouts. I know you’re jonesin’ to lose weight, but this time is not in vain. Think of it as working out your inner heart. To do this, you may want some privacy. (One of my best friends practiced hot yoga, so she could cry during workouts. No one could see that it wasn’t sweat!)
There’s no easy way around, over, or under the disappointments of life. Your body knows this and wants to clear the guck and get you free. This is the point of the pain. Also, you’ll hone a vital skill for maintaining lifelong fitness: forgiveness. If you plan on staying fit for life, this won’t be the only time you get stuck. Let’s face it, life happens. When you miss workouts, what’s going to get you moving again? Forgiveness. I still have to remember to practice forgiveness. It’s my #1, go-to tool. To be clear, forgiveness is more than wiping a slate clean. I like this version: Before + Give. Give yourself a chance to change before you actually change. Believe in yourself the way your body believes in you.
Exercise is a powerhouse of healing on the outside but especially on the inside. Moving reconnects us with our bodies in ways little else can. This connection is like a super-highway for any psychic trash that’s weighed us down, but it’s also the bridge we need to get to the other side.
Staying with your feelings might seem scary at first, but – in reality — our fear of feeling these emotions is often ten times worse than the actual experience of them.
Check out the chapter, “What You Want and Why That Matters” in the 100 Pounds eGuide Eat to Thrive. Discover how desire and compassion can health emotional eating. Find it here.
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