In pursuit of a healthier lifestyle, it’s tempting to add a new exercise regimen to your life.
Whether you are fat, unfit or just feel like you want to get healthier, it might seem like a good idea to add a gruelling workout to your daily to-do list. But do you know the real impact of exercise on your health and fertility and is it worth it?
Today I went to my first Crossfit class. I’ll be honest, I did have several trips to the toilet before I set off. I haven’t done any form of consistent intense exercise since Sebby was born (over 4 years ago). I’ve done a few yoga classes, some rebounding, cycling and hoop dance, but all of those were either at home or in a really safe space, where I knew I wouldn’t be pushed out of my comfort zone too much.
So what triggered me to start Crossfit? No, it wasn’t to lose weight. I’m trying very hard to give a lot less fucks about that. What I wanted to get from Crossfit was feeling like a badass, like I can do hard things (in a controlled environment #safetyfirstkids), to feel strong and above all else to take good care of myself.
Recently I feel like I’ve been massively neglecting my body, not taking care of it and not appreciating all the incredible things it can do. So this is where we are and I have to say, post Crossfit, I feel bloody brilliant. I know it’s going to difficult to motivate myself to go regularly but I’m so proud of myself for completing everything and for actually giving myself the opportunity to try new things.
But what does all this have to do with exercise and fertility?
The first thing you need to know about exercise is that it causes your body stress. It’s supposed to.
Raising your heart rate causes your body to release stress hormones so that you are ready. In cavemen times, we would conserve precious energy until we were under threat, then choosing to either run or fight (commonly called the fight or flight response). This is what stress is and why it’s even a thing.
But we don’t have these situations in our society anymore. Our stress is caused by looking at the credit card bill or getting called into a meeting with our boss.
Exercise is an artificial situation where we are causing our bodies to be stressed. To a certain level, keeping our body fit is great for our health and fertility. With sedentary jobs, we need to be moving our bodies so our bodies can function well and regulate its millions of functions.
But when you exercise hard and often, that stress can be detrimental. Your body things its in a life or death situation and when that happens, all your energy and nutrients are diverted to your heart, muscles and pumping blood round your body – the things that are going to keep you alive. The nutrients and energy are diverted away from your digestion and your reproduction because these are deemed non essential when you might not make it through the day.
In extreme circumstances this can cause the condition Hypothalamic Amenorrhea (HA), which means your periods stop altogether.
Time for a reframe
So how can we create a good relationship with exercise whilst getting pregnant?
Exercise should not be a punishment
If you are exercising to punish yourself for not being skinny enough, for eating too much or because you are not happy with how you look in anyway,
Exercise is not a punishment for your body. We should be doing exercise in order to look after our bodies.
I fell into the punishment trap for a long time and it only led to a more dysfunctional relationship with my body. I know sometimes it feels like our bodies are working against us but they are doing the best with what we give them. We need to cultivate loving relationships with our bodies and the best way to start? Stop the punishing!
Find a way to move your body you love
We are all different and so are our bodies. Find a way to move yours that you love. That makes you happy every time you do it. Try something new but find something that works for you and makes you feel good.
Maybe your jam is line dancing, team sports, golf, hiking, ice skating, bmxing, weight lifting, hot yoga……. the possibilities are endless. Don’t be afraid to try things that excite you.
Know that you are worthy
Your body is worth loving so hard that you do everything you can to take care of it in the best possible way. After all you only have one and it can do incredible things so take advantage of that and go out and have fun!