How I Learned to Listen to My Body

Tamera Mowry

The past year I have been dealing with a pretty frustrating injury. No matter what I did, my back never seemed to get better. After countless doctors’ visits, and trying different courses of treatment, I found myself half way down a very long road, with what felt like no end in sight. I know I’m not alone, and I’m sure many of you can relate to the total frustration of going from being very healthy and physically fit, to suddenly unable to live your life the way you are used to (I couldn’t even pick up my daughter).

I’m happy to report that today, I am finally starting to feel like I am on the mend, and have found the right treatment plan for me. As frustrating as this journey has been, there are a few blessings that have come out of it (as there always are). First off, I overhauled my diet quite a bit to eliminate any inflammation causing foods (I wrote about that last week), and that made a big difference for my overall health and energy. Second, and what I want to talk about today with you guys, is that I also learned how to really listen to my body.

It sounds simple enough, and we get told to do it all the time — Every time I take a workout class, or read something about meditation or mindfulness, I hear statements like ‘listen to your body, it knows what it needs’. I’ll be honest with you guys, I thought I understood what that meant … Things like knowing when you’re tired, or hungry or need to exercise — And while those needs are real too, I have learned that listening to your body goes much deeper than that.

Despite working with different doctors and physical therapists, my back wasn’t improving, and my pain was increasing. I began to get really discouraged and frustrated. Anyone who has experienced prolonged pain will attest to the fact that after a while, you get to the end of your rope! Living with pain day in and day out, all while trying to keep up with your responsibilities, becomes very tiring both physically and mentally.

It was at this point of exhaustion and frustration that I decided I had enough. Something wasn’t right, and I didn’t understand why I wasn’t getting better. I made the conscious decision that I was going to get to the bottom of this injury, and figure out what the heck was going on — The only problem was that I had no idea what the heck was going on.

I decided to start by getting really clear on how the injury was affecting me, and noticing everything about my body, and specifically, my pain …. I mean, like take notes on how do I feel at all times of the day, kind of noticing. As someone who doesn’t like to complain, I have to say this was a lot harder than it sounds. What really jumped out at me though during this process was that I had a gut instinct all along about what was and wasn’t working for my body.

Always trust your gut. Sometimes, therapists may tell you things you should be doing, that you instinctively know you just shouldn’t. I worked with a couple different therapists, and knew something still wasn’t right. So, I went and saw a back specialist, Dr. Watkins.  He seriously is the best!  My husband referred me to him through a really good friend of his who had suffered back pain for years as well. Dr. Watkins pointed me in the right direction.  I knew when he looked at me and said, ‘we are going to figure this out’, that he would, and he did!! I did all the tests I needed to get in order to get all the information we needed. Make sure you always keep trying to figure things out if something doesn’t seem right! You have to listen to your own body, and trust your own instincts.

In actuality, it turned out to be my SI joint all along, not my back. The back pain was just referred pain. I can honestly say I was so happy when we found out the culprit. A lot of women who have babies can develop this injury. My two c sections, and lack of core and SI strength, enabled this pain. So, turns out that all I needed was trunk stabilization. So simple right?!

Now that I know what I have to do, the rest of the journey begins. My exercises are what gets me through the day, and what are helping me to heal in the process — But they are no walk in the park. It takes a while to build strength when your abs had been cut open twice. Doctors don’t really tell you that after you have a c section. However, there is a direct correlation between c sections and back-pain. I now have the most amazing physical therapist … It took me awhile to find her! Her name is Grace. But what I love most about her is that she is very optimistic, genuinely cares for patients, and simply knows what she is doing with post-partum mommies.

I’m grateful for my journey, and even for this setback, now that I look back at it. It taught me to always trust my gut, listen to my body, and eat healthier. I’m finally starting to look and feel like myself again. I had to get two cortisone shots in my SI joint, and I gained 10 pounds from the steroids — Not fun. However, I’ve already lost 9 of those. I’m hoping that by sharing my journey, I am able to help someone else on theirs.

Know that in your trials you aren’t in it alone, and that one day, it will become your testimony.

Have you guys ever had to take an injury or health matter into your own hands? I would love to know your tips for taking control of your health!  

Xx
Tamera

 

My Pregnancy Fitness Routine

It’s easy to make excuses as soon as you get pregnant not to work out –bringing food to mouth counts as bicep curls right? But really, in the beginning it’s the morning sickness and by month nine it’s the lack of energy and all of the other third trimester issues. Honestly those are good reasons. But I’ve always felt it was important to continue some type of workout throughout my pregnancy to keep my muscles strong and body feeling good (exercise releases endorphins which helps with our mood and ability to manage pain).

My Pregnancy Exercises | Tamera Mowry

Through this pregnancy I’ve been working with Helene of LA Rox. She was phenomenal during and after my pregnancy with Aden, so it was a no brainer to work with her again. Because every trimester our bodies change, Helene put together routines that target different muscles and a range of exercises to keep this momma motivated.

At the start of my first trimester the focus was on muscles that will be compromised during pregnancy. Here’s Helene’s list of each body part and why we focus on these early on:

The Lower Back – because we women hold so much weight from the baby bump.
The Shoulders – because they will be used a lot more for lifting baby and car seats etc.
The Legs – because they are the largest muscle group in our bodies and become weaker while pregnant. Most women have less energy during the first trimester and are less active. Leg strength helps with pushing the baby out of the body, so keeping those strong is the focus.
The Arms – because toned arms (biceps and triceps) make moms feel fit and leaner too.
The Chest and Hips – because they help keep the body balanced.

By combining pilates, yoga, core, strength and resistant training through intervals of 3-5 exercises – with bursts of cardio in between – Helene makes me sweat. It’s so gratifying afterward though! Strengthening my body so it can be its healthiest, along with a good diet, makes me confident that I’m doing the right thing for my baby. By trimester two we switched to a modified versions of my original pregnancy exercises. There were a little more weights and reps, but nothing too crazy.

My Pregnancy Exercises | Tamera Mowry

It’s the third trimester that has been drastically different and the workouts I’m enjoying right now. We almost exclusively do aqua sessions. With a series of resistant exercises completed with Helene’s water training tools and laps of swimming with fins, kick boards and hand fins in between, it’s the perfect workout. Helene says, “The pool is a perfect environment for women to feel zero gravity pull from the baby bump.”At a time when I can barely bend over to pick something I drop up off the ground, the pool provides the perfect resistance without me struggling too badly through a workout.

My Pregnancy Exercises | Tamera Mowry

Getting that workout in!

By keeping my body strong throughout pregnancy we’re heightening my balance and strength. So when my girl is born, I’ll be stronger and more energized. A must when there will be plenty of sleepless nights and a family to take care of. And an added benefit to training while pregnant? Getting my pre-baby body back will be much easier. You mommas know what I’m talking about!

Xx,
Tamera

Find out more about Helene on her site LA Rox and follow her on social, here

4 Reasons to Love Spinning Classes

Spinning has been one of the trendier workouts for awhile now, and I personally love it. There are so many benefits of taking a spin class that I think it’s a routine that will be around for years to come. It being less-than-ideal workout weather in much of the country right now, it seems a great time to share how a spin class can really change up your exercise game!

YAS-Venice-Spin-Room-580x320For those who haven’t tried it, “spinning” is a specific type of instructor-led cycling workout. While you may ride the stationary bike at your gym, doing it with others in a group setting can mean a more intense and fulfilling work out. What really makes the class is the people around you, all working their hardest, ultimately keeping your momentum up. The fact that you burn calories at a higher rate than many workouts (roughly 500 or 600 per class) and that it can be very motivating are just two reasons I love spin, but it’s much more than that:

Perfect for winter workouts

Like I said, this is a great way for those of us who enjoy exercising outside to still get a workout in when that’s not an option. Winter is also a notoriously ‘bad’ workout season, as the cold weather and holidays can mean a huge detour from our healthier springs and summers. Just signing up for the class signifies a commitment, and it’s much harder to justify skipping it when you know it’s going to take an hour or less of your time – just perfect for squeezing in among other tasks during the holiday season!

Gets you out of your workout rut

Even if you do push yourself your hardest during every workout sesh, you may eventually get board of your fave machines or find your routine isn’t challenging anymore. Enter: spin! With music to get you pumped up and an instructor who pushes you, just a few classes are sure to shift how you feel about working out. Maybe you’ll find that this is definitely you’re ‘thing’ or maybe you’ll have a new appreciation for the elliptical… Either way, it’s a win.

A great intro to fitness classes

If you’ve peeked in on fitness classes at your gym but never really felt comfortable enough to actually join your peers in attempting coordinated dance routines, this is the perfect foray into fitness classes. You get the group setting – and all the support and encouragement that come with it – without as many potential disasters. It’s a mostly solo effort that just so happens to take place in a group. Some spin classes even take place in the dark! Lol.

It’s a workout for all levels

One of the reasons spin has become so popular is because it really is a workout for everyone. Both the athlete and the person who has never taken a class before will benefit. A single class often operates in intervals, so you aren’t likely to find one person who thinks it’s a total breeze and another who can’t push the pedal. Plus, you are ultimately in control of the bike’s settings, so if something becomes too much, you won’t need to quit, just adjust accordingly.

Still aren’t sure if spin is your thing? Read this post to find out which fitness routine is right for you!

Xx,
Tamera

Photo: YAS fitness centers in Venice, CA

5 Activities You Didn’t Know Were Workouts

When it comes to being active and maintaining your health, every bit counts. Even if you don’t have time to hit the gym, little things you do during your day make a difference. It’s helpful to know that when I don’t have time to complete a full-on workout, I’ve remained active during my day. And Adam and I love to go evening walks with Aden whenever we can, and do things like take the stairs over the elevator. Ever wake up sore one morning and wonder why, only to find out it’s because the elevator was out of service and you had to walk up 6 flights of stairs that day? – that’s how you know the little things work!

While just walking up stairs should never replace an exercise regimen 100%, there are ways you can tweak those activities in order to reap their benefits, causing you to be that much healthier. You can even increase your endurance and muscle tone with these small changes.

5 Activities You Didn't Know Were Workouts | TameraMowry.com

See all 5 activities that can easily become workouts below: 

When you can’t find parking…
Circling the block for 10 minutes could easily be a 10-minute workout. Sure, it’s inconvenient if it’s raining and you have 10 bags of groceries, but it DOES benefit your health. Parking farther away means fitting in a walk you otherwise may not get to. You might even be rewarded by not having to pay for parking or having to deal with as much traffic.

Your evening walk…
You may think that strolling around the block with your baby or pup in tow isn’t worth much, but a 150lb person burns about 230 calories just by walking at a moderate pace for an hour. Easily turn that into a more intense workout by picking up speed or rounding your distance up to the nearest mile. You won’t even notice you were at it for the extra minutes, yet you’ll burn those calories.

When the elevator is full…
 Sometimes taking the elevator or escalator is more trouble than it’s worth. With a group of people vying for the elevator in a busy place, the stairs can be a welcome breath of fresh air, and even less time consuming. You’ll regain energy and quickly forget about the tiny detour – until you realize how it positively impacted your day. If you have the choice between stairs and an elevator at your office, at the subway station, or mall, challenge yourself to take the stairs. You’ll be surprised at how much it helps improve the strength of your legs.

Coffee run time…
Be the one who volunteers to run an errand for the rest of your coworkers, and you’ll not only be helpful to others, you’ll be able to step out of your workplace and get moving for a moment. It truly counts when you have to be in the same place for several hours, and taking a break can work wonders for stress and productivity as well as physical health.

Yard work day…
A day spent working in the yard is a pain for some people, but it helps to think of it as a day you can accomplish two tasks in one – a workout, and a tidied outdoor space. Things like pulling weeds, gardening, mowing the lawn, landscaping, etc., all burn calories and work your muscles. These activities can even mean burning up to 400 calories an hour!

Do you have any sneaky ways to be active on days you can’t actually workout? Share them with everyone below!

Xx,
Tamera

Which Fitness Routine is Right for You?

Fitness Plan | Tamera Mowry

Regular exercise is known to decrease stress and contribute to happiness. It’s just as rewarding mentally as it is physically. However, starting a fitness routine can be overwhelming given all the options. From cycling to Pilates to just plain ol’ going on a jog, it takes a little trial and error to see what works best for you. Here are a few in particular to get you started, along with the benefits of each:

Jogging

Going for a run is the classic way to get your heart rate up, release endorphins, and burn calories. The best part is that if you get bored, you can always change up your location.

Perfect for: Those who want a free workout that they can do anywhere at any skill level. Especially if you love the outdoors. It’s great for those who don’t mind if other people see them getting their workout on. Jogging is perfect for beginners because you can start and stop at any time, and if you feel like it, you can always run faster!

Spin Class

I love spin. It’s a high intensity endurance workout that burns an insane amount of calories in a relatively short period of time. Plus, it’s a group effort so you have the support of the other people in the class and the instructor to keep you motivated.

Perfect for: Anyone who loves group workouts, and those who are externally motivated. It’s also great for people who want to push themselves to new limits, and people who love cycling already, but want something in between actual bike rides.

Pilates

Pilates is a workout that challenges your body in terms of strength, flexibility, and balance. It’s an all-over workout that doesn’t just target one muscle group, so you can expect to see improvements across the board.

Perfect for: People seeking increased strength and flexibility, and those who want to be more in tune with their bodies. Also for those who have had previous injuries or want to prevent future ones, as it emphasizes technique. With Pilates, you can exercise in the comfort of your own home, though it’s also a popular group activity.

Yoga

Yoga strengthens and increases flexibility at the same time, which is difficult to get from weight training. Regular yoga can increase serotonin levels, among other mental benefits, allowing you to de-stress and find happiness. People who practice yoga generally feel less stressed.

Perfect for: Those who want to improve mental health just as much as physical, and increase harmony with the body and mind. If you want to tone your body and feel more relaxed, this workout would be worth a try. Just as with Pilates, it also helps prevent injuries and balance the body.

Aerobics/Dance

Cardio workouts like aerobics, dancing, jogging, and swimming all increase endurance, strength, and muscle-tone, while decreasing fat. If you want to lose weight, some sort of cardio workout is a must. Dancing helps you do all this in a fun, yet fast-paced way. There are so many routines out there, head to the gym or grab a DVD for ideas!

Perfect for: Dancing is great for people who love to get moving, but tire of regular jogging, and really love to make their workouts fun. It works for solo workouts from the comfort of your living room and group exercises at the gym.

This is by no means an all-inclusive list! Add in your favorite type of workout below.

Xx,
Tamera

Photo: Womens Health Magazine