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

 

  • MC Rosa

    Hi Tamara
    I suffer from chronic pain for years. I was told I have inflammatory arthritis and fibromyalgia. I have tried to challenge this on my own for years but the pain is unbearable at times. It’s hard for me because I have tried to see so many Dr’s and therapist and have has no solution it seems the pain gets worse. Unfortunately my insurance doesn’t pay for everything and I cannot afford going out of my insurance. I can relate to the frustration you had because this can really be tabulating, I am so happy you found the right people to help you out. Btw love watching you on the real. Y’all are really funny and down to earth. Good luck with everything.

  • Ploy Inster

    I have so much pain day in and out. I keep an enjoyment mindset with all I think and or do, it anit easy on so many different issues some which you examples accurately.

  • TaeKeira Jhaundäe Jackson

    I love this. Thank you for sharing, Tam!

  • Jananne Stetler

    Yes! I used to have back pain all of the time! My parents then recommended that I go see a chiropractor but not just any chiropractor, a Maximized Living chiropractor. They not only specialize in adjustments to help you with your pain but also help you in preventative care. I have seen where people have been able to go off of medications with their help. It was the best decision going to Maximized Living! I have never felt better and am back pain free!

  • Ro yo boat

    OMG I recently hurt my SI joint too. I do kickboxing and I got hurt and didn’t realise until a few weeks later when my back was aching in the cold whilst we were on a mission trip. I haven’t don’t much kickboxing since eoctober and it’s bothering me. I did some physio and I’m just not motivated to do the exercises alone at home because it sometimes hurts even after doing some lifting or pushing around the house. what exercises have you been doing and what keeps you motivated?

  • Tina Luffman

    Hi Tamera,

    Great article and thank you for sharing your journey.

    As for me mine happened back in 1997 I was in a car accident, we were rear ended and I got whiplash, I went and had physiotherapy done on my neck for two months and things felt better.

    Near the beginning of 1998 I started feeling a pain in my left pelvis when I walked, I went to my doctor and he had me get x-rays done. And that was when I found out that I have Gradethree Spondylolisthesis, which is a degenerative disease on the disk of my spine, my vertebrae is being eaten away and there is no cure.

    First thing I did was go to a Chiropractor bi-weekly for adjustments.

    Second thing I did was learn more about it, there isn’t a lot of information on it which is frustrating.

    I also use ice packs as my back swells up in my lower back, and I also listen to my body with what I can and can’t do.

    In 2013 and 2014 the pain increases to where I couldn’t walk far, I stop and almost be in tears because it hurt so much. I be in bed for four months with ice packs and Advil.

    I ended up going to a pain specialist and tried a few things with them, but they were no longer able to help me as all my pain is coming from my disk.

    I am now on disability, I still go to my chiropractor for some relief and I do my ice packs. I also write about my pain on a blog.

    I’m now looking into doing the anti-inflammatory to get rid of more pain.

  • Habibah Horne

    Still deal with back pain before and after my c section. Girl just keep going. Take care love ones💕💕💕😘😘😘 always blessed

  • mega

    Hello Dear! So happy to read you are getting back to normal and you are feeling better within yourself just remember life starts at 40 x

  • Sammie Baydaline

    Hey Tamera,
    I’m a HUGE fan of you and look up to you in so many ways. I’m a PT aide and with my experience, when you have a pain from an injury or a surgery, you have to look at the surrounding areas to really localize where the problem is. I’m happy you finally found a PT that fits your needs. It’s reallt unfortunate that PT isn’t required after giving birth, especially for cases involving C-Sections. Keep doing your stuff and I know you will finally see the light at the end of the tunnel :) good luck <3, Sammie

  • Zugeily Baez

    Hi Tamara I am a mommy of 5 which I delivered through c-section. I’ve been suffering from back pains for a long time and have also done physical therapy and this information is going to help me to see what is going on with me

  • Mariana nevarez perez

    Hi tamera, im a big fan of yours since i was little. I haven’t had a c-section but i was diagnosed at 12 years old with scoliosis meaning that my back was in a curve, actually 2 curves. I had my surgery at 14 years old and now a days that i am 21 i use sometimes kinesiology tape to help with the pain when i spend a lot of time seated or on the same position and it actually works. I recommend you to check if it actually can help you

    Love and greetings from mexico 😘

  • Shaina Siliga Ava

    Omg. I have been experiencing the EXAXT same thing. The junk park is that I’m in the phase where the doctors seem baffled. I have had ideas as to what could be problematic and what might help us narrow things down, but my docs have instead decided to do the exact opposite and my PT exercises feel like they are making my injury worse. I had 1 c section, but you’re so right….it makes total sense that the muscles would be difficult to strengthen after being cut into and told that during recovery, you need to pretty much refrain from doing ANYTHING that would stretch or strengthen the muscle, for fear of tearing something else. None of my doctors have attributed it to that, but it makes complete sense to me. Thanks for the words of inspiration!

  • Leñía Jeñee

    Reading this made my back hurt.i am so glad and glory to God for finding a solution to you pain!

  • Cherry Garcia

    Hi. I too deal with back pain and was told by my PT that hes been treating me for sachrial illiad joint as well. I am most uncomfortable sitting for any period of time. Does any one relate and how do you get thru? Apparently, everything includes sitting! 😊

  • Jessica Torruella

    This is just wonderful information. I have been suffering from back pain (at least now I believe it SI pain) since my daughter was born, almost 4 years now. I too, have had 2 C-sections and I have x-rays, cat-scans, therapy and nothing has worked. I like to believe that I live a healthy lifestyle, but am going to try your recipes and mention this to my doctors as they believe the pain is all in my head. Thanks Tam!

  • Jessica Torruella

    Additionally, Can please, please, please either respond to my thread and/or post about the do’s and don’t of your diet. On dime speak, you mentioned not eating meat from 9-5pm. What constitutes meat? as vegan, i believe do not eat eggs ether. Please advise, as I am desperate to elevate the pain and my doctors are not helping me. THANK YOU SO MUCH!