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

 

Practicing Mindfulness And Self-Care

Tamera Mowry mindfulness

Practicing mindfulness and making daily efforts towards self-care sounds simple enough, right? The idea that we wouldn’t take care of ourselves, and would neglect to make a conscious effort to make our own lives happier and more fulfilled seems crazy — But I think we are all guilty of it from time to time! One quick Google search for ‘self-care’ yields about 51,400,000 results, so it is safe to say that I am not alone in being the only one who has to make a special effort to check in with myself!

Life gets busy! We have work and family and friendships and households to maintain, and before you know it, days quickly become spent caring for everyone else. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love caring for my children and husband, and I feel so incredibly blessed to have my career. It’s an absolute honor and privilege to have the responsibilities in my life that I do. I am a very full and fulfilled wife, mom, sister, daughter and friend! However, if I don’t make time for me, and time to very consciously care for myself, then I find that I am not the best version of me in these roles. There were definitely times in my life when I wasn’t making time for mindfulness and self-care, and I remember just feeling so depleted — Like I was constantly giving so much, and was always on the edge of frustration.

I have learned that to check in with myself each day, and have a little quiet time devoted just to me is so important. Every morning, I take a few minutes to stretch alone, and then whenever I can, I try and take a short walk. Spending this little bit of time by myself really helps me to feel grounded and centered with my own thoughts. Sometimes the mind can get cluttered with other people’s opinions about our life or career, and taking some alone time to digest your own thoughts and feelings, and to trust yourself, can bring about so much clarity.

Exercise has always been a really important part of my life, and was always one of the biggest ways that I devoted time to self-care. After injuring my back about a year ago, this brought my regular exercise routine to a halt, and for a moment, my daily self-care. I realized that I would have to adjust, not just so that my body could still exercise, but so that I was still carving out time that was just for me to be alone with myself. I’ll be honest with you, it was very frustrating at first to lose my routine and my ability to work out! I didn’t give up though. I now am able to do Pilates, as well as stretch deeply, and take long walks.

Working out is a huge source of mindfulness and self-care for me, but there are other ways that I sneak in self-care all throughout my day. I have found that taking three really deep breaths (and not just when you feel stress or frustration), makes me feel immediately calmer and serves as a little reminder to check in with myself and my feelings. I also reflect each day about all the things that I am thankful for. You can do this when you are driving, or even when you are in the shower. If you stop and spend 10-20 seconds thinking about all the things that are good and are a blessing in your life, soon it will become a habit and you will find yourself being a very thankful and more positive person. Finally, keeping a journal to write down my goals and also pen any frustrations, thoughts or inspirations is another regular practice of mine. You can even try journaling in bullet points, it doesn’t have to be a long process — There is something incredibly cathartic about writing down how you are feeling!

Taking time for me each day to be quiet and focused on my own thoughts, feelings and body has become completely essential, and is now a non-negotiable in my life. It’s as important as brushing my teeth each morning! As a result, I am an all-around happier person, and that energy is contagious and literally radiates onto my family. I know that by caring for myself, I am being the best wife, mom, sister, daughter and friend that I can be!

“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”
— Mother Theresa

I would love to know how you guys stay mindful and practice self-care each day! Comment and let me know! 

Xo
Tamera  

My Latest Workout Obsessions

It seems like every couple years a new type of workout craze takes over and we all want to see what the fuss is about. Fitness isn’t something that has ever been totally easy for me – every time I head to the gym I really push myself. By being open to new types of exercises (remember my spinning obsession?) I’m able to explore what works for me – and leave behind what doesn’t. This has worked wonders for my health, strength and happiness! It has even meant going back to some tried-and-true methods like my current favorite workouts below:

Tamera Mowry Workout Obsessions

Zumba. If you’ve ever walked by the private classrooms at your gym and seen a big group of people that look like they’re dancing to super loud, upbeat music – you may have come across Zumba! It made waves in the US several years ago and there’s a reason it’s still taught at gyms nationwide today – it really works, and it’s tons of fun. With Zumba, you follow your instructor’s mix of high and low intensity dance and aerobic exercises. This way, you actually get a really well-rounded workout without realizing it. With Zumba, there are tons of different exercises and separate dance moves incorporated to one in a fast paced session that’s not as tough to lock down as you’d think! This type of workout is my go-to when I want to burn calories, fast. It’s also a great choice if you’re dreading exercise. When you’re focused on the instructor, music and moves you will absolutely lose track of time.

Pilates. Another classic that I swear by is Pilates, which is a type of exercise dedicated to your body’s core. This is a perfect workout for those who have had injuries in the past or fear they’ll get one by other workouts (it was actually invented to help with injuries). Similarly to yoga, it’s based off of an expansive series of moves that require you to breathe, focus and control your body’s movements. Because of this, you’ll not only be strengthening your body, but improving your posture and flexibility. When you go to a class, you might use a Reformer to complete your exercises, but there are a lot of Pilates moves you can do at home too. Pilates is hard work, but it’s made me so much stronger and has really helped me tone my muscles.

Yoga. When I injured my back, yoga was something I had to incorporate out of necessity. I needed to take time to slow down, stretch and pay attention to every muscle. I love yoga because you can do every level of intensity from simple stretches to incredibly advanced moves that challenge your whole body. One of the biggest benefits I’ve found with yoga is stress relief. That alone makes it worth giving a try but there’s so much else it does too. A lot of people think all yoga does is increase your flexibility (and it does) but it also can strengthen and tone, assist your body in healing itself, increase your mindfulness and even aid in weight loss.

The best thing about each of these practices is that everyone can do them – no matter your strength or expertise. If you’re new to them, sign up for a beginner’s class (even if you plan to do them from home sometimes) so you can learn safe practices and proper form, or ask your doctor if they think it’s right for you. Once you take the time to explore different workouts, you’ll be so much more confident when gym day rolls around!

What’s your favorite workout at the moment?

Xx,
Tamera

How to Start an Exercise Regimen

You know what they say: the hardest part of anything is getting started. But it’s even harder when you don’t know how or where to start. If it’s been awhile since you worked out regularly or you’re new to the game, you probably have a lot of ideas swirling around your head about what a fitness routine looks like. (Any stereotypes coming to mind right now?) But once you get over the mental hurdle of what you think you can or can’t do and know that you’re capable of starting and sticking to a routine, you’ll be ready to dive in.

How to Start an Exercise Regimen - Tamera Mowry

So, where to begin? In starting an exercise regimen, there’s a few things to consider:

What are your goals? Write down why you’re starting a regimen and what’s important to you. Be specific; instead of saying “to be stronger” you might say “to be able to lift my child” etc. These will help when you choose the type of regimen!

 What types of activity do you like? Don’t think strictly workout, but what kinds of actions you’ve always enjoyed, like hiking, walking, sports, etc. You can translate this into a real regimen soon.

How much time + money can you commit? Think about how often you’ll realistically commit to a workout, such as 30 minutes a day or an hour three times a week. Also think about whether you can afford a gym membership, fitness classes, or personal training sessions. If they’re not in the budget right now, that’s totally okay—there are plenty of free ways to get active.

Now that you’ve sorted out your “musts”, you can begin exploring regimens. I won’t go into crazy detail here, but I definitely suggest taking all of the above into account. If you like outdoor activity, for example, consider jogging in your neighborhood or morning hikes as an option—especially if you’re looking for free ways to get in shape. Or, if you have a budget and want to learn a very specific type of exercise, research classes you can take to build your skills.

Lastly, here are three more tips for when you’re ready to begin:

Talk to a pro. Consult a doctor, personal trainer, teacher, or even just the friendly faces that greet you at the gym—so you can begin with confidence. If you’re a generally active person, you may not think it necessary, but remember that they’re trained to know all the ins and outs. Even simply taking the introductory tour at a gym can put you at ease when it comes time to climb on those machines.

Find a buddy—if you want. Some people like working out solo to clear their heads and focus inward, but if that’s not you (or something you want to work up to), that’s fine! Recruit a friend who will encourage and motivate. If that’s not an option, consider group activities such as Pilates or Spin class—though they’re completed individually, the energy from the group setting will inspire you.

Take it slow. Working out is all about working up. There are plenty of areas in life where you can just dive in and see what works, but when it comes to physical health, you want to do it right—trust me, it’s not worth an injury! Find a balance between pushing yourself and knowing your limits and you’ll find it easy to make this lifestyle change truly stick.

Once you figure these things out, you can narrow it down and tailor your regimen. Click here to read my tips on finding the right fitness routine for you.

What’s your workout regimen?

Xx,
Tamera

Mommy Makeover: The Best Ways to Stay Motivated

All throughout my mommy makeover journey, I’ve had to stay on top of my motivation. It’s so easy to get discouraged when you’re not up to a certain challenge or not feeling so fabulous at the gym, but I find that if I can keep up the motivation, I can power through these doubtful moments. And once you complete that workout or get to the next checkpoint, all doubts fade away. It really is worth it in the end to reach the health and fitness goals you set, so here’s how I’m keeping my mind in check along the way.

Workout Motivation

Don’t just weigh yourself.
Well, let’s back up. Don’t weigh yourself before you’re ready. This goes for any weight loss regimen, sometimes you really need to get going before even looking in the scale’s direction. But when you’re ready to track results, don’t just step on the scale. I’ll be the first to tell you! When you make big changes to your health and fitness, you’ll see your body change in lots of ways. You’ll often see those results reflected in measurements, not weight. Right now it’s about increasing endurance and regaining strength. I’m seeing results each time I measure my arms, legs, waist, etc. – with a new fitness plan, you’ll even see it in your neck. If I were only looking on the scale, I would easily lose motivation.

Build a foundation.
This is tough to learn – and re-learn – time and time again. You have to realize that once you have a foundation, everything will be easier. If you’ve recently had a baby, you can’t go straight into what you did before the past 9 months! So build that foundation just by showing up everyday and powering through whatever level you’re on at the moment, and know that once you do, you’ll be able to conquer anything.

Switch it up.
When I wrote about my best workout methods I talked about how insanely important it has been for me to switch up my workouts. There is nothing worse than feeling chained to the treadmill! Especially when you are working yourself up to levels you’ve been at before or really hope to be. Getting stuck in the same routine is not only how you get bored, but you start to get in your head about what you should be doing how fast you should be doing it. When you’re distracted by learning new workouts, it goes by faster and the results come with it.

Treat yourself to new gear.
I can’t explain what a HUGE difference this TINY change makes. Going through this process, I’ve caught myself filling up with doubts and just feeling less than confident every now and then. I don’t need the added pressure of not feeling good in my own clothes! Simply by investing in a new pair of shoes – which makes you more comfortable when working out anyway – an awesome new sports bra or some killer yoga pants, you’ll feel ready to take on these challenges. Plus, if going to the gym or walking in your neighborhood intimidates you, this will make all the difference. It’s almost like a mind trick – once you feel better in the clothes, it’s easier to work out, and easier to make real change beyond those clothes.

What do you do when you feel unmotivated to work out? I’ll add your tips to my list!

Xx,
Tamera

Wear It: Workout Fashion Essentials

One of the most motivating things you can do when you get serious about working out is treat yourself to some new clothes. First off, this will increase your confidence and desire to get started. That alone makes it worth the investment (especially when navigating post-pregnancy body changes). But you also want your active wear to do its job – be comfy and fitting, not invasive, and definitely not distracting to your workout. Fitness clothing can be an investment, and you don’t need to choose all name brands – however if there’s any type of clothing that truly requires quality, it’s this! Here’s a handy checklist I created to help you get started:

Wear It: Workout Fashion Essentials | Tamera Mowry

1. UA women’s tech v-neck / 2. Nike dri-fit run crop / 3. FTP yoga shorts / 4. Racerback sports bra / 5. Twist tank top / 6. Fleece hoodie jacket / 7. Pullover hoodie / 8. Sport headbands / 9. Asics /

Tops & sports bras. Some women are more comfortable just working out in a big T and others want a more fitted, moisture wicking top. Whatever you do, make sure it’s one that you can sweat in and that either offers support or fits with a sports bra underneath. If you workout at the gym or by running on the street, make sure your tops, tanks and sports bras are pieces you feel confident and comfortable in!

Pants. Pants are an area you don’t want to skimp on. With so many see-through leggings marketed as yoga pants, it’s easy to end up with something that tears easily or worse, is see-through! Having a pair of spandex shorts handy is good for the at home yoga sesh or super hot days.

Long sleeve. It’s nice to have long sleeve tops, especially if you do any exercising outdoors. Zip hoodies are also good for post-workout wear, so you can just throw it on if you have run an errand… And let’s be honest, this WILL make an appearance in your everyday wardrobe too. 

Hair. I think I speak for everyone when I say that there is nothing worse than bouncing up and down on the elliptical with a head full of hair bouncing with you. Might as well buy a pack of hair ties or headbands now, and save yourself the headache…Lol.

Shoes. Last but not least, shopping for fitness shoes isn’t quite as thrilling as looking for a great pair of pumps, but you really can’t do a single workout without ‘em! When your shoes are getting worn and just not cutting it anymore, this is the first thing to upgrade.

The great news is that you don’t need an entire closet full of clothes for this – a couple outfits will do the trick. Any workout gear you swear by to get the job done?

Xx,
Tamera