• Megan Schall

My Health Journey Part 2

In today’s installment, part two of my health journey evolution. If you missed part 1, you can find it here.

Last time I left off I had finally gotten myself into a regular exercise routine during college, had started paying more attention to and tracking what I was eating (aka: counting calories), and I was seeing results. I was feeling good and wanted not only to keep improving, but also to avoid going backwards...which is where things went a little astray.

At this point I was becoming more and more interested in health and fitness but I didn’t have any formal education – besides what I was reading in magazines and online (which as we know, isn’t always the pinnacle of reliable and well-researched information) I was still just sort of making it up as I went.

And from what I was reading, in order to keep ‘improving’ I had to keep doing more. More intense workouts, longer runs, more strict nutrition protocols. As someone who is a rule follower, I did all of these things as much as possible.

I really enjoyed running and was considering a half marathon, so I was running six days a week anywhere from 5-6 miles most days to 10-13 miles once or twice a week. I was doing my best to eat well and fuel my training, but there was always this slight fear in the back of my mind that any deviation from what I was doing (and what worked to get me to this place) would mean I was moving backwards.

Fear can sometimes be a good short-term motivator, but it’s also stressful, and it started to take away from the enjoyment of the process. Eating well and exercising were becoming things I did in order to not lose progress, rather than to feel good. I was doing the same things every day not because I really wanted to but because it was familiar and made me feel in control.

And then I got injured. First it was a stress fracture in my right heel. When that healed and I began running again, the same thing happened in my left heel. After a second rehab stint, when my foot started to hurt again, I finally accepted that long distance running probably wasn’t my thing.

But instead of seeing these injuries as a sign that what I was doing wasn’t working, I just looked for a replacement for all the running I had been doing. Enter: spin class! Since I could ride a bike without pain even while my fracture was healing, spinning quickly took up the space that running used to occupy.

Not only did I start going to spin classes six days a week, but I eventually started teaching classes myself. I would teach four times a week, go to another instructor’s class once a week, and do a ‘practice’ ride to map out my class playlist every week, for a grand total of about 6 hours of spinning (just thinking about that now makes me want to cry lol).

At the same time, I had now completed my personal trainer certification and was learning more about the importance of strength training and the benefits of incorporating heavier lifting. Plus, there was a new wave of thinking that was emerging around females and strength training, beyond the use of small/light weights and endless cardio that has been spewed to women forever. There were many expert voices advocating for women to be training the same way as men have been for years: lifting heavy weights and ditching the never ending elliptical or treadmill sessions.

This idea that getting strong is one of the best ways to stay healthy and also works wonders for body composition was very intriguing, but also kind of terrifying. How could I possibly stop doing all this cardio and maintain the same results? I was experiencing some serious cognitive dissonance here. I really believed and was inspired by what I was hearing, and I was even starting to send the same message to clients, yet I was still spinning my life away and doing the bare minimum when it came to weight training.

Not only that, but clear signs of burnout were staring me in the face. I dreaded my workouts, was stressing about food and what I “should” or “shouldn’t” eat, and felt tired all the time. But changing what I was doing, what had worked to get me results, still felt harder than staying where I was - even though it was obviously not working for me anymore.

And then came the pivotal moment: I signed up for a training seminar in Kentucky that flipped my world upside down and became a major turning point for my own health, my career as a trainer, and pretty much my entire life trajectory from there forward.

In the next installment of this series, what happened in Kentucky, how I was finally able to change my actions to match my thinking, and addressing the long-term side effects of burnout. The journey evolution continues!

And as promised, a nice quote to end on:

“When we practice generating compassion, we can expect to experience the fear of our pain. Compassion practice is daring. It involves learning to relax and allow ourselves to move gently toward what scares us.”

- Pema Chodron, The Places That Scare You

Are you on your own health journey or evolution? Do you have questions about where to go next or where to start? I'd love to hear your story! Get in touch with me here.

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