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Taking Steps, Making Progress

Much thanks for all of the music suggestions. I’ve already started listening to The Lumineers radio on Pandora. Can’t wait to check out some of the artists and download some of the songs you recommended! I love it when we can all information share like this. Just yesterday I finally orderd a new blow dryer based on your feedback!

Today I want to talk about taking care of yourself. I will never deny that I thrive on being busy but sometimes I have a tendancy to overextend myself. Recently, I’ve really tried to rein that in a bit. I’m working to get better at prioritizing and simplifying some things in my life. Over the last couple of months I have taken the following steps to create a better balance in my life:

– Eliminated most early morning workouts/classes from my schedule in order to allow for 7-8 hours (or more) of sleep per night. This is an improvement over the 5-6 that I averaged for years.
– Took a vacation!
– Took a break from teaching yoga at the studio (although I have been doing some subbing some classes here and there.)
– Embracing rest days, especially when they’re unplanned and I have to take them because my day gets crazy. I’m learning to cut myself some slack.
– Commited to focus on body work in order to feel better and move better.

Let’s get into the body work. I don’t blog about this because I don’t want to continually whine about it but my right hip has been bothering me for a really long time. It’s the main reason why I have cut back on running so much. I can do things like lift weights, practice yoga and other forms of cardio but running just really irritates it. I have so much tightness in the back side of my body – hamstrings, glutes, hips – and I know that the only way I can fix the issues is to commit to doing the body work.

Yesterday I started seeing a massage therapist again. She focuses on neuromuscular therapy so our sessions are not relaxing to say the least. It’s more like her talking to me to distract me as she digs deep, deep, deep into trigger points trying get them to release. There were literally moments when I wanted to cry and I’m so sore from it today but it was so worth it.  I was able to run (granted it was only 400 meter sprints) with zero pain last night. It’s crazy because most of my pain/tightness is on my right side but the left is more painful to have worked. It’s called referred pain.

I’m going to see her weekly for a few weeks and then bi-weekly. The goal is to eventually move to monthly appointments. I believe that this is 100% worth the investment. No pill that I could take can help my muscles in the same way. This is why it is SO IMPORTANT to maintain a stretching and self-myofascial release (foam rolling) regimen.

The best thing about my therapist is that she uses coconut oil for the massage. It’s not just good for cooking with but as a moisturizer too! I’m not all greasy and in need of a shower when I finish. Instead, I have soft skin and I smell delightful! 🙂

While we’re on the topic of coconut, dinner last night was green coconut curry. I went over to a friend’s condo for Thai take out, wine, Olympics and amazing views.

Seriously amazing views. She just moved into a new place with two-story floor to ceiling windows. It was so nice just to stay in, catch up and hang out. And yay for the U.S. Women’s gymnastics team!

How do you dial it back when things get a little overwhelming? And do you believe in massage/body work? 

{ 41 comments… add one }
  • 1
    Kate August 1, 2012, 10:17 pm

    i LOVE the lumineers! they’re actually from my town in nj, my brother used to play with them/record them before they were the lumineers (check ’em out they were called 6cheek) and he gave the drummer lessons…i love to see how successful they’ve become in such a short time after leaving NJ! Such a fantastic and talented group!!

    • 2
      Jen August 3, 2012, 12:45 pm

      kate – that is so cool! i love it when i have special connections to music like that. i’m loving the so far!

  • 3
    Kimberly August 1, 2012, 10:42 pm

    I think what you are doing is so smart. Looks like you are soaking up the down time 🙂 I am planning to come to one of the yoga classes you are subbing! See you soon!

    • 4
      Jen August 3, 2012, 12:46 pm

      awesome! look forward to seeing you! 🙂

  • 5
    Joanna August 1, 2012, 11:00 pm

    I currently work at a chiropractic office and we have an on staff LMT and she is fabulous. Our Chiropractors refer people to her all the time and it is definitely a great way to get some toxins and tightness from your muscles. My last massage was painful too but it is so worth it later huh?!?

    • 6
      Jen August 3, 2012, 12:46 pm

      it is SO worth it.

  • 7
    Sana August 2, 2012, 12:01 am

    You will totally notice the diff with massage therapy. My PT was very hands on and my body just felt so amazing. Healing touch!

  • 8
    Ally August 2, 2012, 12:07 am

    It truly makes me happy when I hear people taking steps like you have to take care of themselves. It’s so important! It’s great to hear about someone as busy as you doing it – it’s possible! Good for you, living intentionally like that 🙂 I think bodywork is a great adjunct. I have an LMT and acupuncturist and a friend who does Reiki and myofascial release. (Also, isn’t coconut oil great? I use it as a moisturizer all the time and the new makeup line (RMS Beauty) I’m using is part raw coconut oil based!)

    • 9
      Jen August 3, 2012, 12:49 pm

      ally – it’s a lesson that i’m learning as i go. i constantly have to reevaluate, change and adapt but i’m trying as hard as i can to feel good and be happy.

      i would love to try acupuncture!

  • 10
    Lisa August 2, 2012, 12:14 am

    I definitely agree with what you are doing for your body right now. Especially if our experiencing pain. That is never fun, but fitness will always be there when you are feeling better!
    Your so right about the importance of stretching and recovery, I have got to get better at this. I don’t want to end up injured.
    And yah, coconut oil is basically a miracle. Its good for anything!

  • 11
    Lauren @ Sassy MOlassy August 2, 2012, 12:41 am

    Thanks for sharing. I tend to overextend usually in the exercise realm and end up sick occasionally (like I am now) or just worn down. It’s hard to tell myself I can take a rest day or skip a workout when I’m in training mode, which is pretty much always. :/

    • 12
      Jen August 3, 2012, 12:50 pm

      i haven’t been sick in over a year now. it’s amazing!

      worn down is another story…i struggle with all the same feelings you do!

  • 13
    Brandi@SC Runner August 2, 2012, 1:46 am

    I definitely believe in massage and bodywork. I am a firm believer in rolling and using a massage ball for my muscles too. I also go to an ART therapist that really releases the muscles and the scar tissue that binds them. It’s heaven sent.

    • 14
      Jen August 3, 2012, 12:52 pm

      i want to try ART. i’ve heard amazing things.

  • 15
    christy August 2, 2012, 7:19 am

    Try acupuncture. I use to do that all the time back home. It always helped. It’s like magic.

    • 16
      Jen August 3, 2012, 12:52 pm

      definitely on my “dying to try” list. i’ve heard it can be so helpful for so many different things.

  • 17
    Danielle @ clean food creative fitness August 2, 2012, 7:22 am

    Sorry you’re struggling with your hip! Massage therapy definitely helps as does mobility work! It’s all a lifesaver! Hope you start feeling better soon! Good for you too for takings steps to improve your health and well being! It is so important and so often overlooked!

  • 18
    ~Jessica~ August 2, 2012, 7:29 am

    I really sympathise with your hip problems because I’ve suffered from the same thing on and off for two years – it eventually affected my form so badly that I ended up with two pubic ramus stress fractures. I try to get a sports massage whenever I can afford it, which sadly isn’t as often as I need. I really hope something helps you – I know how disheartening it is when there’s no specific problem to pinpoint but it’s so debilitating – I haven’t been able to run ‘properly’ according to my training for over a month and I had to pull out of a lovely forest and trail marathon. I’m worried I’ll never run another marathon again so I do hope your problem improves.


    • 19
      Jen August 3, 2012, 12:53 pm

      oh jessica – that’s terrible about your stress fractures. i worry that i’ll never be able to do another marathon too. it’s so frustrating when you can’t even run a 5k distance with no pain. i’m sending positive thoughts your way too!

  • 20
    Holly August 2, 2012, 8:03 am

    I totally think it works. I wish my health insurance would cover sports massage. 🙁

    I think a lot of time these long term injuries or pains are due to scar tissue buildup. I hope this helps you!!

    • 21
      Jen August 3, 2012, 12:54 pm

      i agree on the scar tissue buildup. i’m on a high deductible insurance plan so honestly, it’s more cost effective for me to do the massage than spend a ton of money at the doctor and being prescribed PT.

  • 22
    Sharon August 2, 2012, 8:50 am

    I understand tightness. Severe tightness caused me to not run for an entire year. I recently started getting dry needling from the PT at Presbyterian Hospital Huntersville and feel better than ever after four treatments. Agree we don’t spend enough time helping our bodies recover from everything we expect it them to do!

    • 23
      Jen August 3, 2012, 12:55 pm

      dry needling sounds intense but i’m glad it’s helping. are you doing any stretching/yoga to help with your tightness? hope you get back on the road soon.

  • 24
    Heather @ girlyeverafter August 2, 2012, 9:07 am

    I am all about massage as a way to ease muscle aches and pains. I love that she uses coconut oil that’s awesome!

  • 25
    Erica { EricaDHouse.com } August 2, 2012, 9:09 am

    I actually just blogged about this same topic yesterday. Instead of meeting my fitness goals for July I had to post about being bed-ridden for 4 days due to lower back strain/hip-popping. It’s really difficult for me to be ‘okay’ with taking it easy and now I’m paying the price! I’m thinking about seeing a chiropractor for the first time today but I’m scared senseless! Maybe I should follow your lead and look into a good massage therapist – that seems way less intimidating!

    • 26
      Jen August 3, 2012, 12:58 pm

      i just read your post and i feel for you so much. there is nothing like back pain. it is so scary and so debilitating. any time that my normal range of motion/activity level is taken away from me, it’s a huge wake up call. i know i need to appreciate my body and treat it kindly and let it recover well.

      how did the chiropractor go? i have been seeing one on an as-needed basis for a couple years and i really think it helps sometimes. especially when my hips are clearly out of line (which happens sometimes and you can totally tell because one of my legs will be longer than the other!).

  • 27
    Novella @ A Healthy Medium August 2, 2012, 9:27 am

    great post! that’s really interesting that your MT uses coconut oil…I’ve never heard of that before!

  • 28
    IDK My BFF Jes August 2, 2012, 9:58 am

    I’m so glad you posted about your hip!

    I took time off to recover from a pulled back muscle, and now that that’s healed, it left behind a really tight muscle that runs through my left glute and connects to my lower back. It’s been tight for a few weeks and foam rolling doesn’t dig deep enough to even tough it. Now I know more of what I need to be doing to help it!

    • 29
      Jen August 3, 2012, 1:00 pm

      pulled back muscles are scary! i’m glad you’re feeling better but sorry you’re having residual tightness. i hope you can get it all worked out.

  • 30
    Kailey August 2, 2012, 10:02 am

    I really like hearing that you are cutting yourself some slack because you are one heck of an amazing athlete!! More sleep = better performance plus it is really nice to feel refreshed every morning haha.

    • 31
      Jen August 3, 2012, 1:01 pm

      thank you so much kailey ! the sleep has been pretty great!

  • 32
    Heather @ For the Love of Kale August 2, 2012, 12:45 pm

    Love this post. So happy to hear that you’re taking care of your gorgeous bod pod. On a separate note, I looooove the Lumineers! They remind me of Bon Iver a little bit. 🙂

    • 33
      Jen August 3, 2012, 1:01 pm

      oh i love bon iver too! although i overplayed the last album a bit! 🙂

  • 34
    Linda August 2, 2012, 12:50 pm

    Rest days are the hardest for me too. But when I take them I always feel so great the next day! With your workouts you need the rest days!

    I am very sore in my right hip/glute area too and I recently started seeing a physical therapist. He said my gluteus medius is very, very tight. I’m going now once a week for an hour and a half. They start with a heated ultrasound, massage, then the stretch me out and finish with an ice electrotherapy. It is really helping! I’m all for massage therapy so I hope that is helping.

    • 35
      Jen August 3, 2012, 1:02 pm

      oh that all sounds so nice. i would like your PT + my massage therapy please!

  • 36
    Erin August 2, 2012, 8:49 pm

    I also make sleep a priority when things get overwhelming. In school I would stay up really late doing homework, get only a couple hours of sleep, and not be able to focus in class the next day because I was so tired. And then I wouldn’t know how to do the homework, and it would turn into a bad cycle. Sleep is definitely important. I admire you being able to listen to your body and knowing when it’s time to back off.

  • 37
    Melanie August 3, 2012, 12:34 am

    I love those kinds of massages! I got one at my PT’s office awhile back where I actually got bruised…but it was worth it for the long-term payoff. And that view is amazing! Two-story windows?!? Sounds fantastic. Glad to hear you are taking more time for yourself 🙂

  • 38
    Michelle D August 3, 2012, 7:49 pm

    Coconut oil for massage has been used around this house for years. And then…it’s the perfect oil to pop some amazing popcorn in! How versatile is that? Glad you didn’t drop Body Pump…Kia Kaha!

  • 39
    kat August 4, 2012, 10:45 am

    Hey Jen ~ Popping in from moving madness. As a licensed massage therapist and general supporter of alternative health options, I of course had to comment. Regular massage is one of the best things you can do for your body. I’m so glad to hear you are getting results. Also, I’m a huge fan of acupuncture – it has done so many amazing things for me. It’s great for everything from pain management to treatment for insomnia and all things in between. I just left my ART practitioner in Asheville and can tell it’s been beyond my regular 6-week adjustment. I need to find one in Dallas! Glad to hear of you stepping things down and taking care of yourself.

  • 40
    Kayli (Running on Sunshine) September 3, 2012, 8:12 am

    Hey Jen! This is a little belated, but what hair dryer did you end up going with? Mine died this weekend (while I was getting ready to attend a wedding!!) and I’m shopping around for a new one. Like you, I have naturally curly hair that I like to wear straight. Thanks for your input!

    • 41
      Jen September 3, 2012, 8:16 pm

      i went with the FHI pink nano. it was a good compromise for quality and price.

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