After completing 7 marathons, I considered myself a runner. With dozens of half marathons, 10Ks and various fun runs in the mix, I fell in love with running. I’m not sure if it was the endorphins that were released, the challenge of training or the escape from everything stressful. Whatever the reason, I was hooked. I never realized that running and yoga would ultimately be what kept me on my journey to wellness in my divorce.
My first marathon was in New York City in 1999 and my last was that same race in 2012.
I sustained a back injury which led to the demise of my favorite form of exercise. I was devastated. Sidelined from one of my most cherished activities and faced with (what seemed like) a never ending struggle with physical therapy.
I can’t tell you that my injury was directly due to running, although the years of pounding on my body probably didn’t help. It may have been inevitable leading up to the day I felt the “pop”, or it could’ve happened the moment I heard that fateful sound.
I tried acupuncture, chiropractic, massage and even some alternative therapies I had never even heard of. I was willing to do anything for relief. The combination of these methods seemed to offer some, so I persevered. Eventually, I even started to add running back into my routine. I was feeling pretty confident that the pain was subsiding and I was excited to explore my running game again!
As I began to get stronger, another blow came. This one was far worse. It too may have been forthcoming for a long time, leading up to that devastating day, but I had no idea. My husband left me. Seemingly, out of the blue, although it rarely happens that way. I’m sure his decision was made long before I received the news.
Needless to say, I stopped running. I stopped doing everything. My days consisted of waking up in the morning and counting the hours until I could go back to sleep.
The stabbing in my back (literally and figuratively) plagued me once again. I retreated to the fetal position for weeks, maybe even months. This was the worst thing I could do for my physical and mental health but it was the only way I felt I could cope at the time. I was a shell of my former, healthy, active self.
I knew I couldn’t go on like this forever but I didn’t know where to begin. How do you ever bounce back from this? The emotional trauma was deeply manifested in my physical body. I actually felt the undeniable, direct connection between stress and illness. It is for real, folks. It was time for me to truly b begin my own journey to wellness.
The connection between body and mind is such that what happens in our every day leaves its imprint on the body. Life, or to be more precise, our perception of it, constantly shapes us. And what we feel inside finds expression in the way our physical body organizes itself. Where you go in your head, you go in your body. Your body doesn’t know the difference between imagining something and it actually happening; it produces the same physiological responses. Unfortunately for me, my divorce was actually happening and I was beyond stressed.
After lots of therapy for my head, I decided that my body needed healing too. I seemed to be gravitating towards yoga. It wasn’t that yoga was completely foreign to me, but in the past, it never quite felt like a “workout” the way I was used to working out. However, as a health and fitness professional who understood the benefits of balance, I was open to it. Not to mention, my body was not ready to take on anything more strenuous.
Putting my ego aside and my mat on the floor, I was transformed. A sense of calm came over me and the idea of slowing down was exactly what my body needed. Many of the poses were difficult due to my limited range of motion but felt necessary in order to improve mobility. I was learning how to create space in order to change despite my pain. I was learning to move through it with compassion and confidence and truly embrace the mind-body connection.
Yoga has taught me so many incredible things over the years. The ability to find strength through difficulty, self-awareness vs self-doubt and to balance effort with ease. As you pause and breath through challenging poses, you find that the discomfort eventually subsides and you are moving into the next posture. Everything is temporary. It is called a yoga “practice” because you are constantly growing and evolving. You don’t perfect yoga but if you practice consistently, your rewards will be far greater.
Yoga is what helped me heal in the wake of my divorce. It helped me not only to clear my mind and renew a sense of calm but to heal my body as well. Although my divorce left me devastated, and I lost my ability to run yet again, I discovered a new path to wellness through yoga. I hope my story helps you see that although your life may look different in the wake of a divorce, you too may find a new path to healing.
Jennifer is an NSCA Certified Personal Trainer with a Master’s Degree in Nutrition Education, and the founder of Trainers in Transit LLC.
Jennifer started the company in 2010 after leaving her career in Corporate Fitness & Wellness where she was a managing director overseeing clients such as IBM, Johnson & Johnson, NBC, Sony and Dow Jones.
Jenn is a 7-time marathoner, Nutrition Coach, NASM Certified Corrective Exercise Specialist as well as a Level II Reiki Practitioner. She enjoys using a combination of these methods in her training practice to offer clients a holistic approach to fitness.
Additionally, Jenn has on-camera, television experience (Live with Kelly & Ryan, Rachael Ray and Twin Cities Live) and currently teaches classes for the producers of ABC-TV. Jenn’s passion for writing has also earned her 4 published articles on ThriveGlobal in addition to a variety of other online and print outlets.
And NOW – you don’t have to be located in New York City to workout with Jenn. She has launched her workouts on Playbook which you can download for a FREE TRIAL here!
With support and strength,
Revolutionizing the conversation around Divorce, one internal narrative at a time.
DISCLAIMER: The commentary, advice, and opinions from Gabrielle Hartley are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice or mental health services. You should contact an attorney and/or mental health professional in your state to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem.