I recently completed the 22 press ups for 22 days challenge – you’ve probably seen the challenge doing the rounds on Facebook.
The concept behind the challenge is to raise awareness of post-traumatic stress disorder amongst combat veterans – tragically in the US 22 veterans take their lives every day.
PTSD doesn’t only affect people who have served in the forces, of course – it can affect someone after all kinds of trauma, such as what happened with me. I was diagnosed with PTSD after my pregnancy nearly killed me (thanks, HELLP syndrome) and my son Hugo died as a result, 35 days later.
There is little support available for perinatal mental ill health, and even less awareness and knowledge about perinatal PTSD. This lack of support made me feel isolated, broken, and that I would never get any kind of semblance of a ‘normal’ life again. It compounded the pain.
When, finally, I was recognised as needing perinatal support (the lack of a baby confused services) and referred to the relevant services for EMDR therapy, I came on in leaps and bounds.
As part of Hugo’s legacy I have been seeking to raise awareness of these issues, and was going to take part in the challenge as another way of getting the message out there. Then my PT nominated me, and we started on them in a session…
As the days progressed and I received positive feedback, I decided to throw in a few different exercises instead of press ups. They included bosu burpees, sandbell rainbow slams, mountain climbers from the TRX, and Vipr tilts
In no particular order, here are 22 things I learned from the challenge:
1. I can do more than I gave myself credit for! Before day 1 of the challenge, I had never done more than 10 press ups from my toes. It turns out being videoed is a great motivator because once that phone was trained on me, I went for it. Hurrah for stubborn pride!
2. Fitness doesn’t all have to be about bared, toned abs and six packs.
3. Fitness comes in all shapes, sizes, and abilities.
4. Being videoed while working out is not something to be feared.
5. In fact, being videoed while working out enabled me to see myself from a whole new perspective.
6.I am not as fat as I thought!
7. Actually I am not fat at all.
8. My tummy is bigger than I would like it to be, but that’s not the end of the world. Just because I focus on it, it doesn’t mean others do, too.
9. Yes I have fat to burn, inches to lose…but I saw a woman who is sucking it up, getting on with it, smashing it.
For day 11 of the press up challenge I thought I’d show rainbow sandbell slams to illustrate one of the methods I used to help me keep going when therapy made me feel dreadful. If you’re interested the complete video us on my Facebook page (Headspace Perspective) #HugosLegacy #ptsd #pressups #sandbell #fitnessfirst #fitness #fitnesswomen #workout #workoutwomen #hellpsyndromesurvivor #movingforward #selfcare @fitnessfirstuk @ffbedford
10. What I saw in the video was a strong body that is capable of all sorts.
11. Other people don’t care what you look like, and can’t see your body hangups.
12. The viewers are too busy marvelling at whatever workout you are doing (even if you are critical at yourself because your form is not as good as the professionals you have been watching on YouTube).
13. I had been wanting to do vlogs and FB live videos for ages, but felt a bit bashful. The challenge helped me overcome that: if I can do them while hot and sweaty and wearing tight lycra I can do anything!
14. Sandbells are not only immensely satisfying to throw on the floor, they also make great improvised stands for my phone.
15. Nominating people for a physical challenge is a great way to get them to suddenly start ignoring you on Facebook 😉
16. Completing the challenge was confidence building.
17. My form wasn’t always perfect but it’s ok to strive for progress, not perfection.
I’m doing the 22 day press up challenge – except for day 10 I decided to do bosu burpees instead 👍👊🏼💪 As I say in the clip I thought I’d do this to show that you can do pretty much anything you put your mind to 👍 #fitness #workout #fitnesswomen #workoutwomen #burpees #burpee #superburpee #bosu #bosuburpee #thisgirlcan #wellbeing #movingforward #selfcare
18. Talking of progress, I am really proud of the progress I have made – physically and emotionally – during the past few months.
19. You never know what might inspire others.
20. Talking about Hugo’s legacy and PTSD to camera felt liberating, and a celebration of having turned a corner towards recovery.
I completed the 22 day press up challenge today! Proud of myself for completing the challenge, raising awareness of perinatal PTSD, and of mixing it up with some other exercise moves too 😄 The finale is these TRX mountain climbers. The full video is available on my FB page – Headspace Perspective – if you’d like to view the whole thing (and see more than my bottom half 😜😄). The message today is about how PTSD is brain damage, and can cause problems with memory and concentration. It’s tough because it can feel like your brain is ‘broken’ – it’s not. With the right therapy you can recover 💪👍👊🏼 #PTSD #HugosLegacy #movingforward #selfcare #wellbeing #progressnotperfection #workout #workoutwomen #fitness #fitnesswomen #trx #mountainclimbers #hellpsyndromesurvivor #thisgirlcan
21. My body might not be perfect, but it has survived a lot, continues to keep going, and that is the most important thing.
22. Don’t care what others might think. As long as it doesn’t hurt you or anyone else, just get on and do it.
I’m honoured to have been shortlisted in the Best Campaigner category of the 2016 Mumsnet Blogging Awards. Please would you take a second to vote for me, and help me reach the final? Voting is open until October 7.