It’s not what you think…
I want to introduce you to my new and old loves:
It feels good to be diggin’ physical activity. I can actually go to a circuit-training kickboxing gym now and enjoy it! I listen to women in the changing room groaning and complaining about “having to” work out and I remember how I used to be one of them. So what changed?
This past year, I lost 30 lbs. Not by killing myself through strenuous exercise and putting myself through crazy diets, but by listening to my body. I know this might be a strange concept in a world where women, especially, are constantly told what to do with their bodies,
When to do it,
How to do it,
What not to do,
What not to eat,
What to eat,
When to rest,
When to work,
And the list goes on ad infinitum…
It is dizzying in its insanity. I, like lots of other folks, forgot that my body is a biological system that is constantly changing from moment to moment. I am an animal just like other animals in the natural world going through different cycles of growth, energy, release, relaxation, and nurturing. It is easy to do in a culture that treats humans like they are machines. When we are working 9-5, there is no room to rest if we are tired or even call in sick sometimes. So we pump our bodies with pills, sugar, and caffeine and bulldoze through.
Through the process of learning to listen, I discovered I had a lot of beliefs about health, my body, food, and myself that were skewed and, in some cases, inaccurate. I’d believed a lot of the myths conditioned by mainstream culture. I worked to shift those belief systems inside myself and to break the unhealthy behaviour patterns into more life giving ones- ones that kept me in integrity with my body and myself. I now have boundaries around what I will and will not do with my body. This is revelatory in my life, having spent my entire existence thinking my body was not “mine” to direct.
When I started at the kickboxing gym, the trainer told me she was there to help me achieve my goals but she never asked me what they were. I don’t blame her; we are taught to dictate to people about what their goals “should” be and how they “should” go about achieving them. So I told her:
“I have my own goals that are not fitness-related. I can achieve them on my own. I don’t want to be pushed or told what other exercises to do or when to move onto something else because ‘my body’s ready for it.’ If I’m doing the exercise wrong, please do correct me, as I want my body safe from harm. If I want extra exercises, I will let you know.”
I’ve since given this speech of my boundaries to all the trainers at the gym and each of them looks at me like I am from another planet. One new guy looked at me perplexed and said, “So you don’t want me to push you?” But interestingly, none of them have inquired as to what my goals actually are. I smiled and went about my workout enjoying the feeling of the power in my body coming out with every kick and punch. I love feeling the growing strength in my body and I am confident in its intelligence.
So why all this fuss over a body?
Well, it’s the only container I’ve got to carry my spirit through this lifetime so I want to take care of it and listen to what it needs and wants, moment to moment. I want to honour it so I can keep doing the things I am meant to do and complete on my short time here on Earth. And so that I can increase the amount of pleasure I feel in my body. Why not? I am here. Might as well enjoy it.
Maybe I AM an alien.
But I am a happier one. I finally know with every molecule of my being that my body is a part of my whole intelligence. I am not just a head walking through life. Listening to my body gave me back a piece of my brilliance I was simply not accessing. Before, I was living. Now, I am alive.