**Trigger warning. If you struggle with disordered eating, unhealthy relationship with food or exercise this may be a topic to have a health care professional or a support person with you while you work though. Sending you so much love** Today is a topic that is very near and dear to my heart. As a mom raising a preteen daughter. As a woman who had her first baby at 20 years old and "ruined" my body. As a woman in America in 2021 in general...body image has been at the forefront of my entire life.
I remember being in 5th grade and putting myself on a diet because I thought I was fat (I was not, in any way shape or form fat) and my teacher calling my parents to express concern. I was so confused because that's what I thought I was supposed to do. Hate my body, restrict my food intake and exercise until I couldn't walk another step.
That's what I saw modeled around me in one variation or another. Punishment for enjoying food, negative self talk, body dysmorphia in every woman in my family. I had a very unhealthy relationship with food and that's to be talked about further down the line. I, personally, believe that's a far more difficult path to navigate. So important but those root causes run deep. I'm still sorting through my relationship with food, food fear and the cycle of extreme fasting/binging.
First we're starting with your relationship to movement. Moving your body in a way that's not only healthy but also enjoyable. I, personally, went WAY over the line into my body movement. My addiction to exercise caused my body to be more sick (specifically my adrenals, of course) and I just kept pushing and pushing. Funny enough, the thing that forced me to slow down was the pandemic. But man did it take a mental toll on me in ways I didn't expect. That's how I knew I had work to do.
Exercise is so important. Our bodies need it, crave it and deserve it. I usually find that most people are either extreme lovers of exercise or that they hate it and use it as a form of punishment. Hell, I was even guilty of "running these 5 miles so I can have that pizza!"
This is the definition of a distorted relationship with exercise. I had to learn this the hard way. I'm not punishing my body in order to be allowed to do something else. I'm rewarding my body in order to keep it healthy. Those are two very different things. It also makes it very difficult to keep up a healthy exercise routine when you are pushing yourself in order to deserve something on the other side. Your body isn't a transaction. Your movement isn't a punishment. You need food to live. Period.
In 2020 when my gym shut down, I was heartbroken. I loved everything about the gym, the community of people there (still do, HUGE shout out to AIM Performance Training in Mentor, Ohio. Go there. Work with their trainers. They're the best.) and most importantly how I absolutely annihilated myself to run from what was happening in my life and my relationship with myself. My fiancé and I actually went out and spent $800 on gym equipment to put in our garage to try to compensate for what was stripped away from me so suddenly. It worked for a little while but the deeper calling in me wanted me to slow down. So in August 2020 I stopped lifting weights and dedicated myself to 100 days straight of yoga. It changed everything for me in regard to my relationship with movement.
I slowed down. I learned the art of yoga. I was forced to see my body change...losing some muscle in some areas but gaining definition in others. I felt more feminine, looked healthier and watched my relationship with movement really be pulled to my awareness. If the pandemic taught me anything it was that I needed to take time to get to know my body and learn how to listen to it's cues and my intuitive pings of what we needed. I learned to work with my body not against it. And I really did gain a whole new understanding of movement from there on out.
After 156 days straight of yoga, I broke my streak. I partnered with a new company in December 2020 and it was WILLLDDD the growth and business we were having in those first few weeks so I listened to my body and recognized that forcing a streak was no longer the healthy thing to do. Since then I have gotten back into weight lifting but I do it carefully. I don't do it daily...more like 3-5 times a week. I do yoga in some capacity for at least 10 minutes a day with my breath work mentioned in day 3 and I make sure to incorporate other forms of movement that I enjoy. Hiking, bike riding, kayaking, walks to the beach or around the neighborhood. Something that brings me joy rather than sticking to a schedule so regimented that if I dare miss a day I punished myself for a week.
I'd be lying if I said it was always easy. It definitely is not. My distorted relationship with exercise runs very deep into my shadow. Things I'll share another day. But just know that it's not just you. In either direction. Whether you're reading this and saying "yes I become addicted and punish my body" or if you're on the other side and just can't bring yourself to do any of it. You're in good company. We all struggle.
Today's task is a little more in depth: I want you first, to journal about your relationship with exercise. What feelings are brought up from the word "exercise" or "work out". Are you filled with dread and triggered in a certain way? Why do you think that is? When you think about exercising, why do you want to do it (even if you can't bring yourself to, why do you want to)?
And then I want you to list 3 physical activities that you really enjoy. It can be anything. Truly anything. Think outside of the box here. Do you love dancing in your kitchen with your kids while you're cooking? Great, you're moving your body! Do you love CrossFit, Hot Yoga, or Powerlifting? Maybe it's taking your dogs or baby for a walk around the neighborhood daily!
Pick one of those things and do it today with no strings attached. Just because you truly enjoy moving your body because you love it. Not out of punishment, not out of an obligation, not because you're trying to work off yesterday's cookout food and drinks. I want you to move because you love your body. Because your body is your vessel in this lifetime and your relationship with it is one of the most important of your time. Speak kindly to yourself during this time. Thank your body for providing you the ability to move in a way that brings you joy. Use that breath work and take it all in. You're strong. You are powerful. You are so worthy. You & your body are here to work together in beautiful harmony. 🤍 I'd love to hold space for your story if you're feeling called to share. The more awareness we can bring to this issue the more we can use this community to support one another. Send to my inbox or tag me on social media @Balanced_Body_Restorative on IG or Allissa Lakatos on FB