… get to know your body: loving yourself to health, and the hindrances…
As I mentioned I would love to encourage you towards a healthy lifestyle. The first key I consider important – is love your Self and your body well.
We all have learnt to criticize our bodies when we don’t measure up to the cultural expectations but often we forget how important it is to look after our bodies. We often think of it as selfish, vain and even frivolous. Other times life is so full that we feel there’s not enough time but in actual fact it is a sacred, kind and generous act to take care of our own bodies. It is self-respect. The time you take for yourself is important as it is an investment. It is refreshing. It helps with agility, stamina and flexibility. It gave me a new lease of life and I feel 15 years younger, having more energy to live life to the full.
Over the years I had been good at taking care of my family, seeing to their needs but as a mother I seemed to have lost myself in amongst all the caring of others around me. I fell out of the habit of caring for my own needs. And of course you don’t have to be married nor have children to find yourself too busy to care about yourself as this world of ours is fast paced and we tend to live frenetically; like mice on treadmills falling into ruts and unhealthy habits in order to cope with life. Life is stressful. And we forget about ourselves just trying to cope or survive. Yet ironically, it is because life is so stressful that we need to care and love our bodies into wellness more so.
So, first of all: Loving my body well has meant… becoming aware and thinking about what has hindered me from looking after it. Part of becoming aware of your hindrances is observing your daily habits: I found the easiest way to probe and notice what was going on for me was to ask questions. I also used to journal my observations.
Here are some areas you can explore:
About your body
- How well do I know my body and how in touch am I with my body ques such as hunger, thirst, satiety etc.?
- Do I know which foods my body likes or dislikes?
- Which ones make me feel sick, bloated, tired etc.?
- Which foods energize me?
- Can I make the time to get to know my body better?
- Do I get out of breath when I exercise?
- When does it hurt?
- What exercises make me feel good?
- Do I soldier on ignoring the signs my body is showing me or do I listen and respond to those needs?
- Often we have developed a habit of ignoring signs and symptoms because we are too busy or because it appears weak to admit our feelings so we bravely drive ourselves on. This is what I experienced.
Your relationship to food
- Does eating food make me feel guilty?
- Do I use it to numb uncomfortable feelings?
- What do I do when I am stressed?
- Do I use food to calm me down?
- What type of food do I eat when I don’t have time to prepare food?
- Do I make time to plan my meals and shop for food?
- Do I see food as a pathway to health?
- What foods seem to have an “addictive” quality?
Motivation for losing weight or becoming healthy
- What is my motivation? (Write down what you want as an end result. What do you want to be able to do once you have lost the weight.)
- Did I make a decision to live a healthy life style or did someone else put pressure on me?
- Have I made a plan?
- Do I sabotage my plans?
- Do I get angry with myself when I don’t attain my goals?
- How can I treat myself more respectfully?
- Can I ask for help?
I am sure you will create your own list of questions which will help you to observe your habits. It is okay just to focus on one area at a time if exploring multiple areas feels overwhelming. Here is my experience that serves as an example of questions I explored in connection to: Exercise elevates one’s health: blood pressure and cholesterol, and glucose levels can improve.
- Why don’t I do exercise anymore? Because I don’t like exercise.
- Why don’t I like exercise? Because I feel exhausted and my ankle hurts and swells up.
- Did I use to like exercise? Yes.
- What exercise did I like when I was mobile? I use to like walking and dancing.
- Would you like to feel fit enough to enjoy these things in your life again? Yes I would like to walk in the mountains again.
Walking in the mountains became one of my goals again. Here is my story about my ankle which was hindering my efforts to a healthy life style.
One of the first ways I took care of myself was to identify why I couldn’t walk regularly or for more than 50 minutes without suffering from a swollen ankle. I battled with this ankle of mine, and even travelled overseas for a two month holiday in the UK and Spain last year, icing it and wearing hiking boots for stability etc. Exercise felt like a futile activity, like banging my head on a brick wall. I just drove myself on without respecting that my body was complaining for a reason.
Once the doctor sent me for X-rays and I found out that I was nursing an old break in my ankle I realized that I needed to take care of myself in a kind and gentle way. This was not license to make excuses for myself but it gave me incentive to be proactive and lose weight because the weight I was carrying would only exacerbate my ankle. This at first was a slow journey yet over the next 9 months I went on to lose 14 kg and this has really helped me regain my energy and because I am lighter (almost a suitcase lighter) my ankle is much happier. It has also helped me regain a confidence in myself.
I also worked with my physiotherapist who told me there was nothing he could really do because the ligament was permanently damaged. He recommended I start walking with an ankle brace whenever I want to exercise. My Pilate’s instructor helped me strengthen my core muscles and this in turn helped with my balance. It has made a huge difference to the duration of my walks therefore I exercise regularly without re-injuring myself. I now enjoy walking hills and dancing again. I will always have to wear the brace every time I go on vigorous walks because of my ligament but at least I have conquered one of my hindrances to health.
As in my previous blog post My fitness journey and my ankle… “If you have a problem – sort it out! Sounds obvious and simple but there is a certain type of person that will deny themselves for a number of reasons. Sometimes we put ourselves last, negating our own needs, or we don’t think we matter enough; we only give others in our lives the time of day. It boils down to the same thing: we don’t value ourselves enough or think we are worth the care. That is sad. “
“If you have tried to get help but it is not helping, don’t give up, try again, and try something different, until you get an answer. Be persistent. You are worth it.”
N.B. It is important to remember if you are starting out on an exercise program to consult with your doctor and to begin slowly. The aim is to maintain a growth in fitness without injuring and re-injuring yourself. This is truly taking care of you respectfully. Do some research and ask questions about heart, lung and skeletal health and maintenance as well.
My two decisions:
1) go for an X-ray to find out what was wrong with my ankle.
2) Lose weight for my ankle’s sake.
My pay off:
I am healthier, I am losing weight, I feel good about myself (15 years younger) and I am proud of myself.
Coming up soon will be Our mindset and hindrances, till then, I hope you have some food for thought while considering how to love yourself well.
Much love Morag.