A Love Affair
In college I used to slog across campus in the snow in my sweat pants, Uggs and huge puffy coat at 5:30pm to the “Estrogym” to burn off the calories I had consumed during the day. The Estrogym was a dimly lit, poorly ventilated hallway by the racketball courts where 6 elliptical trainers, 4 treadmills and 3 bikes were lined up side by side with just enough space in between, so you would just barely brush elbows as you powered through your workout.
Nothing about this was fun. In fact, everyone there looked miserable. Because we were all there for the same reason, punishment.
Punishment for eating too much, for not being thin enough, for drinking too much the night before. It was the price we paid for gluttony and a necessary evil.
When I lived in NYC after college, it was more of the same except I got to run like a hamster on a wheel in a fancy gym. Then one day, I got brave enough to try a group hip hop class at the gym. I avoided them for years because I was sure that people were going to look at me and wonder, “who does that uncoordinated fat girl think she is?”
But in the class I felt alive. I was so carried away by the movement that I forgot about my fear of being judged. The class flew by and after I felt amazing! Not that familiar feeling of “you could have pushed harder, you could have burned a hundred more calories”.
I never went on an elliptical or treadmill ever again. For real. I stopped working out, and I started moving my body.
You see I was working out to punish myself, to burn calories, to look perfect. And it never worked. I just ended up feeling fat, miserable and like a total failure.
When I started dancing and moving my body I did it because it was FUN. And I FELT incredible. I felt flexible, springy, energized and sexy – after just ONE workout. And because of that, I wanted to do it all the time, which of course caused my body to be stronger and leaner.
Now, even when we find something we love, it can be hard to make the time. For me, it is so easy to convince myself that I have too much work, I should spend the extra time with Marshall, I’m too tired, I have visitors – I’ll just go when they leave, I just don’t feel like it – I’ll go when I want to.
Even as I’m sitting down to write this blog post on movement, I realize that I did not move my body yesterday, and I had no plans to move my body today. And I’m confused as to why this post seems particularly challenging to write…
Yet another opportunity to walk my talk. Today, like most days, moving my body seems impossible. I have a mountain of work, including this post, my nanny has to leave early, Jonathan is working late and my mother and sister-in-law are in town.
There are a million reasons to not go, and one very important reason to go.
There was a loooooong period of time after I had Marshall when I just stopped working out altogether. And although I didn’t see the connection, I started to feel really down. I was getting easily overwhelmed, I felt less connected to Marshall and I just wasn’t happy.
Many people in my life started to notice the change, and suggested delicately that I engage in some physical activity. Of course my inner thirteen year old came out and threw a tantrum, “ARE YOU TELLING ME I’M FAT?! OH HELL NO!”
But I gathered myself, and tapped into what I really needed. I knew deep down that moving my body was going to help me, so I committed to just going to one yoga class. Making this small and manageable goal was smart because when I make big sweeping ones like “I am going to move my body 4 days a week… forever”, then it’s easy to mess up.
But even going once can feel like too much with a company to run and a baby to take care of. And then I remembered… we have to be so fiercely dedicated to taking care of ourselves that we are willing to move mountains to do it.
I had to cancel some commitments, push off some deadlines and ask my nanny to stay late. All things I hate doing. I felt guilty, and like a slacker, but as soon as I sat down on my mat, I started to cry.
My body was overcome with gratitude that I was back. That I remembered to take care of her. It was the homecoming I needed. I felt a little stiff during class, and it was hard for me to not go into judgement about how I didn’t look like the graceful woman next to me who probably practiced twice a day for the past ten years, but I just kept bringing it back to me and my body.
At the end of class I felt like a completely different person. I felt calm, grounded and most importantly, I felt happy.
But when I understood that I needed to move my body to feel happy today, it was so motivating, and above all else it becomes important. More important than my work, than my lethargy, than spending an extra hour with Marshall. Moving my body is what allows me to be a good mother, a good coach, a good wife.
So today I want you to think about WHY you want to move your body. Is it to improve your mood? To feel creative? To feel alive? To help your bad back? To have fun? Please tell us in the comments below.
And please promise me that you’ll stop working out. It’s a dead end.
Simple actions to take your life back, know your worth & feel alive no matter how drained, overwhelmed and far gone you feel.