Each year Jamie and I gift our kids with travel rather than stuff for Christmas and birthdays. He takes the boys (usually to a sporting event or on an adventure), and Halle and I jet off to Mexico for a long weekend.
To say I am grateful for the ability to do this is a gross understatement. We have made so many memories and have truly bonded over these long weekends. They were special when we started this tradition going to NYC and New Orleans with friends six years ago. They are a different bonding experience now that she is in college and we truly savor the more limited time we get to have together. Although this blog is not about the importance of 1:1 time with those you love, I do 10/10 recommend making it a priority— it doesn’t have to be a Mexican weekend, it might be a night of tacos and Netflix. 🙂
You all come alongside my imperfect, and possibly sometimes inconsistent journey, of trying to find a more daily, grounded approach to life. I do believe that living in each moment of each day is fully living. But, it is also easy to gauge growth through the big memories, or annual traditions. Although I am practicing daily connection to my body, these trips to spend extended time with my daughter in swimsuits has become a good barometer for me to check in on one of the concepts I truly want to embrace. One that I aim to live out, amongst the struggles and successes, to be able to hopefully inspire all of you:
To live more embodied.
As we prepare to go on these trips, I become more aware of my thoughts about my physical body. I pack what I want to wear. I pick out the most flattering swimsuits. I consider how food choices will impact how I will look in the warm weather/skimpy clothing. I hone in more on how my skin looks. I get a manicure and pedicure.
Four years ago, on our first Mexican trip, I am pretty certain I did all of this with a hell of a lot more unkindness. Although I was deep in this work, I was still driven more from a place of scarcity and separateness from my body. The above preparations felt more like “needs” in order to feel okay in my own skin. And although I can still default to this way of thinking, I am more aware of how damaging it is to my overall well being. I am more curious about why suddenly I put so much of my worth in my physical appearance and I question my brain and deep ingrained pathways of self judgement. These ways of thinking are well traveled paths, but instead of telling myself to “not think this way” I challenge my thoughts with compassionate curiosity. I also want to help educate you on the pervasive nature of diet culture, and encourage you to find your worth living wholly in, but not defined by, your physical body.
This year I realize I am more at home in my body than ever. And it has absolutely nothing to do with how I look— in fact, I pretty much look the same that I have since having my kids. It is due to the intentional practice that I have done in re-connecting to my physical self. I am aware and okay that I will never reach a finish line of perfection, but I will continue to make progress back toward accepting and loving myself.
I know that is our heavily influenced “skinny is best” culture it can be triggering to read these messages from someone who is thin. I honor that and absolutely hate that weight has been established as an automatic barrier, especially for women, by the diet culture juggernaut. My hope is that you will read this message with the truth that I intend— our worth has nothing to do with our weight, and therefor no one is safe from judging themselves. But, to fully participate in your life, and in endurance events where you want to be fully present for the challenge and your personal evolution, you need to know that your body shape does not define you, but your human body is an important part of you.
When you live with more presence in your physical body you can take steps to move better, whether is it through strength training, mobility and flexibility work, plyometrics, or swim, bike, run. In doing so you give yourself a better chance at avoiding or recovering from injury. You will be more aware of hunger and thirst cues, or lack thereof. You can seek out ways to find more pleasure. You may also feel more pain, but then you can address it in intentional ways. You learn how and when to honor needed times of rest before your body absolutely demands it.
What are some ways to practice and live more embodied?
- Take time throughout the day to focus only on your breathing. I recently realized how often I hold my breath when under stress— it is nothing short of amazing at how calming this practice is. Set reminders if needed- there are even apps that can help!
- Look at your body in the mirror while fully naked. With the lights on. Try to do so without judgment, but if and when you have any thoughts (positive or negative), consider them further. Explore your body with curiosity. (I realize this could be a frightening task- start with looking in the mirror fully clothed and work toward fully naked on your time.)
- Find intentional ways to experience undistracted pleasure in your body. (Do I need to make suggestions here? Message me if you need some!) 😉
- Make a list detailing why you are grateful for your physical body. Although this doesn’t have to be done all at once, I suggest you get really specific. Think about what your body can do.
- When you exercise connect to the purpose of each movement. Start with specific activation exercises. When you are ready, use mirrors. Find coaches who can cue you to engage your working muscles properly. Honor your body in range of motion and mobility. Pain is not gain.
- Educate yourself on the influence and purpose of diet culture. Take steps to separate yourself from any messaging that triggers you to focus on how you will find more worth if you improve your physical appearance. Seek out tools to be able to radically love your body.
- Consider physical goals that honor and challenge the function of your body over your appearance. (I can help with this too :))
Your worth is not defined by your physical appearance, but your body is part of you. Nothing is simple, but you can start to take small steps to embracing it now, even if you desire to make changes. It will thank you for bringing it with you on the journey.
Let’s keep practicing living fully in our bodies. Truly consider the message that this is, in fact, the only one you get— and it doesn’t mean you should aim to treat it with perfection. It means that you can love it now.