When I was out shopping last week, I bought scales. I’ve never owned scales and only ever witnessed the psychological games they play with people’s minds, yet I went ahead with the purchase anyway. In the same week I cleared out the sweet and snack cupboard and made plans to get back into exercise in a serious way, despite some serious sleep deprivation because of my 6 month old baby. Was I just doing the typical January thing, because that’s what I normally do at this time of year? Then why did it feel odd and a little out of date. Was I following an old pattern or just doing what I thought was right? Then it struck me that the reason why it might have felt odd was because I hadn’t really given my body a say in the matter. If you truly listen to your body’s wisdom then you be surprised about what you might hear.
With time your body changes and therefore the way you look after your body ought to really change with it. I sometimes think back to the days where I trained many clients, trained myself and taught a number of exercise classes. I had the energy to spend for 10 people, was able to survive very happily on a few hours sleep if I needed to and I would put myself through many regimes of some sort. But that was before huge life changes such as having children and also many years ago.
If I truly listen to the wisdom of my body then exercise and healthy eating is no less important than before, but somehow my body seems to say “go easy with me”. Instead of going at it hard and making a workout or eating strategy a punishment, my body seems to say “let’s work together”. It is no longer just about being able to fit into certain clothes, it is about investing into my health and taking great care. For that reason other aspects of keeping fit have become more important such as yoga, stretching in general and meditation. I take great care to not become a victim of stress and to turn my back to negative influences. Instead of lean meals, I take great pleasure in making wholesome, healthy and nourishing meals for my family. Listening to my body’s wisdom also implies having a conscious mind and having a good balance between the two.
If you were to take a couple of minutes and took time to listen to the wisdom of your body, what would you end up doing differently? What would you change immediately and what would you change over time? It is a cliché to say that you only have one body and most do not appreciate it fully until things go wrong, but sadly that does hold a lot of truth in it. Use the power of the mind to go inside and connect to the parts of your body mentally that may need some care, almost as a kind of “checking in” exercise. It is all too easy to be based in our worrying brains day in day out, yet you can tap into your body’s wisdom if you want to and do what is good for you.
Although I would like to say that I am 100% excited about getting fit again and it is all a piece of cake, I have to disappoint you. Getting back into exercise after a break is in every way as hard as I remember it to be. Juggling a baby and a whole lot of other balls in the air makes prioritising my personal health and fitness near enough impossible. And the times I make space for it, I have to be careful to not be overcome with a form of guilt. I know this trap so well and I have seen it thousands of times, yet it is difficult to avoid falling for it. I would highly recommend doing “Something” rather than “Nothing”, even if it is for nothing else than a change of scenery and proving to yourself that you won’t give up. I managed to get out for an interval run last Sunday, despite having a list of reasons why I shouldn’t go. I wasn’t out for long, I didn’t particularly enjoy it, but I felt such an achievement when I got back (plus re-energised and fresh). Reluctant to let go of my goal to get my fitness back, I have been looking for other alternatives that are quick and relatively easy to access and I have found yoga to achieve a variety of healthgoals.
I know people who swear by yoga, but for some reason it has never been my cup of tea. As your body and training requirements change with age, I have found that my muscles are more stiff and I certainly never take out much time to relax and focus. I thought I would try yoga and give it another go. Of course it would be great to go to classes over time but for now I am doing a 20 minute AM Yoga session or a 20 minute PM Yoga session (AM/PM Yoga DVD, by R. Yee & P. Walden) at home. It is supposed to be for beginners but -despite having exercised all my life- I find it nicely challenging. It certainly doesn’t feel like it is all “an easy way out” or an excuse to relax. Instead my body loves the stretches whilst my mind slows down enough to take stock and focus. It is excellent exercise for posture too and a welcome change from pounding impact from power walking and jogging. It has been a hugely valuable addition to my training activities and I feel the benefit for a variety of health goals. And with only 20 minute sessions, it’s easier to fit in.
If you are looking for an exercise session that ticks many boxes, give yoga a try. It will train your posture, especially core stability and flexibility, whilst slowing down your mind.