Step Two: My Body is my Temple - Part 3
Listening, Limits and Change
Okay, so far we are listening to our body. What is it telling us? Next, we are figuring out our limits. And lastly, we need to know what to do. This is the hard part - the work. Most people fail here. They start a program and then just let it go after a while...why? Change, that’s why. Nobody wants to change, it’s too hard.
Say you want to start a new workout routine, where your goal is to get fit and lose 10 pounds. The typical New Year’s resolution. Okay, that sounds easy enough. Ten pounds isn't that much and feels attainable, right? You remind yourself that you always feel good after the gym and so you know you like it; or at least that feeling. And that's the thing right? That feeling. But you’re not just going to the gym, there are so many things tied to it. Such as how much will the gym cost. Can you afford the added expense? Or will you have to forgo another activity, and if so what will happen? Which activity are you giving up to make room for the gym, and are you going to miss it? What will you tell yourself so that you feel it’s worth it? Then there’s food. You’ll need to add making a meal after you’re tired from the gym - so what will that look like? This means more preparation, shopping ahead, and at least some type of meal plan. And the actual logistics of making it to the gym. You’ll need to get yourself to the gym, do you drive? Is there free parking? Is it easily accessible parking? Where do you change into your workout clothes? At home or at the gym? So does that mean that you bring your gym clothes with you, or go home first? How do you go home without being distracted? Do you have enough gym clothes to last the entire week, or do you need to plan for doing extra laundry? ….OMG it goes on and on doesn't it!
As you can see from the gym example, changing one thing is NEVER just changing one thing; and this is why most of us don't stick to the change. But we are able to stick to it when we wrap our head around the whole thing. I find the best tool before making a new commitment is to think of all the options and logistics around something before I make my decision. When we think ahead, we basically plan for the future and avoid the all too easy option of giving up on our goals before we’ve even started. When we look at the whole picture, we also decide deep in our gut if this is really what we want to do. Careful here, as we can talk ourselves out of it too. But when looked at in the whole, starting something new should still feel like “YES”. If, after we look at the whole thing we don’t feel that ‘yes’, then we probably won't stick to it. So then what, you wanna reach your goal still…
Rethink the goal. Don’t not start your goal - rethink how you want to do it. This is important. If the whole process isn’t appealing to you, then the goal isn't, right? Referring to the gym example, what if you chose to upgrade your gym membership to include towels and a fancy change room? You could look into hiring a trainer or join a free group to keep yourself committed. Some solutions are easy, some are not. But keep looking at the whole picture and details of the goal until you find the formula that works for you. If you’re thinking this is all too much work, then there’s a good chance that you’re just being lazy. It may sound harsh to hear that word, lazy. But this is your one life and you have to put yourself on the list every single day! There is a solution that works for you, find it. Be the Captain.
If you’re just not sure about the goal and don’t know about all the variables involved, you can also go with, “I’m gonna give this a go - and see how it feels”. Because some of us are emotional decision makers. But ultimately, we don’t want to be driven by our emotions completely. Number 6 of Captain Awesome’s 12 Step Program is “Combine Your Heart and Your Head” for a reason. We cannot make accurate decisions with just our heart, or our feelings. But if you’re just not there, you can give some things a try and get to the logic and reasoning afterwards. It’s important to decide and commit to finding the solution though.
We all need to keep our bodies moving, all of us. As mammals this is not an option. In today’s world, this generally means having to workout after work or doing activities on our time off. So find your ‘thing’. Don’t give up here. Put the simple pieces of the puzzle together and find the exercise program or activities that you’ll enjoy. Even if you’re in a place of recovery from an injury, you can still find ‘your’ activity.
I have to do some kind of activity and workout almost every day, and if I don’t I hurt. Some of my ‘exercises’ are so insignificant that I wonder if they’re doing anything… but I can feel that they are. I'm just at a place of rebuilding. What I've decided is that all I need to do is to show up for myself. Even if i'm not in the mood, or really don't feel like doing my exercises, I just show up and do them. I may only be able to give 60% effort on a day, but that's ok - “just show up Lisa”. There is a fine line for me of too much and too little. I need to know that line in order to feel my best, and that line for me is to just show up. As I get older I need more stretching and movement. But I also have the kind of body that simply can't handle being an athlete. I get super sore and my body tends to breakdown if I work out too hard. Over the years, I’ve tried hard to follow workout programs like those from Jillian Michaels as an example, or go to various classes at the gym. But they’ve all just been too much for me. All of that hard working out in my 20’s led to my injury at 32. So, here I am at 50 something committed to working out so that I can be fit and also try to help relieve all the aches and pains. “Wherever I go there I am” is one of my favourite sayings… If I don't start now, I’ll likely be dealing with more pain at 60. And I sure don’t want that!
When I was 45 my life fell apart. My cat died, my mom’s husband passed away, my partner and I broke up after 5 years together, my other cat died, and then my mom died. All within 6 months. I fell apart…
At that point I had been seeing my mom for coffee every week or two. It was really nice to be able to have that time with her, and feel a connection that we had never previously been able to find. Ever. When she died, I didn't expect to feel SO sad. I knew that I would feel sad, as I’m not an alien after all. But she was such a horrible parent and we were never close when I was younger, so I didn’t expect that I’d feel so devastated… it was like the bottom fell out of my life. I had no idea there was a connection with her, and that losing it would devastate me. I felt like I was now floating in space with no roots. I'm not a big believer in “blood is blood”. I'm a believer in “love is stronger than blood”. And maybe this was tied to a midlife crisis thing happening too. But I found myself middle-aged, single, broke and broken. Not a great place to be.
I found an amazing little apartment, and by little I mean 200 square feet with a shared bathroom. And by amazing, I mean it was a shit hole, but the landlord was great - he was fixing the place up and I felt safe - which is all I really needed. Thanks David Winkler. The apartment was in a cool heritage building in Calgary that used to be the dorms for the guys who worked on Fort Calgary back around 1900. I had a part-time job in an art store, my favourite place to shop, and I still had my big warehouse studio. So the little apartment was manageable. In fact, that little apartment became my cocoon as I found myself needing and wanting to say no. No to everything… I mean everything! No to parties, no to hanging out, no to invitations, no to just about everything and certainly no to anything new. That was the year of NO!
My rules for the year were: go to work, paint every day, workout every day, eat well. That’s it. The only thing that had to be scheduled was the job, otherwise all I had to do was just show up and do those things. This kept me out of getting seriously depressed but it also kept me healthy. I sat in that little apartment alone, with no TV and very little stuff which gave me no distractions. It was me, myself and I. I called it my year of grieving. I had lost people before - but this was different. I had never felt so alone in my life and I knew I had to change. The core of who I was needed an upgrade. It was one of the hardest years of my adult life. Not because of what I had lost or that I was broke financially, and getting close to 50, but because I didn't know who I was anymore. I knew that I needed to just be alone and sit and find out. And so that's what I did - I sat in that little apartment by myself and did nothing. Just sat…..for almost a year. 11 months to be exact. And it changed me. This is when the Captain came out.
At this time my body also fell apart. My lower back gave out to the point where I could barely walk. I had started doing yoga thinking that it would help my un-flexible body - and everyone does yoga, so it must be good, right? Well it turns out that it’s not so good if you need specific help and don’t get the right base training. I eventually found and amazing chiropractor who I believe is also a healer. She worked with me for months and helped me recover. (here's a link if you’re in Calgary). Then I found Pilates and worked at that until I had a base to move forward with. I used online videos from Sean Vigue Fitness; I like his dog too :). And now I’ve moved into another program called Gymnastics Bodies. If you’re in a place of not knowing where to start, this is where I started - and they are both great programs. There are tons of others if these don't speak to you. I like this site too HASfit - they have everything. There's also the tried and true thing called “walking”. Yup, that’s a good one and it’s free! If you need people, there are all kinds of gyms to go to and sports teams to join.
Don’t wait ‘til you’re 50! It sucks… fix what's not working now. Work out, find activities that you love and that are good for your overall being. Show up to your own life. Be the Captain.