A few days ago I found myself reading this post on one of my favourite blogs, ‘Fit is a Feminist Issue’. In it, the author talks about her relationship with her body, and the lies we’re told by the fat loss industry. (Do read the whole post, it’s enlightening and brilliant.)
The section that stuck most with me went:
Actually loving my body has come to mean honouring those things that I don’t totally understand, and practicing lots of non-attachment to outcomes related to its size and shape. I actually trust my body to do its job (which is to keep me alive, not to make me attractive to people who only have one idea about what that word even means). I believe it when it tells me it’s hungry. I believe it when it tells me it’s tired. I believe it when it wants to move, and when it wants to rest. Okay- I try to. It’s not always easy! No one taught me how to do that, In fact, I’ve been taught the exact opposite for my entire life.
I have decided that my job isn’t to discipline my body, my job is to care for it, to safeguard it, to be generous and gentle with it, and to thank it for taking me through my days. It is not my enemy.
This got me thinking about my own relationship with my body. Do I trust it? Do I treat it with respect? Do I practice intuitive eating and exercise? These are all values I support and espouse in this blog. But, if I’m honest, they’re not values that I consistently practice.
One of the areas that I stray most from these values is my struggle with injury. I have trouble with both knees, meaning I can’t run without pain the following day, and a wrist problem that makes weight-bearing poses (think planks and push ups) painful. These are all ongoing injuries that are unlikely to get better soon, if ever.
Yet, I treat the pain as if it’s a challenge to overcome, not a signal that my body needs something different. Just last week, I went for a gruelling hour-long run, and, sure enough, the next day I was limping. When it comes to adapting after injury, I punish my body for its transgressions, instead of resting and recovering.
So, I’m still learning here. I guess the question is, what next? I’ve decided to prioritise incorporating recovery exercises into my routine. I know what these exercises are, thanks to some excellent physio in the past. For anyone else struggling with injuries, visiting your GP for a physio referral can make all the difference. The key is making time to fit the exercises into the day, every day, even after the course of physio has ended.
The second step will be the harder one for me I think. I’m going to try to embody more of what Carly articulates in their article. This means focusing more on intuitive exercise, paying attention to what my body is telling me.
But what does intuitive exercise even mean? Before researching this post, I had no idea either. After doing some digging around some of my favourite online resources, I came across this article from lifestyle blog ‘Mind Body Green. The author says:
Intuitive exercise simply means moving in a way that makes you feel good in your own skin. Basically, allow yourself to think about exercise as a commitment to movement: “What does my body need today, what does my body crave today, within today’s crazy schedule — what type of exercise would be most beneficial to my body?”
I’m sure we’ve all had days where it’s been impossible to fit a long workout into our schedule. On these days I just accept that I have other things going on in my life, which sometimes (often!) take priority. Intuitive exercise takes this attitude and applies it to all areas of fitness. I for one am excited to try putting it into practice.
Another interesting resource was this article about adapting to and overcoming injuries. Its take home message is that injuries can be an opportunity. For me, I hope that my injuries are a learning experience.