801.361.8589 [email protected]
In These Bodies

In These Bodies

“In these bodies we live, in these bodies we die. Where you invest your love, you invest your life.” -Mumford + Sons

Our relationship to our bodies is complicated sometimes, isn’t it? It’s easy to get caught in the traps of comparison, ingratitude, and criticism. It makes so much sense that we fall into these patterns of dissatisfaction with our bodies because of the societal pressure and influence to look a certain way. However, as we invest more of our love into our bodies we will be able to live out fuller and richer lives.

Old Habits

One place that it is easy for me to slip into old negative patterns of comparison is at the gym. It seems that someone is always faster than me, stronger than me, or less red-faced than me (if you know you know). I have gotten a lot better over the years at appreciating my own body and what it can do, but these comparisons still sometimes come: an automatic thought pattern that is hard to shake. I have done a lot of work here and can quickly move towards thoughts that are more in line with my values, but I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes that takes active work!

The other day I got a text message from my fiancé. We talk about body image and eating concerns frequently because of my job. He was at the gym and said the following: “Everyone thinks from time to time, ‘I wish I could have that person’s body, or just swap out a few features.’ First of all, swapping parts would just produce a lot of Frankenstein’s monsters. Secondly, why would you want to trade a body that you have spent a whole lifetime learning, protecting, nurturing etc.? All the sports you’ve played, all the people you’ve hugged and kissed. All the injuries and diseases you’ve gone through was in YOUR body. There is just too much history to just not want it anymore. Even people that have really broken bodies or broken relationships with their bodies have enough positive history to make it all worth it.’

Our Bodies

I recognize that people who have experienced trauma within their bodies may have a different experience. However, this text got me thinking a lot about what our bodies carry for us. Our bodies have been with us through every deep belly laugh, every hand hold, every excited & joyous emotion, every repaired bone or scar…our bodies have been a constant for us. They have been our partners throughout life and have carried both the good and the bad with us and for us. Our bodies have held our sorrows with us as they gushed tears of loss. They have felt our pain as they bled with us. Our bodies are incredibly protective and we, in turn, protect them as well.

Our relationship with our bodies is complicated and nuanced. However, if we can begin understanding our bodies as companions rather than antagonists, something changes. This perspective allows us a deep gratitude and appreciation for our bodies, including the scars and “imperfections”. I put quotations around that word because this sense of gratitude even changes the way that we view parts of us that may not meet societal expectations or standards. I think about my body and even specific parts that have been hard for me. Although I sometimes desire to “fit” better into what society expects, I think on a good day I would not trade my body or any part of it. We have grown together and loved together. In this body I will live and in this body I will die. I may as well invest more love into it if we’ll be partners for life.

Resources:

Awake My Soul by Mumford & Sons

Lessons in Flexibility

Lessons in Flexibility

I’ve never been a very flexible person. I remember in elementary school we would do the “v-sit reach” and I was always embarrassed watching my gymnast friends mindlessly fold in half while I struggled to get just one more inch (for those of you didn’t have experience with the v-sit reach and therefore don’t understand this story, consider yourselves lucky). I danced for several years growing up and would put so much effort into becoming more flexible, but alas, I never seemed to really improve. It started to feel like maybe I just wasn’t meant to be flexible and I soon accepted that this was okay.

However, being flexible has several important benefits. Flexibility helps you have fewer injuries, less pain and stiffness, greater posture and balance, and an increased sense of physical and mental relaxation. These are things I could greatly benefit from. I’ve continued to stretch, engage in yoga practice, etc. since elementary school, yet I wouldn’t consider myself to be “flexible”.

Flash forward to 2020. I’m teaching a class in-person at BYU, seeing clients, planning a wedding, and trying to navigate family and holidays in the midst of a pandemic. Although it is a really different kind of flexibility than the v-sit reach, 2020 has taught me valuable lessons in the benefits of being mentally and emotionally flexible. I am absolutely a planner, so 2020 has thrown me for a loop in many ways. Having to juggle using Zoom for clients and teaching, not having a clear picture for what my wedding will look like, being away from family for the holidays, etc. has been challenging. However, what this year has been is a beautiful and necessary lesson in flexibility for me.

A few months ago, Jen wrote a blog describing what mental flexibility is and what it looks like (link to blog post). She discusses this as a key part of resilience. I want to build on this blog and talk about why this is beneficial for us. As with physical flexibility, mental and emotional flexibility have huge benefits. I think this pandemic has taught me lessons in flexibility that I will carry with me forever as long as I keep practicing. Here are some of the ways I see flexibility as beneficial, as experienced myself!

Fewer Injuries; Less Stiffness and Pain

Although I wouldn’t consider myself to be a “rigid” person. My default is absolutely not easy-breezy. As 2020 has taught me lesson after lesson on flexibility, I have recognized that being more mentally flexible has allowed me to feel less distress when things don’t turn out the way I plan. At the beginning of the pandemic, I had a trip to Hawaii planned with friends. We soon realized that this just wouldn’t be possible as Hawaii shut its borders. I remember just crying and feeling so disappointed in my plans being cancelled. Throughout the pandemic, we all have faced disappointments both large and small. Those that are flexible can still feel disappointed but do not necessarily have to view these disappointments as “the end of the world.” The last 8 months have been so stretching that increased flexibility has been the natural outcome. The more I have learned to be flexible both emotionally and mentally, the less pain I have experienced as plans have needed to shift. I have become much less rigid in my thinking and planning as a result. Flexible mindsets really allow us to sidestep debilitating and staggering mental “injuries”. 

Greater Posture and Balance

Increasing in flexibility over the past several months has also allowed me to more fully embrace balance. The pandemic has forced me to embrace more balance and less rigidity as my routines have completely had to adjust. With the pandemic I’ve learned to prioritize more time with people around me, engaging in types of movement that bring me joy, and making stillness an essential part of my experience. When we set out with rigid expectations, even subtle shifts in our plans can cause us to stumble and throw us off balance. To use an eating recovery example, when we are rigid around food and/or exercise it oftentimes becomes difficult—seemingly impossible—to adjust our behaviors. Something like a pandemic, with gyms shutting down, working from home, grocery shopping becoming more involved, etc. can throw our entire systems out of whack if we haven’t developed the skill of mental and emotional flexibility. When we are flexible, we embrace balance, recognizing the time and season for all things in our lives.

Increased Mental and Physical Relaxation

Flexibility can lead to greater mental and physical relaxation. Yes, it’s known that twisting yourself up into a pretzel doing a consistent yoga practice is supposed to bring you inner peace, but cultivating better mental flexibility also helps bring about a sense of peace and relaxation. Mental and emotional flexibility allows you to rely upon yourself, knowing that whatever comes your way you will be able to meet head on. Although the unknown may still feel scary at time, mental and emotional flexibility allows you to be more relaxed about things not needing to go a certain way. Although building up your mental and emotional flexibility skills may seem challenging and uncomfortable at first (just as building up your physical flexibility is), the relaxation and calm that comes from knowing you are able to meet the challenges ahead of you truly brings about an deep sense of peace.

So, how are you working on your mental and emotional flexibility? Have you been exposed to lessons of flexibility whether you wanted to be or not in 2020? How has an increased sense of flexibility helped you as you’ve navigated this year?

 

The Purpose of Food

The Purpose of Food

I have officially begun mourning the summer months. I absolutely adore the summertime and the activities in the warm sun, the fresh flavors and icy treats, and the feeling of freedom. Even though I’m not in school anymore, I still feel a little lighter and freer from May until August. That being said, this summer felt hotter than most and I’m happy to say goodbye to that. (more…)

Lessons Learned from Wiping Out

Lessons Learned from Wiping Out

Recently I had the opportunity to attend one of my best friend’s weddings in Los Angeles. The wedding was originally meant to take place in May, but due to COVID-19, was pushed back. Unbeknownst to us, the virus would still be causing problems. I’m not sure a mask-clad wedding party is exactly what the bride had in mind, but it was still wonderful to be able to celebrate with her. She has taught me many lessons on flexibility, working through grief that comes with something like a global pandemic, and the importance of focusing on loving one another and being grateful for relationships. She is an absolute rockstar! (more…)

Take a Hike

Take a Hike

Growing up I absolutely detested hiking. It felt like a really nice way for me to feel foolish and gave ample opportunity to compare myself to my friends and family that accompanied me on the hike. Was I going too slow? Are they not going to want to hang out with me anymore because I’m not very “good” at hiking? Could they hear me breathing hard? Was my face getting red? Could they see the sweat through my shirt? Did they think I was “out of shape”? As you can probably tell, these thoughts are riddled with insecurities and laced with diet culture and body shaming ideology. (more…)