This is what choosing myself looked like
I don't subscribe to dogmatic approaches to health or wellness. I am wary of trends (I do admit I am on the celery juice bandwagon right now) and I don't find extremes to be healthy for my psyche. I consider myself a pretty healthy gal and feel very blessed to be able to spend time in clean air, drink water from the tap, eat organic veggies, and design my day so that I get to do things like walk and meditate.
I also have had a poor relationship with my body since I was a kid. I can say easily that I've spent more years berating myself than loving myself. This has looked like many different things — crash diets, extreme exercise, not eating, not looking at my body in the mirror, counting calories, a myriad of mind games. This wasn't wellness.
Being my parents' caretaker when they were both dying brought me nose-to-nose with the sacredness of living in a body and also profound gratitude for being able-bodied and mobile. And yet between grief and stress, I chose to cope the best way I knew how. We all do this. I was overwhelmed with this transition and took it out in my body through words and actions.
I ate all the sugar. I drank all the wine. I ate all the pizza. I slept all the hours. I expressed all the anger at my stomach and hips. I numbed out.
Now, don't get me wrong. There were days with grief where these things felt like true nourishment. But when they stopped nourishing me I turned a blind eye.
There I was just days after my birthday, staring into the pages of my journal willing words to appear and tell me what to do. Tell me something that would get to the heart of it and help me re-align with not just feeling good but choosing vitality.
Then, this journal prompt came out of my pen before I could even contemplate what I was asking myself. The prompt? If you were pregnant and responsible for another life, how would you treat yourself?
Let me be clear here — I have never been pregnant and we are currently planning our life assuming we won't have kids. So this prompt surprised me but it also got my attention!
The next thing I knew I was writing out sentence after sentence for how to heal. Heal my thoughts, mend my body, eat to promote mindful grieving, movement for connection and not punishment, and the list went on.
In the end, here are the major shifts I made that have given me a new kind of love for my body and the part of me that carries me every day so I can do the things that call me.
I got rid of every toxic skin and hair product. This included hand soap, deodorant, face lotion, shampoo, and more. This is not something I ever considered. And yet as I cleaned out these things from my life and actually studied the labels...well I can see what my intuition was up to.
I took alcohol out of the house. This was big. Like, really big. For years I've been a casual wine consumer. I was so embarrassed by how much my consumption was creeping up and couldn't fathom not drinking. This was a pretty good indication I needed to shift my relationship to this substance. I didn't take it out completely but reduced my intake by 90%. This alone has changed my life.
I started strength training again. I began lifting weights in 2009 and to this day, a strength session has this ability to empower me in every way. I found someone I trusted and bought a membership. Even when it's very cold in our garage I am committed to inner and outer strength.
I stopped eating gluten. Again, I am not dogmatic about this stuff. I don't have a grain allergy. And yet, there is a vast difference in my mind, my joints, my belly, and my energy when I don't eat gluten.
I rearranged my schedule so I could walk with my love daily. Touching nature every day is pure medicine.
I signed up for yoga teacher training. I joined to reconnect with my body through breath, stillness, presence, and a practice not predicated on fitness but mindfulness.
I don't work with physical wellness in my work but I know you have a body and I also know that the relationship you have with your body matters, literally. I would go on to add more and more practices to my life and be less strict on others. However, I can say that this list is intact. My journal delivered me precisely what I needed to hear and in a way I could own.
The results from this shift are immeasurable. The biggest one I have to say is how I communicate with myself now. My cells are listening. I decided that since I spent the last 18 years convincing my body she was imperfect I owe her at least the next 18 years loving on her fiercely. Maybe even longer.
Is there a shift you're in the brink of owning in your own life?
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Why seek a coach now? What was/is the tipping point that brought you to this place?
What do you need to come out of this conversation either knowing or remembering about yourself?
What is the cost of not doing this work now?
Who will be affected by you doing this work? Think of the ripple effect beyond what you can see.
What holds you back? What compels you to move forward?
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