Tag Archives: body

the mythology of the happy new you

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Happy New Year everyone!

I have been gone from the blog for a long time.  Of course, after every vacation, I feel that I need a vacation.

During my time away from here, a lot of things have changed.  I took the decision to emphasize speaking as part of my service offerings this year, I found an apartment in a new town, I will be saying goodbye to the sweetest little cabin in the woods ever that my son and I made livable, I ate a lot of cheese, and I realized how very, very much I hate being sick.  I’ve had a cold that just won’t go away but the lack of sleep and the holiday festivities don’t help with that (nor did all that cheese!).

Last night, after downing a healthy dose of magnesium and sleepy herb tea, I had a great night’s sleep.  I woke up this morning knowing what I wanted to talk to you about: the happy new you crap that springs up around this time every year.

I have nothing against changes and the daily habitual movement towards more vibrant health, more rational and expansive thought, ever more profound respect of the bodies that we each are.  In fact, I’ve pretty much devoted my life to this.  HOWEVER, it is the underlying message of the new year/new you mantra that rubs me the very wrong way.

Reading between the lines of this is a very calculated way of getting you to feel a lot of discontent.  Resolve this year, finally, to just not be you anymore.  Because, “you” is not enough.  “You” is not good.  “You” is not flashy, sexy, skinny, stylish, productive, fit, valid enough.  “You” is quite simple, flawed.  Throw it out.  Get a new “You”.

Oh, trust me, I get the allure.  I had the flashing insight a couple years ago that my greatest addiction is “starting over”.  It’s very much part of the diet mentality.  Monday morning I will just START OVER.  By, Friday I was binging on everything in sight because Monday-Thursday I had set up impossible standards.  But, that golden promise of Monday morning, the shiny perfection that would be my life started then.  Amplify that expectation by a gajillion and you have the Happy New Year/Happy New You myth.

This will be the year that you have the whitest teeth, the sharpest collar bones, the perkiest butt, the best job, the cleanest house, the most romantic relationship and the most fulfilling friendships.  (My resolution was to always have the flattest stomach!  My body shape simply will never allow for that.  I have a broad ribcage and a high waist…literally will never have the flattest stomach!)  I just feel exhausted thinking about all that pressure we’ve just put on ourselves.

1.  There’s nothing wrong with you.  Nothing.  

2. Is having collar bones sharp enough to give paper cuts in the office really one of your cherished values?  Is it possible that it’s important to you because you have been brainwashed by the diet/fashion industry to even want them?

3. How do you really want to spend your time this year?  Depriving yourself of pleasure so you can feel that you are meeting a group of strangers sitting in a board room’s expectations or nourishing yourself into greater and greater freedom?

The difference between the new you myth and the nourishing freedom way of life is that in my way of thinking, you already are the source of your greatest wisdom.  Yep, that old, shabby you that’s knocking around your un-flashy life is the greatest treasure that you have.  Nor did you have to spend a dime for it.  The body that you may find less than: not thin enough, not strong enough, not…enough, has more to teach you than any upper level college course, more than pursuing your doctorate.  It KNOWS.

The secret to empowered change is to honor your body.  Listen to it.  Respect it.  Give it want it needs and what it wants.

It may take some time to accomplish this.  We live in a world that trains us to be deaf to ourselves.  It actively has a vested interest in insuring that you are completely cut off from everything that you really know in your bones to be true and replaces it all with mirages.  My job as a coach is to act as a facilitator, as a guide on the incredibly fascinating and enriching path back to yourself.  Yes, you will most likely change your appearance, you will most likely change how your clothes fit.  You will most definitely change how you feel.  You will change your health.  You will change the way you process things.  Most profoundly, you will change your perspective and all the external noise will no longer apply to you.  You will find an inexhaustible font of joy.  You will find the true source of wealth.  And, it’s right there, in the oldest you.

So…Happy Ancient You!

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body love, part 1

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 There seem to be two basic approaches to health:

1. Discipline the body into obedience to one’s goals.

2. Love the body with complete abandon.

I will be writing about the first in a couple weeks.  But, I wanted to take some time and address the second in a two part series.  I will be touching on some ways in which I resolve my own frustrations with each.

I am a Holistic Lifestyle Coach and have a degree in Health Arts and Sciences from something of an alternative college. I was a massage therapist and yoga teacher and also walk the Wise Woman path and I love me some wheel of the year celebrations.  This information should lead you to believe that I stereotypically fall firmly in the camp of “body love”.  (Spoiler alert: I do…well, mostly.)  However, there is so much that annoys intrigues me about this approach.

One:  It is announced as a prescription.  Morbidly obese?  You just need to love your body.  Fibromyalgia?  Love your body.  Feel breathless after walking up a flight of stairs?  Love your body.  Wow, that’s frustratingly useless advice, isn’t it?

Two:  It is assumed that you know your body.  Do you love anyone that you don’t know?  Other than Robert Downey, Jr., I don’t either.

Three:  Love has lost a lot of meaning in our modern world.  I say that I love chocolate.  I say that I love my son.  I say that I love the sound of the Kardashian empire starting to crumble.  But, love is only truly appropriate vocabulary in one of those sentences.

Four:  Love is not only qualitative on the spectrum, but it also differs in degree.  The love that I have when I first fall in love and the love that I have after being in a relationship for a while.  It is qualitatively the same romantic love, but it has increased in depth.

Five:  Love is a process.  You will not wake up tomorrow morning loving your body if you’ve spent a lifetime (or even a few years) not loving it.

Six: Your body is not just one thing.  Since you are your body and you are so many things, so is it. (From here on out, I will not distinguish between the two, so firm is my belief that you are your body.)  You are the actual anatomy: muscles, kidneys, liver, bone, lungs.  You are the reflection of cultural values.  You are hormones and neurological information.  You are contextual.  (You are your environment.)  So, do you love it all in this model or just the width and breadth of yourself as summed up with a scale and tape measure?

I would love to hear from you, no matter where you are on this range of viewpoints.  Through discussion is knowledge pushed forward.  And, now, it’s time to dance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

part tres

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“There is more sagacity in thy body than in thy best wisdom.”

                                                    -Friedrich Nietzsche

Health is simple.  It isn’t necessarily easy in this society that we’ve created with a completely different intention in mind.  Everything from the clothes that we wear to the chairs we sit in are counter to health.

But, we all have bodies.  Each on of us has one.  I know…in the politically correct culture that no longer allows for sweeping generalizations about people groups, this is the one that is still true.  We all have bodies.  And, each one is amazing.  Each one wants to be healthy, as healthy as it can possibly be.

If you are human, you already have what it takes to be healthy:

1. You are curious.

2. You are a problem-solver.

3. You love to play.

4. You crave connection.

5. You thrive on good sleep and generous doses of sunlight.

6. You are a contributing force to the workings of the world.

7. You love to do things.

8.  You love to do nothing.

9. You crave fat and protein.

10. You are happier surrounded by beauty than not.

11. You can hardly help moving to the music.

12. You need a certain amount of stimulation to react to things.

13. You have a body.

This list may, hopefully, look a little different than other “what you need to be healthy” lists you’ve seen.  I grant you that it is not the “all your answers to your burning questions” list that you may have seen, either.  But, that doesn’t make it any less true.  Health lies in how you use the things that are innate in accordance with the needs of your species and beyond.  Your personal health is so tangled in the health of everything around you in ongoing dialogue that it becomes a gift you give to the world.

One thing you may not already have but could be a great present to yourself would be:

14. A great coach.

I would love to hear about what excites you and frightens you in your quest for health as a human being.

Not so Pretty Lies, Part Un

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“The truth wil set you free, but first it will piss you off.”

-Gloria Steinem

Let’s all take a deep breath.

Most of what you’ve been taught about health is fueled by something other than a desire for you to be healthy.  Speaking from experience, I have spent thousands of dollars on special diet foods, special secret programs, gym memberships, special sneakers, special gadgets, and a ton of specially formulated supplements.  At some point in my past, I even spent money on diarrhea inducing teas and special potions “guaranteed” to get my body to lose fat effortlessly.

The first overt lie about health is that to be skinny is to be healthy.  There is a correlation between body mass index (for lack of a better tool) and health but it is by no means causal.  Some of the unhealthiest people I’ve met have been really thin.  I do travel a lot, though, and the third world has its fair share of people starving to death.  (So does the first world, they just look a little….fuller.)

The second overt lie about health is that it is somewhere out in the ether to be hunted down and captured.  Apparently, according to nearly everything that you read or hear, your health is in the hands of the latest celebrity doctor or wan spiritual guru or Oprah’s latest favorite thing.  Health is just about always available from somewhere exotic.

The third overt lie about health is that it will cost you.  Although I do believe that health is the greatest treasure that one can have, the source of true wealth, the lie is that it is very, very expensive.  It can only be had through great expense.  The source of health seems to keep shifting from expensive craze to even more expensive craze.

The truth may annoy you a little bit.  It annoyed me when I tallied up the money I’d spent over the years.  It annoyed me when I looked at some of my habits.  It annoyed me when I thought about the psychological toll that the “health quest” can take on some people and on me.

You were born with everything that you need to be healthy.  Your genes ‘want’ that for you.  Your body ‘wants’ desperately to be healthy.  The majority of things that you’ve bought, tried, hoped in have let you down and I’m pretty sure, if you’re anything like me, that you’ve thought all along that it was you that failed.  It may have never crossed your mind that the information you’ve been receiving has been promoted by anything other than your best interest in mind.  What if, just tossing this out here, most of what you’ve been told and sold was for someone else’s profit.  A lot (a LOT) has been invested in keeping you as far from your own innate bodily knowledge as possible.

When I think about the millions (billions) spent poorly on the latest health craze or weight loss craze, I do get angry.  Nearly livid, actually-it’s quite a cardiovascular workout just thinking about it.  When I process the amount of guilt and shame and pain that I’ve gone through in my quest and multiply it by that of the several million others who’ve gone on a fruitless search, all the cardiovascular work comes to naught as my heart audibly breaks.

Health is simple and, other than the cost of food, it is free.  Let’s take another deep breath.

In part two of the this post, I’ll get down the nitty gritty list of all that you need to be healthy.  Hint: you’ve already got everything on the list.  See you next Wednesday.