Saturday, July 25, 2009

Listening to my body, feeling good

It has been a year of focusing on my physical body, and I'm feeling so much better than ever before. In January I got real about the fact that I didn't want a misaligned spine and back pain the rest of my life. I have a wonderful chiropractor, but knew if I didn't strengthen my core, then no matter how much I got adjusted, I'd just slide right back into a horrid posture that was starting to give me all sorts of trouble. So I asked my body to help me in my intent to get strong, aligned, and flexible again - in a way that would fit my schedule and with something I could do at home. I also wanted to lose my winter weight.

"What do you want me to do first?" I asked. "Situps," were the answer. So I set about doing situps every morning. At first I could only do ten in the middle and 10 crunches on each side. I gradually worked my way up to 100 total every morning over the course of six months. I've also added stretches, some qi gong, tai chi once a week and various other activities, and finally my spine is sitting back almost where it should be! I'm so overjoyed! I was beginning to think I'd be all twisted up for life. The angels were even singing that nursery song about "There was a crooked man who walked a crooked mile..." trying to get my attention before I made too much of a mess out of myself!

When I told someone what I was up to, they said, "Yes but you love exercise." I laughed. I love sleeping in more, quite honestly, but I just had to make a choice - be in pain or listen to my body's needs. Truthfully I hated the situps at first because I'd become quite weak and they hurt. I couldn't do the number I thought I should. Now I enjoy them because I have some muscles finally and it feels good to move. But for the first three months I had to make myself get up early and go for it. My body was happy. I was grumpy!! Now we're both overjoyed!

So many of us don't make any positive physical changes because the ultimate goals we set seem overwhelming. I knew it would take me a long time to get my body back in order. And I knew I couldn't do much at a time since I was pressed for time and also not very strong at first. But one pull-up is better than none. And one situp is better than none, and gradually they've increased.

Also listening to your body is so much better than ignoring it. I do not diet or deprive myself, but I do ask my body what it wants - as a result I eat a lot of very healthy stuff, and the occasional overindulgence as well. Since I give my body what it wants, its a rare case when I stuff myself with things that don't satisfy me. If your body wants rice pudding and you don't have any and you eat everything else in the house, you will still crave that rice pudding. If you want a piece of chocolate and don't just go for it, God knows what else you might plow through. For me it could be a bag of chips, a huge helping of salsa, some fruit, nuts, hummus with pita chips, and chocolate milk, and oh FINALLY, that chocolate!! If I'd had one first, I'd be satisfied! My mom once read that if you craved something you should have a tiny portion - well she ate a whole Pepperidge Farm coconut cake, one square inch at a time! I'm sure if she sat down with one big piece right away that would have been enough.

If you have emotional cravings you can ask yourself before reaching for food - what do I really need? Nine times out of ten when I'm eating emotionally I just need to call a friend and work something out. Or I need rest instead and I'm just overtired. Ask and then listen - your body and soul are wise beyond measure. Eating is a form of touch and most of us in this society are touch deprived because we don't hug as much and hold hands as other cultures do. The angels solved that one for me by telling me to put a special blanket around me and invite them in. Sure enough the blanket started buzzing! I can vouch for the fact that a hug from Archangel Michael is FAR more yummy than a gourmet meal or even the best of snacks :)

So this week, if you haven't already, start to make friends with your amazing body and ask it more what it wants and what it needs, and listen - in doing so you'll step right on the road to greater well being.