I have spent the majority of my life not taking care of my body well. In my childhood, I didn't grow up playing organized sports or eating particularly well. I was an active kid but craved intensity and people all the time. As a young adult, I was naturally thin so I ate like crap and exercise was a swear word. The intensity I craved in my early years turned into workaholism and a lust for more, faster, stronger in my job. I remember my first years of work putting in 60-80 hours a week just because I could. Stress became a way of life. Tension headaches, messed up hormonal cycles, feeling wound tight more often than not, and a generally inactive body was my way of life.
At the risk of sounding all doom at gloom, I have always been a rock star sleeper. zzzzz.... The intensity and assertiveness with which I live my life has allowed me to fall asleep the moment my head hits the pillow. I've fallen asleep in more movies than I've stayed awake in (much to Brian's annoyance). And while my early years didn't give my taste buds a palette for brussels sprouts over Butterfingers, I made a turn in my eating in my late 20s.
Thankfully, I've had mentors for years who have lead me toward self-care and doing the internal work necessary to live fully. They've taught me so much about caring for my soul and leading from a full heart. I'm forever grateful for the rhythms and practices they've invested into me, so my soul is healthy and thriving.
Still, my body has lagged behind my mind and spirit. I've learned as an Enneagram 8 that the ignoring of my body is what we do. It's almost as if our body gets in the way of what we really want to get done. We deny ourselves the 'luxury' of caring for our bodies because we don't deem it important or significant. Instead, we pursue power and brut force of our lives. Think: bulldozer. Challenge? Accepted. Too hard? Watch me. We use and abuse our bodies.
I remember over a decade ago spending a year being coached by the incomparable Jack Groppel. He co-founded Johnson & Johnson's Human Performance Institute that works with top athletes on their energy and rest quotients. (Ha! And he agreed to coach me, the super non-athelete!!!). It was honestly the first time I really considered that my body is a temple, that my physical health and wellness is the foundation by which I can do everything in life. I literally didn't have a mental framework to consider what rest, Sabbath, hobbies, and being alive in my own skin meant. I struggled that year with Jack gently and strongly coaching me that I needed to pay attention to my body or my body would get my attention one way or another.
My body did get my attention through a cruel infertility diagnosis. Years of testing, poking, prodding, medicating, and physical dysfunction kept me on the journey toward understanding what my body was trying to tell me. The natural shifts of your body from the 20s to the 30s caused me to begin asking more questions and making more changes. Slowly, I was catching on.
Fast forward to today. I've been radically changed these last couple years in learning to listen to my body. I'm learning to honor when she says "I'm tired. I need a break." I'm learning to listen to my hunger pains - physical or otherwise - and validate they are real and need to be addressed, not shamed and shoved away. I'm learning to listen when something hurts or isn't quite right in my body and take care of it, not ignore it. I'm increasingly aware of my physiological responses to anxiety, fear, and nervousness. I am so much more in tune with the signs and clues my body is giving me about what she needs and how I can best honor her. And as I've been honoring my body, the benefits have been phenomenal.
As a result of this up-and-down journey, I’m increasingly convicted that we have one body to do our life well. Everything in our lives flows from this body we inhabit. Jesus says he’s come to give us life in its fullness. I want to honor this body with what she needs and not mask the issues with medications, cover with socially acceptable coping mechanisms, or settle for “it is what it is”. I want to be well and live to the fullest.
You with me? I'd love to tell you more about the biggest changes I made and how you can make those changes as well. Join me.