New Year Resolutions for the BodyPosted: January 7, 2016 Filed under: Body, Feminine Power, Feminism, Fitness, Internalized Misogyny, Movement | Tags: Body Image, Feminism, Fitness 57 Comments
I took an unintended break from the blog world a couple of months ago. It began when I decided to immerse myself in my memoir again, which meant harnessing most of my creative energy into finishing that story. Just as I was about to jump back into blogging a good friend of mine reminded me that the female body, which is naturally attuned to the seasons, intuitively wants to rest and “go into the dark” this time of year even when our holiday year-end commitments dictate otherwise.
Hearing her words gave me the permission that I needed to give myself but didn’t know I’d been craving to STOP. I wasn’t aware of how much I’d been holding on to on my to-do list until that point—never mind that I’d already spent a huge chunk of the year writing my book and planning my wedding.
Oh right! It’s the time of year to go fallow! I went into semi-hibernating mode and loved every minute.
My body also underwent another kind of break last year after I started seeing a chiropractor. I’d been living with chronic neck and low back pain for 10 years and I just couldn’t take it anymore.
The doctor said that my injuries, from I don’t even remember what because they happened so long ago, were 100% fixable. All I had to do was keep seeing him for adjustments/physical therapy and stop working out for awhile to give my body time to heal.
“You mean for a week?” I asked him, hoping the answer would be closer to a few days.
“Probably longer than that,” he replied, noncommittally.
Little did I know this hiatus would last longer than five months. I hadn’t stopped exercising since I started doing Jane Fonda’s videos as a teenager.
A few years ago, there wouldn’t have been enough money you could pay me to stop working out unless I was physically unable. My worth was so tied to needing to weigh a specific number and looking a certain way, injuries and constant pain be damned. I would have been too terrified to let go of that rigorous control. God forbid I gain a pound or two or three.
And while I now understand, not just in my head but in my bones, that my value as a woman has nothing to do with the number on the scale, the size of my jeans or how “in shape” I am—what does that even mean, really?— I was surprised at how these old anxieties came rising to the surface when I stopped exercising.
My body is an object to be controlled and regulated. Who knows what my appetites might make me do otherwise.
Not being able to work out forced me to confront these messages that were still running the show and deal with them.
Rather than run amok when left to its own devices, my body did what it knows how to do and healed. (Finding out that the injuries were “100% fixable” got me wondering at how easy I’d been willing to tolerate constant pain for so long just because I’d gotten used to it.)
Yes, my body is softer and rounder because I haven’t been exercising. But that is what my body naturally looks and feels like when I don’t work out several times a week. And when I get back into an exercise routine it will naturally change shape to reflect whatever it is I decide to do or not do.
This time, I resolve to cultivate a more empowered relationship to fitness that doesn’t involve using work outs to beat my body into submission. I’d like to see what my body looks and feels like when I exercise from a place of desire rather than compulsion, pleasure instead of fear, self-love and not lack of it.
What about you?
Happy New Year to all!
Diahann, Yay for all your accomplishments and for your realizations about yourself as a woman. I, too, have struggled with knowing that my worth as a woman has only to do with my being me and because I’m me I am worthy. I too beat my body into submission for decades, thinking I had to be the perfect shape and size to be a worthy and adequate woman. And my body has suffered for it. I have my own physical challenges some of which I am sure evolved from the way I mistreated my body. Kudos to us both for moving out of that place and into a place of treating are bodies with tender loving care and treating our selves with that same depth of tender loving care.
Thank you so much for returning to blogging with this particular. It helped me see where I too have grown. How wonderful that you are healing the body pain as you heal the mind and heart pain. Much love to you.
Thank you, Audrey! Yes, kudos to both of us for making the shift toward self/body-love. It continues to be an ongoing journey for me but more often than not the love wins out these days. Sending you love (also, I will be heading over to your FB page soon to comment on your recent words and work. You are a fierce warriors, my friend!) Sending you love, too.
GOOD FOR YOU
Excercise and diet can be just as addictive as booze and soking
From time to time I also get the feeling that I must do something to get exercise .. I always go lie down for half an hour and the feeling passes
Oh how I’ve missed you ’round these parts! This post captured me just the same as the first one I ever read from you about Skipper’s breasts…. Lol. Body weight and body parts that need rigid regulation have been my life work and guess what? It’s quittin’ time…. Cleaning out my desk and walking off the job. Thanks for always giving me a far better “Labor Union” to join forces with!
Thank you, Stephanie! It’s great to be back. Happy New Year- I love that you are walking off the job – and the “labor union” reference in this context is just brilliant and funny as you always are. Speaking of unions, I will be sending you a personal email soon.
Beautiful post and photo, Diahann! I’ve been struggling with winter and lack of motivation over the last month especially, and it’s so nice to read your words about “going fallow”. I’m excited too to hear that you’re working on your memoir. ❤
Thanks, Jenn! I’ve so forgotten that going fallow is a thing or in the past derided it when I’ve caught myself in the act- but no more, I hope! (Not to mention, as I told a friend, my version of going fallow typically still being productive but just a little less so-need to work (or is it not work?) on that. And I actually wanted to talk to you, memoirist-a-memoirist, so will be sending you an note soon!
Welcome back! Sometimes we need to take a rest, body, mind and soul.
It’s interesting how we so often can’t see the internalization’s we’ve made (well, after all they are unconsciously created!) Until something unexpected reveals them. And then sharing our experiences can help others to see their own internalization’s.
I think exercise is important, but not beating ourselves up about it. Or trying our worth to it. That said, it is easier said than done.
Thanks for your thought-provoking post.
Thanks, Georgia. Yes, for sure, easier said than done! Yeah- finally coming to those aha-moments are a double edge sword- there’s the relief of realizing what’s going on so one can now change and then the chagrin that- oh crap, now I must change. 🙂
Diahaan so good to read your voice back again. It all boils down to ultimately the inner contentment. Your last lines are so reflective and wish you recovery with attuned zest.
Chaitali, it’s good to reconnect with you, too! Thanks for the good wishes for healing. Btw- congratulations on all your writing success!
Lol@ using work outs to beat my body into submission 🙂
I guess your words have ‘freed’ someone out there.
I’m glad to hear that you’re healed and you’ve resolved to be ‘kinder’ to your body, as we should all be, it’s the only one we have.
All the best with your memoir. Happy New YOU!
Thank you, Timi! Good point that it’s the only one we’ve got. It’s really the temple of the soul, isn’t it? Without it, we can’t be here.
Such a good post, as usual! Thanks for the reminder about our fallow period. (It explains so much about my last 6 weeks!) I look forward to seeing where your new intention leads you in your relationship w/ your body. It’s bound to be healing & amazing!
Thank you, Lisa! Lol- hearing people’s words here about fallow time makes me want to put in on my calendar next year to remind myself that it’s that time of the year again AND send out a reminder post to all so we can enjoy that fallow time together. Thanks for your support and friendship here and in person. xo
There once was (when I was younger than I am today) a wise old woman who said to me – We humans must stop once in a while – so either our head can catch up with our body or our body can catch up with our head – it is rarely they move at the same speed – I have learned she was right – often we don’t realize the two speeds before the energy disappears in our propulsion – sometimes we are much too good to “acclimatize” us – so we ignore the warning signs.
All the best 2016 wishes for you and yours… :-).
Hello Drake! I love these bits of wisdom- I do find my brain flying at warp speed at times and my body moving at a different rhythm- interesting to realize that it’s the norm that being in a civilized world has manifested in us. I’m going to percolate on this bit especially “sometimes we are much too good to “acclimatize” us – so we ignore the warning signs.” thanks for that. All the best to you, too!
Bravo to your resolve to approach fitness and health from a new perspective. Give yourself lots of time because it’s a big shift. Today I was at the small gym provided by my employer. I was there with two men who were working hard on making themselves rock solid while I walked a brisk pace on the treadmill for 20 minutes and then spent the next 20 minutes stretching just about every part that can be stretched because if I don’t, I can’t sleep, I can’t sit, I can’t walk. Like you, I used to be fearful of not working out and what it would do to my body. Now I’m grateful I can still move but I tend my parts with far more care because, like you, I’ve discovered my body isn’t invincible and there are far more important things than a few extra pounds. As always, your posts get the juices flowing, Diahann.
Thank you, Susanne! And for the reminder that it’s a big shift. I just started exercising again and can definitely hear the old voices fighting to still be in charge. I love that you spend all that time stretching. I definitely think stretching is not given enough credited for how good it can be for the body. It sounds like you are at a wonderful place in your own workout/body relationship. I know for sure I feel emotionally/mentally better when I do exercise- so definitely looking forward to finding that balance. (And love your note about the juices flowing :))
There you are resting and looking relaxed. Stay peaceful and so glad you are tending to your chronic aches and getting visits in with a chiropractor. 🙂
Looks aren’t important but we all need to feel good about ourselves. I have undergone major changes, lost 45 lbs after my 40’s. Trying to be positive sometimes is overwhelming, Dianne. I think, by the way, you are beautiful and remind me of my oldest daughter. Smiles, Robin
Diahann. Please if you don’t mind, my phone knows I have another friend named with different spelling and it “morphed” your name. 😦
I forgot to say, “Have a wonderful year with better health and special moments, Diahann. ♡♡
hi Robin! Thank you for your kind words 🙂 It feels good to honor my body’s needs more. At the same time, it’s also been great to slowly get back into working out for the benefits that exercise provides. I’m looking forward to benefiting from workout out without turning it against me. A fine balancing act, I think. Happy New Year to you and your family!
Thanks for sharing your struggles and lessons with us, Diahann! It’s good to hear from you again. I’m glad to hear you’re healing and being gentle with yourself. How friggin’ awesome that you can have a 100% recovery!!
As for me, I’ve been increasing my exercise in order to heal. When I learned that weight training might be a good way to heal my tendinitis, and my husband’s chronic pain, we signed up for our local gym. It’s only been about a month, and so far so good. His pain is diminishing. My tendonitis is healing. We’ve both been feeling stronger and have a lot more energy. Sometimes when my husband compliments me on how well my physique is developing, I find myself wanting to push harder to get more results, but then remember to focus on how I feel, and to make it feel good. I also choose to see myself as looking great enough just as I am.
I imagine that you’re still very beautiful, with your ’rounder’ curves and all. Enjoy your time resting, healing, and integrating! xoxo
hi Annie. thank you! Yes- i had sort of figured the pain was going to be a permanent thing it had been going on for so long- and turns out I just needed to stop and heal. That’s great that working out is helping to two of you heal. (My chiropractor is now prescribing that I work out again along with the physical therapy exercises he gave me as part of getting my body strong again). Someone reminded me yesterday that exercise is great for the mind and the emotions, too. And so love where you are coming from – nothing to fix with exercise, just to heal/strengthen/revitalize/be good to your body. I’ll talk to you soon. xo
“My body is an object to be controlled and regulated. Who knows what my appetites might make me do otherwise.”
Ha-ha, that reminded me of Foucault and his concept of the biopower. Always regulated, disciplined, put into makeup and looking fresh. Sometimes it is good to remember that we live only once and cannot possibly invest all of our energy into our bodies. There are many interesting things to do! My resolve is to attend two shows, parties, events and lead a more social life by all means. “I live to live loud”, as Zola had said!
Happy New Year, John. Love your resolution of enjoying what the world has to offer more. Curious, what is your blog- I clicked on your name but couldn’t find the URL?
Good to see you back 🙂 Wish you all happiness and good health in the new year. We need to feel good, I think that’s the most important thing… 🙂
Thank you, Maniparna! It’s wonderful to reconnect. Wishing you the same. And yes, to feeling good and loving ourselves!
I can only echo the words of the other readers, so I won’t say much more than, yes it is so nice to see you back. I knew I’d missed you, but I hadn’t realized how much. Your presence is just so lovely. P.S. love that picture!
Robyn!! Hello and Happy New Year! So wonderful to see you too. Look forward to seeing what you’ve been up. And thanks for the pic compliment. It’s been a thing, taking selfies of me and the cat, who is amazingly willing to pose for the camera. 🙂
I’m glad to hear you’ve got a relief from pain Diahann and a more accepting way of dealing with your body. Wishing you a happy, healthy year!
Thank you, Andrea! Wishing you the same as well. Yes, it’s wonderful. I went to my first dance class in ages yesterday and really so thrilled to move without hurting at the same time. Very grateful.
http://fitisafeministissue.com/ You might be interested in this blog written by several feminists on fitness, body image, etc. I recently guest wrote for them: http://fitisafeministissue.com/2015/12/30/turning-that-ship-around-guest-post/ Consolidates several personal themes on active transportation lifestyle, familial poverty, but healthy diet…
We need to look to ourselves and choose the best that works and keeps us healthy in mind and body.
Awesome, Jean! I will check out your guest post. Congrats, btw. That’s a great blog and will have to catch up what they’ve been up to while i’ve been away. And agreed. Yesterday was my first time back in dance class and loving getting the juices flowing – so good for the emotional and mentally bodies, too!
First of all, LOVE the photo of a relaxed, beautiful you…and your feline pal :). Thank you for that gift.
This post resonated on a number of levels: the wisdom, and for some of us, uncomfortable experience, of a fallow period; the familiar approach of beating the body into submission and failing to value her priceless knowing (just yesterday, I used almost the identical words to myself before dancing, i.e. “I am not going to beat myself to a pulp in this solo rehearsal”); and. most important to me, the key insight of having activity and “fit-ness” be fueled by desire and pleasure. That last part focuses me, again, on why I love to dance: The passion and desire and joy are in the driver’s seat for me and the “work out” flows, almost seamlessly, from that.
Thanks so much for helping me zero in on this timely recognition, as my dancing is on break again and I search for ways to stay in dancing shape through other vehicles. Funny how easy it is to slip into a more confrontational and less healthy relationship with the body if I don’t stay vigilant (and even when I do) in more of a workout setting. NO!
Welcome back and hurrah for healed back pain! A most excellent way to kick of a dazzling new year, my friend. xoxo
Thank you, Chloe!! Thanks for sharing so generously what struck a chord with you. It’s a definite inner dance to find that balance- albeit sometimes it feels like a battle going on inside in brain for who gets sovereignty over my body: me or cultural/patriarchal conditioning? Reading your words makes me wonder if maybe the key is to turn the in-fighting into a dance of exploration and play- so thanks for the spark of inspiration with your share. Sending you a hug and xxx!
It’s just that when I’m exercising, I don’t hear the infernal podcast that is my own terrible thoughts.
It’s inspiring to hear about learning to slow down. Also: your cat is on point.
Hi Tippy, thank you! Lol- this cat is a professional nap-temptress (the male version)- always wanting to lure me into sleep even if it’s the middle of the afternoon. I love this line and the truth behind it: “I don’t hear infernal podcast that is my own terrible thoughts.” That’s a perfect description for exactly what that is like.
I have a rabbit but she sucks at naps. Also, she eats the cord off the electric blanket.
Oh my god. A big salute to you. This is great. Happy new year to you too. And please check out my blog too.🙈 I’m new to all these so..
Thank you, Shravanthi. Welcome to the blogosphere and blessings for the New Year!
I’m so glad you’re back – I miss your voice in this blogging world of ours. You write so well that I feel as if you’re talking to me in the room here, both of us sipping on a cup of tea. Yes, I know exactly what you’re talking about here. I needed shoulder surgery or at least weeks of PT and no movement, and I said NO. The idea of not ‘working out’ scared me too much. I never did get the surgery done (and have chronic shoulder discomfort) but I have learned to work out in a way that’s better for my body. I used to walk 5 miles a day, and then deal with a sore back the rest of the time. Now I DANCE three times a week for exercise. I work out more (soaking wet at the end of the hour) but have a huge smile on my face and no sore back. We need to listen to our bodies and our hearts.
Thank you for your kind words, Pam! It’s great to be back 🙂 (Who knows, maybe we’ll end up having that cup of tea in person someday, which would be lovely.) I think it’s wonderful that you’ve learned to work out in a way that is good for your body. Dancing, to me, is a form of moving meditation, and I get some great creative ideas while I’m dancing– too bad I can’t just stop in the middle of class to write them down :). Working out has so many health benefits. It’s only when used to abuse the body or cut ourselves down to size (for the wrong reasons) that it becomes a liability, I’m realizing. Now my chiropractor is encouraging me to use exercise to regain my strength. As my teacher always says, and I still forget to do, it’s always good to ask the body “what do YOU want?”
And usually walking is the BEST exercise for mind, body and soul. I will never give up walking (I’ve written many a story while walking…), but interspersing it with dance and yoga seems a perfect combo. Heal and get strong!
We are so on the same wavelength. I’ve been reading up on Fendelkrais. The author talks about how we punish ourselves and think that’s exercise. Every word in the book yells your name. Chk your email.
I’ve done a bit of the big F but not so familiar with it. I do remember feeling like not much was “happening” and the teacher explaining that it was a gentler way to work out but a workout nonetheless. It’s interesting how we can use exercise/food/relationships/anything really to punish ourselves– I’m really seeing a correlation. Will pm you back in email, D!
I am still new to the blogging world and WordPress recommended your post. I stop wondering once I started reading. It is brilliant post. Just the thought of hibernation made me relax. Keep it up. I hope one day I can write the same way you do :-). Best of luck
Thank you, Magy! Welcome to the blogosphere and look forward to your posts!
You just encouraged me. Check it out and tell me what you think
I have nominated your blog for a Blogger Recognition Award. Congratulations! https://shaktiwarrior.wordpress.com/2016/01/22/blogger-recognition-award/
Again, thank you for the nomination. I so appreciate your work!
i lke your article , very inspiring, and thank you for your post
Thank you. And thanks for reading and commenting.
Sorry to jump into this conversation that late, but in general terms I would think that even if things are against you, even in physical conditions, the fact the way we respond is so important. This is not merely physical based but both mentally and spiritual, if you understand what I mean. It is so good to try to love life in all dimensions, to have and DECIDE for positive imaginations and foremost to create meaning in life. The Austrian Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl who survived the Nazi concentration camps has a lot to say about this. For sure he died already, nothing that we can do about this.. We have a beginning and an end. However in between, with variations certainly,- we have a free choice. And sure, body and mind work together. But the mind needs every time to be refilled with positive energy, positive self created impressions, so you wish. Positive resolutions to keep the body in shape, and to follow through with this. All this helps to get “centred” in yourself in a closer connection with the better energies of your existence,- which may have been clouded for some reason. Sometimes for a good reason. Life provides us with lessons we are able to take willingly or unwillingly on board, but the crux is to get back to your original self. A self which is changing, but also a self which is able to embrace renewal and change. makes sense? Kind regards, Paul
hi Paul, thanks for your thoughtful comments. I agree- there is so much to the body than just our physical self – and all that plays a part in our well-being. And I appreciate the shout out to return to our individual wholeness.
It’s always like that isn’t it? Something we dearly treasure has been taken away or is put on hold so that we remember how lucky we are!
Yes! A greater appreciation sometimes requires a big wake up call for it to happen. It has been a blessing.