Disclaimer: This month’s column is probably most relevant for people who have a difficult relationship with their body. But I hope that everyone who is reading, will be able to find a little inspiration in these lines.
Following up on my previous column, I want to start to express how happy I am that I’m not alone on this ‘Learn to love your body’–fitness approach. Since writing April’s article, I’ve been invited to an online seminar on women who have unhealthy relationships with their bodies; and a former colleague and friend back in Denmark has been working on a TV show about ‘Being at war with your own body’ (hence the inspiration for my headline this month).
While I haven’t seen the series yet I’m just happy more and more fitness voices are joining this more holistic approach to fitness and health. I truly believe we need to ’look’ beyond ‘the look’ of the body, in order to have a healthy and loving relationship with it.
And how do we do that, you ask? I believe one of the ways to get a better relationship with your body is to train it. Not to ‘Look’ a certain way, but train it to be able to perform a task that you wish to become good at.
Do you want to be able to swim, run, bike, climb? Or something more simple (that you can do at home) such as doing 40 push ups in a row (I think, this was the number mentioned in some Men’s magazine, as the magic number that would tell you if you were in good shape or not. And please note: It’s GOOD FORM push ups that counts. Not just bending the elbows while the body sags – (you’ll find a description at the end of this article). Burpees for one minute straight – or doing 100?, skipping for 10 minutes, playing football with the kids for 30 minutes, hide and seek, rollerblading?
Even small everyday things like carrying your groceries without feeling your arms are coming off, opening the lid of the jar without using tools, taking the stairs without getting out of breath, making a quick 100 meter sprint to the bus without your fellow passengers and the driver fearing for your health?.
Maybe you want to learn how to dance, how to play rugby, how to box or have a wish to join a yoga class? Don’t be shy to go and seek those places and people who can help you along your journey. Everybody starts somewhere and where you start is right for you. Likewise goes, if that place or instructor doesn’t live up to your expectations or worse, don’t meet you where you are – don’t give up. Find a new place. Sometimes the chemistry just isn’t right, and it can take a few trials and errors to find the right place.
Just don’t give up. There are plenty of physical things you can aim at being good at, that can help you get a good relationship with your body and hopefully grow towards feeling thankful for the amazing things, your body is capable off, and how fast it learns. Just be consistent and you will achieve what you set out to do.
I’m sure you will find that the extra activity is lifting your spirit and dropping with weight on the scale. All without feeling like a chore, and often increased activity helps regulate the appetite into choosing the healthier option and leaving the empty calories.
Consider it going back to childhood, where we learned through play (and having fun). Make your weightloss and lifestyle changes into something fun. Something positive to spend your time and energy with, instead of spending the time being negative on yourself and using training as a punishment for what you ate.
And if you don’t have a goal, if there’s no physical activity that interests you – try different things. Don’t sign up to an expensive one year membership. Most gyms and clubs offer a first free visit trial, or do pay as you go. Go try different stuff. You might surprise yourself. Showing talent for something, enjoying the atmosphere, the company. Or let your walks turn into jogs and jogs into runs. I’m pretty certain there is something for all of us, cause our bodies weren’t build to sit for days.
So, in short, here are my ‘take aways’ for a healthier approach to training, for those who struggle with negative body image thoughts:
• Focus on what your body can do, instead of how it looks
• Chose activities you like and want to become good/better at
• Set continuing goals for physical accomplishments (grow with your achivements)
• When you catch yourself spending time talking negative about your body, move the focus to what your body has accomplished, what you have learned, how you will train to get better
• Be active for the sake of getting better, not to look a certain way
• If the scale takes over your life, hide it and start using a measure tape and the mirror. With increased activity your body will show changes, but it might not reflect on the scale.
Before I sign off: To do a correct push up from the toes (or knees): Lie flat on the floor, hands under or to the side of your shoulders (last position easiest if you’re not used to this exercise). Pretend you have a plank tied to your back from your feet to the top of your head. Press up your whole body from the ground, while maintaining the strict body plank (this mean tight midsection, straight back and straight/ tight buttocks and legs), until your arms are straight. Lower yourself towards the floor in a controlled movement. If you’re strong, chest to the floor and press up again. If you’re not so strong, you can either bend the arms (and lower your body) as far as you can or gently lower your body to the ground (aim to have the chest touch first), and then press up again.
Just remember: The movement comes from your arms, but the tension is in your whole body, from legs to head.
Next column we’ll chat a little more about a more holistic approach to food and diets and I’ll let you in on my recent activity schedule, which has resulted in both weight and fat loss. If you have any comments or questions please feel free to send them to: firstname.lastname@example.org.