What started out as a short term fitness experiment turned into a deeply transformative experience that has reshaped my relationship to inhabiting a body.
Before I begin, I need to come clean about something. In my first post on this topic, The Before, I didn't tell the whole truth. I said, "Let me be very clear about one thing. I am not dissatisfied with my body the way it looks now." That's not true. I still have mornings when look in the mirror and wish that things looked different. It would have been more accurate for me to have said, "I have done a lot of work around accepting and appreciating my body as it is and have come a long way in that process. However, my conditioning around wanting my body to look a certain way runs very deep, and although I am much closer than ever before, I have not gotten to the place where I have full acceptance of my body yet." This process of publicly posting pictures of myself in my underwear to show my results really illuminated how deep those insecurities run.
On Monday, I went in for my final assessment appointment at Relic Tree fitness center to get my photos taken and to be weighed and measured in order to track the changes in my fat and muscle percentages from when I started on this journey five months ago. I was confident that there was going to be a massive shift in numbers and that my after photo would look drastically different than the before shot. When I received an email with the results, my jaw dropped. Almost everything was the same. The only difference was that I gained 2 lbs of muscle and lost 1 lb of fat. When I received this email and looked at the pictures I was flooded with emotion. Anger, sadness, frustration, disbelief. I had been working my ass for the past 5 months. Did I not try hard enough in class? Did they mess up on the measurements? How could this have happened? How disempowering to post a before and after picture that look almost exactly the same.
Then another voice fought back. The voice was loud and strong and it came from the center of my being. It reminded me of all the times I didn't want to get out of bed in the morning for my 6:30 class, but I did it anyways. It reminded me of the day I did my first push up without assistance (I can now do 10). It reminded me to really check in with my body and pay attention to how different it feels now instead of being consumed with the way it looks.
The truth is, I inhabit my body differently now. I hold my head up higher. I feel more agile, more capable, more free to move with a new sense of strength and deep seeded power. My digestion is stronger now than it has ever been, I have way more energy throughout the day. My back pain has dissipated tremendously. This is not the end of my fitness experiment. In fact, I see it as a more solid starting point. Rooted deeper into the way my body feels as opposed to the way it looks. I am ready to begin again.
For the past two months I have been placing more focus on my body by working on building muscle and increasing strength and endurance. I am proud to announce that I have been very diligent in my efforts, attending Natural Fitness classes at least 3-4 mornings per week at 6:30AM at Relictree Fitness. My original goal was to focus for 2 months on my body and take before and after stats to track my progress. I choose to share my experience with the public so I can inspire others to invest in their physical well being in a healthy and sustainable way. Following an Ayurvedic diet and lifestyle has been one of the key components to this transformative process. Over the past two months I am happy to report my overall energy has increased dramatically, my digestion has improved, and my sleep has become more sound. I have officially completed my 2 month commitment, but have realized that I am not done yet. In fact, I have embraced the fact that I will never be done. I will post an "after" shot with my stats next month, solely for the purpose of completing my initial objective, but I now realize that there will never really be an after.
Some Things I Have Learned Along the Way.
1. Commitment is KEY.
Figure out what works for you, your body, and your schedule and stick to it! If you overcommit, you might not be able to uphold your agreements and are more prone to feeling guilty and falling off the bandwagon completely. You can always turn up the volume later.
2. Preparation is a MUST.
Every night before bed I fill my water bottle and lay out my workout clothes on my dresser, and put them on first thing. It makes it much easier to convince yourself to workout once you already have your clothes on!
3. Accountability is FOUNDATIONAL.
When we tell our friends and family about our health goals, we are more likely to keep them up! If you really want to hold yourself accountable, do what I did. Build a website, start a blog, make it your status update. The more people you have cheering you on the better!
The alarm goes off at 6am. No matter how peaceful the ringtone may be, it sounds like a jack hammer to me. My mind instantly turns on full speed to make its case that the best thing I can do for myself is to turn off that alarm clock and go back to bed. "It's dark outside. It's freezing cold. You work so hard, you deserve to have just one morning off." Luckily, I don't take my mind too seriously these days. Sure it's going to try to convince me to stay in bed. It doesn't want me to suffer. It wants to protect my poor little sleepy feet from the shock of the cold hardwood floor, and my delicate face from the chill of the morning air as I walk to my car to head to the fitness studio in the dark. The fact of the matter is, the cold air and the hardwood floor are temporary discomforts. But the feeling of the Self over riding the mind because it knows better…that's where the juice resides.
One month ago I made a commitment to myself to place more focus on my physical body and build strength and stamina. Check out my blog post, "The Before" to read about my Ayurvedic approach to achieving this goal. I am proud to report that I have stuck to my plan pretty firm, and am definitely seeing results. Sure my muscles have started to tone up and I may have shed a few pounds of fat, but more importantly… I feel so much stronger. My grocery bags feel lighter. I have more energy throughout the day. My appetite has increased, in Ayurveda-ville this means that my Agni (digestive fire) has improved.
This is all pretty sweet, but the coolest part of it all…an unexpected result... I am finally starting to really understand the nature of the monkey mind. These work outs are not easy. Sometimes I feel like walking out in the middle of the class because "I just can't do it anymore". But then my deeper wisdom self whispers to my mind. "You can do it Britt. Just 3 more. You signed up for this. This is good for you." Through discovering this wild animal of a mind, I slowly but surely discovering that soft wise voice that has always been there. It's a deeper knowing. And as that wise woman voice is growing louder, the Monkey Mind is beginning to know who is boss. And this growing sense of my deeper wisdom has infiltrated into all other aspects of my life as well. I have noticed it speak up more often with my career, how I navigate my relationships, my diet, and more. I never knew that focusing on the body would give me such a keen insight into my deeper self, and for this… I am deeply grateful.
Sending warmth this winter,