Our bodies thrive on movement, especially when we find something we enjoy doing on a regular basis. In my work, I refer to physical activity as a form of primary food. Primary foods are lifestyle factors that feed us on a much deeper level than food we eat, offering fulfillment and meaning, such as spirituality, relationships/family/community, career, and physical activity. They are essential forms of nourishment.
I’ve been a “mover” for as long as I can remember. From my early years, running around the playground, playing games outside and swimming would keep me occupied for hours. Then there were the more organized activities such as gymnastics, dance, and sports teams that I engaged in throughout my school years. I am at a point in my life now where my physical activity consists mostly of running, hiking, yoga and walking as my preferred methods of movement. Movement is very much a part of who I am, and if I go more than a few days without I start to feel a little out of sorts. It is medicine to me. Moving recharges me, helps me get unstuck, clears my head, helps boost my mood and keeps me healthy. I will often choose different forms of exercise to support different types of energy and to create a balance. For example, if I'm feeling anxious or stressed, hiking in nature will ground me and help calm my nervous system.
How does movement nourish you? What forms of movement do you choose to create a balance?
Some days require more effort than others to get out the door or onto the mat to get moving, even though deep down inside I know I want to. I have found for myself that maintaining a rhythm with physical activity consists of a special blend of will, desire, worth, energy, instinct, self-discipline and devotion. It’s a choice I make based on how I feel and how I want to feel, by listening to my body, noticing where my energy level is and knowing what will be the most nourishing for me each day. Variety is key and so is giving myself permission to be flexible rather than rigid. We all will have our own unique blend of reasoning for moving depending on our individual needs, lifestyle and intentions.
My personal journey hasn't always taken this approach and I wasn’t always this gentle with myself when it came to exercise. For a good part of my life I was trained to be competitive in physical activities- from team sports to marathon training. I was either competing against others or myself.
The wake up call came in 2011 when I was training for my third full marathon, the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco. I was determined to beat my previous marathon time and I (over) trained rigorously with very little recovery time or self-care. On one of my 20 mile training runs, a nagging pain in my foot became unbearable and I hobbled home after 17 miles. A sports medicine doctor took X-rays which revealed that I had the start of a stress fracture and if I continued to run I would most likely break my third metatarsal and be in a cast for eight weeks. Therefore, I didn’t run the marathon. A few months after the foot injury, I was diagnosed with adrenal fatigue and I started to put the pieces of the puzzle together. Once I got through my initial disappointment and frustration, I was able to see something more about this drive behind my competitiveness, the striving to do better and the added stress I was creating for myself. Why was it not enough for me to simply cross the finish line? What was my motive to get a personal best? In essence, I wanted to feel better about myself, instead I burned myself out in the process. The injury and fatigue forced me to stop pushing so hard and gave me the space to restore and explore ways of healing. I now see that the running was a symptom of some limiting beliefs.
What I learned from this experience is how damaging the excessive striving can be when it overrides my health and well-being. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t make an effort to do our best, or even do better, but it’s worth questioning what the motivation is behind the drive and what’s feeding that goal. Is it because we don’t feel good enough, unworthy of success, afraid of what might happen if we just BE ourselves as we are? Or, is it because we truly enjoy what we’re doing, it feels good, it’s inspiring and fulfills our lives?
Many times life can feel like training for marathon. I’m aware that some of the limiting beliefs that were feeding my marathon goals exist in other areas of my life as well. Knowledge of these limiting beliefs doesn’t necessarily make them go away, but I am more likely see them objectively, to acknowledge they not the truth, to listen to my inner wisdom instead and make the choice to do things differently (that’s my intention at least).
One of the things I’m doing differently these days is moving my body in ways that I enjoy and support the energy balance I’m in need of. I move for my health. I move because it feels good and I feel good inside and out. I move to reduce stress. I move to boost my mood. I move for fun. I move for peace. I move to connect with nature. I move to get unstuck. I move to get energy flowing. I move to create space. I move with others. I move as a spiritual practice. I move for my heart, my bones, my muscles, joints, tendons, brain, organs, skin and everything in between. I move to know myself better.
All in all, my motivation is wholeness.
My personal journey has given me a deeper appreciation for moving in ways that ground me while helping me be more in my body. In the spirit of moving as nourishment, I am excited to announce that I am offering a new wellness program, Kindful Movement. This series is designed to promote health and inner harmony through movement while being attuned to the body, breath, our surroundings and the common ground we share as a community.
Experience the pleasure of moving in a relaxed, grounded and nonjudgmental way. Details and registration information are up on the events page of my website. Special bonuses are available for early registration.
I look forward to sharing this experience with all who attend!
Be well and be kind,