Every once in a while I get tempted to fall into some weird fitness trap that is 100% focused on me becoming a superhero in a bikini or something insane like that. This is especially true right now as my sweet babe edges close to 9 months old and her distance from my body grows by the day. The more autonomy I get, the more I want to “get my body back.” Whatever that means. But, I feel it… even though I have the spent the last 8 years here at MommaStrong being entirely against that in every way. And if I feel it, I know you do too.
How could we not? It’s everywhere around us. Autonomy = living your best life = being super fit. And up until recently being super fit has definitely lived inside the “thin and buff” container. Fortunately, now, with the rise of research from initiatives like Health at Every Size, we know that the qualifications for a woman who is healthy have nothing to do with BMIs and toned muscles. But, we still feel it. We still all have to rebel and unlearn the bull crap we absorbed from before we could talk. And that bull crap lives close inside us, in our beings. It takes a lot to get it out and off of us. It reminds me of when I was a kid and the itchiness of having to wear tights and static-filled sweaters to nice dinners or family events. I’d run to the bathroom as soon as I could and disrobe all the clingy things from my skin. And, yeah, I’d often do that before the dinner or event was over. My mom used to say she couldn’t take me anywhere.
But, let’s talk about freedom from the itchiness of pleasing presentations. Even now, when I want find my way back to strength and sculpting and my-own-ness, I have an opportunity to let all of it go. I have an opportunity to do what Zen masters suggest, to acknowledge it and then let it keep moving on by. This is hard. I’m not a Zen master. I am a messy human and my psyche loves to get attached to pervasively subjugating ideas without me knowing. Sure, I can walk around and yell about anti-objectification all I want and create a whole business dedicated to it (ahem, check). BUT, can I actually feel this deeply inside my darkest and most remote corners during a phase of my life when everything inside me is screaming for control and retrieval? Can I let these values, goals, and pressures go, firmly and truly?
I can. But it takes work. It takes an unraveling of sorts. And it takes some grief. I need to say goodbye to the Good Girl inside of me who really, really believed that she’s only valuable if she is pleasing to look at and to be around. And I need to say goodbye to the Super Hero inside of me who always prided herself on being impressively athletic. I need to say goodbye to Hot Mom inside of me who really thinks that I can be rested and glowy like other Instagram mommas. I mean. GOOD BYE. This causes me grief, which is embarrassing. I’m not a vain person. But I have to be honest about this in order to be Zen about it all. And, well, it feels like a bummer in a lot of ways to let go of these parts of myself so that I can actually be really healthy and really embodied.
If my therapist were here, she would nod to all I just said and then she would ask, with a twinkle, “But, Courtney, can all of these parts of you come with you on your journey?” She knows I’d rather drop kick them to Mars and declare victory, which she also knows that never ever works because, well, “what you resist persists.” Touche Jung, touche. So, I would then respond to her, “Yes, they can.” And she would then ask, “But, who is driving the car?”
“I am,” I would say.
Yes, I am the grown up. I am the evolved part. The question then is who does drive my car? What values fuel me? And this right here is the easier part. I know without a doubt that what drives me to show up every single day is the connecting force that exercise provides for my life. Connecting to my work in the world. Connecting to other women. Connecting to my true self. Connecting to my body. Connecting to my kids. Connecting to my family and friends. In other words: Connecting to the bigger picture.
Deep breath. Doesn’t that feel better? It sure does. It feels just about as good as ripping off those ridiculous tights and sweaters and basking in freedom from constraint. It also feels true. I’m an activist at heart. I mean, my heroes are Howard Zinn, Carol Gilligan, Roxane Gay, and Emma Goldman. And I am deeply, passionately dedicated to women’s health. Deeply. This is what gets me up every day. I want to live inside the clothes my heroes make and move through the world in MY body that is moving towards MY truth.
So, as we march into March, join us as we tackle what it means to show up for your bigger picture. See what it feels like to live your values rather than think your values. Experience the strength that follows when you commit to exercise as a conduit to the truth of you. And enjoy the motivation that enters in when you decide that your wellness is the foundation for connecting and engaging in the world around you in a purposeful way.
Click here to register for the challenge, either as a new member or an existing member. And, as always, these things are much more fun when doing not alone, so bring a friend. You can even gift them a spot in the challenge for only $5.
See you soon. No tights required.