How committed do you feel to yourself? To your needs, interests, or wellbeing? Do you know where the gaps might be?
This came up for me recently, through committing to a 21-day movement challenge as part of my online membership with The A Life Anywhere (btw I totally love Ange and Marty and their work!)
I’ve been a member with them for a few months now, and I have to admit when they first posted about the movement challenge, my initial feeling was fear.
Of course, this made me curious. Why on earth was I feeling afraid of an invitation to a 21-day movement challenge? It wasn’t even going for an entire month!
So, I leaned in to investigate
I mean… much of my life has been sports focused:
Jazz ballet, tap, ballet, synchronised swimming, speed swimming, sailing, belly dancing, Muay Thai kickboxing, cycling, running, yoga (including teaching yoga), ecstatic dance, HIIT classes, hiking.
Of course, a lot of that was before I had PTSD, and an autoimmune condition that destroyed my energy levels and metabolism. Before I fried my adrenals. I was still active as I began to recover, but not to the same extent.
There were several years where I focused mostly on rebuilding my health and less on my physical activities.
Most of this was also before peri-menopause. More about that topic another time!
Despite all of this… I’d rarely exercised every day for extended periods of my life. Sure, there were swimming camps, yoga retreats where daily movement was happening. But that daily practice didn’t continue at home on my own.
Can you relate?
As kids, we moved every day because it felt good. As we grew up, we were trained to sit still. Move less.
This is just so unhealthy for us, physically, mentally and emotionally.
I joined The A Life as I was determined to turn things around for myself – especially after the last couple of years in which I was not one of those people who got fitter – despite my body no longer feeling as strong or as limber as it used to be. Those things I can change, and I wasn’t afraid to try.
Or was I?
Now I realise that for years I’d been taking my physical fitness rehab very slowly and easily. Making sure I don’t over-do but almost to the point of not really trusting myself to progress. Which is counter-productive to say the least!
When I began my membership with The A Life, I felt like doing 2-3 movement sessions per week was enough.
Sure. I mean, sort of.
Untraining “go hard or go home”
For the longest time, exercising for me meant “go hard or go home”. It’s a very masculine approach to exercise, but that was how I was trained from quite a young age.
In my most hardcore training (Muay Thai), I’d be at the gym 3-4 nights a week. It was seriously intense (I trained with the guys and they did not pull punches or kicks). My body used to ache most days!
While I was very fit at the time, I didn’t realise I was also training my mind in a way that wasn’t helpful for a healthy approach to regular movement.
Post-illness, I still had the same mindset. The problem with this approach, however, is that I’d go really hard and then mentally as well as physically, I’d avoid or delay my next workout.
Which meant I was going nowhere fast.
Fast forward: I decide to join the challenge
Mostly, I did it thinking that I’d never get through all 21 days doing a daily movement activity. More than just a walk around the block. But not having to go hard every day, either.
The fear was real. But in my world, that’s an invitation to explore exactly what’s up.
It helps that Ange and Marty are such lovely and heartful coaches. And that I have a ginger pusscat who likes to join me on the mat (heehee!).
What also helped was printing out a tracking sheet and putting it in my line of sight on a wall where I’d see it every day (my office/workout space).
I started off okay, until day three
On day three, my ego whispered seductively in my ear… “Hey gorgeous, you deserve a break. You don’t need to do any movement today”.
I turned around and said, “Hey ego, what on earth do you mean? A break?!”
Giggling at that inner voice (doesn’t it just love to try and convince us we can’t do stuff?!), I got on with it anyway.
And that was the last time my ego told me I couldn’t move my body every day.
Daily movement motivation: it’s about how we feel, not how we look
Ange wrote a great post about this, and I realised this was exactly my experience. I wasn’t trying to change anything about my body in 21 days. I was trying to change my mind.
To show my ego/monkey mind that actually, some movement every day – even if it was just 15 minutes – made us feel better. Sleep better.
I’m building a habit that’s only going to support me as I age.
During the challenge, I did a range of activities – classes in the membership portal. Getting out on my SUP (a solid workout). Dancing. Yoga.
On days where I had my period, I turned the effort meter down to the lowest setting. But I still made it happen, so I could cross off that day. Yes, I moved my booty today!
Body dysmorphia says hello!
Somewhere in the middle of the challenge, I began reflecting on how I’d probably never really committed to myself like this before. Other than of course, my big commitment of studying Kinesiology.
But self-care on the level of my physical body has always been a challenge.
I grew up in not-so-safe circumstances for me, as a highly sensitive human. Enjoying being in a physical human body never felt wonderful.
But that was compounded by a lot of programming that I received repeatedly:
You’re fat and ugly.
Nice body, shame about the face.
Yep, these are examples of actual words that were said to me. There are worse things that were said just as often. I can’t even tell you how many times I heard these things about myself before I’d even left primary school. Sometimes it was every single day.
It leaves a mark
Verbal abuse can be more difficult to heal than physical abuse, because it erodes our sense of self-worth.
It’s no wonder then, that I loathed being in my body. The world of spirit was always more attractive and interesting, and I honestly wasn’t even aware that I grew up in trauma until many years later.
As a result, I’ve almost never looked at myself in the mirror and been happy with my appearance. This has been changing in recent years, but it’s been a helluva journey.
So here I was in 2022 on the mat every day, getting up close and personal with my body…
It brought a few things up! Thank goodness I’m a Kinesiologist, huh?
Several sessions ended in tears. Not from the session itself, but because I was finally showing my physical body the commitment I never had before.
Finding peace with daily movement: gentle-strong
My strongest workouts were strength and mobility classes and HIIT classes, or getting on my SUP for a paddle.
There were maybe one or two days when I hadn’t done a session in the morning, and in the evening I was very close to just going to bed.
Instead, I sat on the ground and did some Pawanmuktasana 1 series (a yogic practice of joint movements). This can be quite a strong practice. But… gentle strong.
Along the way, I’d been re-training my mind to agree…
Whatever you do IS enough, as long as you do something. Every day.
In the end, I got there. Twenty-one freaking days of showing up for my body.
And instead of giving myself a high 5 and returning to my previous movement habits, I printed out some calendar sheets to keep the tracking going. Yesssss.
I also turned it into a combo tracker for both movement and meditation. Because daily meditation = WINNING. Especially on top of daily movement.
And being a bit of an “out there” person, prone to poetry, feeling the feels of the world, talking to nature and making friends with animals… structure is my friend.
A tracking sheet therefore, is my friend.
A good daily movement practice feels like a warm dependable hug
There are so many things we do for other people without caring as much about our own wellbeing. Especially women, right?
If we haven’t trained our minds yet, our ego can run rampant, spewing negative thoughts all over our good intentions.
Creating some structure and being kind to yourself in how you go about the things you want to do… this is the best approach I’ve found.
After all, our inner self-worth shows up in how we treat ourselves when no one else is looking.
Of course, you can increase the intensity of your workouts when it feels right. But you can also decrease intensity and still feel good in your body.
Because daily movement is so very much better than sporadic movement. As you age, your future self will thank you for this!
It creates self-trust. Self-assurance. Knowing what your body is capable of changes a lot of things.
While this isn’t the usual stuff I write about, it felt important to gather all the threads of this experience and share it. Because I know that I’m far from alone.
So many people – and many women especially – live in bodies they do not love, trust, or treat well.
So many of us ignore our physical health and wellbeing. We look outwards, and don’t equally look inwards.
Kinesiology can help you work through your mindset blocks (you bet that I was supporting myself this way as stuff came up with the movement challenge).
But ultimately as with all healing and transformation, it’s about how much you want out of suffering and shifting into something new and more empowering for yourself.
So again I ask… How committed do you feel to yourself? What are you willing to let go of to transform your suffering into your own liberation?
Ambha Amanda Roberts is a Kinesiologist, Intuitive Healer, educator and facilitator based on the Sunshine Coast, Australia. She offers Kinesiology sessions both in-person and via Skype/Zoom all over the world.
Ambha Amanda is the co-creator of Adventures of Staria, which includes a series of Staria cards, and an upcoming book for children (including inner children).