Sure, I grew up in the 60s and 70s, or I wouldn’t have given this piece this title. I was part of a generation that talked about and explored our bodies nearly as much as our grandparents did in the 20s.
We learned things then and we keep learning. We learned that it’s not that easy to separate the physical from the spiritual, the mind from the body. We learned to like our bodies, to appreciate how our whole systems work together. How we treat our bodies forms ideas in our minds. How we think affects how we move, feel, function. How our children grow up feeling about their bodies matters a lot and can help or hinder their development.
So, as you’re working on losing weight and getting more fit, remember your whole package responds more to respect and kindness, to interest and moderation, than it does to harshness and punishment.
I often work my muscles in a way that makes them a bit stiff, a little sore the next day. But that soreness feels great. I try never to work myself to the point where I have to scream through a weight rep or endure pain to finish a mile. I try never to work to the point where I need to take pain medication to manage the next day. And I never work really hard two days in a row. I’m not trying to be a performance athlete. I just want my body to be strong and healthy, graceful and ready.
Your goals are your goals, but do consider your approach. How much is enough, and how much is too much? What kind of body do you want and need to have? What would you like to be able to do?
I worked hard yesterday, and today is a day for stretching.
It feels so good to stretch after a tough workout. So I’m doing it. My hips and thighs are sore from lots of lunges and squats yesterday. I will throw my yoga mat down in front of the T.V. tonight and stretch and stretch while watching movies with the kids. They’ve gotten used to this.
Or I’ll do my stretching right in my chair, using therabands and yoga bands to help me, pulling my leg up into static stretches, gently letting my joints run their range of motion with a little theraband resistance. Nothing strenuous, just a way to get the blood moving through those parts and to keep the muscles supple. Ready for anything.
Long, slow stretches over an hour or more while listening to music, to the radio, even while yakking on the phone (those headsets are great).
The kitchen counter may be my ballet barre. A can of tomatoes may give me a bit of resistance to help stretch my triceps. A doorway allows me to pull and lengthen my sore pectoral muscles.
I’ll maybe roll up some towels into sausage rolls and lie across them to try loosening up my upper back too. That sounds good.
As my yoga instructor, Ginjah, would say, I’ll “visit” every stretch two or three times, noting how different it feels with every repetition, how much farther I can move into the stretch with every gentle repetition, how much warmer my muscles and joints grow.
Today, by the way, isn’t special. I do these stretches all over the house, all the time, every day now. More and more as I grow more fit. Owning muscles that work has helped me understand my pets. I stretch with the cat, stretch with the dogs, bend, twist, and warm up into the day and wind down into sleep. It makes perfect sense, the way they work.
What is your body asking for right now? Just spend a little time today reconnecting your mind, heart, and body, and giving your whole system exactly what it really needs. Enjoy the giving.
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