on listening to your body
I’ve been thinking about this a lot: listening to your body. And when I went to a hot yoga class last night (which in the humid summer is a HOT mess) our teacher also decided to theme the class around listening to the body: doing whatever felt right, felt challenging, didn’t sacrifice the breath. You know, yoga talk.
What’s crazy to me is that so many people don’t listen to their bodies, and because of it, feel like crap. Our body is us —it’s our self telling us what we need, what we want, and what we don’t want. For the most part, it doesn’t have a stupid mind attached to it that gets all deep and introspective and cries watching Upworthy videos about birds or time-lapses about bugs. (I swear…WHY?) No — our body feels what it feels cause that’s what’s going on, plain and simple.
But actually listening to what it says? Not so plain and simple.
I remember Molly telling me once she was running a tough track workout and knew she just felt wrong. She walked off the track early, and said “sometimes you just have to respect your body.” As someone who is inherently stubborn, this has stuck with me. I have gone on countless runs when I know I shouldn’t have — where I felt super tired or had a tinge of pain in a leg or foot, but felt that I should keep pushing anyway, that the concept of going on a run overruled my own damn body saying “stop.” The same goes with yoga; I had to jump off the competitive, ego train and realize that a modification is cool, and jumping into child’s pose is even cooler. (Fun fact: For the first year of yoga I did not allow myself to skip a pose and go into child’s pose. #notzen.)
On the food front, intuitive eating simply means to eat when we’re hungry and stop when we’re satisfied. And it sounds like such a simple concept, but geez it’s hard. But just because it’s “dinner time” doesn’t mean you need to eat if you’re not hungry. And if you ate lunch two hours ago and are for whatever reason starving, then eat again. Moreover, so many people are also telling us “eat meat!” “don’t eat red meat!” “don’t eat sugar!” “carbs = energy!” and yet none of these people (none!) know what your body needs. How it feels. Only you know what you need, and believe me, your body will tell you.
Lastly: gut. I swear my intuition is right nearly 100% of the time. It’s like my body just knows when something’s up. It’s hardest for me to really listen in, but I at least try. Respect that thing in my chest that is saying “maybe you should just effing do it” — hit send, buy a plane ticket, don’t walk over that rickety bridge…whatever.
I think a big reason we have trouble listening to ourselves is we are busy listening to others. This is totally tied to the idea of comparison, of looking at others as a guide for what we should do, how we should act. (And social media also plays a big part into this, but that’s for another post.) Nobody knows you but you (surprise!). The answers are there. Stop separating your body from you. Your legs aren’t tired, you are tired. Your stomach isn’t hungry, you are hungry.
I’m not writing this because I know all the answers or because I’m amazing at this, because I’m pretty crappy at it — especially as of late. But what I have been trying to do is check in with my body before doing anything rash. Close my eyes. Do I want to keep ’em closed? Skip my run. I’m upset and reach for the cereal box for dinner. Close my eyes again. Am I actually looking forward to Vanilla Almond Clusters for dinner? (Well, maybe…) But do I actually want to skip out on the joys of cooking (and all that broccoli that’ll go bad) for a “meal” that will be over in three minutes? Not really.
Listen to your body, because by doing so, you’re respecting it. Which means you’re respecting yourself. And you deserve all the respect in the world.
For more “deep thoughts” by Laura Schwecherl (you’re welcome) checccck:
On being a greatist
On online dating
On taking flight