Last month I talked about two aspects of body image. In accepting myself, I wrestled with maintaining a positive self image in spite of life's ups and downs. Adorning myself dealt with boosting self-esteem with head-to-toe makeovers. Ultimately, self-acceptance comes from within. This series details my checklist for an inside-out makeover.
#1. Get strong.
First on my list is strength. In my experience, getting strong is the most important thing I can do to shape my attitude. Somehow a set of strong, competent muscles has an amazing effect on my psyche. As if a sturdy internal framework fortifies my very spirit. I'm talking about more than a daily walk. My suggestion is good old fashioned variations of crunches or planks, tricep extensions and lunges. Fancy equipment and gym memberships are not required. Start slow and be consistent. You will feel so empowered by your progress!
The first time I remember using strength to bolster my spirit was 2007. My younger child was a senior and I felt terrified by the inevitable empty nest. I decided to enter the Danskin Women's Triathlon. It was an athletic goal beyond anything I'd ever done but why not set my sights high? Indeed. I hadn't run in a couple of years. It had been 10 years since I'd been on my bike. And not only had I never learned the crawl, it had been 20 years since I'd done anything in a pool besides float. Other than these minor obstacles I figured I'd be good. It certainly took my mind off losing my baby. In return for pushing my limits I gained an awareness of my own strength that will last my lifetime.
My mother was an amazing example of strength. She took Jazzercize classes 3 days a week for 20 years; on alternate days, 50-minute power walks. Sinewy and fiercely strong, she could take on any challenge. That her amazing strength outlasted her failing mind is a testament to maintaining a strong body. Her will remained powerful to the end.
I wish I had remembered my own advice earlier this month when I injured my foot. Although I'm happy for the rest and the space I created, adding a little yoga to my routine might be a good balance next time I'm in that situation. Running for the first time yesterday reminded me how good it feels to use my body. And today, each step brings a painful, yet welcome reminder of my personal strength.