Some days, I can’t help but feel that my body is a child. Whether it’s begging for five more minutes in bed on weekday mornings, or demanding cake and chips when we should be eating brown rice and kale bowls, taking care of it can feel like parenting—or at least what I imagine parenting to be like.
Another example of this is the dialogue my body and I started having when I got my running backpack last week and started jogging to work:
Are we going to run FOREVER? How many more minutes?
We’ll get there when we get there, okay?
But I’m TIIIIRED. CAN’T WE JUST STOP NOW? Are we there yet?!
I’ve been listening to my body a lot lately, but I don’t always think that this is the best way to operate, or the healthiest. There’s an existing idea that when you’re craving something, it’s probably a nutrient you’re missing… I can’t help but feel I’d get cravings for more salmon and less white cheddar popcorn if that was totally true.
I also don’t think this body toddler-chatter (NO NO NO) always counts when it comes to exercise. There are some times when listening can be really good—when I’m really anxious, following the urge to go for a walk calms me down. If I’m working out and feel a twinge of pain, it’s a waving red flag to take it a bit easier to prevent injury.
Sometimes though, the body just wants to stop because it wants to stop. It would be easier to slow down, or easy to stay on the couch. It is easiest of all to sit and listen to it and do nothing else.
However, I read a quote recently that tweaked my perspective on who I’m having these conversations with: “your mind will quit before your body does.” Translation? It might not be my stomach or my knees behaving like a five-year-old on an apple juice bender, the pockets of their overalls jammed with goldfish crackers, demanding cartoons and nap time. No, it turns out the real source of all of this outlandish behaviour is my mind, telling my body what to do. To carry on with the toddler metaphor, my mind is an older kid, bullying the younger kid, taking its lunch money and using it to buy cupcakes.
To give the body the power back, I think the key has to be talking the mind into giving up its bullying ways.
The way we self talk can have a profound effect on how we live and function. Professional athletes do visualization exercises because they need to mentally reinforce the notions that they are winners. The mind is a powerful tool, if you can manage to“parent” it properly.
Not only is this something I’ve written about before, but Jocelyn and I have had this talk recently too: if losing weight was purely a physical task, it would be simple. Really, truly, it’s the fight with our mentality that adds to the burden and struggle. Mental health, energy, notions of self worth, internal struggles, comfort, safety, and then some, all show up to the playground to make trouble with ramifications for our physicality.
So, I guess what I’m getting at here is, when I’m trying to run up that first hill on my morning commute and my legs are throwing a tantrum, and my mind is saying that this sucks, that I should stop and take the bus—I have to try to remember that it’s my job to take a deep breath, explain why the bullies are wrong and keep going. This week’s mission is going to be positive self talk, to stop listening to the mind, and continue to nurture the body.
Mantra of choice? I am becoming.
I am becoming the person I want to be. Each day, I work to make myself more the person I want to be.