Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Physical Strength to Mirror Inner Strength

For most of my life, I have been a dancer. Shortly after college, I stopped dancing and never really dedicated regular time toward exercising. After I had a baby, I’d make a small effort, but as soon as the weight came off I’d stop. A few years ago, I started hearing more and more from my friends that even naturally thin people have trouble with their weight as they approach 40 because your metabolism slows, your body shifts and you lose strength. That thought hit me hard; I should probably prepare my body to meet that head on.

If exercise would become a necessity in my life, then I reasoned I should find something I loved to do. For the last two years, I discovered yoga as the perfect fit for me. I’ve written previously about my love of practicing yoga, as a spiritual and physical exercise. As I practiced yoga, my body grew stronger and leaner. And then, last summer, I felt my body desiring something more, for me to take that next step and push myself with something new. For a few months I tried a few new things, but they just weren’t right for me.

Then suddenly, I lost my beloved yoga class. Now what? I thought. Ready to take a giant leap towards the next step, I joined a gym for the first time in my life. Upon signing up, I was asked to define my goals. I didn’t really have a goal – I’m just ready to see what else this body God created could do. At first I was really excited, but I also found myself so very intimidated by all the machines and muscular people.

With the start of the New Year, I am setting some new goals for myself that include placing a higher priority on my fitness. Specifically, I want to be able to run on a treadmill for more than a mile and excel at a Pilates class. My goal is to develop a physical strength that mirrors my inner strength.

It feels a little selfish to spend the time and money on myself in this way - that somehow I’m taking away from my family. But I recognize the importance of focusing on my physical health and well being as well as my spiritual. Strengthening my body produces a positive effect not only on me physically, but also emotionally, which brightens my mood and spills over into my family life. It is not about looking better in my clothes it’s about taking care of my whole self – body and spirit.

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