Thinking & Feeling

“The world is a tragedy to those who feel, but a comedy to those who think.” Horace Walpole

Saturday, 4 May 2019

This is 45...

I turned 45 this week. The same week Benjamin turned 1.

To celebrate we shared a lovely small cake party in the park with family and a few close friends...

So this body of mine has served me for 45 years now. And I must admit it has served me well. But I have not always treated it well, or even appreciated it.

I believe I was bought up with reasonably healthy attitudes and practices in terms of diet and eating habits. Sport was never encouraged though. So I never really learned how to move, or harness my body physically. I never knew how to push my limits, how to make it work for me, or how to channel it to get results, either personally or as part of a team.

I was just in my body, and it was a mere vessel for my existence.

I have been through, what I believe are fairly normal and common, phases and progressions with my body.  Alternately starving and indulging myself and feeling dissatisfied with myself. Bum too big, boobs too small, thighs have too much cellulite, belly too flabby, double chin etc. I remember in my early 20s going through my body mentally, like a guided meditation and thinking of something I didn't like about each and every part of my body.... I was not comfortable in my skin. I know I am not alone in this.

In my early 20s I was undiagnosed anorexic (I got down to 42Kgs (93lbs) at 20 years old. At 1.66cm/5'5"). Thereafter I found comfort eating, and like Po (from Kung-Fu Panda) would eat when I felt sad, or lonely, or depressed, or... I went up to about 70kgs a year or 2 later.

When I moved to Cape Town I started to find myself and my groove. I started to treat myself and my body better. I was nowhere near self love, but I started some self-respect, some self-nourishment and a degree of self-kindness (when I could).

And then I got pregnant with Angelique. I was 23 years old. The shift in me on finding out I was pregnant was both immediate and dramatic. It was no longer about me. I could no longer deal with mental anguish via abusing my body. I became very aware that what I ate, thought and felt could directly affect my baby. The shift in focus and purpose was very positive and helpful.

I found a yoga class and for the first time in my life started consciously tuning IN to my body, rather than looking away, being and feeling ashamed of it, or just simply avoiding the work, and self-love, required to look after it.

It took a while but eventually I loved it. I started understanding the 'good pain' of physical growth and gaining strength and control over your body. I started getting the balance strength and flexibility that comes with yoga practice, and which applies to your body and mind.

About 6 years later, after Quinn and Griffin were born, and after joining a gym and adding some further work-outs at the gym into my life. I started running. And have been running since. Although, I now run a lot less than I used to, I still run at least twice a week for an hour a time.

When Natey was conceived I was an avid, regular runner. Competing socially in a good few races a year and usually placing in the top 5% of finishers. Having turned 40 I had reached a place of knowing and accepting myself enough that I felt pretty comfortable and capable in my skin. Friends and family worried that the pregnancy would derail my running and so derail the ME I had created. I'll admit I feared it a little too. But I knew I wanted to pursue the Natey journey. It felt right and important and I wanted to do something that MATTERED in my life. I didn't want to just have worked at shaving off 1 min from my 10km running time, when I could do something literally life-changing for someone. (Although we all know how that fairytale ended... 😢)

Anyway, Natey's pregnancy was happy and healthy, and my body impressed and surprised me by bouncing back really quickly afterwards. I started running again when he was just 3 weeks old!

After Natey died though, I lost focus, direction, drive, purpose, and any real reason to wake up in the morning. I tried to push through and carry on. I embarked on PGDip. I worked. I ran when I could, but even then mostly I just walked. Lacking the enthusiasm, energy or motivation to really push myself. I took little pleasure in it. I lost tone and fitness, naturally.

Then I got pregnant with Benjamin. And oh my word  struggled. I was sick sick sick. It was all I could do to hold it together at work, I would literally drive myself home at the end of the day and climb straight into bed. Some week-ends I would pretty much stay in bed all day. There was pretty much no exercise happening at all. ANY spare time of energy went to PGDip. I started to develop aches and pains in my hips and pelvis. I joked that 'my body was never going to forgive me' for the pregnancy. I thought I had pushed it too far. Expecting too much. I had already grown and birthed 4 babies. 3 of them over 4kgs. How could I have expected it to just grow another!? I reckoned it had served me well and I should be grateful, and would need to just accept the consequences.

Benjamin was born a year ago. Another beautiful, natural birth that was almost a spiritual experience for me. And although this time I felt more vulnerable and soft and floppy afterwards. I did not feel 'broken'.

I decided to be kind to myself. Not to punish or berate myself or my body. Not to whip it, starve it, or force it. But to love and honour it. As and when I have felt ready, stronger and have been able to I have slowly got active and physical again. Realising my core strength (and bladder) was a problem I decided not to just focus on running but rather to focus on core and strength training. I started doing shape classes at the gym. These are a good mix of cardio and weight training. I also do 'Rumble' boxing classes. I have been gyming 2-4 times a week.

It's been a year since Benjamin was born, and I feel strong and good. This is me. I am 45, and I finally think I love and accept myself, and my body.

Thank-you body for serving me so well!

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