Monday, January 30, 2012

Body Image: Where does it come from?

I think a lot about body image. Partly because I work out a lot and am a trainer at a Crossfit gym, and because of that I often watch other people work out a lot. Also, recently, I started a Yoga Teacher Training class, and we sometimes talk about why people do or teach yoga, and body image/how we look comes up fairly frequently.
Body image is a weird topic, especially as it relates to both Crossfit and Yoga, but for different reasons, though some of the reasons are the same.
What they have in common is that people who do a lot of any one sport, people who go in for the cult-like aspects of a fitness program tend to like to workout for sanity. And they care about how they look. Sure, in yoga it's not cool to talk about how you look because Yoga is supposed to be internal, about how you feel and who you are. But it's 2012, and any fitness program is going to involve feeling good about how you look.
Crossfit is somewhat the same, in that it's supposed to be about how you feel and, more often, how much you can lift or how many reps you can do. But that translates into "my abs are totally ripped" and "my ass looks hot!" So I would say Crossfitters are a little more up front about wanting to look good.
But in both cases, Yoga and Crossfit, the industry, that is, the promotional machine that tries to sell you bras and short shorts and shoes does so by promoting a super tiny and flexible (Yoga) or super strong and hot (Crossfit) aesthetic.
I have been doing yoga for a long time (10+ years) and Crossfit for a shorter time (almost 3 years), and I don't think my body image reflects the reality of my body.
I think body image, for many women, especially women my age, is a photograph of yourself (a false photograph, one built entirely of memory) at a time where what you cared about most was what people who didn't know you (read: other junior high girls) said about you. Or, for me, what the dominant aesthetic was where you grew up. For me, it was skinny blonde girls with boobs and nice legs who smiled a lot and had good teeth. It was not girls like me who had brown hair, no boobs, big quads, and a gap between her front teeth.
So that's who I am, still, physically, in my mind. Which is why it's always so jarring when I see myself in the mirror. My response is always, "that's me?"
One of the reasons I like Crossfit and Yoga is that there are no mirrors. This helps the practitioner, I think, to focus on the inner experience, what the workout feels like, rather than what it looks like.
But it also leads to, perhaps, an inaccurate body image.
This weekend I worked out with a friend at a county facility. The weight room was lined on one side by mirrors. I saw myself, for the first time in years, doing a push press.
"What," I gasped, "are these freaky muscles?"
It was a little on the body builder side for my tastes. I tried to figure out how, exactly, my body had come to look this way. And it made me realize that the picture we carry in our minds bears no relation to the way the body is, actually, in the world.
For me, this is good news. I know I'm stronger than I've ever been, I know I can get stronger, and be more flexible, more balanced.
But it's good to remind ourselves to open our eyes once in awhile and actually look at ourselves and to try to see what's there, apart from our outdated mental images.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

In Which Injury Brings Me Closer to My True Self

First, the title implies that I even have a true self (which, if we are FB friends, you now know is a manatee).
Second, yes, yes, God yes, I am a sarcastic motherfucker (also, I like to swear). So there's that.
But...  but...
I have recently injured myself. Well, who knows what happened. Let's just say "Injuries occurred" and leave it at that.
So, I find myself injured AND...(and) the same time in a Yoga Teacher Training class (folks call that YTT). And doing yoga, and some (minimal) swimming and no (NO!) crossfit and so I am going crazeeeee (with so many e's!).
And then I went to yoga tonight, and it was fine, but also my hip hurt and I can't do Pigeon the way I like to (as in, usually?, I could, like, fall asleep in Pigeon. I LOVE pigeon). Tonight, Pigeon made me want to cry.
It is difficult, one finds, to confront one's limitations. (I've heard this. I don't really experience it firsthand...)
Also, I have not gone running in SO! LONG! It's really pitiful.
So, I find that being injured, that is, having an injury, leads one to contemplate the horizons of one's limitations and one begins to inquire as to the quality of one's existence in this compromised self and one meditates on the meaning of words like "rest" and "recovery."
What do they mean?
Apparently they mean that coffee tastes so much better with chocolate in it and that cookies are good and also wine.
Apparently they mean that when injury occurs, that is, when one is injured, one must embrace the exhale (so! yoga!) and one must try to Learn from the Injury.
So what can my injured hip teach me?
Well, so far?
(I mean, I told you I swear a lot in the second point, way up there, so you can't act surprised now...)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Yoga Teacher Training

Last night my yoga teacher training began. It's weird to be a student again, surrounded by mostly twenty-somethings who want to share their love of the healing effects of yoga. We went around in a circle and said how long we had been doing yoga, five years, two years, three years. Until it got to me. I've been doing yoga, off and on, for more than 20 years. For longer than some of those people have been alive. Crazy!
But I'm looking forward to the experience. My interest is really from a sports background, rather than feeling the spiritual effects of yoga, though of course there can be those too. Mostly I think people who do Crossfit or lift weights can benefit from a little focus on balance and flexibility, to counteract all the strength and power. I'm excited to do my "homework" which is to try new yoga classes, different teachers, etc.
And it will be interesting to try to be less cynical when the teacher talks about chakras and energy. I hope she doesn't talk about crystals...

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Crossword Puzzle

I've been a little bummed out lately that Son and Middlebrow share so much (a love of fantasy books, d and d, chess, they have a few TV shows they watch together), but Son and I don't have that. I read him some books, sometimes, and we like to play cards. I've tried to get him interested in running, or swimming, or tennis, to no avail.
But tonight, I was doing a crossword puzzle and he sat down next to me and wanted to help. We worked on it for awhile, then I reminded him that his grandmother bought him his own puzzle book for Christmas. So he got that and did the first puzzle while I sat next to him. He said he wanted to sit next to me because I was warm.
So I guess he's not out of my reach yet. Or too grown up to sit close to Mom.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Today's Post

Well, HightouchMegaStore said she was going to post every day. Every! Day! That is daunting. But maybe I can post more this year, so there's that.
After watching an action-adventure movie which was exactly what it was supposed to be (except maybe a bit too long), I took Dog for a walk up to the Hollow.
Being with a Dog is good for remembering what it is to be alive. He leaps like a deer and runs up hills as if he were a mountain goat, which he, decidedly, is not. He also stands in the freezing stream and looks at rocks as if they were about to turn into fish or maybe birds.
He is crazy, but he is good at being alive.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Resolutions for 2012

Well, I'm so full of success over accomplishing all of last year's goals (aim low!), that now I think it's a good idea to write down this year's goals/resolutions. So, here goes:

  1. First, self-inflict no injury. As a post-40 person who likes to work out and wants to continue to work out until she dies (hopefully being crushed under a barbell), this is first. FIRST!
  2. Yoga at least once a week (Thursdays at CCY with my yoga wife, Susan)
  3. Run at least twice a week (Tues. morning and one weekend run)
  4. Swim Tuesday nights (with the gays. they sure are fun to swim with)
  5. Roll out my aching parts/stretch every day. Every day, dammit!
  6. Eat paleo 80% of the time
  7. Work on my pullups (10 after every workout)
  8. Work on my freestanding handstand and handstand walk (this is fun!)
  9. Do a triathlon in 2012
  10. Work on a book (stories? novel? essays?)
And that's it, my pretties. Seems doable. See, I can't say things like "write every day" because then I feel bad when I don't. So "work on writing" that seems doable to me.