It’s Super Bowl Sunday. I remember when the Super Bowl was in January. It seems every season is prolonged. I feel as though spring used to come earlier, too, but perhaps it is because I lived in Louisville, KY (which sits squarely on the Mason-Dixon line), making it neither north nor south, but certainly south of Chicago. I have been sitting squarely in this winter, waiting for it to pass. I have awaited the passing of many things the last few years and I refuse to mention any more of them. You know exactly what I mean. Now I am just waiting on a miracle.
I was talking to my friend today who called to say she was demoralized while shopping for clothes. The salesperson was beyond lovely and asked what size my friend would like to try on, careful not to ask her size…and then nothing fit. So, she said, to just check in with “reality” she went home and weighed herself—mortified to realize she had gained 30 pounds. “I thought I was healthier than this.”
We are so bound up in these numbers. Healthier than what? How does a number determine health? I can show you a person with an eating disorder who doesn’t have a period – but is skinny as hell, her “number” is super small, double digits – is that healthy? As a culture, these numbers gain meaning exponentially. The number on the scale, the number on your pants…these numbers have become moral judgments of your failings or successes – especially for women.
I said this to my friend—she replied that she recalled the times that the number on the scale had been her “friend”—and how that friendly number then paralyzed her with the fear of maintenance because getting to that number had required a level of restriction unsustainable.
But alas, I am not talking about anything new.
Here we are in the midst of all that we are in the midst of…and in the midst of all of this, there are still the demands of regular living which are no longer regular. A client told me of her elementary school child who keeps her class photo on the kitchen table so that she can see the actual faces of her classmates because she has never seen their faces without masks except in this photo.
People have died and many others have been afraid to leave the house and through all of this, we are supposed to maintain a certain body weight and go along as though nothing is different.
I find myself sitting with the emotions that come up for me, and often they don’t seem “logical” as though feelings are supposed to have a defined origin and exit. I am angry. I am really angry about a lot of things that have transpired in the last two years. I am tired, I am sad, I am disappointed, I am sometimes lost and in distress. I am also finding out more about my own inner strength, resilience, and overall health. I have routines in place that help me. I meditate daily, I journal, I work out, I have great friends who are willing to listen, I have a supportive family, I have the BEST dogs on the planet, and I am surrounded by clients who support me and help me see the best in every day.
My business is changing faster and faster – the business of helping people transform their lives – and the challenges each of us face are so compounded by the mundane things like clothes shopping, cooking, and getting to the gym. The mundane brings full cycle the ridiculousness of the grind as usual, regardless of the pandemic.
Over 30 years ago, I lost over 100 pounds.
It took me over a year of diligently eating whole food, not drinking booze, and working out.
I had simply gotten tired of feeling a certain way. I was tired of not feeling. I was tired of resisting my feelings.
I had been an athlete my whole life and suddenly, I wasn’t. I went to college on a scholarship to play the violin, not to play field hockey. I had played hockey for 4 years in high school but evidently, I was better at music. There was no room for athletics in music school. Yes, occasionally, I played tennis with a friend, but nothing was regular, and nothing was available to me in 1984 in Spartanburg, South Carolina as a young woman. I began to gain weight. I had no understanding of my own body, no understanding of what would make me feel better, what would allow me some control. I just felt bad about myself. This continued until I was 24. I weighed in at 260 pounds and was a professional chef – in a business that promoted grind culture. We worked 12-14 hour days and then went out drinking afterward to try to come down from the flood of adrenaline.
I stopped it all after a diagnosis of pre-cancerous cells. I was lucky to have relatively minor surgery and move on. But it was my wake-up call. I knew I was an athlete and I made my way again toward becoming an athlete. Thirty-one years later I am still (almost) 100 pounds lighter and way stronger. It’s a practice. It’s a journey inward. It is not about dieting. It is about getting to know yourself. It’s about feeling what you feel and being ok with it. You can feel lousy, angry, frustrated, depressed, lonely, anything at all—but you don’t have to eat or drink or stop eating. It is only when we sit with our sadness that it dissipates. It is only when we sit with our disappointments that they ease. It is only when we sit with our grief over all that we have lost—people, money, opportunities, a number on the scale, that we realize the feeling will not kill us—but the things we do to avoid the feelings, that is what is killing us.
I urge you to challenge your beliefs about yourself and your situations. So often I talk to someone who is feeling a duality—it’s this OR that. And in their story, they are missing the other 358 degrees of freedom. Envision a sphere (or as Roadie would say—A BALL!!!!!)how many degrees are there? You have that many choices—not 2.
Our work right now is to look for the things we do not see. Be curious. There is no need for duality. We are all in our boats on the same ocean—some people have yachts, some have paddle boats, some are on a janky little raft—but we are all riding the waves of this treacherous storm. If you have a yacht, pick someone up off their tiny little raft and share what you have. We are all hurting now. There is much peace in the kindness you can offer another person or animal. It starts within. And when you share love it grows exponentially.
When I am sad or lonely or angry, I tell myself that I can choose peace. In that instant, I start to see things differently. Some people make fun of me for offering something so simple—but it really is this simple. Start by choosing peace, ESPECIALLY when you have no idea what peace would be. The war you have started with your body—whether it manifests in being overweight or underweight, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, etc.—is the war that only you can stop. It starts with one choice: peace. If you have no idea how to do this, join the club. There is no one way. There is only you actively saying “I could choose peace, I could see this differently.” Reach out with comments or questions. I do not have a yacht—but, for now, my boat is steady and I can reach out a hand to you if you want some help healing from all that is hurting you right now.
You are loved and you can change —in every moment we get a new chance to choose peace.
I hope you see the sun peeking up over the frozen horizon—for spring is near and you will be renewed, again. Trust that this happens—as it has every single year you have been on this earth, and in that trust, I hope you see that this too shall pass. The miracle we are waiting for will come when we choose peace.
In my work I truly see people. I see their pain and fear bubble up in the mundane movements of a squat, a clean, a deadlift, even in breathing—the places people hold fear in their bodies show up in physical training. I do my best to hold space for my clients to experience their own fears. When we feel witnessed by another person in non-judgment we begin to witness ourselves in non-judgment. It is the act of choosing peace over and over that allows us to see each other and allows us to be our truest selves. If you could just feel what you feel and notice it —this is what peace is. Peace is accepting what IS without needing it to be different. When we feel judged we adjust ourselves to fit into the environment. When we feel seen we dance around the room expressing what comes up.
Find the places that allow you to BE and If you can’t find that place—it is yours to make.