One vowel makes a big difference.
I am used to a certain level of physical fitness. That could also be read as: I have a visual expectation of my body image. I venture the guess I am not the only one that looks in the mirror and sees squishy sections or a lack of squishy sections and gives attention to them. (Isn't that a nicer way of saying, who else thinks they are fat or doesn't think they are fat?) Good morning, folks.
This morning, I had a moment of reflection about my expected personal body image while I was getting ready to head to the barn. I tend to be a fit person and run on the "thin" side and even though some people probably don't want to hear this... it's not entirely genetic.
I was thinking back a few years about how I have had a similar body image in the past and a few things stood out.
Younger Years (highschool/college):
Body Type: Athletic
Activity level: 3 sport athlete. Played volleyball in college
Health level: Athlete with poor diet, poor sleep
Body Type: Thin
Activity Level: Moderate
Health Level: High. Diet changes: Vegetarian, Cut out Soda, Cut out Fast Food
Dropped 30 pounds.
Body Type: Too Thin
Activity Level: Moderate
Health Level: Poor. Operated primarily on Caffeine and Nicotine. No sleep, more coffee and cigarettes.
Mid to Late 30's:
Body Type: Thin/Athletic
Activity Level: High
Health Level: High. All the kale.
We don't need to go through a decade by decade break down of my weight and eating patterns and their resulting body images. However, I bring this up because of my recent injury.
As I said, I am used to a certain physical fitness level. When that changed, due to lack of mobility (no riding, no yoga, no abs), it started a small voice in the back of my head that focused more of the squishy places where abs used to be pre-getting kicked in the knee. I found the less activity I did, the louder and more annoying the self-critical voices got. Mind you, I probably MAYBE "gained" 3 pounds during this. I have no idea. I refuse to get on a scale. ha!
The point is, we hold a certain standard for ourselves and I think it's very hard to break the mental habit of criticizing ourselves when we don't meet our own expectations, even if they aren't realistic. For example, I was allowing negative self-talk about my fitness level because, shockingly, I lost muscle when I had to stop doing yoga daily and couldn't ride 8 horses and teach all afternoon. Weird, huh? Turns out sitting in front of the computer writing blog posts about being injured doesn't work your abs. Physical fitness and mental fitness are not genetic.
See, the reason I went back down memory lane was because it's important to realize that one can look healthy on the outside but be really un-healthy on the inside. Our society doesn't give enough attention to that though. When I was living on coffee and cigarettes, I looked super thin and "attractive" but man... that was an unhealthy part of my life.
Even more important is to realize that if you are physically able, doing yoga daily... truly committing to it... will completely change your self-talk. Your physical fitness will dramatically change simultaneously while you aren't paying attention to it. That's where this long-winded post was actually going:
It is amazing how in the process of working through your own layers of mental crap when you're on the mat, transforms into working through the layers of physical crap as well.
Mind and body, folks.
My goal is to be as healthy inside as I am outside and vice versa. It's a work in progress but this morning I noticed I feel much calmer and wouldn't you know, my breeches weren't as tight as I headed to the barn.