We live in a society where we are bombarded with unrealistic images of how to look and what to strive for. And now that we are also dealing with pandemic-induced isolation and limitations, it’s no surprise that mental health issues are rising, excessive drinking is on an upswing, and yo-yo dieting and eating disorders are prevalent.

Though media is trying to program us into thinking we need to be a certain way, we need to carve out our own way. Find your movement happy place. Prioritize what is unique about you. Protect and nurture the invisible magnet that draws other like-minded souls to dance in your world.

With so much emphasis on appearance I think in some ways, people are more afraid about gaining the dreaded “Quarantine 15” than getting the virus!  Public Service Announcement (PSA): skinny does not equal fit.  PSA #2: fit comes in a spectrum of different shapes and sizes.

Personally, I patronize the athletic sportswear store “Athleta” because I love the fit and feel of their clothes and I believe in their messaging which is inclusive—you can see in the photos below that they celebrate fitness in varied ages, shapes, sizes, and colors.

To highlight my point about the impact of media on self-image, I’d like to share with you a study done in the mid ‘90’s which looked at the introduction of Western media to the island of Fiji. This Pacific island nation didn’t have electricity until 1985In 1995, western programming similar to American prime-time network TV shows was introduced.  Prior to this, Fijian men and women cherished fuller figured, well-muscled body types.

A former Fijian beauty queen explained to researchers that when she was growing up she was constantly told to put on weight, and that slim women were seen as weak.  Fast forward three years later to 1998: eating disorders skyrocketed. Nearly three quarters of Fijian girls (74%) reported that they felt too big or fat, and almost 12% of girls reported using purge techniques to control their weight. By 2007, purging had increased to 45%.  Coincidence?  Not likely.

 

What is important to you? Is it more about appearance, or how you move and feel?  How do you talk to yourself? What comprises your inner mental chatter?  Do you feel  shame when you indulge in a treat? Do you put yourself down?

I admit the chatter of my inner critic and wrestling with imposter syndrome can sometimes overwhelm me.

I know it will not surprise you to learn that studies have shown women are more susceptible than men to our inner critics and imposter syndrome.

We all need to recognize and be aware of our female brains playing these tricks on our self perception. We need to quiet the negative self-talk and lift ourselves, and each other, up.

The BoneSmart Pilates® classes I instruct have at their core a message of mutual acceptance, respect, and working smarter not harder. In my classes you won’t see us doing super fast crunches and twists. We work slowly and mindfully, supported by breath, in ranges of motion that protect rather than compromise your spine. The video of Amy below illustrates core training with spine safety in mind.

 

I am a movement educator. I share principles that can be applied to your life, whether it’s doing sports or your daily activities—like being aligned when working at your desk, or being mindful as you dress or unload the groceries from your car. With the active ager in mind, I like to keep things challenging yet safe as well as spicy and fun.

 

The magic of our work together actually happens in the cross application of the principles that I teach you of alignment, breath, balance, centering, and flow—and how those principles apply to your life. To me, the concept of balance applies to more than standing on one leg. Do you allow yourself the life balance of enjoying occasional indulgences without self-reproach?

 

I say enjoy that Ben and Jerry’s or cake from time to time. Savor it. Then get back on your healthy track. I believe we should strive to be at a healthy weight for our frame.

Though my classes don’t focus on weight loss, with consistent practice combined with good nutrition, dropping pounds is often a by-product.  Create a lifestyle lane for yourself that you can manage and that keeps you happy. We shouldn’t drink diet cokes all day. Neither should we drink kale smoothies all day. Neither is sustainable. Strike a balance you can live with.

 

My classes are designed to support and elevate all bodies. I believe we can and should be as strong and capable as we can be.

I recently participated in a medically supervised nine-month clinical trial called “Reversal of Cognitive Decline” which follows the Alzheimers preventing protocol of Dr. Dale Bredesen.

Through that experience, I learned that a healthy lifestyle that supports brain health includes strength and cardiovascular training, as well as sufficient quantity and quality of sleep for healing and brain regeneration. Proper hydration and nutrition are also critical to nurturing this gift of a body we were given. Finally, connection with others, continually learning new things, and quiet reflection (however that looks for you—whether that’s meditation, prayer, or a walk in nature) rounds out the healthy lifestyle package.

With COVID-19 restrictions and working from home, people are more sedentary than ever. Our bodies are meant to move, not to sit still for eight hours. My happy place, my place of skill and purpose, is helping you to peel off the layers of self-doubt regarding your body and movement ability.

 

I want to help you achieve your movement potential. When we’re comfortable in our skin, we are better able to share the gifts that we were born to share with the world, whatever that might be. Each one of you is a unique combination of life experiences, skills, and point of view. There is, and never will be, anyone exactly like you and we need your gifts!

 

In closing, we are meant to move and we must not allow unrealistic media images and societal norms to shape our self-image. Don’t eat, or not eat, for the sake of someone else’s ideals. Be authentic and true to yourself.

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