Ten years ago, I saw ‘fitness’ as a means to an end. And that ‘end’ wasn’t even aesthetics based, it was about what I thought it meant if I went the hardest, was the best, did the most, in workouts or sports.
But I started to realize that I had a massive blind spot in my outlook on Me, my Body, and how I caring for it. Know how I realized I had that blind spot? Everything felt like it was breaking down, I wasn’t feeling my best, and I was tired of things feeling like they were way harder than they should be.
That blind spot was influencing my ability to even recognize that there is indeed a conversation happening between me and my body. I had no idea what was on the other side of that blind spot, but I was so tired of where I was that I was willing to face that it head on.
This ongoing conversation with our bodies is one of the most helpful, informative, and confidence-boosting, things we can experience – and yet it’s one of the least attended to aspects of being fit, healthy, and strong (however that looks to you).
I’m going to give you three of the most common ways I see folks handle the conversation with their bodies, and the one key that unlocks all of them for something better.
And if you’re rolling your eyes thinking this sounds very ‘airy fairy’, that’s part of the conversation you’re in right now with your body. And it’s all changeable, if you want it to be.
The Three Most Common Types Of Conversations
You’re Having With Your Body
Convo Type 1:
Ignore the conversation altogether and drag your body along for the ride no matter how much pain or struggle it gives you.
You wouldn’t ignore the innate response your body has when are more careful around a hot stove after accidentally brushing against it and burning yourself.
But frequently in fitness, the message is often made to seem as though if you’re too tired to do a hard workout, it’s probably because you’re not good enough, not trying hard enough, or you’re weak. When perhaps, you feel too tired to go do a hard workout because your body needs something other than a hard workout.
Convo Type 2:
Control the conversation entirely by shouting at your body with more reps, more sets, more intensity, more training protocols.
Remember the last time you tried to discuss something with someone who was raising their voice and talking over you? Not so effective for the conversation, and also super annoying, right?
A conversation is never one-sided. In fact, the responses you’re feeling your body make (be sore here, feel tight there, increase your mobility, decrease your mobility) these are all responses to signals your body has received. That signal/response conversation is occurring every day that you live in your body.
The conversation between you, your body, and your environment, does better when it ebbs and flows. Hormetic stressors are effective because they are short dips into something that creates a stress response in your body, followed by removing that stressor.
Convo Type 3:
Give the conversation to someone else to have by trading all of your autonomy for complete dependence.
There’s a time and place to hire a professional to help you. To help you build your toolbox so that you can become an excellent caretaker of your body.
But completely farming out your “what’s best for my body” conversation to someone else for the rest of your days is not something I’d recommend. No one will ever know what’s best for you better than you.
As a professional in movement and fitness, I can teach you things I know, I can share insights and tips with you, but I must also give you the space you need to start, or continue, to build your autonomy.
You might say, “but I know myself, and I know that I need someone else to write my program so I don’t over do it or under do it.” Perhaps. But a better option than placing the trust in someone else over yourself, would be to work with someone who can help you capture the trust you’re allowed to have in yourself that you will make the right choices for you and your body.
The One Key That Opens The Door
For Better Conversations
To make the conversation with your body better, more effective, more tuned in, more understandable – there is one critical key. Curious compassion.
Curious compassion is more ‘my body isn’t trying to hurt me, it’s always trying to help me’ and less ‘my stupid body hurts again’.
Curious compassion is more ‘I wonder what that sensation is all about’ and less ‘oh no! I’ve messed my body up again, I’m the worst!’
Curious compassion gives space to process, it doesn’t rush to judgement.
In my coaching program, we talk frequently about ‘collecting data’. Instead of seeing the reps you did, or the rest you took, or the sensation you experienced while doing the movement as good or bad, they are simply pieces of data.