Several months ago, I introduced my monthly fitness challenge, explaining my "inspiration" and why I think it's so important to do strength work ESPECIALLY as we age. (You can read all about that here.)
How are you doing? By now, I hope you're having some success with my challenges. Keep up the good work. Every day! (And if you haven't started yet? Well. You can begin today!)
Here's this month's fitness challenge:
Challenge #8 -- Give yourself a couple of hugs (every day).
Just like this . . .
Do it once with your left arm on top. And then switch your arms and do it again with your right arm on top.
Well. It's a nice, quick back and shoulder stretch.
But - more than that - it's a reminder . . . to love your good, strong body.
I don't write these monthly fitness challenges because I think there's anything "wrong" with your body or that you should be "working hard" to get your body into a "better" shape. I write them so you can prepare yourself to move forward in your life . . . as you age . . . a little bit stronger, with less back pain, a stronger core, better balance, and the ability to get yourself up off the floor when you need to.
We live in a culture that makes all women - regardless of age and body shape - feel bad. Less than. Not enough. It's our bodies, of course. They’re the problem. They're "all wrong" . . . at least according to the unrealistic and unattainable standards of beauty and the female form we see all around us every day. Thanks to toxic diet culture, we think we need to "fix" our bodies before we can . . . live.
I'm here to invite you to hug your GOOD body. Today and every day. It doesn't need to be "fixed." It needs to be healthy and strong. And that has nothing to do with . . . how you look.
Every day, I look in the mirror and see an aging 63-year old woman who has . . . jiggly-arms and a post-menopausal belly, someone who has given birth, struggled with health conditions, smiled a lot, lost the battle with gravity (and so on). No matter how many squats I do? That ain't gonna change. And I'm getting to the place where . . . I'm okay with that. I'm focusing on maintaining (and building) my strength, flexibility, and mobility. I'm trying to protect my bones and joints. I'm trying to eat well. Sleep enough. Move every day. Love myself.
I specifically chose this challenge for this month . . . because we're about to say hello to "beach season" … and all the baggage that brings. So give yourself a big hug . . . and get to the beach (or pool or lake or just out in the backyard). ENJOY summer. Wear the shorts. Wear sleeveless tops. Put on a swim suit. Stay cool. Your "beach body" . . . is whatever body you take to the beach!
I know my little monthly fitness challenge here is not going to change the damage of years of toxic diet culture and the societal messages of beauty you've been fed all your lives, but . . . maybe it will be a little drop in the bucket for you. Maybe you can wrap your arms around your good body and say, "I love you" to your body every day. It's a start.
And if you want a little more body-acceptance inspiration, here are a few women out there, doing good work for all of us:
- Amy Pence-Brown - who calls herself a "fat feminist mother," but I just think of her as a radical pioneer of body acceptance. You may have seen her viral video (if you haven't, click here to watch her powerful and radical stand for self-love) or heard her Ted talk. She also has a blog, and an inspirational Instagram presence.
- Stasia Savasuk - who talks about dressing for the way you feel inside, not for the way society thinks you "ought" to dress. Stasia's messages of body acceptance are pretty radical in our body-conscious world. She is famous for saying, "my body is NOT the problem; it's the pants that are the problem." If trying on clothes - or wearing what you feel like wearing - is a problem for you, you really need to meet Stasia. She's got a blog, an inspirational Instagram presence, and she's done a Ted talk, too.
- Christine D'Ercole - who happens to be my favorite Peloton instructor. Christine is a world-class bike racer . . . who has struggled with body image and body acceptance her entire life. Not only does she run a great Peloton workout -- but her "rides" are filled with body-positive messages. She is known for her "I am - I can - I will - I do" motto . . . and also little words-of-wisdom like "think bigger than a smaller pair of pants." If you're not a Peloton-person, you can still benefit from Christine's inspiration through her blog. She also runs Wordshop -- workshops designed to help us re-think the stories we tell ourselves.
Give yourself a couple of hugs today (and every day).
You are beautiful.
You are strong.
And you’re enough. Just as you are.
Previous Get Strong Monthly Fitness Challenges: