Pump it

I’m now into week 6 (of 10) of the Epic Program (that I mentioned here). And I am officially obsessed. I’ve done a lot of youtube workouts over the last year, but nothing, and I mean nothingand nobody, has challenged, encouraged and made me feel so pumped about being consistent as Caroline Girvan has.

It’s been 14 months since I stopped going to the gym, which until then was a seemingly permanent fixture in my everyday life. I have always been someone who needs change and challenge frequently to keep myself motivated about fitness. So 2020 has been unique in that sense. I had nobody else to depend on but myself. Left to my own devices, no equipment, and a 4×4 feet-ish space of my living room (which I managed to do with here, in Goa and at my folks’ in Wayanad too). I’ve been through an insane variety of exercise routines, and I’ve probably tried every big youtube fitness instructor currently relevant/popular. I even went back to an my trainer from Goa in October last year, training over zoom until February when I began to feel that familiar itch for something new again.

So on March 1, I decided to give the Epic program a shot. Even though I was intimidated at the idea of a 10 week commitment, I decided I wouldn’t let completion perfectionism get in the way of starting. If it didn’t work out for me, I am allowed to stop, right? Right.

In about 10 days though, I was motivated to swap my resistance bands and waterbottles for a real pair of weights. It was a sign I was really getting into it. I finally caved and bought myself a pair after a whole year of making do, because I think going back to the gym is truly a distant dream now.

Over the days, I’ve realised this is an insanely good routine. Caroline is fantastic with her programming, and I love that her focus is strength and agility not just physically, but mentally too. I love how she stresses honouring where you are at and slowly building up to whatever goal you may have, junking all “ideals” and benchmarks. Her focus is always quality over quantity, encouraging me to go hard but not necessarily long. Which is important for someone like me.

What can I say, this is just the change and challenge I needed. In the last five weeks Epic has steadily but significantly challenged my skills, my willpower and strength — of body and mind. The diffiulty gradually increases, so I have been able to ease into the newer, more advanced moves, but already can see progress.

5 weeks in, 5 weeks to go. This is the point at which I usually get fidgety and need to change things up again. But somehow I am waking up every morning, pumped to exercise quickly. In fact the anticipation begins the previous night. My interest in workout music playlisting is back. I prepare myself for the insanity that are these workouts. And I love the burn. My body has responded very well and I’ve already experienced significant change in toning, sculpting and lifting capacity.

I am eager to finish this, see how much more my body and performance will change. And then I want to get to Epic II — the next 10-week program.

If you’ve been in regular exercise, are in good form and want to amp things up because you’re just tired of working out at home, Caroline is excellent.

One year ago: Monday Tarot Message: What are you willing to let crumble, now more than ever?
Three years ago: Where the cares of the day seem to slowly fade away
Five years ago: Maybe I’m finally making my peace with being mediocre

Sunkissed

14 degrees out these days in the morning. Deceptive bright sunshine with biting cold kind of weather that has been making it super hard to get moving to exercise every morning.

Frigid muscles, stiff bones, dry and burning nostrils, heavy breaths, everything taking longer to ease up. I have to admit this has been harder this year than every before. I notice, my body is getting older. Perhaps these are natural ways my body reminds me to payheed to how it is changing. And for a change, I have been listening, not trying to force it to action, whip it into shape, force it to move in ways it is unwilling. I am mostly going the way it is taking me, only gently pushing some boundaries. Largely really steering clear of even trying to push those that I know won’t.

It takes longer these days, but I still crack a sweat and get my heart racing within the first 30 minutes. And by the end of the hour, I am always glad I gently pushed through that starting trouble. That’s how good R’s routines are for me.

Post workout, I go right back to the balconies at the east side of our home to bask some more and stay warm. Then a leisurely hot bath, warm clothes and back into the sunshine for a while.

One year ago: Bombay meri jaan
Two years ago: Weekend highs and lows
Three years ago: May your feet always be swift
Five years ago: Blush

Happy with me

It occured to me yesterday, while I was working out in the morning that I am happy with who I am. That an essential part of how I see and love myself has shifted. There is so much fluidity and agency in choosing to, or not to do, what I want for my body, as far as fitness and exercise goes.

I don’t feel the need to do something to my body to feel accomplished or as a reason to feel happy with who I am. My body, my eating habits, my resolve has fluctuated so much in just this past year that it has loosened something up inside me.

I am interested now in taking care of myself. In focusing on what makes me feel healthy and good in any given phase, and looking at it more wholeheartedly. I’ve learned that fitness and health is important, but it’s only a very minor part of the overall whole that is my self. So while I’ll make it to my morning class every day, it’s also important to enjoy that piece of cake with a friend. Delay dinner if it means spending time without someone who uplifts me. Skip a workout if it means listening to my body when it asks for rest. Sleep in when I need to.

I didnt realise it before, but it is in what has changed now, that I realise what I have moved from — I have never known what it is to not be afraid fo food. Until now.

To eat food fearlessly, is a gift. It’s hard to feel love myself and my life when my tummy isn’t full, or happy or I’m physically tired. And so I want to love myself as I am, wherever I am, more often than not. Without wanting that smaller butt, flatter tummy, ideal weight, etc etc.

I think I have finally found reasons outside of my body to feel proud and happy with my fitness and where I am physically.

One year ago: On being
Four years ago: 2017 book beginnings
Five years ago: Perspective

This here, is my body

2017 marked a significant shift in my relationship with my body, with the idea of fitness, nourishment and body image. I believed then that I was already in a “good” place because I had been over the slimness versus fitness, strong over slim hill already. And I had chosen strength already. I was squatting more than my bodyweight. I was kickboxing in a class with the local goon, often sparring with him and giving him a run for his money. Either that or he was letting me win. I was visibly muscular, and I liked it. I’d never denied my body anything food-wise, until then and I wondered what restrictive healthy eating might do for me. So I gave it a shot with a 6 weekow carb high protein shred which took me to a body weight and size like never before. I would say it altered my frame altogether. I was at my energetic best, working out hard six days a week and feeling fabulous. But it was simply not sustainable. I also got into an obsessive loop of trying to stay the same, which, to be honest, is an impossible ask.

It’s been up and down since then, slowly arriving at a place of balance. Letting completely go for an entire year, growing physically as much as I did emotionally, to returning to an intuitive and self-led approach to what made sense for me, then. Finding, from all my years of experiments with workouts, what makes me happy and understanding my relationship with tedium and routine. And finding my unique niche, that place of comfort with allowing myself to go with the changes as they come — whether that’s cravings and desire to eat what I want or the ups and downs in my energy on any given day.

2020 however was a whole new world. The forces healthy eating during lockdown, challenges of working out indoors and then swapping it up so much post lockdown, returning to R’s class — my body has shredded and grown many times over in just one year. And somehow I’ve found a new level of acceptance with my body through it all.

This is your body, your greatest gift, pregnant with wisdom you do not hear, grief you thought was forgotten, and joy you have never known.

— Marion Woodman

2020 was also the year where the physical aspect of my body became prominent in my emotions al journey. As my work (for myself as well as my work with clients) grew more somatic, I’ve become aware of the role of my body as a vessel and what it holds. And so my relationship with that body has changed yet again. It has been less about doing, and more about being, and allowing all kinds of being — active to rest, high energy to restorative and slow — and treating myself with fondness and interest.

Suddenly now, I see a malleable, gentle being that needs attention and kindliness, no matter what mode of exercise I choose, where I once saw a hard, unchanging body that needed to be fixed, through restriction and punishment.

I feel like my body looks different from what it did even just one year ago, somehow. It certainly feels different, in a very private sort of way. Like an inner knowing, and not so much what’s visible to the world outside.

More gifts received from the year that took so much:

  1. Rediscovering running
  2. Maximizing the 5×5 space in my living room for seven months
  3. Finding yin
  4. Fondness for myself and my body
  5. A flexible daily practice
  6. Softness. Rest. Listening with ease
  7. Returning to the best coach I’ve ever had
  8. Enjoying my body, enjoying moving any way I like, dancing
  9. Learning that I love my body and I love food, and that one need not cancel the other
  10. Feeling really frigging well, inside and out

One year ago: Of a new beginning
Two years ago: Breathing space
Five years ago: People puzzles

Alive, in my body

I am this breath. I am this moment. I am this life.

I am supported. I am loved. I am alive.

Excessively grateful for R and his daily workout routine that gives me the much needed dose of motivation to jumo out of bed and show up on my mat. My self-motivation ran dry three months ago and if I didn’t have a daily, solid physical practice like this to engage with and literally hold all of the emotions I am processing in this container that is my body, I might have not been in as balanced and safe a space as I am now.

It’s nice not to have to think of what to do to move and stretch myself, and just be told, listen and move accordingly. It’s nice not to have a fixed time to smash the workout out. It’s nice to have a group to do it with. It’s nice to be stretched by someone who has more faith in my capabilities than I have in myself.

One year ago: Gratitude and love
Two years ago: I kinda feel like I saw the light

All in a day

Today, after many weeks, I had a content, memorable, uniformly happy day that was blemish-free and without surprise chinks.

Woke up rested after 8+ hours of sleep. Had a killer workout (as I have this whole week) and relived the absolute joy that is working out in humidity levels of over 80%. With every passing day that I workout with R I realise I’ve missed this more than I realise. It’s not just the perfect kind form of exercise, but the addition of weather conducive to maximum sweating and the fact that nobody has ever pushed me the way they have (mentally for physical benefits).

Finally, today I had a breakthrough with the consistent string of things-not-working-out and a big, important thing that was causing significant stress, worked out. After much back and forth, painful paperwork, multiple trips to Panjim and what not — it got done.

I felt overwhelming relief. And so I allowed myself this.

Then wandered around previously unknown parts of my backyard in search of this divine chocolate cake we’ve been told was sourced in my neighborhood.

This short cycle of grinding down calories in the AM and using the entire day to build them back up has really worked for me through these particularly challenging emotional times haha.

One year ago: Diwali
Two years ago: You and me, we come from different worlds

Going within

I’m in what seems to be an enduring phase of inwardness, aloneness, quiet and solitude. I want to say it’s another phase, yet again. But the truth, as I have been coming to terms with it, is that this is what I have been for the greater part of this year. I almost feel unable to be with people at this point. I find myself retreating even when I feel a covert urge not to.

One year ago: Surprises
Two years ago: I been moving calm, don’t start no trouble with me

Returning

My sleep cycle is totally and fully back to normal. I have hesitated to accept this sooner, because I was so sure it was just another blip in this up and down year, and that it wasn’t going to last. But it has been about 7 weeks now, of having a more or less consistent (but loose) daily routine that involves sleeping at a decent time (read: pre-midnight haha) and waking up at a time that allows me to get in a morning workout of some kind, and still have time to tend to chores and have a full day, if I so choose to.

Some return to “normal” since everything went upside down in March. And it feels good. For many of us, daily habits and routines are essential keepers of rhythm for life. Making sure there are enough nourishing elements to every day has always been important for me, but when I began to approach this with a consciousness that was previously missing, I have gone full circle from being a slave to routine, to breaking it completely, going very very off-track, and coming back to some normalcy, but with balance.

You know habits have changed in a deeper way when they remain, without much effort, even when you’re on a break.

One year ago: True
Two years ago: You’re still young and that’s your fault
Four years ago: Moarrrr books

On trees and roots

Old-but-renewed fascination with watching age-old trees surfaced some weeks ago, aided by morning wanderings in parts of Bangalore that are beautifully shrouded in a tunnel of treetops. I recollected and shared Mary Oliver’s meditations on Tress some days ago on Instagram and D pointed me to a Larkin poem I have somehow never read before. I don’t know how I could have missed this absolute beauty through 5 years of studying English Literature, in which Larkin featured pretty frequently.

Better late than never, I suppose. Because this, today, speaks to me at so many levels. And maybe that’s why it’s stayed, the words dashing about in my head, playing a game of squash, ever since I read them two weeks ago. Making me look at trees longer, slower, and persuading me to listen in.

The trees are coming into leaf
Like something almost being said;
The recent buds relax and spread,
Their greenness is a kind of grief.

Is it that they are born again
And we grow old? No, they die too,
Their yearly trick of looking new
Is written down in rings of grain.

Yet still the unresting castles thresh
In full-grown thickness every May.
Last year is dead, they seem to say,
Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.

Delicious, no?

It’s hard not to see that my obsessive draw and deepening connection to all things green, to having and growing them, to enjoying their company and being surrounded by them has only grown over the last many months. It’s safe to say it very literally gives me a space to ground myself in, and to find real, dirty, hands-on parallels with my own emotional journey and process.

These days, I have my most calming epiphanies and those quiet life-changing aha-moments that make me smile stupidly to myself, when I am running/exercising or gardening. This is why it has also been important and easy to include these two activities into my daily routine, and not just for when I want to have some fun on a whim.

When something takes root, deep and strong, there is a space of anticipation, waiting, uncertainty that comes about. On the one hand, you cannot see what’s at work underground, and it’s also too soon to tell what will happen above. The only thing to do is wait, with faith, and continued dedication to nurturance.

Evocative possibilities can come to life in that space of nothingness. Promise of so many possible futures that can unfold, unravel, that will push through like literal life. Possibilities of thriving, surprises. Stories of death and resurrection. Literal cycles of life in full display within this microcosm.

It’s a place where dreams are real, and unreal all at once. Where possibility is both suspended and in-waiting, but also impending and somehow certain.

That space of seeming emptiness is potent, it is fertile. There is nothing to see, but I have felt it, when I have waited and let the emptiness touch me. And nowadays, when I listen closely, I feel the rootedness saying to me;

Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.

This morning, I remembered something very sweet and powerful that S said to me in a casual whatsapp chat many, many moons ago. It was such a simple articulation of a very profound thought about leaving people behind as we grow into our own. A thought she had had but we were both beating around the bush trying to catch, pickle and put down in words — and failing.

Until she said;

And this leaving people behind that you talk about is how a tree leaves the ground behind.

Even in the profundity of the moment then, I didn’t see how eminently crucial roots are. In the process of growing. Of transforming. Of gathering wisdom and understanding. And of leaving. Of grasping opportunities to beginning afresh.

Three years ago: Grow
Four years ago: Morning moods

Run, run, run

I’ve been running consistently for the last two weeks now, and it has given me some respite from the exercise rut I was in. And now I’m running everywhere. In my neighbourhood, around my neighbourhood, beyond my neighbourhood, and taking myself to the park for longer run as often as I can.

As usual, humbled and amazed at how the body adapts and responds, still. It took about 12 days of being dissatisfied with my pace (because I am nothing without my unrealistic, gold-standard expectations of myself) and feeling so much regret for all the lost stamina, for my pace to improve. When I noticed that tiny sliver of an improvement, I behaved like I’d run a full marathon, of course.

***

Then last week, just as I was reminiscing my days of training hardddd with B and R in Goa — literally the only thing I still sorely, sorely miss about my life there, and the one thing (yes, even more than than the beach) I could go back for in a heartbeat — B messaged me to say hi after almost a whole year. And it turns out they’ve moved to teaching online, much like the rest of the world. I don’t know why I didn’t think to reach out sooner and get in on it, right from the safety of my own home. But, I managed to sneak in two sessions last week that injected me with energy and excitement about working out differently again.

It was a good reality check too — to see that I’m not nearly as badly off a I imagined and I haven’t quite lost all that good form from three years ago. I was stunned to have finished the class in one piece, even though I has collapsed into a ball of sweat and endorphins by the end of it.

One year ago: Rest
Two years ago: Not yet lost all our graces

The hidden life of trees

So, I decided to break my boredom with home workouts and desperate missing of the gym, by braving the outdoors and resuming running again.

It’s been three days and one whole day of severely sore legs, but I feel so good.

It’s more than what running does for my body, which in itself is a whole other story. But I’m also beginning to see why being outdoors in an enveloping tunnel of trees, that are overwhelmingly old and large, surrounded by eye-hurting green views, even as small and limited as they are in a city park, does for me.

It’s a reminder to keep growing. To keep going. Of how strong roots are the key to talk trees. Of age and wisdom. Of a silent judgement-free witnessing. Of the cradle of mother earth. Of the place that energy and the elements have in giving life. Of fertility even in times of destruction. Of survival and enduring.

On Sunday, practically my first real long run since March (because I’m not counting the two failed attempts in May and June), I had a mini cry behind my mask even as I had just entered the parking and started my run. I just felt overwhelmed to be outdoors, for one. But I was also just taken by these large, old trees. Just standing there, watching the world go by, as they have for years now. I also felt a surge of endorphins, and while they’re usually known to induce extreme highs interpreted as happiness I have noticed that they heighten whatever emotion I am allowing myself to feel. That day it was overwhelming gratitude and aliveness.

I have not appreciated trees enough in my life. And that day I realised I have probably not appreciated the trees in Bangalore enough in my life.

They’re becoming reminders for me. Of life and growth. Of swaying with lightness and tenderness, while being powerfully rooted. Of grounding. Of joy and life. Of air and breath.

In the inimitable words of Mary Oliver, who I have realised has woven beauty in words for every goddamn experience, it’s simple.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.
And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,
“and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine.”

Stay. Awhile.

One year ago: Brain noodles
Four years ago: Wandering, right here at home

Things I miss

I’m officially maxed out on the home workouts. I’ve exhausted my entire source of inspiration/motivation — within, and online — and I just miss the gym.

I miss running far. I miss lifting heavy weights. I miss mixing things up.

I realised on the weekend that because I’ve only been doing hard cardio and interval training, and absolutely no stretch and conditioning, I have gotten lean some, but I have lost significant amounts of strength.

My legs and core feel much stronger. Probably stronger than when I was regular at the gym. I see this in how easily I am doing things I dreaded even at the beginning of the lockdown when I began working out at home. Like burpees, like mountain climbers, like knee tucks. Easy-peasy and I have gradually built up my reps.

But, I can no longer do a push-up. I was never good at them to begin with, but the weight training and conditioning at the gym helped me stay in touch. I can’t even sustain a plank for as long as I used to. I feel a definite loss of upper body (arms and shoulder) strength. This, I feel in just lifting regular shit. Like groceries. And water cans.

And I feel sad about that.

This whole loosening the grip on exercise — rather the grip the need to exercise had on me — and shifting the focus from cosmetic and appearance-based outcomes, to performance and health has been good for how I am able to go with the flow, it has meant getting in touch with the true nature of my energy. Which is not uniform. Neither is my motivation. It made me realise that all these years of regular exercise was only sustained because I had an unnatural standard that required going against the grain of my intuitive energy, my instinct, to make myself do it.

It’s interesting that at one time I was naive enough to consider some years in Goa, when I surrounded myself with a lot of fit, badass women, to be my fittest. Because I worked out super hard, six days a week. And didn’t see even half the results I have seen after I relaxed and found my own rhythm. It was terrible for my mental health and sense of self. The ideals and notions of fitness I absorbed weren’t the best.

Now, I take days off when I need to. I eat with balance. I have found what works for me by listening to my body. Most importantly, I allow myself to fall off the bandwagon. And somehow I am leaner and healthier than I have ever been. Even more than when I went on a massive shred.

I find different ways to exercise, because I have realised I need a new form every 5-6 months. Accepting all this has made a huge difference to where I am mentally. Because it means I have had to come to love the natural ups and downs that come with it. The jumping off and on the bandwagon when it happens naturally. Being okay with the effects that has and how it shows in my body. Managing the health implications of it all.

And being in agreement with that.

Because whatever I was seeking from working out the way I did, is now being fulfilled elsewhere. In a healthy way. And I feel more in tune with myself, with what my body needs in order for it to work for me, as a result.

I am at home in my body.

I feel like we are allies, where earlier I had to hack my body and be at war with it, beat it to shape ad make it do things I couldn’t do.

That same intuition is what tells me now that I am done with working out at home. I need a treadmill. And a rack of weights.

Two years ago: What good is it to live, with nothing left to give
Four years ago: About home

Same same

Still here, finding the tiny silver lining in the midst of a pandemic that’s raging out of control and has our authorities foxed. Focusing on staying well, staying safe, staying indoors and staying positive.

And it’s a tough ask. I mean last week the health minister just threw his hands up and said only God can now save us from this message. Today he says he alone can’t be expected to do the work.

Then why for you became Health Minister, saar?

Even WHO videos are now pissing me off with how absolutely wishy washy, unreliable and ineffective they’re beginning to sound. Just so much hand-wringing and nothing more. Even seven months since this thing broke out. How is this a 2020 reality?

Virus aside, though, I’m still intermittently in awe of alllllllll the ramifications of the way in which life has been toppled over and all that we are having to contend with.

There’s so many things I hope I never take for granted again. Hugs, for one. Sunlight and fresh air. Just human presence, is what I miss the most I think. Poor VC is bearing the brunt of all my need for human contact, facing frequent assaults of love. But yeah, I can’t unsee some of the fundamental ways in which life has shifted for me. Fourth month of doing all home chores by ourselves and we’ve stacked up a whole load of lessons learned but also tricks and hacks to make this work. I don’t think I can go back to the old ways of waste and excess (in so many little things) in a hurry. Eating meals at the table has been such a joy. Working out at home has been a revelation. And I’m only just scratching the surface. A lot of the changes we have made are small and private and I don’t want to be virtue signalling by talking about them at length. Also, I know this has been the process for many, many people. Everyone has had their own set of learnings and have changed their lives in important ways.

So I’d be lying if I said this painful time hasn’t been without gifts.

It’s just taken me a while to assimilate, look back and acknowledge them. Despite feeling fully the privilege it speaks of to be even doing this. For too long I let the guilt of that privilege stop me. Until I recently realised privilege too is a gift and I’m wasting it by letting the guilt paralyse me. I can instead acknowledge it, own it and let it move me to actually do things.

I ranted about just wanting to go out on my Instagram the other day, and it took absolutely no time for someone to point out that staying in is a privilege! like I was ignorant about or hadn’t possibly considered that truth. That presumption aside, it reflected exactly my own thought process around this. How stuck I have felt from just acknowledging my privilege. And what a shift it has been to accept and own it and instead move on to thinking about how I can use my privilege positively and constructively. Even if just for my own life.

(Also, acknowledging and agreeing with an inherent privilege doesn’t make the feelings of wanting to leave, any less true. Why do we insist on existing in stark binaries so much? The two states can absolutely coexist!)

Heard this Pico Iyer quote the other day on a podcast, and it hit home why some times, some parts of this shit show begin to make sense. And some times it feels good too.

Going nowhere, as Leonard Cohen would later emphasize for me, isn’t about turning your back on the world; it’s about stepping away now and then so that you can see the world more clearly and love it more deeply.

Three years ago: In which I end up without a phone
Four years ago: Rainy day feels

At home in my body

Last evening, I spontaneously snuck in a workout because I had just as spontaneously skipped it in the morning, in favour of spending the morning being very, very homey. Even though I’m doing the same workouts, my energy is about the same, the same struggles persist and most else remains the same — something subtle but important has changed.

It hit me like a tiny pin dropping in a silent room, last evening. Sharp, cutting clarity — My body feels much more like my own. I really feel how I inhabit it.

My body feels different in the way it moves, and I feel much more connected, and in tune with how it moves.

What has been conscious and intentional over the last few months is a shift in how I approach my physical practices — exercise, and all the other body-focused habits I keep. I’ve become much, much more loose, comfortable and fluid in how I keep them. Even so, I can’t pin point one thing that made this shift happen — it’s a combination and culmination of some mindfully cultivated aspects, but also some surprise — and I can’t say when it has happened either. My sense is it was a gradual flow, a loosening or melting perhaps.

In the moment that it hit me, I was bouncing around my living room, freestyle. Eyes closed, enjoying a loud AC/DC song. Previously, even “freestyle” has been rigid, where I come from. Lines, points, beats, bars. This is what I know, and I feel it is also what I have absorbed deeply.

But yesterday, I felt a flow that was definitely surprising and new. Fluidity, like a splotch of paint that’s running amok and cannot be corrected or fixed to stay within the lines. An unruly, unfettered energy that coursed through not just my limbs — that I usually associate as aids of movement — but my whole body. My neck, my chest, my waist, hips, torso. Even my eyes, closed, felt warm and full of energy.

What I do know is, the past few months have made me befriend my body in a new way. It’s shown me a new level of faith and gratitude for my body. Gratitude for everything that it endures and allows me to do — the stretch and the misuse included.

But also faith, that it is mine and on my side. I’ve found this in a truly embodied way, and I feel it in how easily I have been able to slip and slide through the energy ups and downs, listening keenly and leaning in to whatever my body wants and asks for. Conversely, having it respond with ease and grace when I need it to. I feel so firmly that it needn’t be punished, tamed or moulded harshly into being something else. Just what it is, will do.

It’s my inner gaze that’s shifted — a little softening in how I see myself. Tender, where I was once rigid. Gentle, even as I feel strong. Easy, with how I use restrain. More welcoming of the idea of human fragility, even in my body, where I once chased a strange notion of invincibleness.

All of this was never part of my plan. I didn’t even know there was healing to be done as far as my relationship with my body goes or how it impacts so many other things in my life. I’ve always held the physical somewhat separate from the emotional, despite ample training and experience that has shown me surprising links between the two. I didn’t think I “needed” a deeper connection between the two in myself. So in that sense, this was not part of the plan.

But that is just it: healing takes surrendering to the process as it happens. Minus any pre-planned notions and ideas about how to proceed or what to focus on.

At this point it’s hard for me to say if surrender has brought me here, or if getting here has shown me another gift of surrender.

Of course, the regular exercise has made me leaner and more toned than I have been in a long while, and I will not deny how good I feel. Confident, healthy and happy in my body. But there has been something more. A sense of oneness. Like arriving at a meeting place between the infinite world inside of me and the finite body that holds it. It’s a feeling of having yet again come home. And it feels very, very whole and contained this time around.

Rooted and fluid at the same time. Strong and tender at the same time.

And it’s inspired a kind of revelling and enjoying of my body. A little more unabashedly than before.

One year ago: Days like these
Two years ago: Always somewhere, miss you where I’ve been

Happy in my belly

It’s been a little over a month of going over the edge, letting go fully and enjoying it fully for what it was. Eating all the things — and I mean allllll the things — guilt-free, without rules, without any restrictions; and allowing for little routine as far as exercise goes. It was great while it lasted, and I have fully recognised my need to go off the bandwagon every so often, as a very vital part of staying on it for the greater part. I can only sustain something, if I have the window to let go now and then.

But, now it has begun to show. On my skin. On my energy. On my sleep. And so quite naturally, as it always does, my body has brought me back to the middle path, by simply asking for what is needed. Cleaner food, a little discipline and regular exercise.

So, I have turned the corner again. Bringing back into moderation that which I had let run amok, quite deliberately for a while.

It’s been a week of just simple changes and returning to some old habits. I feel so rewarded, with the ability to listen to what my body is asking for — whether it is to let go the rules, fearlessly, knowing that I will be guided back when the time is right — and doing what’s needed, giving my body what it needs and is asking for, and watching it respond so quickly. With wellness, with balance, with centredness.

That I have been able to flow with this, in and out, without effort, just through listening in keenly and being in tune with my body and the cues it’s gives me all the time, is a true gift.

One year ago: Mush
Two years ago: Slowly drifting, wave after wave
Three years ago: What coming home feels like: Sunday lunch edition
Four years ago: Like Nike, but better