Self-care series - Part 1 - The Body
“Self-care is how you take your power back!” – Lalah Delia
Self-care - like many terms today - has become a hashtag term. It is often associated with women painting their nails or taking care of their skin or limited to a physical experience. If you buy into this version of self-care, you are barely touching the tip of the self-care iceberg.
Through my 30’s I had no time for self-care. Between my work, abuse at home and raising 2 kids, life was busy. I would go to the gym because my ex-husband was a fitness freak, he needed 18-inch biceps and a 6 pack and I was tired of his judgements of my overweight body. Just going to the gym and/or the spa is not self-care, as I discovered when I divorced him in 2008.
We are what we eat, we are what we think, we are what we do. I am sure you have heard this one liner. I ate junk, I thought I wasn’t worth it, I hid from myself and my husband, but I did go to the gym and once a month I did go get a facial, my nails, my pedicure, a massage etc. I felt good momentarily and in parts of me, but never all of me. I never felt good in my mind, body, and soul till after 2008.
So, what is self-care?
Self-care is actions or steps you take that make the whole of you feel good, i.e. mind, body and soul.
These steps, when taken regularly, serve to enhance the feeling of joy and happiness one experiences from the inside and the consistency with which they experience it. Self-care is not seasonal, and it is certainly not one type of action.
Self-care of the body.
This can be split into two areas: food and fitness.
Food: I call anything we ingest food, be it solids, liquids or even fumes (cigarettes)
How many of us focus on taste vs. nutrition? Food is meant to be a source of nutrition for our bodies first. I know I am preaching to the choir when it comes to this. We all know that copious amounts of pasta, sugar, processed food, sodas, alcohol etc. is not good, yet we have a global industry to market their unhealthy goods to us and we shamelessly buy it. I do not think I need to tell you about the nicotine business, be it cigarettes or the latest craze of vapes.
Fitness: As I mentioned, my ex-husband wanted massive biceps and a 6 pack, but he had constant back ache and he took steroids to ‘bulk up’. This is not fitness. Fitness in the body is ensuring your muscles, bones, organs etc. are functioning in the manner our body was designed to function. In my limited knowledge there are two forms of activity that help us achieve that: Yoga and CrossFit.
I suggest these two because they cater to the alignment and function of our body as a whole and not in isolation (feel free to consider whole body alignment practices besides these two). There is use for isolated exercises, but these are temporary and based on ailments. These isolated exercises are best used for recovery.
After my third child was born, my already weak lower back got weaker. And as a result my left glute stopped functioning. The teamwork in our body is amazing! When one muscle suffers, irrespective of reason, another will step in. My inner hamstring stepped in for my glute unknown to me. I must also commend the hamstring’s commitment - 10 years later it started failing, but it never asked my glute to take on its role again 🙂 Cosmetically my awesome bum had lost shape and that is what I wanted back without realizing the reason behind its past beauty. To regain the shape of my bum, I used the stepper extensively. This only forced my inner hamstring to work harder. Long story short, my osteopath discovered the dysfunctional glute and asked me to do extremely specific exercises to reactivate the atrophied muscle. I hope this example provides you with clarity for the use of isolated exercises.
Wrapping up the topic of self-care of the body: food is for nutrition first and taste later. There are many nutritional models out there, I would focus on Nutritional Keto and Ayurvedic diets. When it comes to fitness, if you are focused on a good-looking body, that is fine, but figure out what’s the real secret behind the good-looking body. Learn to listen to your body, it does give us warnings before it stops functioning. Think of all the pain killers we have popped to silence our body!
Self-care and self-love are intrinsically linked and move from the obvious body care to the elusive too, like staying true to your values and present, this in turn keeps your mind, body and soul healthy.
In the upcoming weeks I will share more blog posts on self-care of the mind and the soul. Stay tuned!