MERRY FUNCTIONAL FIT-MAS
By: Lauren Anderson
Hello! Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, I hope this post finds everyone happy and healthy and snuggled in for some well-needed rest and reflection before the ball drops. And, universe permitting, we get to do it all again.
This year was marked with tiny small changes for me. Nothing large or systemic like the year before, where I literally changed EVERYTHING. But this year was about sustaining, and identifying patterns (both ones that served me, and ones that didn’t), and learning to live my life with the gym as a central part of that.
I know I talk a lot about functional fitness. I don’t always call it that, but that’s basically what it is. Being strong enough to carry all my groceries in one trip. Helping a friend move. Getting in and out of my car, couch, chair quickly, easily, and with confidence. Bending over to pick up something that fell on the ground. Without hurting or straining myself. The list goes on and on.
Basically, being fit enough to joyfully function in my life.
It seems like something I could easily take for granted. But after a 5 month period this year where I couldn’t use my wrist properly, bouts in my life where it was hard to walk up stairs, get in and out of my car, this is not something I will ever overlook again.
In fact, when I first started Solcana, I was such a stranger to my body, and so afraid of getting to know it better, that the idea of functional fitness was really the only carrot that could bait me to start.
The idea of working out so I could look a certain way or lose weight, was so painful to me that I couldn’t do it anymore. I was at a point in my life where I had been there, done that. And I only met failure every time.
Even working out to become a super fast or super strong– I couldn’t identify with. After a lifetime of telling myself I wasn’t an athlete, this idea seemed like an ‘exercise’ in futility.
I was too soured to the idea of working out for these traditional motivators. But working out to improve how my body basically functions in the world? Now that’s something I could get behind!
That would improve my quality of life!
This holiday season was almost a personal version of “It’s A Wonderful Life: Fitness Edition”.
I was tasked with moving chairs and couches and end-tables to make room for people. I walked up flights of stairs in the bitter cold without having an asthma attack. I passed out heavy package after heavy package, lifted a whole ham off the counter, and chipped hard snow off my car. I even saved a friend from slipping on the ice. I caught them mid-fall with just one of my arms! A whole human person with JUST ONE ARM!
I could almost feel my own personal Clarence the Angel going “See Lauren? See?! If you didn’t work out, none of this would be possible!”
And recognizing the freedom and the joy being functionally fit has given me, I want to shout from the rooftops!
“What is it you want, World? What do you want? You want the moon? Just say the word and I’ll throw a lasso around it and pull it down.”
JUST BECAUSE I CAN.
These things I don’t take for granted. Being functionally fit has served me more than I could’ve imagined. It’s a truly wonderful experience to be able to do everything I want to, and not have to worry about whether or not my body can manage.
And just between you and me? I love the extra “F U Haters” being functionally fit gives me.
When people see a body like mine, I know they underestimate it (and me) more often than not. They might assume I don’t work out, or that I’m lazy, or sad, or any number of negative stereotypes people associate with big bodies. #BodyLoveNation is having a moment, but let’s face it, we’ve got a long way to go.
But when I can prove them wrong by running, or balancing for a long time, or dancing around onstage night after night– I think I show them what’s what. I hope any haters take a moments pause, and rethink their narrow version of what a fit body can look like. Or maybe even, “Hey! Stop judging people by their bodies AT ALL.”
Solcana has bolstered me in this in a lot of ways. The fact that my gym boldly staked their flag in the land of #BodyLoveNation and everyday reiterates their belief that ALL bodies deserve to move and feel good, and fitness can come in any size. It’s something I know to my core, but still makes me tear up. Because I’m just not in spaces like this enough.
People’s individual relationships with their bodies can be so volatile, that I think Solcana has gone out of their way to create a welcoming, brave space. I know it’s changed me for the better, and as I move into the new year, I am looking forward to pushing myself even further.
Second only to learning improv, I credit being functionally fit with growing my personal confidence more than anything else. It’s put me back in my body, and it’s put me back into the world.
And now that I’m here, right smack dab in my body and in the world, I think I feel brave enough to tackle some of the other stuff I’ve been avoiding. The real trigger-inducing stuff. Because I know I don’t talk about it much, but I do think there is value in thinking that “My body is beautiful” as well.
Just writing that gave me goosebumps– because it’s just so potentially painful!
Because I think the way America treats bodies is always: Beauty First. And for women especially it’s beauty=thin=better. Blegh. It’s gross and narrow, and I’ve got no time for it anymore.
If we think of our bodies like we think of a home, to me that’s like hanging up pictures before you put up the walls. Not only is it not a good idea, it won’t work in the long run.
So practicing thinking my body is attractive and beautiful doesn’t mean, “Now I’m gonna lose a bunch of weight.” so I can fit in to that narrow expectation.
To me, practicing thinking that my body is attractive and beautiful is not about size or shape, but about mindset. I don’t just want to love my body for what it can do (although that is SO IMPORTANT) I would also like to feel more attractive in my body. Accepting that my body is not only this bad ass machine that can DO a bunch of things, but I can think it’s design is aesthetically pleasing too!
I’m sweating as I type this btw… this feels so crazy to even be headed in this direction.
But coming into the new year with a real grasp on being functionally fit, I think I want to start thinking about my body as a thing of beauty. That’s infinitely more complicated, and I’ll admit an almost DANGEROUS idea to me, but I feel ready.
Back to my house analogy: I’ve taken my time to build a strong foundation, now it’s time to furnish it and make it a beautiful home that I want to live in.
More sweat… am I hyperventilating? This is so bold. Even for me…
But if being functionally fit helped get me through the hustle and bustle of the holidays, I know it will help on this next stretch of the journey as well. But am I functionally fit enough to take on the American Beauty Standard and flip it on it’s head? Talk about lassoing the moon…
Am I daring enough to start feeling attractive? Here’s hoping anyway.
Will you join me a s I boldly go where I’ve never gone before?
With your love and support in the new year, I think I can get there. <3