By: Lauren Anderson
Labor Day weekend for me is a time to hang out and have a good time, but I always like to throw in a little bit of “work” for balance. I mean, if nothing else it is my small way of honoring all the labor workers that make the world go round.
But let’s not get too far up my own butt here. It’s mostly just me trying to seek balance, like one of your french girls. What are you talking about Anderson? I dunno! Wasn’t there a book out a while ago about french people being good at balance? Like eating baguettes and then biking around Paris? You know, like one compensates for the other?
I can’t bike around Paris (yet), but after 3 trips to the State Fair, and about 6 corndogs in as many days (along with many other delights)… I was surprised that my body and my brain were seeking some balance. And not out of guilt or some strange mandate that I opposed on myself. It was like my body was talking to me, and for ONCE I was able to listen.
This may seem small, but for me it’s huge. Especially, because I am one of those people that started my journey not even knowing what my body felt like when it was hungry. For real! Food was such an “other” thing for me. It was almost NEVER about fuel or hunger or even desire. It was wrapped up in a lot of emotion and compulsion, confusion and complications.
But not anymore! Sure, sometimes old messaging pops up, but now my brain can go, “Wait! That’s the old way to think. And that doesn’t work remember? It doesn’t serve you. Here’s what you know to be true about food now.”
And then I repeat to myself the new stuff I’ve learned over the last few years. Some of my favorite mantras are “Food is not good or bad, it just is.” And then my favorite question, “Is this food serving my body, my soul, both, or neither?” If the answer is yes to any of the first three, I eat it up!
But if it’s “neither”, that’s when I put my detective hat on, and I ask myself some more questions. Like, “Are you bored? Anxious? Scared? Sad?” etc. And I try to get to the bottom of the thing, as opposed to burying it with food.
This idea of being a detective with my body has served me SO WELL. Because detectives aren’t in the business of judging and shaming. They are in the business of collecting information to get to the bottom of something. Once they have the information, then they can make an informed decision.
BOOM. I don’t know about you, but that’s where I want to live.
Wow… I didn’t think I was gonna go all the way there in this post. But it’s interesting that this practice is bubbling up for me right now. It’s kind of cool to look back and see how far I’ve come. Huh, I really am different. My brain really does process this stuff differently now.
And it’s a good reminder that slow, intentional practice of a habit can really change you over time. Even something as BIG and daunting as my relationship to food.
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But long story long, by the time Labor Day (proper) rolled around, I think I was looking for an excuse to rock my body, and not eat at another Pronto Pup until next year.
So when I heard that my friend Heather was headed to Home Depot to get in on some HOT DEALZ on mulch for her yard, I offered my services. Nothing quiets the mind, like schlepping 20 bags of mulch for a dear friend and her dream garden.
When we got to the store, I braced myself for the typical sexist stuff I get at the hardware store. Especially when people see two female-presenting humans attempting to lift heavy things.
Luckily, other than getting called “ladies” about 100 times (Can I help you ladies? You ladies got everything? Have a good day Ladies! This constant gendering without knowing the person is so unnecessary… and so friggin prevalent… but I’ll save my full rant for another post.) We experienced no real baloney. Thank goodness.
When it was time to load the carts and then the car, I put my whole body into moving that mulch. And I know I’ve been lifting weights for a while now, but I would be lying to you if I said I still didn’t get giddy by how light those heavy bags seem now.
I had to laugh, because I was bracing for some real weight, and I practically threw the first sack across the lot, because it was WAY lighter than I anticipated. When I lifted my first bag, I thought “Oh, this is like a warm up weight!” Haha!
These are all things that never would’ve crossed my mind 2 years ago. And what’s more, I discovered it also felt really good. Like my body was kind of craving movement for movements sake. You know?
WAIT! Before you click out of this post because I’ve lost you completely, let me explain!
I liken it to being sick in bed for a few days. At first I kind of relish the excuse to just veg out, but then after about a day or so, it feels especially good to get up and do normal people stuff. Like shower etc. Just me?
Like my body is used to moving now. And it expects to do so. And if I don’t give it what it wants, it knows to ask for it! Isn’t that weird? Kinda reminds me of listening to my body about being hungry. It’s the same thing…
It also got me thinking about the idea of “Functional Fitness” again. I know I’ve talked about it a lot before, but this is always where fitness and what that might actually MEAN comes into a new focus. Cause it’s one thing to make gains or advances when you are at the literal gym, but it’s quite another when you notice those same gains are making your life outside the gym easier too.
Kinda like taking all my book-learnin to THE STREETS!
(Or if this theory were in the Step Up dance movie canon– It’s one thing to learn ballet in the studio, but what about doing ballet in the alley in the rain to win a contest to keep the community center open? See what I mean?! It takes on a whole new meaning!!!)
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After Heather and I moved the mulch, we treated ourselves to dinner and movie. And I ordered a dinner salad along with a delicious lobster experience (oh yes) because I swear I could hear my body ask for some roughage. And I had to oblige. Oh, you actually WANT lettuce? Okay Anderson… if you insist.
It’s like for the first time in my life, my body and I can communicate with each other. We’re on the same page, speaking the same language. And I couldn’t be more grateful.
I guess there are a lot of things to be grateful and reflective about this Labor Day. But I think what’s showing up for me most potently right now, are the fruits of the Labor that I have put into listening to what my body is actually saying. And finally being able to hear her.
Also, I think today is about releasing the unintentional labor that goes along with being at odds with my own vessel. I mean, the journey is hard enough without hating the ship that you’ve been given to make the travel. Am I right?
And maybe, she’s not just a vessel anymore, but also a friend. I think the best friends are the ones that know how to listen. We listen to each other, and then we do the best we can to help, and make life easier.
So if she craves a corn dog or some leafy greens, I’ll try my best to feed her. And if she wants to rest, I’ll let her rest. And if she wants to move, I’ll help her do that too.
Even if that movement is slinging bags of mulch in the afternoon.