Soul Fitness

August 7, 2013 in Uncategorized

For those I haven’t already bored with ceaseless updates about it (Hi, honey!  Hi, Mom!), I’m training for a half-marathon in October.  It is busting my butt in the best way, and I am learning a ton.  Like that I wish I didn’t love running to Kanye West so much because he’s a d-bag but oh my god it’s just so good.

I hated exercise.  I always thought there was something so complicated about fitness – that it just “wasn’t for me.”    But now it’s the very simplicity of training that I love.  Stick to the plan, build muscle, shake the excess, feed myself.  Done.

It got me thinking, “You fought your body for years and now you feel stronger and healthier (and crazysexyhotter) than ever.  You took public oaths against running and now you love it.  Could it be that with the right guideposts, anything can be this simple?  I bet your clients would love a simple regiment for their soul fitness, wouldn’t they?

Cheeky little mind, of course they would!  So here is my training regiment for your healthiest, fittest emotional/spiritual/soul body yet.*
*Also, I am neither a trainer nor a fitness expert; this ain’t no diatribe on what makes a body “right” or “wrong.”  I just know this stuff works for me and I feel amazing.  I also know that it makes for a hell of a metaphor, so let’s just go with it.

Guidepost: stick to the plan

I know what I need to do every day to work on my running – whether I need to run, lift, or rest.  I met with a trainer, and we made a schedule that works for me, to help me improve.  My only job is to prioritize what’s on it.  Some days I want to skip the gym, and some days it’s hard to drag my sweet buns another mile or two or five.  But fit people aren’t “lucky,” they’re dedicated: they don’t wonder whether the work is going to happen, just when and how.

A joyful personal practice is just that: a practice.  Your soul’s wellness requires as much diligence and commitment as anything else.  Happiness won’t land on you, just like 13.2 miles won’t suddenly burn themselves into the soles of my sneakers.  Happy people aren’t “lucky,” they’re dedicated.  So study up, and borrow exercises from them.  Journaling daily, taking 5 minutes of silence at lunch, calling your bestie every week, volunteering monthly, working regularly with a coach, designating one day a month to whatever silly frivolous thing makes your heart burst.  Just like in training, the only good schedule is one you will stick to.  So investigate what might work for you, build a plan, and get your Nike on.  Feel silly at first?  Finding it hard to treat yourself well (you’d be amazed…)?  Think it can wait till tomorrow?  Just do it.  There is nothing – I repeat, nothing - more worthy of your time and commitment than your emotional well-being.  Hop to.

Guidepost: build muscle

My training isn’t just about running mile after mile after mile (thank the lord…).  It’s also about muscle.  Strength makes sustaining repetitive motion easier on your body and joints.  It helps protect from injury, since strong muscles can support balance over wonky terrain or help you recover from a slip before you actually fall.  Basically, it helps you do what you do – better – while offering extra control when something unexpected comes up.

In life, we cross rocky terrain all the time.  We get dumped, we get fired, we get yelled at, we feel alone.  And you can keep running and pushing through, but if you don’t have your strength, you’re going to burn out a lot faster, or trip and fall before you can catch yourself.  So you need to build your psychic muscles, and the best way to do that is to examine your power.  Investigate whether the thing that’s got you down actually has the power to get you down.  When something gets your goat, get in the habit of asking yourself two questions.  1) Why do I believe this is worth feeling bad?  2) What would I need to believe for this to be okay?  Eventually, you’ll realize that about 99.99999% of it’s in your head (which is owned and operated by you, by the way), and you have a lot more power over how you feel than, say, your snippity co-worker or your skinny jeans.

Guidepost: shake the excess

The process of removing from my body that which isn’t serving my training (read: extra fat) has been two fold: what goes in, and what goes away.  I feel and train better as I work more excess fat off my body.  And I feel and train better without putting things I don’t need into my body (ie: not eating when I’m not hungry).  Thing is, in order for me to feel strong and awesome, I don’t need as much mass on or in my body as I currently have; it doesn’t serve me in any way, and I am okay with letting go of what I don’t need.  I take enough away to gradually release the excess, and I take care when I’m feeding myself to absolutely replenish with enough to feel awesome, but not more than I need to feel awesome.

We’ve already been over the importance of letting go what doesn’t serve you any longer.  And chances are, unnecessary excess is all over – in your commitments, in your schedule, in your belief systems, in your relationships, hell, even in your contacts list.  Removing all that stuff from your plate is hella important, yes, but again, it’s a two-parter.  You will not need to consistently work at removing the excess if you never let it build up, yes?  So while you are clearing your headspace/life/apartment/etc. of what you don’t need, be sure to keep an eye on how much of it you are letting back in.   Is it something that is serving you?  Then eat it up, heartily, and let it serve.  Otherwise, keep in mind that it may just create extra work to clear it out later.

Guidepost: feed yourself

I am loving eating, and learning so much about what my body does with the food I feed it.  I eat a lot – because if I don’t replenish myself after hard work, I’ll burn out.  I eat well, because my body won’t perform well (or feel good!) on a bunch of crap.  I eat often, so I always have a fresh source of nutrients in my body to snag some energy.  And most importantly, I eat a wide variety of delicious noms so I can achieve a balance of nutrients that makes my body sing.  Food ain’t the enemy, people, and I don’t have time in my crazy training schedule to feel spent or deprived.  What I put into my body (food, water, sleep) is as important as what I put out with it (work, energy, effort).  So baby, I eat.

Such is life.  In our jobs, in our families, in our relationships, in our communities, we are always putting out (nyuknyuknyuk).  And just like in training, putting that much out there can feel sooo satisfied.  But also as in training, if we aren’t restocking our stores, eventually we’ll just be running on fumes, breaking down our wellness stride by stride.  And again, nourishment ain’t the enemy; there is nothing that is better for your ability to give back than feeding your soul first, well, and often.  So find what you need and eat it up.  Is it a one-week social media detox, a home-cooked meal, or throwing a dress and heels on just for the hell of it?  What about balance?  Love your schedule but wish it had more moments of pleasure (see here for ideas)?  Love your friends but want to shake it up with new experiences?  Your soulful smorgasbord needs to hit lots of different points to recharge you efficiently, so a balanced diet is key.

Bonus Guidepost: shake your bootie
Good for your body AND your groovy-ass soul!  Now go whoop those soulbuns into shape, soldier!