I just recently started working out again. I have been working out on and off since I was eleven or twelve, and I have always done cardio and lower body conditioning in my youth as part of playing soccer.
There was a time in my teens when I worked out in order to look good. I remember those days because I would spend hours in the gym doing every exercise I could until my energy, which seemed to be infinite, was depleted.
But now, I have an entirely different outlook on the art of going to the gym.
This summer, while traveling in Africa, I helped my group move suitcases. When I picked up and tossed the last of the suitcases, a few fibers of the tendon that connects my bicep to my shoulder snapped, and I could barely help my tentmate pitch up our tent for the next several days.
I knew it would get better, but I also knew that my shoulder would never be the same again.
I was not young and invincible anymore. I was not at an age when recovering from injury happened overnight. No. This one awakened me to my aging body, a body that will break down, and if I don't treat it right, will break down faster than I could imagine.
When I got back home from the trip, I went to physical therapy, and there I understood the hard work that was ahead of me.
I must do my shoulder stretches every single day and work on increasing strength, balance, and stability in order to minimize a debilitating injury, because nothing is worse than being on the sidelines of life.
Maybe being dead is worse, but I prefer to play than sit.
I prefer to feel lighter than heavy.
I prefer to feel flexible and loose than sore and tight.
Each morning, as I wake up and make my way to the gym, I have to remind myself why I am going: not for the looks, but for the feels.
That is one reason why I also love doing yoga so much as well as working out. Yoga challenges my body to work through its tightness and soreness and feel a sense of freedom within my body, a body that can feel like a prison if I don't treat it right.
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As I develop this way of thinking, that my created Self is inside of my body, my Earth-vessel, and that I don't have total control over everything that it does but that I can certainly influence the way it feels a majority of the time, I begin to see that I can learn a great deal about my self by observing the behaviors of my body.
I cherish each chance I get to reconnect with my body.
Whether it is through yoga, exercising, eating food or drinking tea, going on challenging hikes or intermittent fasting, rock climbing, swimming, taking arctic showers… everything I do is a chance to reconnect.And by exercising consistently, I can prolong and deepen this sense of connection