Friend, colleague, and co-owner of our business Just Roll With It Wellness LLC, Dr. Kate Hendricks Thomas, (eloquently as always) describes how agency, grace, and resiliency bring the fun back into fitness in the most unlikely ways.
Please enjoy a guest post this week, the full content of which can be found at Grow Soul Beautiful, and is posted below, as well.
I can remember a childhood Christmas morning that my family rose early, opened presents, then looked outside to see new snow falling. It was beautiful and we decided we needed to go enjoy it. The whole family bundled up and we headed out to our residential street. By then the light snow was coming down more like violent hail and sleet. My little sisters rode their bicycles, and the rest of us started off on a jog. The neighbors told us later they thought we were crazy- a ragtag group of six running along on Christmas morning, dodging hail, laughing, and breathing hard. I remember that day as happiness uncomplicated by age or societal expectations. It was visceral and childish – it was joy.
Fitness in contemporary society can often be accused of working in diametric opposition to such visceral, celebratory expressions of physicality. So often, physical endeavors are linked to pursuit of an aesthetic, with no focus on empowerment and strength. Yoga gets accused of having a commercial, aesthetic-driven, mean-girl vibe all the time. As a girl, I remember physicality providing me with happiness. I knew how to celebrate my body outside of dictates about what it should look like. I remember thinking that strength and movement were beautiful and just plain fun.
How do we get back there?
I loved being physical, and as I grew up I looked for chances to work movement into my day job. I joined the Marines a decade ago to test myself. At first I doubted whether twenty-mile hikes or back-breaking obstacle courses were within the scope of things I could accomplish. Jumping those hurdles became an invaluable gift. Movement for me at this time was about weight-bearing, performance, and strength, certainly not beauty.
During the years following my initial training, I was lucky to be surrounded by young Marines who loved challenges; they often motivated me in ways I never expected.
In Iraq, I watched a tiny, tough ex-cheerleader lose her seat in the gun turret as our vehicle was glanced by an Improvised Explosive Device. She got up, wiped the charred smoke off her face, cursed at her broken sunshades, and swung fearlessly back into the saddle. My little brother’s arrival in Iraq scared me far more than my own presence there, and when he was injured in Ramadi, our family rushed to his side with hearts in mouths. The month we spent at his military hospital changed my life. I watched the courage with which young men (like him) hospitalized in Bethesda with tragic combat injuries fought for mobility, independence, and a restored sense of self. They were heroic and inspiring; some were only nineteen. Movement was about restoration and empowerment for them – a chance to see the world through a lens that didn’t involve medications and hospital rooms.
Movement is about grace, agency, and resilience. I remember what it used to be for me and I work to ignore the voice in my head that asks me to step on a scale or fit into jeans. Movement should inspire gratitude and curiosity, not serve a cruel, domineering voice in our own head.
I never really found my home in fitness until I discovered yoga. The physical practice is beautiful and challenging, but the way yoga asks me to pay attention and slow down is unique. Encouraging me to learn about myself and to live with intention, my fledgling yoga practice has changed my life and challenged me to embrace the present moment. It helps me remember where I come from and to be grateful for who and what I have.
I fell in love with physical activity on a snowy Christmas morning. I didn’t love it because anyone told me to or because I had already internalized societal pressures about how large or small my derriere should be. I loved it because it was a chance to get in touch with myself, finding a pathway to that smiling place through breath and movement. When I start to engage in negative self-talk now or ask myself how I look in a pair of yoga pants, I think about what movement is supposed to mean, and about what it can mean in context. Focusing outward is yoga, too.
–> What I (Sarah) would love to know is in what ways do YOU find the FUN in FITNESS? Please share below! 🙂
KATE HENDRICKS THOMAS IS A FORMER MARINE, A YOGA TEACHER, WIFE, MOTHER TO A ONE-YEAR-OLD, AND A GREAT DANE MOM.
SHE VOLUNTEERS FOR VETERANS’ REINTEGRATION NONPROFITS AND FIERCELY BELIEVES IN THE POWER OF MOVEMENT TO HEAL PTSD AND PROMOTE HEALTH.
KATE CAN BE REACHED VIA HER WEBSITE AT HTTP://WWW.KATEHENDRICKSTHOMAS.COM/ YOU CAN ALSO FIND HER ON FACEBOOK AND TWITTER @PRECISIONWELL