I don’t know if it’s because I am getting older (hello mid-thirties!), because I have (attempted) a healthier lifestyle than in the past, or some combination of a bunch of things but I have noticed an intensely different feeling in and with my body!
I would say (honestly speaking) I haven’t always been so in tune with my body…and that’s ok. Learning to listen to my body has been an ever evolving practice that I have had to exert very focused, conscious, intentional recognition. Everything from my general health and wellness, to fitness and working out, to sex and more – my body has been letting. me. know. how it is feeling lately, and I’m actually really excited about that. Only as recently as the last 2-3 years have I started to listen to my body cues more, and it’s been really enlightening! We go through life frequently believing that we are feeling/listening but sometimes we just “don’t know what we don’t know” because we haven’t truly experienced something!
Fitness – I remember the first time during a personal training session that I finally felt the RIGHT activation in my intended muscle group, and it was SO starkly different that I could tell right away how much better the exercise was! Many of us who have not been trained/coached have fitness routines that seem to work but still have “sleepy” muscles. It’s super common and until something is practiced effectively, it will forever seem like there’s no real progress in that area. I can attest to the gains that can be made when I put aside my ego, picked up a (much) lighter weight and started to train in a way/form that allowed my muscles to activate properly. THEN I made progress, and I also felt a new level of strength (and soreness) I thought I just couldn’t find.
Just as important as gains – I also learned how to listen to my body and avoid injury (or at least mitigate) and rest! I used to think that only pushing myself to exhaustion, or incredible soreness, were the ways to have a good workout, and that’s just not the case. As I have aged, I realize now the importance of rest for the sake of my body and mind, as well as for recovery and reaching those coveted fitness gains.
Gut Health – Physically/aesthetically – my gut actually got a little smaller once I started to listen to my body and eat a bit more. I also listen better to what I am craving and allow myself the salt, sugar or whatever I am craving (in moderation), which has helped me see a more flat tummy. As for inside of me – my gut health is never going to be perfect, because IBS sucks (read more about my particular situation here), but it can be managed. By actually paying attention to the things that make me feel terrible (or great!), I am better able to enjoy my life without feeling like every bite of food is going to trigger a terrible next 12 hours.
Sex & Reproductive Health – As a woman who (luckily) never had terribly painful periods, I was a little nervous this year when I decided to come off of the Depo shot, as I had been on it for about 4 years roughly. I loved the convenience of the shot since it lasted 3 months and I didn’t have to remember to take a pill each day, but I felt like it was time for me (personally) to let my body have a wee break and see if my lady parts were still all working as they should. Even though I didn’t have a full fledged period, after about 7 months elapsed I did finally feel the recognizable signs of the period…tender breasts…fatigue…bloating…up and down with my stomach/gastro…cramping…the works – just minus the blood, which was kind of nice! I was confused at first because the symptoms sort of trickled in and stacked upon each other slowly, but by the end of about 4-5 days, it was really clear what was going on and I was actually really glad to know my body seemed to still be (on the way to) working in that department. I don’t want to get pregnant, but I do want to make sure my body is working as it should be and my health isn’t compromised. Feeling all those feelings again made me realize how grateful I was to be healthy and also aware enough to know if something did seem wrong/off.
In the sex department, it’s been really liberating to explore my sexuality as I’ve gotten older and feel things in a really intimate, intense and much more meaningful way than the old “wham bam” type sexual encounters of youth. Sex with a partner (or yourself) when you are more willing to seek pleasure and enjoy the experience can be so much more fun, exciting and special than one might expect.
All in all, I have a body that serves me so well in every way, and in turn I have to love and care for it, and that starts with just tuning in and listening to the signals it’s giving. Drink some water. Take a nap. Get active. See a doctor or specialist to explore why you don’t feel well. Get blood labs done routinely. Do all the things you need to do in order to honor your body and your own values/beliefs & give a little gratitude to that body for all the work it does 24/7.