Rachelle Gardner wrote a wonderful blog post about needing to take care of your body’s needs concerning rest, exercise and nutrition, to function at your highest level. It struck a cord with me because I changed just those aspects of my life about a year ago. It got me thinking about the hows and the whys that made me change, and the results, which I'm very happy about.
(Be warned: this is going to get a tad spiritual. ;-))
I believe that we are souls first, and human beings second. To me, the body is the vessel for the soul to experience life. Ergo, if the body and its energies are restricted, so are our experiences. Why then should I limit my body wantonly and willingly with too little sleep, a modicum of exercise and an unhealthy diet? I’ve found that the healthier and fitter I am, the more I can enjoy the things I do, no matter what that might be.
Of course, this didn’t all happen in one day. It was a gradual process of change, one I didn’t realize was taking place at first – which makes me even happier and more appreciative about it now.
Until about a year ago, I used to be the little grey mouse, the wallflower that spoke only when spoken to, or voiced her opinion only when asked. I never thought much of myself, never saw myself as equal to most people. To my mind, everybody was always better than me in anything and everything. I never even allowed myself to believe in me. In my dreams, because others told me or might possibly tell me that they were unachievable.
It started with me finding a sport I really enjoy: rock climbing. There’s a small indoor rock climbing facility and a climbing group at my university, free for students. We meet up twice a week and burn ourselves out to our heart’s content. The thing with rock climbing is, that it’s not just about strength or agility (though that does play a big role) – it’s all about your mind set; about courage, grit, and imitating that little engine that thought it could. Or, as Yoda so perfectly put it: “Do. Or do not. There is no try.”
I’ve never experienced anything in my life that is so dependent on my faith in myself and my abilities than rock climbing. If I stand at the bottom of a difficult route I’ve managed to get to the top of before, and say “I’m so tired today, this is going to be hard”, then guess what? It is hard, and ninety-nine out of a hundred times, I’ll fall. If, on the other hand, I say to myself (and feel it, just saying it is not enough when you feel the opposite) ”I’m so tired today, but I know I can do this” then I make it. I might grit my teeth and grunt with every move, but I will not even think about giving up and letting go until I’m at the top. That thought will never cross my mind. There is no place or time for doubt. Honestly. It does work like that. Took me twenty-four years to realize, to understand, to comprehend, that what my parents were always telling me about optimism and belief is a thousand percent true. And I think that now I understand it better than they ever did.
Of course, the regular twice-to-three-times-a-week rock climbing also made me fitter. I have more strength, more stamina, and no more back aches. When I have to run to the train, I’m not winded; when I lift heavy things, I don’t worry about back spasms.
This is also aided by more sleep (at least seven hours a night, not just six or even five-and-a-half) and healthier food. Not so much a healthier diet (I still couldn't live without a daily chocolate-fix, cheese, the occasional burger and fries, butter, cheese, white bread, meat, and did I mention cheese?!), but really the food. I buy mostly organically grown/produced foods. These are more expensive than ‘normal’ food, and I’m a student living on a student’s budget, so I had to prioritize. But what it boils down to is the choice between spending a few hours every weekend at a loud and crowded club, and eating food that won’t build up chemicals in my body that will haunt me in later years. For me, once I felt this to be true, the decision was a no-brainer. (Not that giving up going to the clubs regularly was much of a sacrifice for me. ;-))
The results are very noticeable. I've lost about 12 pounds of weight. My hair isn't as greasy, I have no more acne. I don't feel tired and overwhelmed all the time. Heat or cold don’t bother me as much.
All this has also helped me a lot with my confidence when dealing with other people. Today, I know that others can only belittle me if I belittle myself. That I am equal to all. That I’m allowed to believe in my dreams. That I won’t fall off the face of the Earth if I don’t listen to other peoples’ well-meant but not-fitting-for-me advice.
Now I like who I am. I can run. I can leap. I can dance. I can try new things. I can enjoy life; because it is mine, not somebody else’s opinionated version of what it should be.
I like what I can do, because I know I can accomplish whatever I set my mind to.
I don’t try.