Think – eat – move, then swim
Author: Claudine Nightingill-Rane (aka my partner in crime)
After our most recent workshop, Think, Eat, Move, about food freedom and body confidence, Christine and I, of course, headed to the beach for a swim. Practicing what we had been preaching – “move your body for fun and pleasure, not because you feel you should”.
It’s quite a journey to body positivity, and of course, there are many twists and turns along the way. Our workshop breaks the concept down into three areas.
Challenging what we see and hear; being aware of the messages we are bombarded with that tell us we should look a certain way; questioning our own thoughts when they are critical. My internal dialogue has changed profoundly over the last couple of years, in many areas of my life but particularly in relation to myself and my body. I am not here on this earth to be an ornament. I like to look a certain way (I’m known for rocking a bright lip), but my body is not predominantly here to look pretty. It is the machine that carries me around, and will (I hope) continue working effectively to enable me to live my whole lifetime again, if I treat it well.
Questioning diet culture; banning the terms “good” and “bad” in relation to food; untangling the suggestion that we are less worthy if we weigh more. I have finally realised that being a certain dress size won’t make me happier, a better person or necessarily more healthy. How do we decide if losing a few pounds or more will make our bodies healthier, but if it messes with our mental health, which is more detrimental overall? If we eat more mindfully, honouring our hunger, making conscious choices without restricting ourselves, we are more likely to reach our own natural individual set point.
Stepping away from what we think we should do in relation to exercise; letting go of exercise as a way to burn calories or as a payoff for eating too much cake. Perhaps some of us don’t want to go to a gym to sweat it out, with headphones in, as disconnected from the other people there as we can be; when instead, perhaps we could have a dance around the kitchen (like nobody’s watching), walk up the Downs blowing the cobwebs away as we puff up the hill or have a laugh in a movement class of our choice.
Maybe we even want to freeze our bits off in the (March) sea, perhaps improving our immune system, possibly improving our circulation, potentially reducing inflammation throughout the body and definitely stimulating the vagus nerve:
“By stimulating the vagus nerve, you can send a message to your body that it’s time to relax and de-stress, which leads to long-term improvements in mood, wellbeing and resilience.” (Jordan Fallis, Optimal Living Dynamics).
What’s Next ?
As we swim we excitedly chatter about what’s next. A six-week course, expanding on the workshop (which almost all participants so far say is too short), a screening of Embrace (click here for more details), the body positive documentary which started both Christine and I, separately, on our current adventures and brought us together. And a photo shoot, celebrating all bodies with nakedness optional. As we plan and prepare for what’s ahead, we will continue to think positively about ourselves, eat mindfully – living to eat not eating to live, and move for pleasure and the benefits of strength and mobility. And, of course, swim.
*there is some minimal evidence around all of these things, plus ongoing studies to significantly prove them scientifically