November 15th, 2012

As a Movement Specialist, I hear all types of insecurities about the body. Some clients don’t like how they look aesthetically, or specifically, they don’t like the shape of their legs. Some clients are apprehensive about movement- because they might fall or appear uncoordinated. Some clients are in pain and have become afraid of further injury. First of all, I think it’s an important distinction to remember that you are not your body (or at least that is what I believe). Your body is the vessel in which you are occupying as you go through life. Remembering all of the miraculous steps that had to occur in order to bring you to this living breathing being is pretty amazing. Your body (including your mind) is powerful. Honor it! I believe you can learn to love your body if you don’t already.

Here is my 5-step guide toward physical empowerment:

Find A Physical Activity That You Do Well.
This may sound daunting, however, I believe it’s possible. You are more likely to pursue activities that make you feel good. You don’t have to be perfect; you just have to do it well. Finding a type of exercise, dance, yoga or sport, which you do well, will bring feelings of self-empowerment. If this idea leaves you bewildered, think back to your childhood. We are much more encouraged to participate in a variety of physical activities as a young child. Was there one that you found particularly rewarding? If not, what do you dream about learning? I got up on water skis for the first time at age 31 and it was quite thrilling, I must say. The exact shape your bottom or thighs become insignificant when you are racing down a ski slope, or dancing the tango. If you can find some physical activity or sport that you can pride yourself upon then your body becomes something more than just a “pretty object.” Those muscular arms can hit a ball far= they serve a purpose= your body is of value. When you start living in a world where what you do is important, the world of how you look fades away…

It’s all About Perspective.
I’ve practiced different types of dance throughout my life. As a ballet dancer I was extremely concerned about the exact shape and proportions of my body. I admit, it was an obsession. At one point how I looked became more important the tenure of my dancing. Upon leaving ballet I started swing dancing. In the world of lindy-hop, the girls were very different from the ballerinas of my youth. Girls were praised and idolized not for a slim physique but for the feel of their swing-out. This was a world where what you looked like (young, old, nerdy, chubby, punk) did not compare in importance to how well you could groove. You could fall in love with anyone based on the soulfulness, syncopation and feel of a dance. Putting yourself into an environment and social circle that cares less about how you look and more about what you offer will give you feelings of self-worth.

Focus On Healthy Food Choices.
Be conscious about making appropriate nutritional choices. I don’t really believe in indulging in a “guilty pleasure.” If you are conscious about what you are consuming then you should feel good about what you are eating. What is the point of indulging in chocolate if you are going to feel guilty? What’s important is to remember that food is meant to give you fuel. Filling up with sugar and empty calories will not only make you feel lousy both energetically, but also psychologically. We should all have an idea about ‘whole foods’ by now and if not, consult a nutritionist. As you eat those organic strawberries or kale have a sense of pride that you are taking responsibility and care for yourself. Focus less on feelings of guilt with ‘empty food’ and more on feeling satisfied with all of the nutritious food you have consumed for the day.

Be Gentle.
You don’t have to be the perfect woman. You don’t even have to always be the perfect you. Give yourself room for vulnerability. Your body will not be at 100% all of the time. If you are feeling exhausted, honor that. There are all types of ways to honor your body. Maybe spinning class isn’t working for you these days and you need to try Tai Chi. My back pain started flaring up right before my wedding this year and I flipped out a bit. Then I remembered that I could allow myself to be vulnerable. Look, Marilyn Monroe was idolized for her vulnerability. I don’t have to run at 100% capacity all of the time. I can still love my body through a time of vulnerability. Allowing yourself to just be in this moment takes away the tension and can help you relax. You will also feel good about honoring your energy levels and physical capabilities.

Pride Yourself On A Part of You That You Love.
Okay- this is an old trick but it works: take a hard look at yourself in the mirror and find something that you love about your body. It may be your hands, or your curves or your breasts. Whatever it may be, take notice. Then, ask yourself why you love that part. Maybe you have your mother’s legs or your hands have worked hard. Honor some part of yourself. There is beauty in our body: the miracle of life, what you have survived. Honor what you love about your self and show it off to the world. If you love your hands paint your nails, if you love your breasts wear a fitted top. It’s healthy to have a sense of pride about what you love. It will connect you to your body and give you a sense of empowerment. I hope this guide is helpful in honoring your body and bringing you toward a feeling of physical empowerment. Please feel free to leave any comments or questions and I will respond. You can also find inspiring articles on my blog. If you are in Los Angeles check out my Pilates studio, Mind & Motion, where we practice these steps toward empowerment hands on.

Meghan Pickrell, M.S. is a Movement Specialist and Kinesiologist. She teaches classes and one-on-one sessions to all types of women with complex to simple issues. She opened her pilates studio, Mind & Motion, last year in Los Angeles. For more information, please check out her website.

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