The Art of Love Lotioning

I teach an anatomy lab to aspiring physical therapists, strength coaches, doctors and nurses at the University of Texas.  I think this class, more than Fitness Leadership or Exercise Physiology, has given me an incredible appreciation of the work my (and your) body does.  SO much goes on to keep us in homeostasis that we don’t even spend an ounce of energy thinking about.  If we had to consciously depolarize a neuron to the axon terminal, release the proper amount of acetylcholine to stimulate the action potential in the sarcolemma, adjust the levels of calcium in the cytoplasm and help the myosin heads create the power stroke every time we wanted to contract a muscle, I’m fairly certain we’d all be paralyzed!

The Amazing Human Body

(photo source)

And that’s just muscle contraction.  Think about temperature regulation, digestion, pH of the brain, regeneration of skin cells, healing an injury, and sensory input.  Exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide, growth, protection against germs and other invaders.  All of this goes on without us even knowing, and almost certainly without us even knowing how.  I definitely wouldn’t be able to tell my body consciously how to fend off an influenza germ!

Before I lose you in all the science jargon, I just want you to think about what an amazing piece of biological creation your body is.  Amazing.  

Because of this incredible capacity your body has to exist and function with little thought, I think it is such a shame that our society is so picky about what you or I should look like.

So, take care of your body.  It’s your soul’s only home on this earth.  Treat it with love and respect – it deserves it.  Shut out the haters – even your own voices.  Love every inch of it.

Every inch.

(photo source)

When I was first starting this journey of self-love, I created a ritual around  putting on body lotion.  Instead of just slapping it on without any thought, I started to slowly and deliberately apply it to each body part.  I start at my toes, thinking about the work my feet do every day to carry my weight and move me in the direction of my dreams.  I progress up to my calves and thighs and booty, grateful for the legs (though imperfect because of cellulite) that are strong enough to run my crazy soul to its content.  Squirt some more lotion and rub on up through my torso (though imperfect because there’s no six pack) I thank my tummy for holding all my organs inside, and for it’s curves.  At my arms, which could always be more toned, I pause to appreciate the love they spread through hugs and waves and high fives throughout each day.  This five to ten minute ritual of daily love lotioning helps me remember to appreciate this body that is daily bombarded with tips on how to be more sexy, thin and toned or less fat, jiggly and dimply.

Thank you body, I am grateful for all that you allow me to do daily.

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A Lifelong Romance

Love Yourself First

Love Yourself First

Let’s talk about self-love.  I get the feeling from talking to clients sometimes that self-love is not quite as abundant as I would like for it to be.  A lot of women I’ve worked with or interacted with over the years seem to think they’re incomplete until someone (usually a significant other) loves them completely.  The I will not be whole until I find someone kind of mentality.  Or the I am unloveable, and it’s proven by the fact that I’m still alone kind of hogwash.  There also seems to be this fear that expressing love for oneself can be interpreted by others as narcissism, cockiness and even bitchiness.

Well, WTF y’all?!  I prefer to see it differently.  In no way am I trying to say “I love myself and therefore, I’m better than you” and also in no way does this love have to be a big public display of self-infatuation.

The journey to self-love can be scary and uncertain, especially if you come from a background of neglect, abuse or negativity from family and friends about you, your body, your personality, your goals.  A habitual perception that you are of no worth or value gets burned into your mind by those around you.  This negativity comes from all kinds of places.  Parents, significant others, coaches, the media.  Little reminders of ways that you are not good enough which of course makes it difficult for you to see how valuable you are!  Let’s start to change that today.

You don’t need others to love you in order to love yourself.  And loving yourself first may help you see the love in others, and feel worth their time and attention because my darlings: You. So. Are.

Once I started to think about and appreciate the things that made me me, I was less concerned with someone else validating my worth.  I don’t necessarily want to be single forever, I’d love a partner in adventure, exploration and life.  Someone to share things with, and split the bills.  But I no longer feel like I need someone to validate my value as a loveable person.  Like the Oscar Wilde quote, it truly has been the start of a wonderful romance with myself!

Let’s try this little exercise.  Think of something you love about yourself.  Any one little thing will do.  Then think of another.  As these ideas come to you, write each one down on an index card or sticky note.  Post them in places you see frequently through out the day to remind yourself of the value you possess.

I’ll get us started by listing a few things I love, or have come to love about myself:

  • My ass.  Absolutely.  It keeps me from fitting into smaller sizes of jeans and can be a little wider than I’d like sometimes BUT it also keeps my legs from a variety of running injuries and muscle imbalances.  Because of it’s size, it has plenty of fuel in it for that final kick in a race (affectionately called my jet-pack).
  • My dreams.  To run a race in every state.  To start a personal training business and work towards my own studio eventually.  Some people say it’s too hard, that I can’t make a living off that.  Or that it’s crazy to run a race in every state, a waste of money.  Once I learned to love my dreams, it didn’t matter what my critics say.
  • My smile.  Maybe it’s easy to love because other people do too.  But I see it as a way to spread joy and cheer to others.  Besides, it’s hard to have an ugly smile.

So there’s the start of my list.  Doesn’t sound vain or cocky right?  Now it’s your turn.  What do you love about yourself?  Shout it out on social media with the hashtag #februarylovechallenge!

State 2 (again): Louisiana

Recently I’ve implemented a rule about not repeating states, and especially races but for a few reasons this past weekend I repeated Louisiana – 1. The firs time I ran was before I was writing about it, so I guess you could say it never really happened (same with Georgia…..) 2. I stumbled into a free bib…read on my friends, read on.

I traveled to New Orleans over the weekend with the idea in mind that I would visit with friends, coach a few people in the Rock n Roll Mardi Gras Half Marathon and cheer on my roommate in the race as well.  Everything was going according to plan until the expo.  Several friends dropped out of the race due to injuries and had offered up their bib to me, so that I could keep Erin company on her run.  As we wandered around the expo, sponsored by Brooks, I was seriously contemplating being her rabbit.  I was simultaneously wondering if I would run into Mike, the Brooks rep I knew when I worked at Texas Running Company.

Not two minutes later, Mike appeared right behind me.  I introduced him to my friends Erin and Sharon and we talked about the race.  As soon as he found out I wasn’t registered, he offered up a promo code for a free entry…..and just like that I was running the race on Sunday (and Sharon’s hopes of a PR-despite-hip-injury were dashed).

Thanks Mike!

Thanks Mike!

We spent the rest of Saturday walking around the streets of the French Quarter – stopping at VooDoo shops, tutu shopping, tasting the famous muffeletta sandwich at Central Grocery and having our oracles read at a gypsy stop in Jackson Square.  All the typical things you’d expect to find in New Orleans, with the background noise of big band music in the background.

We broke all the rules of day-before-the-race procedures but that’s the trouble with destination races.  I’m not about to drive 8+ hours to NOLA and not be on my feet exploring the town and eating the local fare.  Sharon was so wonderful to us, touring us around and serving as the transport from Baton Rouge to New Orleans.  I met some old friends and clients from Memphis for dinner at Louisiana Pizza Kitchen.  My meal was perfect – a delicious salad, half a personal pizza and a glass of wine.  It took a while and the temperatures dropped significantly when the sun went down but I was glad to spend as much time with my peeps.

Race day came early.  Erin and I were up before 5 to make sure we could be on the road by then.  I was nervous because I hadn’t run more than 5 miles since my Tulsa race in November.  Erin was nervous because she wanted a PR.  On the walk to the car from Sharon’s house we were greeted with fog, humidity and warm temperatures.  Sharon dropped us off and we set out to find bathrooms, Ryan (remember from Tulsa?) and corral 5.  Found the bathrooms in a hotel on the way (the poor hostesses were overwhelmed by the line, and I think had given up trying to tell runners they couldn’t come in).  Found Ryan right where we said we would meet, between corrals five and six.  And then the corral.

Erin and I had discussed but not agreed on a race strategy.  I like to start slowly and progressively get faster.  She likes to start fast knowing that she’ll slow down later.  We decided to run our own races, and Ryan and I decided to stay together until the split.  I kept Erin in my sight the best I could for the first few miles but lost track of her at a water stop somewhere.  The first eight miles of the race were down and back the historic and beautiful St. Charles street.  Not even to the second mile marker we were all drenched in sweat from the 98% humidity but I tried to keep everyone positive since I didn’t have much riding on the race.  In my typical Instarunner fashion (follow future races @spressica), I stopped for pictures every once and a while (good interval practice catching back up).  Once we turned to run along the river the humidity was 100%.  Yes. I know what that infers.  Have a look at the picture of the cathedral below.  Oh, you can’t see it?  Yes, 100% humidity.  By this time I’m dumping a cup of water on my head at every stop, in addition to drinking one.  The smell of king cake and doughnuts was never less appealing.

I felt strong most of the race and was happy to have handsome company most of the way.  I’m almost positive I could have convinced Ryan to stay to the right with me at the marathon turn off but that’s not very coach-like so I sent him off with positive vibes, a high five and “See ya in Little Rock”.  I guess we’ll stick with this pattern of me quitting on him half way through his race……

After we split, I turned around to find Erin and make sure she pushed it to the finish.  We crossed the line together with plenty of time to spare for a PR!  The course was a point to point so we loaded school buses with a dozen other smelly and stiff runners to head back to town.  And straight to beignets.  The perfect grand finale to an amazing weekend with fabulous company.

February’s Theme: Heart Matters

Anyone else feeling like January quietly slipped out the 2014 exit?  With the month of resolutions, goals and motivation behind us, it’s time to step boldly into February with a new theme.  I’ve selected Heart Matters as the theme for February so all this month I’ll be talking about hearts and love.

Before you start rolling your eyes, hear me out.  The hearts I’ll be talking about are the ones beating in your chest – how to keep them healthy, how to make them stronger and why you’d want to do either of those things in the first place. But hearts aren’t my focus today.

Celebrate and spread this kind of love

The love I’ll be talking about is not the stereotypical-couples-only-Valentine’s-Day-Love that everyone associates with February.  That kind of love is great, and I absolutely think it should be celebrated, however…..as a proudly single woman, I have some other kinds of love I’d like to express and I’ll focus on a different group each week.

  • Self
  • Friends and Family
  • Strangers
  • Mother Nature

See, plenty of love to be go around if you’re single.  Hell, plenty of other kinds of love to go around if you’re committed.

February Love Challenge

I’d love it if you joined me in this month’s celebrations and committed to being aware of one deliberate act of love or kindness a day (by all means, more if you can!).  I will share my daily love to help spur ideas and conversation and I’d love to hear how each of you are putting love of all kinds out into the world!  Leave a comment below or share on social media (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook) with the hashtag #februarylovechallenge.