I Feel Bad About My Back

The title of this post is a play on “I Feel Bad About My Neck” by the late Nora Ephron.  Though I have yet to read this collection of essays, I feel like we would have had some things in common just from the title.

Last Saturday I came back from yoga class feeling pretty crummy.  Not as crummy as a few Saturdays ago when I totaled my car driving home from said yoga class, but crummy nonetheless.

There was a substitute teacher who made it her duty to fix the epic curve in my lower back.  God bless her as she was only trying to do her job, but I was immediately transported back to the discomfort of childhood ballet classes.  For 33 years now I’ve had my hips grabbed by well meaning instructors in the name of perfect alignment.

Last week J brought me home a copy of “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway” from the library.  Part of me felt like I should have been insulted but the truth is he knows me well and I’m a sucker for the self improvement genre.

So far the premise is exactly as it sounds.  Everyone walks around afraid of something (or many things, or everything…).  This author explains that instead of getting rid of fear we need to learn how to work with it.  Can a similar concept be applied in the areas of health and fitness?  When there is a problem that we can’t get rid of, is it possible to forge ahead despite it?

Taking care of the body is nothing if not an extreme challenge.  Add to this the fact that we now have Instagram fitness models providing “proof” that perfection is possible (I use quotations because I think we all know how pervasive air brushing is….).  We also have more access than ever before to stories of people who are stronger, faster, and seem to have this fitness thing on-lock.

If comparison is the thief of joy, it’s easy to see how pursuing health and fitness goals could make one downright miserable.  Is it possible to acknowledge our real or perceived shortcomings and enjoy being active in our bodies at the same time?

The following are a few things it may help to remember when your body isn’t doing exactly what you’d like it to:

-Our Anatomy on the Inside is Just as Different as Our Anatomy on the Outside: Whether it’s a yoga pose your body simply cannot get into or the way you fit into a pair of jeans, some things are simply beyond our control.  Things like the shape and length of our bones or the distance between one joint to another can have a real impact on what our bodies can or cannot do.

-Your Quirks are Your Trademark:  Bob Fosse, beloved choreographer of many famous musicals including “Chicago”, made a career out of his physical quirks.  His signature style of gloves, hats, and turned in knees was born out of insecurity about his hands, hairline, and lack of turnout.

-Support Your Unique Body:  Though it is helpful to be honest with yourself regarding things like alignment issues and injuries, getting obsessed with fixing them can hinder progress.  While some challenges can’t be fixed, the majority can be worked with.  Our bodies are wonderful at compensating, which can work well as long as we do it consciously.

For more tips, tricks, and musings on health, head over to the Joyful Gym Rat page on Facebook!

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A candid snapped by J, getting ready for a very pregnant date night almost 4 years ago….and a fabulous illustration of that infamous lumbar curve…
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