What if we could not waste one more moment hating our bodies?

Image by Andrea Perrish-Geyer

Image by Andrea Perrish-Geyer

A moving column in CNN last month revealed the thing that the dying often regret the most: all the time they spent hating their own bodies.

Kerry Egan, a hospice chaplain, shared her experiences of talking with the dying. A 75-year-old woman dying of cancer just wants one more piece of caramel cake. But her diet, even in her last days, is being severely restricted.

‘Everyone told me — my family, my school, my church. When I got older, magazines and salesgirls and boyfriends (told me), even if they didn’t say so out loud. The world’s been telling me for 75 years that my body is bad. First for being female, then for being fat and then for being sick.’

She looked up and this time tears trembled along her bottom eyelids.

‘But the one thing I never did understand is, why does everyone else want me to hate my body? What does it matter to them?’

Even in this very article, the ironic click bait that comes in the midst of this statement is a linked line that says, “The link between fat and cancer.” It seems that nothing, not even an article explicitly about how we should appreciate our bodies more, can escape fat-shaming.

But Egan makes the read worth it.

What does it mean that so many voices out there insist that the body is something to despise because it is too fat, sinful, ugly, sexual, old or brown? That we teach each other, in thousands of blatant and quiet ways, to think we are shameful? That our bodies are something to be overcome, beaten into submission or to be despised?

How do these voices telling us that we are supposed to hate our bodies affect our notions of how we care for the sick, disabled, elderly, children, mothers, soldiers, workers, immigrants, men and women? What we believe about our bodies affects how we treat other bodies, and how we treat each other’s bodies is how we treat each other.

How we treat each other’s bodies is how we treat each other. How we treat our own bodies is how we treat ourselves. How can you treat your own body with more gentleness, more forgiveness, more enjoyment, more dancing?

Two great videos about Rubenfeld Synergy Method

Since the Fourth of July weekend is coming up, I figured I’d blog a little early and leave you all with something inspiring to take you into it.

In case you haven’t seen them yet, here are two great videos put together by the Rubenfeld Synergy Training Institute. The first, What Is RSM?, was filmed at the Omega Institute while I was in the training, and features my teachers Noël Wight and Joe Weldon, plus Ilana Rubenfeld herself, talking about the work and demonstrating a little of it. The second, Why Befriend Your Body?, was filmed last year, led by another great teacher of mine, Theresa Pettersen-Chu, and features a bunch of clients talking about what Rubenfeld Synergy has done for them.

Both are pretty fabulous, and give a simple idea of what this work is all about. Give them a look – each is less than five minutes long!

 

The fitness industry's war against your body

I have long been suspicious of the fitness industry, and in particular the more recent, particularly self-punishing styles of workout that have become so popular.  For my own part, I believe in eating whole foods, indulging from time to time, and being as active as you can in a way that doesn’t cause injury.  I’ve found new levels of fitness lately, doing an activity I love.  I will never be as ripped as a fitness model.  But I’m getting into reasonably good shape.

I don’t fault those who push themselves to their limits, and discover that their limits aren’t where they thought they were. What I object to are the constant, insidious or sometimes overt messages that say that we should ignore our bodies’ messages, push ourselves past our limits to injury, and collapse, puke, or pass out rather than fail.

Today’s beautiful if rageful response to this culture is from a father of a young girl, who doesn’t want her growing up in a world where heroin-chic has been replaced by hypergymnasia, a newfangled approach to anorexia that involves obsessive exercise instead of not eating.  The article is a response to six images from Fitspiration, most of which show fitness models posing sexily and text like “Your body isn’t telling you ‘I can’t do this.’ ‘I need to stop.’ ‘It hurts.’ ‘It burns.’ Your mind is.  Shut it up with more.”

And that’s the message: your body is a weak vessel whose voice should be ignored, your mind is lying to you, and when you think you should stop because it hurts, you shouldn’t listen to yourself.  What part of you is left, exactly, to push back at the meatsack you are apparently inhabiting at this point is unclear.  It only knows that you need to look like a fitness model or you’ll never be happy or sexy.

Health is a wonderful thing.  Fitness is glorious.  And exercise is good for you.  But this kind of thing is really, really screwed up, and it makes me sad that our culture has gone so far afield from the idea of befriending our bodies that we’re actually making them our enemies, to be dominated and overcome (for their own good, of course).

Read it here.

The fitness industry’s war against your body

I have long been suspicious of the fitness industry, and in particular the more recent, particularly self-punishing styles of workout that have become so popular.  For my own part, I believe in eating whole foods, indulging from time to time, and being as active as you can in a way that doesn’t cause injury.  I’ve found new levels of fitness lately, doing an activity I love.  I will never be as ripped as a fitness model.  But I’m getting into reasonably good shape.

I don’t fault those who push themselves to their limits, and discover that their limits aren’t where they thought they were. What I object to are the constant, insidious or sometimes overt messages that say that we should ignore our bodies’ messages, push ourselves past our limits to injury, and collapse, puke, or pass out rather than fail.

Today’s beautiful if rageful response to this culture is from a father of a young girl, who doesn’t want her growing up in a world where heroin-chic has been replaced by hypergymnasia, a newfangled approach to anorexia that involves obsessive exercise instead of not eating.  The article is a response to six images from Fitspiration, most of which show fitness models posing sexily and text like “Your body isn’t telling you ‘I can’t do this.’ ‘I need to stop.’ ‘It hurts.’ ‘It burns.’ Your mind is.  Shut it up with more.”

And that’s the message: your body is a weak vessel whose voice should be ignored, your mind is lying to you, and when you think you should stop because it hurts, you shouldn’t listen to yourself.  What part of you is left, exactly, to push back at the meatsack you are apparently inhabiting at this point is unclear.  It only knows that you need to look like a fitness model or you’ll never be happy or sexy.

Health is a wonderful thing.  Fitness is glorious.  And exercise is good for you.  But this kind of thing is really, really screwed up, and it makes me sad that our culture has gone so far afield from the idea of befriending our bodies that we’re actually making them our enemies, to be dominated and overcome (for their own good, of course).

Read it here.

New RSM site has launched, awesome video, and special offer!

There is finally a new website for Rubenfeld Synergy Method!  Emblazoned with the new slogan, “Befriend Your Body, Transform Your Life,” it is an easier to navigate, more informative and more beautiful site than the old one, and it more readily invites people in to understand what Rubenfeld Synergy is, how it can help, and how you can take steps to improve your relationship with yourself.

Probably my favorite thing, though, is this great video, where a number of people who have experienced RSM talk about their relationships with their own bodies, and what RSM has done for them.

I hope you’ll give it a look, and also check out Lorie Speciale’s 30-Day Invitation, the first 7 days of which you can get for free.

 

The stories we tell ourselves

katebrick

I didn’t think I was an action hero, either. Photo by Christine Banna, 2010.

A few days ago, I came across a fantastic post about narrative, and how easy it is, given that we’re narrative creatures with storytelling in our DNA, to tell the same stories over and over about things, even when they aren’t true.

The title of the post is “‘We Have Always Fought’: Challenging the ‘Women, Cattle and Slaves’ Narrative,” and it’s by Kameron Hurley, who besides having a name very similar to my maiden name, is obviously awesome.

The gist of it is: we look at history and decide that women had only one role for the most part: male property.  Women weren’t fighters, or soldiers, or warriors.  But a growing mass of evidence – including DNA testing of Viking skeletons – shows that in fact, women did fight.  Often, and in great numbers.  Yet even the stories we currently tell – in films, books, video games, and so on – tell a different story: the story that we already “know” to be “true.”

This is an important lesson for the ways in which convenient, but untrue, narratives become True Actual Facts in our cultural lexicon.  But how many of us do this in our day to day lives – or have cultural narratives pressed upon us in ways we aren’t even aware of?

The work I do begins in the body, and the new theme of the Rubenfeld Synergy Method brand is “Befriend Your Body, Transform Your Life.”  Part of the reason for this new slogan is the realization of how much daily, lowercase-t trauma people go through around their bodies, just from the narratives that surround them.  How many women go around thinking they’re fat, constantly dieting and obsessing about their shapes?  How many men think their desires are shameful, due to oppressive religious ideas or traditional “family values”?  How many people out there truly love their bodies, think of them as an invaluable resource, their best friends?  Mostly, the prevailing narrative of the body in this culture is of shame, oversexualization (with very few acceptable notions of attractiveness), and forceful transformation: by our culture’s mainstream standards, our bodies are vehicles to carry our brains around, or else meat machines to be molded to our wills into a shape that is more desirable by the standards of Madison Avenue and Hollywood.

What about the things that are true on the ground: that people come in all shapes and sizes, and that many of them are healthy?  That people have a wide range of gender and sexual identities, not just the ones we regularly see on TV?  That beauty is everywhere, and in everyone?

And what about all the subtler ways we tell ourselves stories about our bodies?  I’m a climber, and I find myself constantly telling myself what I can’t do.  Imagine my surprise when one day I realized that I was consistently successfully climbing a level above what I’d been doing.  How often do you tell yourself, “I can’t,” or “Nice girls don’t,” or “Real men don’t do that,” or “That’s for other people?”

Yes, you can; you just haven’t tried.  Yes, nice girls do.  Real men eat quiche, garden, wear skirts, and dance.

Women have always fought. 

What might happen if you decided, today, right now, that your body was your greatest ally, instead of your enemy?