I lay my body back, slowly letting my spine touch the floor. Air vents hum overhead and the rigid wood floor offers little in terms of comfort. I close my eyes and try to clear my mind. I focus on my heart as it beats deliberate and rhythmic and I imagine the swirl of blood that is pulled in and pushed out with each beat. It travels gracefully to the far reaches of toes and finger tips. Always busy but giving so generously as it rushes past. I imagine the pull of muscles throughout my body, how they are united as they work even as I lay there. I wonder at the intricacies of a body I can only begin to understand.
I am ready to make my body work again. To challenge and strengthen what has become weak and unused. But I feel a familiar obsession setting it. With every weight I lift I see the feebleness of the muscles. I am more aware of the inadequacies in my appearance and in my lack of control and grace and strength. I feel agitated as I exercise, desperate to get my body to be what it seems it should be and how it seems I should look.
But I don’t want this to be why I exercise. It shouldn’t be a frantic reaction to too much cake or a comparison to another body that passes me by. It should be a thank you, an act of appreciation for a body that gives willingly. I want to exercise because the muscles that fill my body thrive off hard work. I want to fill it foods that are full of nutrients not just to shed extra pounds but because my body works terribly hard and needs to be replenished. I don’t want to treat my body as if it needs to be punished for changing. I want to honor this body and the Creator who gave it to me, to show reverence and respect for a gift so lovingly given.
So as I lay on the cold wood floor, I breathe in deep and slow. I say a little thank you to this body that has given me some of the most significant and sacred experiences of my life. I make a little promise that as I challenge and strengthen it, that I will also offer it compassion and respect. I promise to love it for all that it gives me.