“If you don’t practise going inside yourself, pretty soon you forget you even have an inside. And that’s a problem.”

Steve Biddulph

Are you waiting for the day you hit your body goal to give your body some love?

Have you been swinging your body around like an old handbag that you really carry around for necessity, but would not be too precious about losing it…?

What we tend to do is curate our ideal selves in our minds and then dream for the day we step into her to start living… as if to say, my mind is really what is driving me, and my body is my handbag. I’ll just make do with this cheapy I have for now ‘til I can afford the designer version. Until then, let’s just keep this cheapy, hidden under my arms – hidden, and keep uttering “Aaargh no, please don’t mind my bag… it’s temporary. One day… I’ll show you. I’ll get a proper one. For now, I’m just too busy working to just keep going.” Or maybe this “If I had the money, I’d have that designer bag… I wouldn’t even know how to behave.”

This is how I tend to sound when I imagine my ‘ideal’ body. We… or rather… I’ve made excuses for my real self and the different ways in which I exist in the world, as if we’re all meant to look the same. The Instagram model body.

Who do I owe that body to?

Growing up in the Eastern Cape, from as early as I can remember, having some weight on you was a symbol of wealth and health. I can’t help but wonder when this idea of ‘ideal’ body kicked in or where along my growing years, did I think a big of belly and thigh meant unhealthy or not ideal.

Anyway… Just the other day, I put on this pair of polka dot pyjama pants that are slightly tight on my thigh area and sag a little around the groin. I paired them up with white a crop top. I imagined the look would be cute to be honest. I’d just rounded up my night-time skincare routine – a time I use to look in the mirror, mutter my affirmations to myself and perform my night-time facial massages. I love myself a good face massage. As I stepped into our bedroom – whilst hubby was posted up on our lounger – I shouted, “look I’m a Teletubby!”, because honestly, my belly had literally chosen this moment to reign on my cute parade, to which he obviously burst out into laughter. To be fair, I do look like a Teletubby in that pair of pants. The crop top was a bonus – almost giving room to the separated stomach muscles I inherited from my third pregnancy. I’ve been working on my core lately and trying to strengthen my core muscles via yoga, but my fat upper pubic area aka FUPA aka mom pooch is a real thing man!

But I also must keep reminding myself: who do I owe to having a FUPA-less body? My body carried and gave birth to 3 humans.

We spoke about the Rocks, Pebbles and Sand on the Art of Balance 2021 Blogpost, two of my big rocks were Body and Spirituality.

If I were to rewind to about two years ago, I would’ve convinced myself that to be happy and self-accepting, like fully self-accepting, it’d need me to really apply my mind to achieving the ideal body shape and this would take a lot of gruelling exercise. Don’t get me wrong, there’s is absolutely nothing wrong with exercise.

Exercise is amazing and very necessary. Please let’s exercise. But when I stopped and paused living to get to a goal, I stopped taking my body on my mental health journey.

It’s almost as if I was healing from within (mentally) but holding myself back because the body was not ready to fully receive the inner work that I was doing (imagine… separating your body from your mind) … like what the heck Olwethu! Because now you need external validation to tell you that you are healthy. Who do you even owe healthy to but yourself?!

I had to change the language for myself, I do practises now that suit my body. I push myself each day I work out with the motivation to be stronger mentally and physically. It’s almost like Steve Biddulph puts it, “If you don’t practise going inside yourself, pretty soon you forget you even have an inside. And that’s a problem.”

It’s not about a body goal but rather the mind challenging the body and vice-versa.

I don’t know if this comes with turning 31, but my idea of exercise now has become about practise towards something. Building the blocks of working the mind, stretching the mind, and appreciating the body. Ha! My body is my mind. My body is not a passenger to my journey – my body is me. This is my earthly vessel that carries the beautiful spirit and mind I have. This body is amazing, she deserves to be held graciously and held with care at every turn. I am my body… in every phase of its life cycle. This is who I am. I don’t like something. I ask “why?” and “Who am I changing it for?” If it’s for me, great! Let’s go! It’s almost as if I reached out to this unfamiliar wildness inside of me that struggled to come forward and be discovered and I met her through movement.

In exercise, and working your body, you involve every aspect of who you are in the physical practise to really face off and deal with various aspects of yourself – is this attainable, can I realise this goal? Will it stop me from living? Can I push myself some more once I get to the goal? What I love about exercise in any form, is that it is a personal prayer, it is a meditation – in zoning out and feeling the growth, you must zone in and breathe through the practice. In the breathing and moving your body, you breathe intention into your being.

The important thing with exercise in any form is not to set unrealistic goals for yourself and your body. What you end up doing is setting yourself up for not only disappointment but also carrying your body around like a cheap bag.

Make regular movement and an exercise routine a way to serve you as a spiritual practice, benefiting your mental health and bringing your body back you.

This isn’t about losing weight or changing your body – your body is magical and capable of so much!