Your Awesome Body

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Optimal function of the human body is my jam. I’ve worked as a physio for over 6 years meaning that I’ve had upwards of 11,000 patient encounters—I’ve put a lot of thought and consideration into how bodies work and how I can help when things aren’t going so well.

When patients come to see me, I have them tell me how and when their issue started. Often they will also tell me (whether they realize it or not) the ways in which they are dissatisfied with their bodies.

Some want abs, some don’t like their wobbly arms, etc. It always surprises me to hear these complaints because…why does that stuff even matter??

Does that impact your ability to stand for more than 10 minutes? (because your back pain does)

Does that impact your ability to get to the gym three days a week? (because your stiff and sore neck does)

Does that impact your ability to pick up/play with your kids? (because your painfully limited shoulder movement does).

I have found myself wondering why our focus tends so heavily towards esthetics instead of abilities.

CAN YOU LIST 3 REASONS YOUR BODY IS AWESOME?

Go! Ok now please write those down because we definitely do not spend enough time thinking about how awesome our bodies are.

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Here are my three….

1) Your body loves you. No joke. 24/7, 365, your body is doing literally everything it can to keep you feeling your best.

Among many other things, it filters waste from your blood keeping the concentrations of every substance at an optimal level.

It keeps your internal temperature at a pretty precise 37.0 degrees C so the chemical reactions that sustain life and energy can run continuously.

It keeps the exact balance of oxygen in our blood needed for our cells to extract energy from the food we eat.

This is complicated stuff with many textbooks and university courses dedicated to it—and your body just does it automatically.

2) Your body allows you to experience life no matter who you are, what you look like, what your ability level is.

If you didn’t have a body you couldn’t hug your best friend or enjoy the pleasure of a warm hot spring on a cold day.

A body provides a way for you to express your sense of fashion and beauty, to explore the world through travel, to be intimate with your partner.

Yes, the shape, size, and ability of your body can influence how these things look but the fact that your body even allows you to do these things is so much more important than how they look.

3) YOUR BODY CAN ALWAYS CHANGE.

This is something I know for sure. It doesn’t matter how much pain you have, how bad your injury was, how weak you feel – your body will respond to a changed input.

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We have influence over this through the food we choose to feed ourselves, through the activities we choose to do, the thoughts we think, the people with whom we surround ourselves.

With regards to bone this is called Wolff’s Law—bone that is subjected to increased load over time becomes stronger (the opposite is also true, bone subjected to decreased load over time becomes weaker)—and generally we can extrapolate this to any system.

If you gradually expose it to an outside load (via lifting weights, walking further each day, dancing in your living room) your body will gradually improve its tolerance to that load and become more efficient at that activity.

Practice really does make perfect and all we have to do is get started.

YOUR AWESOME BODY IS READY AND WAITING.

Unfortunately, we humans (especially women) have been conditioned to think that our bodies could always be better in some way.

Leaner. Curvier. Longer. Shorter. More tanned. Less freckly. Flatter somewhere. Wait what? Why?

n media and advertising we are sold this idea that looking a certain way equals fun, success, good relationships, and happiness.

This message is deeply ingrained because it is an easy one to believe and because it is literally everywhere. It is so sad that instead of being taught to see our bodies as a vessel through which we experience the pleasures and hardships of life we are conditioned to see it as a thing that needs to look like some other things we see in ads that sell fake happiness.

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You are probably aware of at least some of the benefits of exercise: better sleep, decreased pain, improved sexual function, decreased signs of ageing in your skin, weight loss, increased happiness, improved brain health, improved conditioning of your muscles and bones, as well as decreased risk of chronic disease.

Amazing! Several of the things on the above list are things that advertisers are already trying to sell us: weight loss, great sex, anti-aging.

Incorporating 150 minutes of activity into your week (that works out to just over 20 minutes 7 days per week or 30 minutes 5 days/week) is a no brainer.

Go for a hike, go to yoga, go swimming. But don’t do it because you are trying to manipulate your body into a certain shape or look.

Do it with love. Do it with an appreciation for the fact that you CAN do it, you can feel it, and by doing it you are gaining a whole lot more than you can see in the mirror.

Say it with me! “My body is awesome, I promise to love and fiercely care for this incredibly cool vessel that allows me to live my life. My body is awesome.”

Write that or some version of that on a sticky note. Put it on your mirror. Say it every day.

Don’t let anyone tell you how your body should look. If something doesn’t feel right, consult a professional. Otherwise, get out there and use your body for what it was intended—living a real, full, awesome life.

- Heather McNeil