Tag Archives: body love

Running to celebrate; not punish.

It’s been two years since I’ve done any races. It’s been two years since Chicago Marathon.

Until today.

Initially I wanted to give myself one year. One year without any big races. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but something just wasn’t sitting right with me.

Like I was starting to use the races as an excuse to exercise, excessively. Yes – each race taught me something invaluable about myself and how to approach life, and I wouldn’t change a thing.

But it was after Chicago that I felt something twinge. I felt like something needed shifting. I wasn’t totally sure what it was. But I knew I needed to take a step back.

I knew that – while I was nearly 10 years in recovery from my eating disorder – some old habits were coming back to haunt me.

My old habits were (not so) thinly disguised in my love affair with endurance races: anything from a 10K to an Ironman and everything in between.

Shortly after letting go of my desire to click “Register” on anything and everything my wallet could endure, it dawned on me what I wanted:

I wanted to run/bike/swim/move again with a different approach.

I wanted to be able to run a race not so I could eat an extra piece of pizza (or pizza all week).

I wanted to run a race to celebrate my body and celebrate life.

Last night just before bed I was walking Daisy and on the phone with my friend Emily who decided to join us and go up to New Haven to run the Half Marathon. I decided then that I’d run the 5k the next morning. Simple, short, and sweet.

I had no expectations. I had a pretty good feeling I’d finish. And – bonus – I got to spend the morning with some pretty swell people I love.

In my imagination I saw my “coming out” {of race retirement} race as a big to do. At the very least a half marathon or an Olympic distance triathlon that I’d spend months training for (and probably blogging about in anticipation).

I joked to Emily when I agreed to doing the 5k that it would be my coming out of retirement race.

But what I felt this morning, running the 3.1 miles, far exceeded my wildest dreams.

I realized that over these last two years I have finely curated or crafted (can I even say that?) a fresh, lovely, deep-hearted, spirited, compassionate relationship to movement. In this instance to movement of the more intense variety like running.

The 5k hurt at times. I listened to Daft Punk the entire time because a) I love them and b) I wanted to and c) figured I could use all the help I could get being that I haven’t been running much. At all.

It also felt wonderful. I let myself run at a challenging (but not too challenging!!) pace. I knew right there that I had done it.

It was in the time that had passed since Chicago Marathon 2015 that my relationship with exercise has gone through a massive overhaul. And I can say the same about my relationship to my body.

I didn’t want to return to a race until I felt really ready. Until I knew that it was for pure fun. Until I knew it was to remind myself of my strengths and all that I am capable of. Until I knew that it was to celebrate my body and the life I get to live.

Whether the choice was conscious or not, something in me knew it. Today was the day.

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I used to want to be anything other than myself.

I love listening to talk radio in the mornings. Like the early early mornings 7am and earlier – on my way to see clients.

It’s one of those “guilty pleasures” although I feel no guilt about it. So, it’s one of my pleasures.

Z100, 95.5 are two of my favorites. Though Z100 has a soft spot in my heart because I have been listening since I was a teenager. Wow!

And I do listen to news on occasion but when it’s this early (we are talking in the car by 5:45am some mornings) I need to keep it light. I want to hear my horoscope and how the Shaun Mendes concert was last night.

Something I notice is that when they take breaks on the radio they often segue into a segment about “I’m using this fabulous product for body contouring. This body contouring product gives me confidence and makes me happy!”

I don’t blame the DJs. They are simply doing their job. And usually I turn down the volume or flip to another channel because: listening to this does not serve me.

Also, in my head I am saying:

People: body contouring alone is not the quick fix that’s gonna make you happy people

What I want to do sometimes (in my little dream world in my head) is this:

Call into the station and start talking about how body contouring or going on a diet and losing weight might give you confidence … but it’s temporary.

The only way the confidence and joy and happiness will stick is if you do the inner work.

These qualities we want in life, they’re an inside job. They do not come from our external circumstances or conditions.

While we might feel extremely excited and happy when we get a dog – the excitement wears off if we aren’t truly committed to accepting and loving the whole dog experience unconditionally. We can’t sign up for a dog just to snuggle with us when we are feeling blue. We have to commit to it all: the daily walks, picking up poop, training the dog, taking it to the vet.

We have to commit to accepting and loving the whole human experience unconditionally. The highs and lows. The fuck-ups and the accomplishments. The stability and instability. The joy and the pain. The growth and the loss.

The way I see it, I have three ways I can respond to these radio ads:

  1. Be convinced that yes, I do need to change the way my body looks in order to feel good. Period.
  2. Get angry. Get angry that these ads perpetuate the judgment and hate that permeates so much of our society.
  3. See it as an opportunity. It’s an opportunity to see the contrast: they are telling me one thing and I’m just like “Nope. Actually I like that my left thigh has that little dimple in it. I don’t even care about my thighs looking smooth and seamless anymore. Or the rest of my body. I want all the shapes and dents and dimples… all of them. I actually feel really good in my body.” And so forth. This is the new story. And i can go on with it. For a long, long time.

In total honesty, I sometimes do get angry. But if I stay angry, that’s choosing my old story and I’m already living the new one. So I don’t want to linger in the old anger story for too long.

In fact, I stay there less and less and it gets easier to move from #2 to #3. Or jump right to #3.

It took me years to get over not being perfect. And I’m not just talking about my body. I’m talking my clothes, my writing, my vocabulary, my education, anything you can think of – I was severely judgmental toward myself. I was convinced that if I wasn’t happy all the time, I was failing. I believed that if I was angry or jealous or sad or did anything imperfectly, I was failing.

I used to feel so sad that I wasn’t something else. I used to feel disappointed that I wasn’t anything other than myself.

And now … now I wouldn’t want to be anything other than myself. Even on the dark days. Even where there is struggle.

I take myself. I love myself no matter what.

For anyone out there who hears these radio ads (or any other messages from media or society telling you that your body needs to be a different way in order to be accepted/happy/confident) and jumps to #1 … I encourage you to explore the inner work first.

There’s no rush. Just check in and see what happens.

If you’d like some guidance on getting to the inner work, please fill out my contact form and we can set up a call. 

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But… What if I mess up?

Sometimes I hide behind the veil of:

 

I’m afraid of being wrong / What if I’m wrong?

 

Or it might sound something like this:

 

What if they judge me? (Which really is “what if I slay the judgement on myself?)

 

OR…

What if I mess up? WHAT IF I MESS UP?

 

Because GOD FORBID I mess up!!! Then what?!??! (<<<the internal dialogue.)

 

THIS is the {very old} drum I catch myself beating when something feels scary. When I was climbing down waterfalls and up steep ledges last weekend in New Hampshire, I found myself physically STUCK at times. And do you know why that is? Because I was so fucking scared of messing up.

 

Because even after many years of working on myself, there are still the occasional moments where these mindsets feel like dear old friends. They feel familiar. They feel comfortable. They feel, in a funny way, safe.

 

When I know damn well these mindsets hold me back. These mindsets prohibit me from:

 

Asking for what I need.

Speaking my truth.

Taking a chance on something I believe in.

Feeling fucking amazing.

Embracing my successes and building them.

 

There is a perfectionist within me that has definitely gotten smaller and less prevalent over the years. But sometimes, she likes to rear her little head and say things like:

 

But … what if you fuck this up? Better to keep quiet. Better to shut down than be your big bold self.

 

So where do we go when we feel stuck in old patterns?

 

The good news: the only way to go is up.

 

Make a shift. Ask for what you need. Give less fucks about being judged or being wrong or MESSING UP.

 

And in fact, GET CURIOUS about what happens when you mess up. Because is it really so bad? Usually… nope.

 

And… you can never really mess up because … even if it feels like you mess up … you always have the opportunity to learn something.

 

Thank you for tuning in and reading (if you’ve made it this far.)

 

Tell me: what are your old patterns/beliefs and how do you bust through them?

I provide loads of this kind of work and guidance in my fall mentorship. To help you bust through old beliefs, patterns, and thoughts. Trust me, it’s good stuff. Click this link>>> http://www.maggieconversemethod.com/events/2017/9/15/fall-mentorship

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Your body: a vessel for life exploration.

Your body is a tool for exploring the world. Says the incredibly wonderful, intelligent, thoughtful Renee Engeln, author of “Beauty Sick.”

Your body is NOT an object to be scrutinized, judged, picked apart, altered, fixed, or shamed.

And yet somehow incredibly intelligent, bright, thoughtful women sometimes fall under the misguided belief that our bodies are not good enough. Like … ever.

We KNOW better. We know that so many of the images used in advertising are not realistic portrayals of what so many of the women in this country look like or dress like. We know that thigh-gap is something some people are born with and some are not and it has nothing to do with how good or bad a person is. We know that cellulite and fat are not diseases.

And yet… sometimes we still fall under the misguided beliefs that if we have a week of “eating like crap” we need to make up for it by going on a 30 day regimen of closely monitoring our caloric/food intake and upping our exercise game.

And why? Well, when I did that it was because I was afraid I’d lose control and get further away from reaching perfection.

We perpetuate the body-shaming cycle in our culture when we make these choices out of FEAR.

And then we talk about it. To our friends, our partners, the clerk at the bra store. And the heart-sinking thing is not only that we perpetuate this kind of dialogue amongst our peers, but that the young people in our lives are exposed to comments like:

I hate my thighs.
I really need to cut back on carbs.
I better hit the gym this week or I’m going to puff up like a balloon.

No one ever says these things with bad intent. Usually it’s just a lack of awareness of the body shaming culture we are participating in.

And what’s going to change that? Recognizing our bodies are not objects that are on display and subject to shame, judgment, ridicule or in need of fixing, toning, modifying.

Our bodies are incredible vessels that allow us to explore the world. 

The next time you climb a flight of stairs, thank your thighs. The next time you pick up your pet, child, or bag, thank your arms. The next time you take a deep sigh of relief, thank your belly.

With practice these things start to add up and the little shifts lead to massive transformation.

If you’d like to go deeper and learn more about how to integrate these practices into your daily life, do not wait another moment to sign up for High Vibe Body Image Coaching. It starts May 15 and you can check out all the details and register by clicking here or the link below.

Keep reaching out. Keep connecting to the essence of WHO YOU ARE.

XO

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Bidding farewell to the days of fear-driven exercise

I’m bidding farewell to the days of fear-driven exercise. I’ve spent far too long afraid that if I don’t exercise enough, consistently, or at least 3 times a week I’ll put on a few pounds.

It just doesn’t matter anymore. I noticed this last week when I was getting over a cold and migraine. It had been over a week since I’d taken a yoga class or gone for a hike or a vigorous walk. And I noticed something exquisite: there was not an ounce of guilt or anxiety in my body.

I used to feel intense anxiety and stress over fitting a run or a rigorous yoga practice into my schedule. I felt like a lazy bum if I missed two days in a row, or god forbid, more than that.

This is not me hating on exercise. This is me noticing how my relationship to exercise has changed. Exponentially.

There was a year when my hip (torn labrum and then some) was constantly in pain and I developed IT Band syndrome on top of that. Even though I was wincing in pain during a slow jog, I convinced myself I needed to push through it. I knew what was best for me — rest, take it easy, be gentle — but I willfully ignored my intuition. Not just once, but for months.

Too often I would sacrifice the health and well-being of my body and end up icing my knee, rolling out my hip, in the hopes that I’d undo the longer term damage and be up and running again in just a couple days. This somehow settled my nerves.

Exercise was not only punitive, but a vehicle to avoid feeling deep, dark, difficult emotions. I was afraid of the potential changes in my body if I didn’t exercise but I was more afraid of the feelings I’d have to confront if I sat still for too long.

That’s not to say I never had a run that brought me to tears (I did) or a yoga practice that left me weeping (I still do). But along my road to recovery from my eating disorder and severely negative body image, my relationship with exercise was deeply in need of transformation.  

Today, I feel thankful that I’m no longer exercising in excess and that I’m saying goodbye to the days of fear-driven exercise.

Today when I exercise, when I move, it’s a body prayer. It’s a connection and a call to the divine. Staying aligned and checked in to the energy flowing through me. Saying hello, how are you?, I cherish you. Saying thank you, I see you, I hear you and … I love you.

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What I’ve learned so far from giving up endurance races this year…

If I were to recall my new year’s resolution for 2016, it would be this: “Do not sign up for any major race.” And by god, I’m doing it!

I’m writing this now (and not waiting for January 1) because it’s been over a year since my last race: Chicago Marathon on 10.11.15.

Not doing a big race this year seemed like such a weird goal for me, especially after 6 straight years of non-stop triathlons and half-marathons/marathons. I’ve honored my promise with myself though and here’s what I’ve noticed since setting this intention:

  1. Running is fun again. Running pretty much stopped being fun. My body felt like poop when I ran and it was all about the time/pace or how running balanced out/burned off the food I was eating.
  1. I’m moving my body in ways that truly fill me up. Like hiking or walking Daisy. Instead of moving/exercising out of obligation.
  1. I feel way less pressure to fit in exercise. And what’s the point of exercising if it doesn’t totally light me up?
  1. More time!!!! I noticed in the past year how much I would prioritize training over a hang out. Or over taking time to sit down and read a book. Or write. Or focus on my business. Or take a long bath. Or nap. Or meditate. Or do NOTHING.
  1. It’s gotten easier. At first friends asked me to sign up for this half-marathon or that Ironman… the endurance athlete bug in me lit up at the thought of it. I even tempted myself with an ultra [still am tempted…] But when I kept coming back to my WHY and was the WHY strong enough to compel me to ditch my intention and sign up for a race… the answer always came back to no. And after several months, turning down races started to feel like a YES. It felt like a yes to honoring my body in a new way.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with training for a race. In fact 95% of the races I’ve done have been some of the greatest days ever. Like Ironman Lake Placid, my first year doing NYC Triathlon, and Chicago Marathon. Whew. Amazing days!!! But for me I know that I need to be careful. Or … mindful. Last year, I recognized I needed to create a new pattern and redefine my relationship to running and races.

And so I took a year to pause and notice. Even as I write this, I notice that in the process of letting go of my attachment to being “an endurance athlete” I also let go of a few other attachments (things/beliefs/people/relationships) that just simply did not serve me.

I’m still toying with the idea of one day jumping back on the endurance bandwagon [my heart is still set on an ultra-marathon] … but my approach is slower and much more intentional than ever before.

Why I’m not doing any big races in 2016 – Original blog post from January

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My first shirtless race

Dozens of questions coursed through my mind at mile 6.7 of America’s Finest City Half Marathon. Did I need to take my next GU? How was my knee going to hold up? Was it time to take my shirt off? And that’s when my race got interesting. That’s when it became my first race with no shirt on.runningshirtless

It wasn’t something planned or premeditated. In fact I based my decision primarily on comfort more than anything else. Drenched in my own sweat, my race singlet became sticky and heavy. Like wearing leather pants on a piping hot day. Sweat happens when you’re running in 90% humidity and temps well over 80 degrees.

It was one of those “fuck it” moments after running 6.7 miles completely exposed to the sun. The AFC Half does not afford many opportunities for shade. As I peeled off my leathery shirt it was like a thousand angels sang from above and my skin breathed a deep sigh of relief. This changed the tone of my race from heat and humidity suppression to light and fancy free running through the streets of downtown San Diego … shirtless!

This was not an act to draw attention. This was, as I mentioned before, largely for comfort. And then it turned into so much more. For the rest of my race, the remaining 6.4 miles, I thought about how over my endurance career of nearly 6 years I had not completed a single race shirtless. It’s not that I always wore a more breathable shirt. No, I can recall many a time I wished I could take strip down to just my sports bra and shorts.

The reason I never dared to bare was because I felt so ashamed of my body. Completely and utterly ashamed of my imperfect, puffy belly and the way the bulge gathered right above the waistband of my shorts. Not to mention the armpit bulge. I know – I probably sound like a total asshole to some of you, feeling shameful about my body. But listen – this is something we are conditioned to feel regardless of what we may look like to others. And for me, I simply couldn’t stand the thought of what my race pictures might turn out to look like or what onlookers might think as they saw me jiggling by. (And who says “jiggling” is a bad thing, anyway?)

This year for the first time ever I trained several times with just my sports bra and shorts and while it took a great deal of self-talk to get the point of ditching my shirt, it was the most liberating feeling of all time. I not only trained for the mileage but also the courage to bare my body in a way that was meaningful and powerful to me.

It’s important to me that I walk the talk, put my money where my mouth is, and so forth with everything I am trying to encourage others to do. Loving, even simply accepting our bodies as they are is really challenging work. And there are so many layers that we have each developed over time based on experiences and teachings that we are conditioned to believe without ever questioning – what’s wrong with cellulite anyway? Who made up that rule?? Because, can somebody PLEASE tell me who made up the rule that cellulite is the devil?

I am inspired when people are unapologetically themselves. And maybe that’s why this particular experience was so empowering. Running without a shirt on comes with practical purposes like staying cool but it’s something I have only dreamed of doing. In previous years I would stop myself because I wouldn’t want anyone to be offended by my body. It feels like stepping even more into who I am – and it’s a part of myself that I am still starting to uncover. And it’s insanely cool to continue getting to know this unashamedly bold and brave part of myself that I always knew was somewhere down there in the adorable cushions of my belly.IMG_3697

Still I cringe sometimes when I see the race photos from AFC Half Marathon. But I remind myself that part of the work is going through this process with the ability to start to change perspective. So I then go back to the photos and look at them instead with approval rather than criticism. It doesn’t have to be exuberant love, Just looking at ourselves with acceptance.

If running without a shirt helps me unveil the boldest parts of myself and learn to love my body, then by god I’m sticking with it. (The same holds true for yoga without a shirt on!)

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When Releasing Body Shame Feels Like Letting Go of a Bad Relationship

crouchingcat

Crouching Cat. Photo by Kelsey Finkle.

Sometimes when I feel so disgusted with my body, I am reminded of what it’s like to be in a bad relationship. The kind where you walk on eggshells around each other and forget anything else can possibly exist. It’s the one you just can’t bear to part with because you are afraid. Self-loathing becomes your security blanket, where it’s all you know. It’s your default because it feels safe. Who knows what terrors could happen should you dare to toss the blanket aside and find a new one.

Just like walking away from a bad relationship, turning off the self hatred switch is easier said than done. It will be hard as fuck, will make you scared shitless, totally vulnerable, and naked to the world. At the same time, it is something you never regret and it is one of the best things you will ever do for yourself.

Consider the way you talk to yourself. Be completely honest – what are the kinds of things you say to or about yourself? It is not uncommon for most men and women to verbally self-abuse. Imagine if you started speaking this way to the people in your life. They wouldn’t tolerate it for one second.

We default to negative self-talk because somewhere along the way we learned it is bombastic or pompous to think we are attractive. We learned we are not entitled to have an honest, clear view on ourselves. We have to first go through a filter, after which point it is then appropriate to determine our worth. And even then, we still suck. We are conditioned to act this way because we have gone through years of training and so this paradigm is far easier to exist in than changing our ways.

In the exact same way, it becomes easy to fester in an unhealthy relationship. We get accustomed to the silence that speaks volumes. It is seemingly effortless to tweak who we are for the sake of pleasing someone else, while we know damn well this person is not serving us.

The negative self-talk does not serve us either. Who told you to determine your self worth based on whether or not you have a thigh gap? Or that stilettos are objectively sexier than birkenstocks? It’s time to erase their message from your mind, permanently. The way you would erase a voicemail from an ex-lover on an old answering machine, and then throw away the tape for good measure.

How do we begin to redefine beauty? How do we release old beliefs of what our body should look like? How do we make up our own body beautiful rules?

One thing we can do is choose an empowering modality, such as a postural practice like Bowspring, to connect with the body. Move in a nourishing manner. Whether you select yoga, zumba, running, or hiking, the movement is not for the sake of weight loss and changing who you are but instead to wake up to who you already are. We want to wake up the little light deep inside.

Find a modality to wake up and be present within the body you are given. When you move, embrace the shapes you create. The shapes are beautiful not because anybody else says so, but because you believe so.

If we always try to comply with certain rules and regulations about what we should look like, or a certain way we should behave, we will live in the drone of an unhappy relationship. Only this time the relationship is with ourselves. Changing habits and patterns is hard work, but much like walking away from that stifling relationship, it is worth the pain and the effort.

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BodyLoveCT video with lululemon athletica

Please join me for this very special event.

With Love,

Maggie

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Webinar Series: Release Body Shame

I’m excited to announce a brand new webinar series I am launching this summer – beginning June 16!

Release Body Shame

Experience freedom from the entrapment of body shame.

Why Release Body Shame? And, what is it anyway?
I spent the bulk of my early twenties battling an eating disorder. It was primarily through yoga and a mindfulness practice that I was able to heal myself. My journey continues to this day as I work toward releasing my own body shame (buried deep within my own trenches) through developing a more rich practice that supports me as I get older.

Release Body Shame will be an experience that allows you to begin the self-inquiry pertaining to your own relationship with your body. We will open the conversation about body image as it pertains to our culture and ourselves as human beings.

Throughout the webinar series we will work with the 5 A’s: Attention, Acceptance, Appreciation, Affection, and Allowing – to better understand how we can change the story that we tell ourselves and how we can begin to better release the shame we hold onto about our bodies.

Click here to learn more and sign up today! XO

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