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Insights from 31 days of exercise: Ending 2023 with kindness and movement.

I have a question for you:

Have you spent years working out, trying to shrink your body or "transform" it, only to end up injured and feeling discouraged? Perhaps you've pulled a hamstring during yoga, thrown your back out after a 5K, or experienced calf cramps after a half marathon. The struggle with injuries during exercise is a common experience, leading many to reconsider working out altogether.

In the past year, I've discovered what I now call the "unforced rhythms of grace" plan. For over 40 years, I believed that my body had failed me, using exercise as a form of punishment in an attempt to lose weight. The unforced rhythms of grace plan prompted me to question what I truly needed for a more present, safer life, free from injuries, or at least to view injuries as messengers guiding me to make changes.

I wasn't an athletic child, often finding myself on the bench, making up songs about fellow athletes. Despite initially using strength training as a means to reshape my body, I've come to realize that my approach to exercise lacked kindness and love. It felt like punishment, even if I convinced myself otherwise.

Fast forward to December 2023 when I embarked on a fitness challenge with two friends. Though I started with a competitive spirit, circumstances changed as my friends fell ill, taking weeks off to recover. The initial excitement waned, but instead of quitting, I embraced the opportunity to connect with myself on a deeper level.

I learned that daily workouts were not just about competition but a chance to discover a kinder and more gentle approach to exercise. When the urge to quit arose, I asked myself if I could move for me – to allow emotions to flow through my body, whether it was crying, laughing, or embracing a spiritual practice. I discovered the joy of movement beyond the gym, from my closet, to the park, to dancing in the kitchen with my childcare kiddos and granddaughter I was discovering how to love exercise again.

Throughout the challenge, I experienced a range of emotions, from tears to laughter, and found different forms of expression for my mind, body, and soul. Despite tired days, I never regretted a single workout, realizing that each day brought a new opportunity for self-expression.

The challenge revealed my deep love for movement. I had tired days, but I wanted to know what it felt like to just do it, echoing Nike's famous slogan. I discovered that I never regretted a day of exercise, always finding a new form of expression for my mind, body, and soul.

I now believe my body is meant for good work, a shift from years of demanding tasks that often left me injured. Today, I listen to my body's responses, understanding that aches and pains are gifts of wisdom. The unforced rhythms of grace guide me to better form, safer lifting, and a more relaxed approach to exercise.

My Invitation to you:

The unforced rhythms of grace have become my philosophy – seeking ways to love my body, mind, and soul more, without criticism. Embracing my body with its imperfections, I've found joy in movement, rejecting societal ideals of beauty and age. I've become the definer of my own beauty standards.

My journey isn't about fighting aging or conforming to societal expectations; it's about enjoying every aspect of my body. I encourage you to join me in discovering how movement can be a form of self-expression, without the pressure to force your body to change. Change your mind about your body, embrace a more loving and gentle way of living, and let me know what you discover.

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