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Limiting Ideas, Intuitive Eating, and the Gym

First of all, check out this funny gym picture:

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I love how everyone is smiling. I don’t know about you, but my gym looks a whole lot different 🙂

Several months ago, I posted a piece I wrote in college about why I hate the gym. I meant every word. Yesterday though, Sam and I decided to get a gym membership at our local fitness center, which is actually a really nice facility with really reasonable prices.

I usually can’t stand exercise machines because I feel like a hamster on a wheel. I don’t like “artificial” feeling exercise. I’d much rather walk or run outside, do yoga, go for a bike ride, or go hiking.

It’s kinda hard to keep that up in the winter though.

I resisted the idea for awhile. The main reason was that it seemed silly to pay to exercise when I have a few perfectly good workout dvds at home, a yoga mat, and walking shoes. The other reason is that the gym didn’t fit with my idea of living as an intuitive eater/exerciser. It liked it to counting calories and measuring portions rather than listening to what my body needs.

Over the past few months though, I’ve realized that there’s no one way to live intuitively. For some people, this looks like a daily walk and three square meals a day. For others, it’s a gym membership and nibbling all day without set meals. Others may eliminate certain foods from their diet for health reasons. Some might use calories or measuring as a way to gain consciousness of their eating before they’re comfortable to fly on their own. For me, intuitive living is different at different times of year. During the summer, it’s little meals and snacks all day long and lots of walking with a little running and yoga thrown in. During the winter though, I’ve realized that I need something different. I’ve had to change my ideas about my lifestyle, which I was surprised to find were a little rigid despite flexibility being the whole point of intuitive eating.

Here are a few reasons why I no longer hate the gym and why I feel it’s necessary right now:

  • My body has been asking for more intense exercise than I’ve been giving it lately, and though I can bundle up and walk in the cold or do one of the exercise DVD’s that I have memorized, but it gets old. The gym has lots of different options like classes, the pool, plenty of machines, a track, free weights, and sports if for some reason I decided to experiment with that.
  • My knees have been hurting like they always do when I start sitting at a desk for most of the day. I really don’t have a low to no impact cardio option at home, but at the gym I have the pool, a stationary bike, or an elliptical. Any of those are a great way to build strength without taxing my knees further.
  • Sam and I barely see each other with both of us working weird hours and him going to school. He’s been wanting to exercise, so this might be a way to spend some time together in a healthier way than going to Buffalo Wild Wings at 9pm.
  • I’ve been wanting to build a little muscle because I have very little upper body strength (I can’t even do one full-on push up. Not even close.) and I’ve noticed that my abs are feeling a little weak as well. I could certainly do this with yoga or just with old school body weight exercises at home, but I hate the body weight exercises, I don’t really push myself with yoga at home, and I’d rather  do gentler yoga at home. The gym does have a Saturday yoga class I could go to, but weights offer a lot more variety and they’re faster. I even had fun even though years ago I likened the weight room to a torture chamber.
  • This might be a better way to blow off stress after work than munching. I don’t tend to be hungry in the evenings, but I often snack when I get home just because I feel like I should because it’s dinner time or something, and also because I usually feel spun out. Going to the gym after work a few days a week might help me regulate work stress and eating a little better as well as giving me an energy boost, because I tend to come home and crash until bedtime. Sometimes I paint in the evenings, but I’m a morning person and I do most of my artmaking in the morning before I leave. Going to the gym won’t give me more time for my art, but my body needs it. I could use a little more energy to push through these last few weeks of winter.

Flexibility isn’t about rebellion or avoiding things that you think don’t fit in your flexible lifestyle. It’s about adjusting your ideas according to what your body and spirit actually need. Rethink some of your limiting ideas such as “intuitive eaters don’t go to the gym” or “artists don’t worry about what they eat.” Yes, these are kind of silly ideas, but our subconscious can hold a death grip on silly things like these. Pay attention to your limiting thoughts. We all have them. Examine them. Question them. Are they serving you, or do you need something different right now? Do you need rest, or would a short trip to the gym make you feel amazing?

There are no rules, only consciousness, caring, and a little humility.

Are you hanging on to any limiting ideas?

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Wise Words: How to be Original

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Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original:

whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before)

you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.

C.S Lewis

Wise Words: Receiving Ideas

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I don’t know exactly where ideas from, but when I’m working well ideas just appear. I’ve heard other people say similar things-so it’s one of the ways I know there’s help and guidance out there. It’s just a matter of our figuring out how to receive the ideas or information that are waiting to be heard.

-Jim Henson

Painting-Contemplative

Modern life requires us to go fast. Rush from errand to errand, work hard, play hard, sweat at the gym, crunch those numbers, go go go!

We all know the importance of rest (who wouldn’t crash  after all of that?) but sometimes we neglect the need to contemplate.

I painted this in August, but I haven’t talked about it here yet. In fact, this is the first piece I ever painted with the intention to sell.

"Contemplative" acrylic on canvas 24"X24"

Back when the grass was green and I still lived in tee shirts and cargo shorts, one of my favorite things to do was to walk to the park down the street, cozy up to one of the trees and watch the world around me while I processed my thoughts and fished for ideas. Sunset was my favorite time to do this.

I was always amazed at the thoughts that would run through my head as I sat under that sky. Everything from “That is the most vibrant pink I have ever seen” to “I hope my kids aren’t into sports-I wouldn’t know what to do” to “I want to paint the sun.”

I’d always bring an notebook or a sketchbook, but most of the time I’d just think.  Just thinking is one of my favorite things to do, and I find that it’s a critical part of my artistic process (aka My Life). It’s how I recharge, it’s how I refine ideas to the point that I can start making them real.

I also get some great thinking done in the car, but that’s not nearly as fun to paint.

This piece is available for purchase here.

Where’s your thinking place?