As a group exercise instructor I am honored to meet and teach amazing people who are at varying points along their personal wellness journeys.  I count among my clients women who have survived cancer, pregnant women, postpartum women, men who are man enough to come lift weights with a room full of women, young folks just learning about their bodies, older folks hoping to preserve form and function, teachers, physicians, nurses, full-time moms, students, and so many others.  Looking out at a class fills me with joy.  I love the community aspect of group exercise, I love the camaraderie and I love to see clients make progress.

Seeing people grow stronger week after week through their own effort is one of my life’s greatest privileges.

I don’t think my clients see the strength, grace and beauty I see when I look out at them, though.  Their silent refrain is practically visible on their faces:

“I hate my legs.”

“I’m so fat.”

“Ugh, I shouldn’t have eaten those doughnuts this morning.”

“If only I could look like the woman beside me.”

“My arms are flabby.”

“I have my mother’s hips.  I hate my mother’s hips.”

I haven’t yet figured out a way to get them to see themselves as I see them.  I can say, “great plank,” or “you’ve really gotten stronger,” but still, the doubt and self-loathing persist.

Why are we so hard on ourselves?

I can offer up the trite advice I’ve seen so often: Would you say to your best friend the things you say to yourself about your appearance?  (Of course not.)

And. Yet. Still.

I don’t have an answer – only these parting words:

Your effort is beautiful whether you are lithe and limber, or three counts behind the rest of us.  Your body is a gift.  Use this amazing machine you’ve been allowed to inhabit during your time on Earth.  Delight in it.  Enjoy it in all the phases and forms it takes throughout your journey.  Wear it out.  Get it dirty. Laugh at it.  Take pleasure in it.  Love it.

Be inspired by it.

I am.

5 Responses to “Your Amazing Machine”

  1. on 10 Oct 2012 at 3:36 pmRebecca

    Kristine
    Im going to put you on my google reader list. I have really enjoyed reading your last few entries. I especially loved your last paragraph on this day. What a great way to put it. Especially as we grow older, we need to embrace our changing bodies and enjoy living. I hope you don’t mind if I share on FB at times. 🙂

    Rebecca

  2. on 10 Oct 2012 at 9:57 pmKristine Rudolph

    I would be thrilled for you to share it! So glad that you are enjoying it.

  3. on 10 Oct 2012 at 10:54 pmhot Nai Nai

    I wish I had appreciated myself when I was younger. Now I look back at pictures and think…I was not as bad as I thought!!!!!!

  4. on 15 Oct 2012 at 3:13 pmPeggy

    I have been on both sides- the exercise participant wishing I was as thin as the person working out next to me, and the instructor whose heart breaks when a beautiful participant berates her own body. The sad truth is that we waste so much time hating our miraculous bodies that carries us around day in and day out. At the end of Svanasana I tell my class to hug their knees into their chest and really give their bodies a hug of gratitude and acceptance. We could all us more of that. GREAT POST!

  5. on 15 Oct 2012 at 8:55 pmKristine Rudolph

    Thanks, Peggy! And thanks for sharing.

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