To be (a unit) or not to be (a unit). That is my decision.

CURRENT MOOD: It’s been an eventful rollercoaster for my self-esteem and my butt lately.

Today I was called “too macho”, and yesterday I was called “a unit”. For guys, awesome. For this girl, not so much. Because I had already been feeling “a little fuller” (shall we say) lately, of course, I totally perceived it to mean “you look huge” (guys, you have permission to roll your eyes at me).

BACK STORY: Over the past 2 weeks, I’ve gone a little off the rails with my nutrition and that fermented drink that makes your head feel funny sometimes (the Middle Eastern PG version). I know it, my tighter shorts know it, and my butt knows it when any type of impact is involved – running, box jumps, and even when a heavy barbell is dropped in the vicinity. Urgh, it’s the worst.

ANOTHER BACK STORY: You know how you have THAT place that weight always goes to first? Yeah ya do, you just thought it. Mine? Butt and thighs. I don’t know whether it’s an act of rebellion for sitting on them for so long, but honestly, in times of excess I can LITERALLY feel the fat cells getting bigger there. Which is cool actually, because I figure, however much I curse it, it’s their way of giving me a heads up (guess I should be thankful).

BACK TO THE FIRST BACK STORY: So I’m off the rails – only a little bit mind you – and I can feel it. The funny thing is, before my 2-week bender, I was feeling really great. I remember doing some mobility work, and literally thinking to myself “I feel really great, body, way to go you”. Food and training on point.

SIDE NOTE: I always make a point of appreciating how great I feel and thanking my body for being so cool (you should definitely do it).

 BACK TO CURRENT MOOD: Two weeks! In TWO WEEKS I went from feeling great to feeling, well, like a unit. And while we’re on the subject: to be honest, the two comments I received don’t bother me in the slightest and they weren’t said nastily (well, maybe the second one accidentally was). Being called a unit is actually a compliment in CrossFit terms, but was given at the right place at the wrong time (poor bastard had no idea). If it was given 2 weeks ago, I would have been all “Oh really? I don’t know what you’re talking about??” Read: “I TOTALLY DO!!!!!!!!”

MY POINT: The difference between my “feeling great” moment and my moment of unit-ness, is probably GRAMS. Most of you won’t have even noticed a thing (please don’t check my butt out later looking for signs). The reality is that I am always roller-coastering (real verb) through these stages because my body is in constant change, constantly reacting to how I treat it – how and what I eat, how I sleep, how I train, how I think etc etc etc. Chronic and acute feedback and reactions…always. Do you ever stop to ponder that? I haven’t until recently, but it helps me to look at it from a better, more reasonable platform.

Luckily, we inhabit these incredible machines (please don’t get sick of me calling it that), that perfectly and dutifully respond to our actions*, whether we actually want these responses or not. For example, when strength training, your body will respond by getting stronger; by not training, your body will get weaker; when sitting down on the computer for long periods of time, your body will respond by getting tighter in the hip flexors and pecs, and weakened and lengthened in the upper back (basically you morph into the seated slouched position that you adopt so much); when over-eating or eating high-calorie foods for extended periods of time, your body is going to store fat and is going to feel like crap because you’ve been feeding it crap.

It makes total sense when you put it that way! For every action, there is a reaction.

 I often imagine bodies having their own personas and saying to themselves “ahhhhhh ok, they want me to get faster at running because it’s the 2nd week we’ve been running consistently” or “welp, I guess they want me to shut down my squatting mobility because we haven’t done it in years”. OR, the worst “huh [thinking hard emoji], I think they want me to store extra fat and start to put on weight”.

YOU GET OUT OF IT WHAT YOU PUT INTO IT.

And every day, every SINGLE day, we have the chance (multiple chances at that) to put in some good stuff by making better decisions and practicing healthier actions for our bodies to respond to – eat nutritious food, rest and destress, exercise, get some sun and some fresh air etc etc etc. So you screw up and get weak, or put on a few kilograms. HECK, even if you become obese, understand that this does not have to be your situation forrrrreeevvvveeeerrrr (any Sandlot Kids fans out there?) It took your body time to adjust into [insert unfavourable situation], and it’ll take time for it to adjust into [insert new awesome situation that was demonstrated by your new awesome actions]. But the point is, it can be adjusted.

WHY DID I GO ON ABOUT THIS FOR AGES?

BECAUSE WE ARE IN CONTROL! We can own the state of our bodies! I genuinely, honestly, whole-heartedly think that that is the COOLEST THING EVER! And a reason why I can’t (and won’t) be mad at my body for responding in the way that it has over the past 2 weeks (as petty as it may seem). I am the captain of my ship, and long gone are the days when I will sit and loathe my body (what a terrible stage to go through!) I am responsible for its reaction, so I have no one to blame but myself. It was in my power to say “NO” to the extra dumplings at brunch, the garlic knots (well...as much as anyone realllllly has the power to say “no” to garlic knots), and the A. L. C. O. H. O. L, but I chose to stuff it all into my face, and voila...UNITVILLE. Again. It is always a great journey there (I travel there every once in a while), but I’ll get back on the rails now and get on out of there because I can and because I want to. It’s not that I think I’m fat, or that getting “unit” comments is bad (or maybe they said G-UNIT, and in that case I’m cool with that and I should probably apologise for the terrible misunderstanding and oversized rant), but I feel like crap and that’s what matters  the most.

PARTING MESSAGE

If I could speak very honestly, my relationship with my body (its form, function, performance) is one of the most impactful relationships that I experience. Although not so dramatically anymore (we are now, finally, on really good terms), it has been the cause of much emotional anguish, and so I do understand how terribly difficult it can be to find peace with it. If any of the above resonates with you – in a “haha your butt and my butt should have a conversation” way, or a “seriously, I hate my body so much I can’t even look at it in the mirror” way – please feel free to get in touch if you need a chat (if not me, find a health and fitness professional that you trust). I truly believe that the most important thing you can do is to prioritise your health, and a huge part of that is to tune in to your body, acknowledge its importance, and figure out how you can best look after it. Everyone deserves to experience how awesome it feels when their body has been taken care of – it’s why we opened a gym and is why our door is always open!

I promise you, it will change and improve your life.

Go and be awesome, 

Emily

 *Obviously, there are some machines that are wired differently and may not respond as we would hope or expect – injury, disease, ageing, genetic differences etc. Another reason to appreciate your good health and your ability to move. There are no two bodies that are wired the same, and I am speaking in general terms.