Too many sinews

I used to weight train impressively–thirteen or fourteen is when I first got started. In fact, my entire existence revolved around fitness and healthiness, hence the title of my book: In The Name Of Being Well, I Made Myself Sick.

Since stopping conventional training almost four years ago and changing my approach to intensity, I’ve been able to menstruate on a regular cycle. This is excellent, I think, and more important for my well-being and sense of rhythm than having big or even attractive muscles. Actually, in my experience it is still possible to achieve nice or fair muscles without weights through diligent self-care and regular massage. I don’t have as many guy “friends” or men impressed, but would rather be cozy alone in my writing cottage anyways!

Today, I have the freedom to move my body whenever and however I feel like, without feeling confined by the need to exercise or even follow a certain “recovery” regimen. I keep focused on growing spiritually and energetically through nature and the physical, as opposed to finding “Laura” solely through this body, “personal” life, relations with humans…

Nevertheless, I did benefit from becoming a personal trainer at age eighteen. There’s far more to training than weights. I know all about foam rolling, which I do everyday, for instance. I walk outside, stretch, dance, take baths and inevitably do weight bearing exercises. I helped a lot of people when I worked at gyms, especially those who needed more confidence in their balance, wanted to build strength and improve flexibility.

Five tips for taking care of yourself

1. Make yourself feel with music.

I love music. It has the potential to change my mood, take me back to a place I want to be, or help me think about the future I would like to create for myself. It is easy to get stuck listening to the same songs all the time and get in a funk. For this reason, whenever I hear a song I like on the radio, I write it down and would encourage other people to do so too. Later, I listen to this song again, and I am surprised by how inspired it makes me feel to write, move my body, or just meditate and feel.

2. Warm your heart with an animal.

I am very fortunate to have a sweet dog named Rocky. He is incredibly cute and looking at him always brings my attention to my heart. I love walking Rocky and feeding him, yes, but best of all are the times I spend with Rocky that do not involve chores. Doing so challenges me to put my work away and come back into the beauty and peacefulness of the present moment.

Do you have an animal you like spending time with at home? Next time, pay attention to the sensations in your body spending time around an animal brings up for you.

3. Play…in the water!

I do not often go to the pool, but I love taking baths. I add salts with aromatherapy oils and do gentle swimming motions in the water. Usually, I follow up by doing some self-massage. If you are more curious about self-massage, I learned the idea from an Ayurvedic practitioner, who introduced to me the concept of “Abhyanga.” Later, I did a school project in which I talked about self-massage and the role touch played in helping me heal from an eating disorder.

4. Spend time by yourself.

Sometimes relationships with other people can be draining. In order to realize which relationships in your life are more draining to you than uplifting, spend some time alone and assess. Do the people you spend time around value you for who you are? To what extent do you feel the need to uphold an image in order to be wanted?

5. Experiment with movement.

Movement can be a wonderful tool to come in touch with yourself and feel all different kinds of emotions. That said, exercise can be detrimental and dangerous—especially depending on the individual situation—when it becomes overly routine and encourages a self-defeating mentality.

My advice: Step out of your comfort zone if you want, but I prefer to shift the focus to getting comfortable moving whenever/wherever…no matter the zone! One of my favorite things to do is dance in my room to music when nobody is looking. I prefer to move throughout the day rather than pressure myself to “get it all in” in a short period of time.