Moving for Resilience

Hey Everybody! Somehow it’s July and it has been way too long since our last article

The team and I are hanging in. We’re seeing so many beloved local businesses close and as we mourn those losses, we feel so blessed that our community is still in tact after four months of uncertainty. We are so grateful for your support.

Needless to say, we are in a period of great change. It seems as though every week comes with new monumental shifts. New bad-news, another lap on the roller-coaster of emotion. We are always inherently-vulnerable, but that vulnerability isn’t always inherently-present. There’s no use in trying to avoid that feeling. One common misconception is that if we “give-in” to certain feelings/emotions, we succumb to them, they make us weaker.
In reality, the opposite is true. Avoiding feelings actually makes us physically weaker. When we stop ourselves from feeling something, those feelings themselves become threats. As in, your body actually tries to protect itself, from itself. My teacher, Kevin Moore always says “Your body will do anything to keep you safe, including hurting you.”  Examples of this manifestation include, feeling shame (shame protects us from feeling things), hypertonic (tight) muscles as the body literally braces for impact, auto-immune conditions (the body fighting against itself), idiopathic pain, and more. I’ll include a list of resources below if you’re interested in learning more specifics about these ideas.
Why all this talk about feeling? Well, the way you’re feeling directly impacts your movement. One example from my life (maybe you can relate?), is the way my body feels when I’m at the grocery store and someone who isn’t wearing a mask steps too close. I want to get smaller and faster simultaneously. My face gets hot and my heart-rate rises. In those moments, I move differently than I do when I’m in the safety of my own home.

According to Merriam-Webster, resilience is “the capability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after deformation caused especially by compressive stress”. In order to recover, you must first allow yourself to be stressed. To experience the rise and fall of discomfort instead of pushing it away or denying that it exists at all.
Movement is literally, the best tool you have for deepening your resilience. Exercise rolls a lot of great stuff into one activity. Come to your fitness practice with the intention of moving however you show up (no need to change the way you’re feeling in order to exercise) and you’ll get all of the benefits of a mindfulness practice, boost your immune system, increase your strength, cardio-endurance, and increase your ability to sustain the activities you love (now and in the future). 

It’s okay to work out when you don’t want to. Instead of I’m going to work out BUT I don’t want to (as in, denying the feeling of resistance), what if you work out AND you don’t want to (including the feeling of resistance). What does it feel like to work out AND not want to? Sometimes that’s where your movement practice has to start, especially if you are grieving, uncertain, and uncomfortable.
Resilience doesn’t mean ignoring the past. It may seem silly to let yourself grieve brunch, going to the movies, or waking up at 5am to come to the gym for a workout with friends, but in order to move forward and adapt, it’s time to pause and recognize that many of these activities are, for now, in the past.

We have life to live right now, amidst all of the ever-changing and unforeseen circumstances, the good and the bad. To do that, we need to let go. To grieve. 
So, that’s all to say, if you haven’t attended to your own movement in a while, or are waiting for things to “go back to normal” to resume your fitness practice, it might be time to rethink that strategy. I know it’s easier to show up for other people sometimes, but your fitness practice is, and has always been, about you. Move with your grief, fear, and anger. Let it exist, but don’t let it stop you.

We’d love to move with you, no matter how you show up.  

Lots of love,

Beck and the Sweet Mo Team

Pocket Guide to the Polyvagal Theory the Transformative Power of Feeling Safe by Stephen W. Porges

The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk

How Emotions are Made by Lisa Feldman Barrett