Love the One You're with. How to Celebrate your Middle Aged Body!
Updated: Mar 31, 2022
News flash: Women’s bodies are meant to change throughout our lives!
In western culture, we are taught that a (racist) beauty standard of youth and euro-centric features is ideal and valuable. The fitness and diet industry tells us that our frames need to be thin and our muscles defined, and it dictates exactly what percentage of fat we should have on our bodies in order to be the “best version of ourselves”. While we KNOW intellectually that it’s all bullshit, we still internalize it by design. Our movement/fitness goals arise from these external messages rather than from an intrinsic sense of what our bodies actually want and need.
As we grow older (and wiser), and we start to feel shifts in our hormones, find that our butts are more plump, our bellies are more round, or our skin less elastic. We’re told, in subtle and not so subtle ways, that in an aging body, we don’t matter anymore. It’s as though we are slowly becoming invisible.
If you’ve ever watched a superhero movie, then you know that invisibility is a highly sought after SUPER POWER.
Before we jump into our superhero suits, we have to let go of who we thought we were in a previous body. Unfortunately, letting go doesn’t happen overnight. You don’t wake up one day and radically accept and love yourself. It’s a deeply personal process and it’s messy and hard, and there is grief to contend with when you’re releasing outdated identities.
If you’re like me, on the inside you still feel like that younger version of yourself. That's because you are that person, we’re every version of ourselves that ever was...and yet, our bodies continue to change. Contending with that asynchrony can be rough. Hot tip, I’ve worked with 80 year olds who still feel like they’re 30 and wake up surprised and frustrated at what their bodies can no longer do. I think that feeling is here to stay, and I also think we can meet it with kindness, compassion and curiosity.
My “used to be able to” story is tied to physical strength and grace. When I was in my late 20’s and early 30’s in Taos, NM I found the static trapeze. I had a regular yoga practice and was exploring different movement modalities and exercise, but OMG I felt so strong and powerful and BEAUTIFUL on that trapeze. Was I ready to perform in Cirque du Soleil? HA, not even a little, but I FELT amazing up there. So amazing that at some point it became an integral part of my identity. I’m Ivy and I can do cool things on the trapeze.
Skip to 47. I’m Ivy and I’m a mom, I USED to do cool things on the trapeze. Cool story bro, doesn’t feel quite as powerful. In fact, if I'm being honest, it can feel pretty sad at times.
Don’t get me wrong, I know I could take an aerial class, but I also know it wouldn’t FEEL the same. I know I would feel defeated and frustrated, because I’m in a different body now, so I just don’t. Every woman in my age group, has their own “used to” thing. I used to ice skate, run marathons, lift weights, ride horses, swim competitively, tap dance etc.. etc… A type of movement that FED our bodies, but also nourished something WAY deeper, that no longer feels accessible or the same as it once did.
How do we wake up in these new bodies, that feel achy and tight and sore and find new, nourishing, ways to move? How do we let go of who we used to be (even though we’re still that person) to make room for the current version of our self and our body?
Lord knows, I don’t have ALL the answers but I can share what works for me. I approach movement as a mindfulness practice.
When I’m in my movement practice, whether I’m doing a challenging Pilates series or a soft somatic movement flow on the mat, I try to stay present and curious….yes, even with my frustration. It’s way easier to find “success” if I don’t have a preconceived notion of what success looks like. If I spend 20 minutes on the mat, unwinding tension, fascial stretching, breathing, or doing a full Pilates Mat work flow, my WHOLE day is better. I’m able to find my ‘trapeze feeling’ everywhere, in small awarenesses throughout the day. Letting movement be a practice, instead of a discipline, allows me to meet this changing body with more love, compassion and joy!
My approach to movement isn’t for everyone, and that’s ok. I just want you to know that, if any of what I said here resonates with you, you aren’t alone. It’s hard to let go of who you think you are, and find the bravery to try something new, especially in a body you aren’t quite sure of.
I implore you to find a movement PRACTICE where you can land softly, and safely and build a new appreciation (and love) for your current body. So many of the amazing people I work with have had fear around starting, or re-starting, Pilates (insert your movement curiosity here) and something allows them to push through that feeling, and after a first session they’re celebrating new insights, appreciating, and even enjoying, the body that they are in.
If you're reading this and thinking, "that's ME!" I've developed my Online Studio just for you. If you're curious, you can check it out here. I'm also here to talk if you're feeling stuck in your personal movement practice. Book a free consultation and we can chat about how to get you moving again.
I truly hoped this helps you take a first step on your way to rekindle your own ‘trapeze feeling’.