I’ve always been active and I don’t have an eating disorder. I don’t even like anything with sugar in it.
But I do have a full-time job, a long commute, a house to maintain, a husband, two kids, two cats, and a tenant. I often run out of time and energy to take care of myself.
Also, self-deprivation is not in my nature. I never feel guilty about enjoying a cocktail, and can’t resist truffle parmesan fries.
So as I write this, I am at least five unbudging pounds over the self I recognize. Those are beyond the five pounds I can add to my 5’2” frame and still identify as myself. I am cranky.
I know, this is an essay on body empowerment, not a weight loss journal. Bear with me, we are getting there.
For me, body empowerment is not a response to the pressures of our culture or breaking free from worrying about what others think. Those issues don’t occupy my thoughts at this stage in my life. To me, body empowerment means a couple of very specific things.
- Being comfortable in my own skin
Having taken so many rides up and down the scale, I know how good it feels to be at a healthy weight, to have energy, to be strong. For my clothes to fit. To inhabit that self. It is within my power to take care of myself and I owe that to myself. Getting a great workout is the easy part. Finding overall balance sometimes feels unattainable. In the grand scheme of things, however, this is a first-world non problem. When I’m not comfortable, it’s simply a sign that I need to make some adjustments.
- The joy of movement
There are two quotes I strive to live by:
“Use your body every way you can: dance, sing, run, swim, ski, roller skate.”
(As remembered from the pages of Mitch Albom’s Tuesdays with Morrie, though I can never find it when I look)
“Every day above ground is a great day.”
(Pitbull lyric adapted from Scarface character Mel Bernstein)
Being alive is truly the greatest gift. Even when I am depressed, paralyzed by anxiety, or beset with other worries, I remember this. Illness, injury, and misfortune can strike at any time, and we have to deal with that when it happens. I am filled with gratitude for every day that I am able to move and make free choices. I am not about to look a gift horse in the mouth.
I became a BollyX instructor when I decided to reclaim my dance life. After dancing through most of my school years and taking class in every city I lived in, I had fallen out of the habit. I always thought I’d get back to it when I had more time someday. Last year, it hit me that I can’t afford to wait. If I don’t carve out the time right now, I’ll be in my fifties or sixties. While that’s not too late, it might never happen at all. I’m hoping for another 40 good years of dancing.
One of the many things I love about BollyX is that it literally empowers our bodies. The high-intensity cardio workout makes us stronger and improves our stamina. The choreography is full of power poses that build confidence. The music is infectious and the routines are easy to follow at any pace from the very first class you take.
As with yoga, body empowerment is a process, the journey will always continue. The hour I spend teaching or taking a BollyX class is one of the happiest of my week. It’s a safe place to express yourself. There is no wrong. Everyone is a rockstar. The minute the music starts, I am transformed. I dance with abandon. I encourage my students to rock out and hope they feel as happy and free as I do. With every class, my goal is to foster that joy and confidence, the celebration of life that is movement to music. That, for me, is true body empowerment.