Learning to Listen

So it’s been a month since I started Zumba, and I’m getting good results in ways I never imagined. I haven’t dropped a lot of weight, I haven’t stuck to a strict diet, and I haven’t been miserable.

I’ve actually been having fun.

The first thing Nancy, my Zumba instructor, tells us at the beginning of each class is to listen to our own bodies. “Nobody knows your body like you do,” she says. After mulling that over though, I realized how little I really did know my own body. For my entire adulthood I’ve been struggling to put myself into what I think I should be: lean, thin, conforming to a cetain look and a predetermined number on the scale. I’ve been at war with my body for as long as I can remember. What got me to Zumba in the first place was my body’s utter rejection of my gym workouts and the realization that what I’d been doing wasn’t working.

Once I slowed down, I realized that I could actually pay attention to how I felt after certain activities or meals and see what works and what doesn’t. Zumba agrees with me. I love the upbeat dance moves and the sight of Nancy’s relentless smile as she leads us to push ourselves beyond our wildest dreams of what we could do. I also love the long walks Paul and I have been taking on our Sundays together. Fresh air is like a drug to me. I get out into the cool, fresh autumn air, and I inhale deeply and fill my lungs with that amazing fresh air and feel instantly happy.

As for food, when I actually pay attention I can tell what my body likes and what it doesn’t. Despite my love of the occasional cheeseburger and fries splurge, after eating that I realized that it made me feel tired, sluggish, and cranky. Pretty much anything greasy has this result. If I’m going to splurge, I’m better off following my sweet tooth. A cookie or a cupcake doesn’t bother me, as long as I keep it to just one. And fresh foods, salads and fresh veggies and lean meats, make my tummy happy.

Portions are also something I’ve revamped. I’ve been eating far less than my body wants for far too long. So now, if I’m hungry I eat a healthy snack, instead of waiting it out because it’s not one of my designated times to eat.

Maybe it’s that I’m not obsessing about what I’m eating for the first time in ages. Maybe it’s that I’ve found an exercise that doesn’t bore the hell out of me, that actually makes me feel good. But whatever it is, I feel better and stronger than I have in a really long time.

Not bad for only a month’s work.

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