The fact that every gym/yoga/pilates/workout studio is typically covered in mirrors is great when:
- You want to perfect your form
- You're having a superly feel good about yourself day
- You threw your hair in a top knot and it just so happened to be so perfect that everyone in the gym - literally, everyone - should see it. (On that note, doesn't this always seem to be the case at bedtime?)
The fact that the gym is covered in mirrors is not so good when you're having the opposite of a good body image day. And we all have them, that's for darn sure. Just like our trouble with comparing our lives to one another, so it also seems we compare our bodies.
And on those days when we aren't exactly feeling your best, how is it possible that we manage to stand by the most fit girl in yoga? And when we're feeling just a little slow and heavy? Of course we get the girl doing intervals on the treadmill next door.
When it happens to me, I'm filled with one part of comparison (dang, why don't my arms look like that?) and one part stare (I am going to stare at you for the rest of your workout to see if you're doing something magical that no one else in the world knows about. And maybe follow you to the car to see if you do walking pushups on your way out).
But then I was talking to a friend about it and she gave me a new mantra for when the "why don't my arms look like that?" overcomes me.
Function over form.
So, instead of: why don't my arms look like that?
I think: Function over form. It's so great she has arms to help her function; to lift things and open doors. I am so happy I have arms to help me function, too. What would we do without our arms?
To focus not on how great her arms look, but how fortunate we are to have functional bodies.
What I've realized is that over the past few years, I've built an attitude that allows me to beat myself up over my perceived imperfections. That having the bendiest, fittest girl in front of me in yoga can not only impact how I feel about myself momentarily, but can also impact the entire 90 minute class. It can make me shift from focusing on my breath, how I feel and the workout to how I compare in the mirror next to her.
How unfair to myself.
I've only been practicing the new mantra for a few weeks, but I can feel it changing me. I can feel my posture changing from one of lust and comparison to one of appreciation. They might not be the most toned, but how lucky I am to have arms that can lift my sweet nieces and nephews. And ones that can hug the people I love. And help me write and do yoga and eat frozen yogurt.
To start, it might be a bit of an uphill battle. I've had a lot of practice applauding form over function. Applauding perfect over real; over grace. But as with so many things in life, all we can do is take one step at a time.
So for today, I'm happy to have legs that take me places and arms that open doors along the way. A spine that lets me bend in yoga and feet that let me jump up and down many times a day. And hands that help me make that every-now-and-then-perfect-accidental-topknot. Because, if there's one thing we do know, when it comes to topknots, form is everything.