Having a nurturing relationship with your body will do wonders for your health, mentality, and spirit! Special guest author Gay Edelman shares a personal account of her journey from binge-eating to falling in love with martial arts which ultimately led to her healing on many levels. She encourages you to have your own “Body Love Breakthrough” and hopes to offer inspiration on your journey.
by Gay Edelman
Years ago I lost a lot of weight. In order to deal with the emotions that came up when I stopped binge-eating, I got a ton of psychotherapy. That was vital and really helped me to heal the old emotional wounds I’d been using food to suppress.
But oh, my poor body! How was I going to befriend her when I’d treated her so badly for so many years? I’d been walking a lot, but I needed more. The answer came: Martial arts!
I’ve never been a jock. I was born before Title IX, and growing up I far preferred reading to running around. But Eastern philosophies have always appeal to me, and I really loved the idea of learning to defend myself smartly, with minimal force. So I signed up for group karate lessons. I loved kicking and punching to the bags, running drills, learning katas (formal, prescribed moves in sequence), and shouting “Aiii!”
I learned self-defense. I got a great workout (went down a size without losing a pound—call me Muscle Mama!) But better yet, I could feel my body and mind knitting together. To do the work required body and mind to work so closely that they felt like one. Very healing for someone who’d been sort of denying her body even existed.
As the years went by, my martial arts studies evolved. The karate school closed and I started doing tai chi at a local gym. Loved it! That teacher moved on and my next stop, my current martial art, is Qigong. That form is the basis for all the others. It’s so gentle, so powerful. It suits me perfectly. Through gentle, prescribed motions, you move energy along the same meridians using for acupressure and acupuncture. Very healing, very energizing.
All along the way I’ve gotten to feel more and more in my body. I’ve learned to honor my body with good nutrition, enough sleep, pretty lotions and a nice hot bath every night. But it’s the martial arts that have taught me how to be in my body and mind at the same time. That’s a solid feeling that sure feels like body-love to me!
Identity Magazine is all about empowering women to get all A’s in the game of life – Accept. Appreciate. Achieve.™ Every contributor and expert answer the Identity 5 questions in keeping with our theme. As a team, we hope to inspire and motivate ourselves and inspire you to get all A’s.
What have you accepted in your life that took time, physically or mentally?
I have just begun to accept that I am not going to be a rock star when I grow up. That I don’t have to be perfect to be loved, and that it’s okay not to be good at everything. Like the Snoopy poster says, “Be yourself. Nobody can say you’re doing it wrong.” It’s okay to be my plain old, gifted, ordinary, quirky, unique self.
What do you appreciate about yourself and within your life?
I love that my higher power has given me the gift of words, spoken and written. I love to talk. I love to put written words out there. Most of all, I love to listen and discern what others are trying to say, and where appropriate (and only then!) help them say it.
What is one of your most rewarding achievements in life? What goals do you still have?
My husband and I put our three kids through college. Now my goal is to go back to school myself!
What is your not-so-perfect way? What imperfections and quirks create your Identity?
Oh, man, can I talk. Sometimes too much. I have so many words! But I’m fun, too. And I can listen as well as I talk. I’m very opinionated, but as I’ve gotten more mature I’ve learned to agree to disagree. I’m a world-class student, always curious, always ready to learn the next thing.
How would you complete the phrase “I Love My…?”
Sense of humor. No matter how bad things get, I can almost always find some humor, some lightness. Along with this, optimism. My true nature is very optimistic. I’ve even been called a Pollyanna. Yes! I say, and proud of it! It’s right to look for the light in every situation. You don’t have be a dummy about it. But I don’t think you get points in the book of life for being all morose, cynical and downbeat. Choosing joy is so much more energizing, don’t you think?
Gay Edelman is a writer, editor and writing coach with over 25 years’ publishing experience. Previously, she was senior editor of Family Circle, McCall’s and Rosie magazines, and was editor of Women’s Faith & Spirit. Currently a blogger for ThirdAge.com, she has also written for, Beliefnet, Good Housekeeping, Family Circle, Spirituality & Health, Guideposts, Parents, Parenting, Prevention and many others. She is currently freelancing and working on her book The Hungry Ghost, about her 17-year success maintaining a 100-pound weight loss. She lives and works in Red Bank, New Jersey.