The Three-Lettered Word Called JOY

Yesterday I went to see my good friend Taryn, who was sick with a cold. I brought her some of my favorite herbal remedies to help clear out her sinuses, and I left two hours later after what is always a deep, heart felt and connected conversation. Taryn and I have been close friends for four years, and I consider her a sister of mine. We got to talking about what it's like to be a creative person who works for themselves. A person who is almost never satisfied... You could say that might sound like a bad thing, but for me, I think it is both a blessing and a challenge in my life. Even in my tarot readings, I often pull the four of cups, "What is it that you are truly longing for? Find out, and name it." Sounds easy enough, but it rarely is for me. I am, along with most people, a shifting, changing, and evolving person, with a new plan every Monday. My one certainty in life is that I am passionate and driving by health and wellness. And we all know how big that world is... expansive, huge, gigantic.

So in our conversation yesterday I received a really lovely compliment from my friend, admiring how "balanced" I am. How I can have both, the ice cream and the kale. But there are a few secrets to allowing yourself a balanced life, and I there was a time a few years ago when I wasn't so even. And it took breaking my ankle and getting me out of climbing competitions to realize that I shall approach the way I eat and the way I treat my body from a place of love.... from JOY. A word we often forget about.

I read on social media all the time people bashing fitness people or yogis, or people who have sculpted bodies, and the reality is that we don't know what place these people are coming from to acheive these "beautiful" bodies. I read recently a girl who wrote, "When are people going to stop punishing their bodies?" I was so disturbed by this comment because it is completely insane to assume that all fit people abuse themselves physically and mentally to look the way they do. I feel like I am a pretty good example of this. I have always been fit, because I was raised in a highly athletic family and I competed in a sport every single season. Fall was tennis, winter was swimming, spring was rowing, and so on. The rowing coach at Ithaca College is basically the reason I attended that great school, and after a year of ass-kicking practices and regattas I quit and soon after picked up rock climbing. I had a natural ability for the sport and competed in my first competition just a few months after I put on my first pair of climbing shoes. I was never sponsored and I never went pro, but I did well and I was good. I wasn't even sure why I was doing climbing competitions at the time, but I can look back now and say that was all I knew. I was always on a team going for the gold. In 2011 while I was in Thai massage school, I was climbing every single day and definitely became body obsessed. I was 120 lbs and 9% body fat, total muscle. But I didn't look like that because I was loving myself, I was just competing against myself all the time. I wasn't eating sugar at all, and hardly any carbs. Just tons of protein and fat. So one night I broke my ankle while training at the gym and after that I really slowed down with the sport. I had a huge realization that I am not even competitive person (laughable), I am just simply motivated by nature. This I believe was a form of "punishment" if that is the word we are going to use. But now?

I climb because I love it and it genuinely makes me happy. I have no end goals, I am still a strong climber, but I do it because it offers me a form of mental therapy. I do yoga for the same reasons. I do it because of JOY. The one challenging part of being a holistic health coach is that I truly do not have the answers. I think it is one of the hardest jobs to tell somebody how they should be eating, and that isn't my goal. You have to go on your own personal journey to find what works for you, and I am in support of whatever that is. Taryn has one of the cleanest diets I have ever seen, and God knows I could never eat like that... but I respect the hell out of her for honoring her journey and her body and giving it what it needs.

I also eat because of joy. It is called intuitive living. What does my body need in this moment? How can I support my constitutional needs? And here is the kicker. In the world of health and wellness, and in a world where things are controlled by social media, and you are in fact exercising and eating from a place of hate, then it is time to switch the the conversation, change the vocabulary, your choice of words. But we do have to stop assuming that people are doing things for the wrong reasons, because nobody knows the reasons except for you.

Do all things in life because you love them. Find activities and forms of fitness that really make you happy and you genuinely want to be there. If you are like me and you have a mega sweet tooth, be conscious of the fact that you should probably increase your vegetable intake. They aren't lying when they say "love conquers all." Joy will get you where you want to be in the end. Get into the dark, sticky messiness of it all, because that is crazy important, but in the end find the joy and simplicity that brings it back full circle.

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