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{#TransparentTuesday} Why I’m giving up the gym

I’ve decided to give up lifting weights for the foreseeable future.

This is a really big deal for me, because lifting weights has been my passion/obsession/career for nearly a decade.

So why am I giving it up?

Because I want to soften my body.

This “softening” I crave is physical, but it’s also emotional and energetic. This softening is about healing some of the issues my body has, like the constant pain I have down my spine from my herniated c-spine disks. It’s also about slowing down, staying consistently embodied, and not running away from or glossing over any of my physical sensations.

Most of all, however, this softening is about me embracing my feminine energy.

I have spent the last decade at the gym in my masculine energy. I love deadlifting, squatting, building muscle, sprinting, and learning cool tricks. My workouts have always been about creating tension, pushing myself to my limits, setting and accomplishing linear goals, and forging toughness.

There’s nothing wrong with training like that, of course. I regret nothing! But my energy and my body feel out of balance.

Some people I know could just throw in a weekly yoga class and regain their yin/yang balance, but I know myself. The only way for me to explore and restore a deep sense of balance between my masculine and feminine is to fully give up my old habits and emerge myself in something new.

Why do I need to take such drastic action?

I suppose it’s because I’ve never given any time or space to my feminine. I’m completely unfamiliar with how it feels to flow, allow, and receive. I saw softness and femininity as weakness. I found stillness boring, slowness infuriating, and gentleness to be a waste of time.

Recently I discovered that the reason these things bothered me was that I still had armor around it. I didn’t feel neutrally about yoga and meditation (and scented candles and flowing dresses and chocolate), I felt irritated.

Anything that represented the feminine to me, I rejected. Now I want to try it all.

I want to soften the walls that once protected me, but which I no longer need. Being feminine used to mean I was weak and would be attacked, but now it means that I am epically expansive, loving, and full of magic.

I’m finally ready to (gently) remove the barely-perceptible pieces of armor that are still lingering to protect my deepest and darkest hurts.

My daily movement practice is one area in which I am gently softening. Instead of crushing some weights, I’m experimenting with different forms of movement, and paying attention to how they make me feel. So far I’ve done a lot of hiking, dancing in my living room, and stretching, as well as some Pilates reformer and barre classes.

Other stuff I’m considering are: swimming, ice skating, spin classes, snowshoeing, tai chi, and hot yoga. I’m open to anything.

“OMG does Jessi think I should stop working out??”

Please understand, this is by no means advice, or judgement about working out.

I’m sharing this with you only because I promised to be transparent, and this is a huge deal for me right now. I want my movement practice to directly support my inner work, and right now that means my movement practice needs to be yin: slow, gentle, restorative, beautiful, and deeply nourishing.

Not because “yin” or feminine energy is better, mind you. We all have both masculine (yang) and feminine (yin) energies inside of us, and both are incredibly important and valuable. I’m simply taking action to help bring myself back into balance.

Do I miss the gym?

Absolutely. Nearly every day. I have all this energy, and I’m used to channeling that energy into my workouts. It’s strange and sometimes uncomfortable to feel what seems like an “excess” amount of energy coming up, but I remind myself that it’s ok to feel different. Different doesn’t mean bad.

Plus it seems like an absolute luxury to spend so much time stretching, hiking, dancing, and being sensual. All these things I’ve never allowed myself to “waste” time on are suddenly in my calendar every day, and it feels sublimely decadent.

As an added bonus, I’m more flexible than I’ve been in a loooong time. I just touched my forehead to my thighs for the first time in like 12 years.

Most importantly though, I feel more beautiful, more powerful, and more in love with myself than I ever have. This is the first time in my life I have felt wholly like a woman, and I like it.

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