If you think I'm in good shape, don't be fooled.

Kansas City Pilates body

When this picture was taken, I thought I was in the best shape I had ever been in.  I thought I had found the right combination of diet and exercise routine.  I had figured out what it takes to get my body to burn fat in those “stubborn” places.  I might have even been satisfied when I looked in the mirror.

But, that didn’t last for long.  It’s not because I didn’t keep up the routine.  What happened was something that I would never have suspected.  I went off for two weekends to train in a new method of pilates.  When I got there, I quickly realized that I was in terrible shape. Sure, I looked fit on the outside, but my body could not perform most of the exercises to any degree of perfection at all.  It was a truly humbling experience.

I may have worked through all the cycles of grief in those 8 days.  I’m pretty sure I started with denial.  “What do you mean I’m not doing it right?”  Then I moved on to anger and frustration.  As I began to get a better understanding of the proper execution of each movement and the biomechanics behind them, I became increasingly frustrated when my body failed to deliver.     My stages also included a phase of  blame.  It was  because of the surgery I had 18 months ago, because I was sitting in a chair about 55 hours a week, and it was because although I taught pilates, I hadn’t been practicing it regularly.  Eventually, a humbled new “self” arose from the ashes and began my journey of acceptance.  I found myself with a new awareness.  Although I didn’t like it, I could see there was an opportunity to get better, and I figured I would be a better person in the end if I was to take it.

But what did I need to do to get better?  I needed to shift my focus from the muscles on the outside- the secondary muscles and begin to focus on the primary or core muscles. The deeper layers.  The ones on the inside, that provided a firm foundation- that stabilized me.

Then I began to realize that what happened to me there, was a metaphor for life.  We work on the outside.  We work on what people can see, because those are the things by which we are judged.  We forget to work on the inside.  We don’t strengthen our core.  We don’t stabilize ourselves with firm roots, so that when the winds of the world’s demands blow, we can remain rooted where we are, unwavering.

I learned I had to work on me from the inside out, not just physically, but emotionally and mentally.   I couldn’t change what was going on around me, but I could change me.  I could improve me and I could strengthen my own foundation.  I needed a foundation that held me through all those ruminating thoughts that can take over.  Am I good enough?  Do I know enough that people will want to work with me?  Am I making a good impression? Because the fact is that everyone else is sifting through their own insecurities.  And these insecurities are just bumping into each other and getting in the way.  If I can let my own go, I am better able to serve others.

I hope that the next time that I think I’ve got it all together, I get another opportunity to grow from that perception.  I hope I get an even deeper understanding of what I could be and how I could be better.  I hope I am challenged to go beyond what I thought was good enough.

I hope I can look past the frustration of becoming aware of my weakness, and be grateful for the enlightening.  I hope I can look to all the wise people around me and welcome their assistance, rather than feel threatened by them.

And most importantly, I hope that when the light is shined on my weaknesses once again, that I become stronger in my very core.  The part others can’t see.  The part that may not be as glamorous to an outsider, but gives me the anchor to withstand outside forces and keep me true to my purpose.

I am a work in progress.  Don’t be fooled by what’s on the outside.

Ephesians 4: 14-16

Karen Hansen