Use it or Lose it

By Angela Mazziotta

Metaphorically speaking,

Human beans are the heartiest of all beans, we shuck our bucky butts around happy and superior – reigning over the Legume Regime which includes the inferior likes of limas, kidneys, pintos, mungs and greens. We are ranked so highly among these simple beans that we boil, bake, stew and re-fry them without a thought in order to nourish our highly complicated bodies.

At some pointed foot in my four years as a dance performance major in college, a light bulb went off. I formed a personal mantra to illuminate the path of pursuing a career in The Real World: Dance. Maintenance Is Key. I also had a ballet instructor who threatened, “Use it or lose it”. For athletes, dancers and other body-praising-babies, a daily routine of diet cokes, a jog, lean cuisines, and a workout video are not going to cut it. Any body-conscious homo sapien is grapplin’ with the consequence and expense of coming to this realization.

Tied to this new found responsibility is the inescapable hyper-awareness that sounds like, “Something’s wrong”, “I feel funny”, “We need to switch positions; my knees are beginning to hurt”. A person who is deeply connected to every sensation that bubbles up may battle bouts of hypochondria and a case of the fidgets. There are those who have been to the peak of their physical shape and are sensitive to anything less than that. Guilt dressed obnoxiously in its gilt robe makes frequent visits, chiding the physically aware for “dropping the ball”. In this state, it is easy to forget that our bodies are constantly changing and aging. Over the past seven months I’ve lived in two temporary living situations with adults 40, 44 and 50-something years old. The major takeaway has been bearing witness to the exceptional wisdom these bodystars have in maintaining their vessels through the years. All claim they are in the best shape of their lives (and I have a feeling it’s more than just physical).

Since every body is different, our quests for the ultimate maintenance regimen can feel both scattered and lonely. What works for Susan may not work for Cathy, and that sucks! It’s exhausting and costly to find the right combination and balance of yoga, Pilates, marathon running, meat sessions at the gym, dance classes, diet and bodywork. Here’s a new Golden Rule to consider: treat your body the way your body wants to be treated. It’s okay that Sally slides seamlessly into splits, but Laura loves lunges to loosen ligaments. Perhaps this is a process not to be rushed, but reveled in – it’s personal. Figuring out what works for your body might be the nicest and most gainful game of trial and error you’ve ever played! Go ahead and slap some Tiger Balm on a sore muscle and next time throw a pepper patch on it! Get a deep tissue massage in November, treat ‘choself to a cranial-sacral massage in December, then in January get jiggy wit it in a massage chair at the mall (but leave shortly after because malls are really tough on the bod). Most importantly, don’t forget to eat your fruits and veggies, especially veggies…and lots of beans. What’s on the inside is reflected on the outside. You’re welcome for the cheesy conclusion.