‘Don’t you dare ignore me, your body’

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I realized this past week that all my life I treated my body as a distraction. I had all this living, learning and loving to do… And then I had this body. Like a pet someone had obliged me to take care during the holidays.

I tried to do the minimum for its well being just so that it could leave me alone and not disrupt my life. Feed it, occasionally get it to exercise, get it to the doctor when needed. I mostly ignored it. I had a lot more important things going on…

My body made it easier for me to ignore because I was healthy. Average weight. My job did not need it much. I could get away professionally and socially with minimum effort.

I did not have a negative relationship with my body, just not a close one. I treated it to massages. I enjoyed tasty food. And took a nap at the weekends. No binge drinking or smoking. I thought that was enough body love.

Motherhood changed the relationship to my body but surprisingly to the worse. My body was more important now. It was the source of food and comfort for a human being I adored. I treated it worse than ever. I spent more than two years without sleep or exercise. I gave up my body’s needs for more important things like parenting and working.

I have spent most of last year sick with hyperemesis. I spent the last week in the hospital with pneumonia. I am better now, but the stats are that 5–15% of people who get hospitalized with pneumonia do not make it. And it dawned on me:

I am my body. There is not me and my body. We are one. Obviously, there is no learning, living or loving without it. But there is not me either.

In my head I knew that nutrition, exercise and sleep were important. I just somehow felt I could get away without making them a priority. Well, I can’t.

Science is clear on these things. You cannot be smart or creative without the three pillars: nutrition, exercise and sleep. You cannot even be happy. By neglecting my body I was not focusing on the fun stuff of life. I was not being a good employee or a good mother. I was just being stupid. And setting myself up for failure at everything that mattered.

Executive Coach at www.theleaderpath.com. Former Google business leader. Fast Company & Thrive Global Contributor.

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