Category Archives: Body Image

Letting My Belly Be

image1I have a confession. I have spent most of my life trying desperately to conceal or minimize my belly.

Even as a child, I had this little “pooch” that stuck out. I always took ballet and the leotards and tights dug their way into that pooch that wouldn’t budge. I wished on eyelashes that I would wake up with a perfectly flat, no, perfectly concave stomach. I would stare at myself in the mirror, sticking it out, sucking it in, pulling it in, flattening and spreading it with my hands as best I could – then I’d pinch all the belly I could muster. Oh, how I hated that thing.

As a teen I learned about sit-ups and crunches and ab-work and pilates and when I would put on my leotards I would hope in vain that the 25 sit-ups I had done the night before might have made a difference. More and more I started taking things into my own hands to rid myself of this abomination. I was taught, over and over again, that this belly just needs to go away. I so strongly felt that I needed to make it disappear, and then everything would be alright.

I went through periods in my twenties where I felt skinny and the belly was a little less of a problem. On those days I felt happier, more confident. But then I would wake up the next morning with it protruding over my pajama bottoms. What pants could I possibly wear that were both cute AND would hide my body? What could I wear that would make me appear different? What would make me appear better?

Now in my early thirties my relationship with my body has changed, mostly for the good. I have bad days and I have good days – the good days mostly outweigh the bad. But still I sometimes see my reflection in the mirror in an exercise class and all I notice is that darn belly trying to peek out of my lululemon pants that were supposed to be so slimming, they were supposed to make it disappear, at least for a brief moment. The deep-set belief of belly being bad as a child still rears its ugly head as an adult.

Five months ago I kind of fell into a new yoga studio with brand new teachers and a brand new practice. I fell into this studio during a period where a lot of change was happening in my life – everything felt like it was uprooted and of course this made me go back to old patterns of disliking my body. I almost didn’t go to my first class there because I thought to myself “No Maggie, you’re dealing with enough change right now, why add more fuel to the fire?”

Fast forward to class last week when our teacher Mitchel instructed for the umpteenth time for everyone to let our bellies be long, to let them hang out. When we are on all fours or in crouching cat (think downward dog with very bent knees) he often instructs us to imagine our bellies swaying side to side like a cat. And whenever he does this I can’t help but smile and think of my cat Milo who flaunts his belly like it’s his job. If he’s flaunting his belly, why shouldn’t I?

But the point is that for these five months I have been instructed to just let my belly be. To let it freaking hang out. To forget about the sucking in, the flattening, the diminishing, the shortening, the crunching. I can let my belly be itself – that little pucker toward the bottom of my torso that has held on to so much guilt, shame, and pain for most of my life. And the more I allow myself to let my belly be, the more confident I feel and the more solid I feel within the structure of my own body.

I am discovering a part of my body, my belly, for the very first time. With fresh eyes and a loving and wholly accepting heart. I know that my belly journey will have its ups and downs but what a great sense of relief to put my hand on my belly and say to myself, for the first time ever, “Hell yeah!”

 

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Give the Gift of Coaching & Yoga

This holiday season, give the gift of coaching or yoga.

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Three sessions of health coaching or private yoga for $300 (valued at $450).

Valid for purchase through December 24.


Read what are people saying:

I not only benefit from the flexibility, body strengthening and calming effect of Yoga, but Maggie is helping me with a variety of ailments that I have. Whether it be my back pain, migraines, balance or osteoarthritis issues, she always knows the correct poses to do, and how to adapt them to my needs.

Maggie is kind, sensitive to my pain, and is very conscientious. She corrects the tiniest movements in my body that make the difference between doing a pose correctly or incorrectly.

As long as my body can tolerate it, she also makes me work! I love that! After a session with Maggie, I feel calmer and my body feels better. I am lucky and grateful to be working with such a special woman and an excellent teacher.


Contact me directly at maggie.converse@gmail.com for your PDF gift certificate to a loved one – or to purchase a package for yourself!

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How to Like Your Body … a FREE workshop

Body Image is a hot topic today. It would be wonderful if we could wave a magic wand and love everything about ourselves, but even just starting to LIKE ourselves is a huge challenge. And it doesn’t happen overnight. It is a process.

Yoga was a huge catalyst that allowed me to shift the way I looked at my body. I struggled with bulimia for several years in college and it was diving deep into a yoga practice that finally allowed for that shift to happen:

I remember looking at my thighs in one class. Those thighs I hated for so long — I used to look at my thighs when I would sit in a chair and feel so horrible about myself because of the way they splayed out and almost tripled (or so I thought) in size.  I forever wanted to transform them into tiny sticks and for the first time ever I said “WOW. Those are my amazing thighs! They do so much for me!”

It was at this point where I started to finally accept myself, little by little, and respect myself so much so that I opened doors for even more change to happen.

I want to share some of my story, some of my experience, and help you begin to like your body from the inside out. I hope you will consider joining me for this free workshop on June 30th from 5:00-6:30pm. We will meet at M3Yoga Studio, 44 Main St., Westport, CT.

Please RSVP for your free tickets by clicking here. For those who cannot attend but are interested in learning more about the work that I do, please email me at maggie.converse@gmail.com

With Love,
Maggie

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Apparently I haven’t made myself clear … Yoga Saved Me

I was at dinner a few weeks ago with Brett and some friends. We were having a great time, laughing and joking around about … eating disorders. To be absolutely specific, it was about making yourself throw up and that transitioned to eating disorders.

I guess, thank god, I am finally at a point in my life where sometimes, SOMETIMES, I can step back and poke fun of my former self and the way that I used to operate. The harsh reality is that when you are dealing with an eating disorder, the disorder itself is not so funny, and life becomes less funny because you are constantly criticizing yourself.

treestluciaBut I digress … as the conversation started to get a little more personal, my friend paused and then asked me, “Maggie how did you get over all your stuff?” In this case “stuff” was keyword for “bulimia.”

“Yoga,” I replied.

“What? Brett?” my friend asked, misunderstanding my mumbled answer amidst the chaotic restaurant.

“No, I got over all my stuff because of my yoga practice,” I replied, a little bit louder now.

Thinking to myself, isn’t it obvious? Doesn’t everybody know that? But clearly that is not the case because I have never truly shared my full story, except for with a select few.

I’m still building up the confidence to really let it all out but even saying it at the dinner table that night, where two people who were not privy to my triumph over an eating disorder with yoga, made me flush with pride.

So this is me starting to open myself up and share my story with you. Finally.

 

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My blog post on Intention Daily

Is it weird to post one of my blogs that has already been posted but published on another site? No? Ok good because I’m about to do it.

Last week while I was teaching yoga in St. Lucia Intention Daily published this piece that I wrote. Since I had limited internet access I wasn’t able to properly share it so … one week later … here goes!

If you’ve already read the piece, it’s still a great chance to discover a cool new site sharing beautiful and insightful writing and ideas.

I’m as happy as a Maggie doing a headstand on a beach in St. Lucia.

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Don’t just “treat yoself” … Love yoself!

It’s #TreatYourselfTuesday and in honor of that I wanted to reflect on this whole idea of “loving ourselves.”

What does it really mean to you? I feel like I definitely get off the “I love myself” track sometimes, and so often because I start to care too much about the approval of others.

But when I start to let that go, things really start to shift.

I think Melody Beattie says it beautifully…

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I’ll take my abs just as they are thank you

I started taking a new exercise class lately to add some variety to my routine. I want to start by saying that I have loved how strong these classes make me feel – they focus on small isolated movements to strengthen various muscle groups throughout the body. I feel the difference in my yoga practice, when I run, and even when I’m sitting at my desk and writing.

ImageIt has come to my attention however that these classes focus a great deal on the physical “end result” – or the way that your body will look upon completion of an exercise. Do you get my drift? I’m probably far more sensitive to these verbal cues in class because this is something I base my work on (body image, and a healthy one at that) but I can’t help but wonder if these cues are actually helpful to the other women in the class, or further causing them to only dislike their bodies. Causing more self criticism. I’m usually able to just block out these little cues throughout class.

And then last week something pretty darn cool happened.

During the abdominal series the instructor cued us to visualize the way we want our abs to look when we are done. Here’s what happened …

I laughed to myself, feeling totally full of certainty that I like, no, I LOVE my abs just the way they are. I was filled with this warm fuzzy feeling (yup, warm and fuzzy) and excitement that I had arrived. I had arrived at a place of starting to truly love the things about my body that I had once hated and punished myself for. And as the music blasted and we kept crunching our abs, it felt like I had the most wonderful secret sitting deep within me.

So what does this mean?

Well, allow me to preface this with the fact that my “abs” have, for as long as I can remember (or since I was age six), been a “problem area” for me. My stomach has, and probably never will be, flat, defined, akin to a washboard – you get the picture. There never will be a six-pack but my stomach is soft and it is strong. It helps me get into handstands, sit up straight, hold my torso up straight while running, and breath deeply.Screen Shot 2014-04-06 at 1.26.40 PM

I’m almost certain this “ah-ha moment” is a clear indication of moving a step in the right direction. It is proof that the work of training myself out of the negative self-talk actually works. I wasn’t even trying to think positively during this class and I’m certain I will still have those low “my body isn’t good enough!”, moments. But the consistent effort of redirecting my attention AWAY from those thoughts is finally starting to work so that I am able to see my imperfections as part of a beautifully imperfect whole.

I leave you with this: I encourage you to start by simply giving yourself the opportunity to see your imperfections in a new light — even if it feels silly. Slowly start to accept them as part of what makes you beautifully imperfect.

 

 

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