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Day 7: The Medicine of Adult Recess

Updated: Dec 24, 2023


Brian and I arrived at our hotel in the afternoon, with the fitness center just down the hall. I knew Brian was thinking nap. He sighed, knowing I was thinking movement.


It was a memorial-WOD day for my CrossFit community--a specific workout named AVA. I got changed, warmed up a bit, enjoyed the 20:53 mins workout, and marveled at how much more like myself I felt than I have this past week of delightful travel, food, naps, and exploration. I'm loving our time away. I am also missing this integral part of my life: movement. It's more than an obligation or pastime now. It's medicine.

I’m not alone in this convergence: "Dr. Karla Wolford and EHP Performance Prescribe Exercise and Nutrition instead of Medication." Exercise and nutrition, says Dr. Wolford, are "medically necessary,” in prescriptive practice.

My relationship to 'movement'--exercise--has a tortured history, much like it does for many of us. Obligation, so to not be fat. Duty, because medical doctors have said so. Avoidance of shame, as women's bodies are supposed to look a certain (impossible) way. Except in my body now, these are somehow not the governing frames anymore. Just show up. Do better. What can I do instead of focusing on what I can't.


My relationship to the word 'medicine' has a similar trajectory of association in my worlds. Clinical and diagnostic, as my father is a physician of internal medicine. Managed care and pharmaceutical-symptom response to human discomfort. Except today, as I've sat with elders shaped by the West African Dagara Medicine Wheel, 'medicine' means something else, closer to wisdom or gifts to offer/receive. What medicine do you bring? What medicine are you seeking here?

As I walked back into the room to enjoy some time with Brian, it dawned on me that movement is my daily dose of fun, the medicine of adult recess in an overly cognitive life. No longer is it attached to body-image, trying to change my body to look or be something else. Instead, it is a gift of medicine that truly shapes my mental habits in unexpected ways. Yes, it changes my body composition (when I fuel my body well, cleanly), but it's the easing out of cultural toxins and the easing in of community, fun, health, fitness that I love so.

CrossFit peeps now know to roll their eyes on cue, as I say and share my mantra before every CrossFit WOD: Enjoy the movement. No longer is movement or physical exercise an onerous have-to...it's a get to for as long as my body can. A body wisdom that is actually a habit of mind, shifting everything inside of me.

How does movement move away from shame-based or obligation-rooted frames of "needing to change our body image" into a playful and invitational frame of wisdom, mystery, opportunity for adult recess? I want all those around me to experience this freedom...and yet I have no clear idea precisely how I got here either. I am simply liking any day I get to move.





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