(That’s not me hooping in the pic above. This is a guest post. Sorry for confusion.)
I picked up my first hula hoop in March of 2008. It was a kid’s hoop, pink and filled with water. I picked it up, and it fell to the floor, again and again and again.
I wasn’t really used to being bad at things.
That day I practiced until my sides felt bruised, perplexed by how difficult it was – after four hours, I could keep it up. I woke up the next day, and I practiced some more.
My hula hoop partner, since performance partner and business partner and forever friend, was amazing. Her slender body moved within the hoop, underneath the hoop, all the while maintaining a graceful elegance that I never quite seemed able to pull off. For a while, I struggled with feeling like the fatter, co-pilot on our hula hooping adventures. We hooped everywhere, something that we referred to as Guerilla Hooping, where we would just show up somewhere unannounced, whip out our hula hoops and start doing tricks.
For a girl who has done her very best to shy away from the spot light and make herself as small as possible for the majority of her life, this required some extreme effort. I will admit that, at first, I was terrified.
See, I have always maintained that if you can do something in the quiet safety of your own house, you’ve won the battle, but if you can go out and do something publicly, in front of an audience – you’ve won the war. And if you suffer from low self esteem or impaired body image, doing this can send an important message to your body and the universe that you are worth it. As I got better at hula hooping, and as I forced myself out of my comfort zone and into public, I was worth it. I could draw a crowd. I could barely recognize myself inside all that bravery.
The other thing about hula hooping is that it’s an amazing workout. It burns about a hundred calories in ten minutes of continuous hooping – which may sound easy, but it’s not. You think that you’re just using your stomach muscles, but you’ll wake up the next day with sore muscles that you never knew you had. Be sweet and patient with yourself. You will improve. Your relationship with your body will improve. I have never felt stronger, more capable, or sexier than when I was hooping everyday. My strengthened core supported my chest, improved my posture, and made me feel like my body was moving as one unit instead of a collection of disjointed parts.
Though trendy, hooping is more than a workout. It changed the way I felt about my hips. It absolved the loathing I had for my thighs. It allowed me to be free of my own scrutiny for the first time in my life.
This last bit is crucial.
(MizFit note: please to watch the video above. we can wait. your smile, however, cannot)
Questions? Comments? I’d love to hear them. I can be found rabble rousing on twitter, facebook, and in your very own inbox. Swing by Medicinal Marzipan to read all about my adventures with body image, healthy living, and learning to love myself just a little bit more each day.