Monday 16 September 2019

'I needed to make friends with my body'

Yoga teacher and founder of the Positive Fitness project Liz Costigan tells Fran Power growing older means she is no longer chasing 'skinny'

Liz Costigan
Liz Costigan

Dynamo Liz Costigan is passionate about health but believes it's about a lot more than just being fit. "It's more about the mix of the body, the mind, the spirit, the soul, whatever you call that element." And, she says, you need to look after all aspects to age healthily.

"In my 20s I was very focused on the physical aspect, not on my emotional or mental wellbeing, I just went to the gym to undo the things I overdid at the weekend - too much partying and stuff. I chased the 'skinny', and the more I chased it, the further away I came from my real self, the real Liz.

"I think society expects us to be perfect human beings. You're not a runner, unless you're running marathons, you're not a yogini unless you're standing on your head in a bikini on a beach. That's a lot of BS."

Now she is nearing 40, her attitude has changed. "I realised I needed to make friends with my body, rather than constantly berating it for having fun. It's a balance between your green juice and your red wine, your party and your mediation. And so that's where I am now, on a journey of loving myself for myself and appreciating my body for that place that houses my heart and my brain and all those wonderful things that my body does."

That means the days begins with a 'juicespresso', or an apple, skin and all, juiced with a knob of ginger. "It's like a coffee but really helps with digestion and circulation. It's a great way to start the day with a little kick to delay the first coffee because I have so many coffees during the day."

For Liz, breakfast is the important meal of the day but not just for nutrition. She generally has porridge souped up with nuts, seeds and dates."You're giving yourself energy to deal with your day. We often think of it as energy for the body but it's also energy for the emotional and mental body. You're fuelling your body to deal with the stress of traffic or emails when you get into work."

Most days kick off with teaching a yoga class in the morning. "If I'm not teaching, I'll go for a run. I love running. I stress that it's important to do something you enjoy doing. You want this to be a lifestyle thing. It's about health, this is supposed to bring you happiness and joy. If you're carting yourself off to the gym every day and hating it, you're not going to sustain it. You're going to hate it there. What's the point?"


* Mornings for many of us tend to be very highly paced but, if you can get up 10 minutes earlier, you can have your 'juicespresso' or coffee or tea in that breathing space before everything kicks off. Those pockets of peace in the day are vital, and are time to breathe and get your cortisol levels down. It's the cortisol that gives us cravings, saps us of energy, steals the energy to hang out with our family or go to the gym in the evening. Breathe, it's the one thing that helps reduce stress from the body.

* Keep training - keep moving your body and embrace changes. In our 20s and 30s, we think about our muscles, we want the six-pack abs and gorgeous body - later we need to think about our spine and bones and skeletal system, it gets less supple as we age. Yoga is great for joints and bones. Find a form of yoga that suits you, and help your bones and joints along by taking daily fish oils or Udo's Oil.

* Try things you've never tried before. If you've never danced, try a dance class. Or learn the piano to keep that part of your brain fit. It's great for your emotional and psychological needs.

Sunday Independent

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