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Gratitude for Our Bodies

Published on 11/2/2023

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Movement & Motherhood

By: Kristin Colsky Gavin   |  November 2, 2023

This time of year, most of us contemplate what we are thankful for. We go around the table at Thanksgiving, asking each other the same question. Often, we hear gratitude expressed for family and friends, or perhaps even our planet Earth, the home that we all inhabit. Feeling and expressing gratitude makes us more content with the lives that we have and less focused on the aspects that we perceive as lacking in our lives. This season may also inspire actions of giving back or helping others by volunteering, which has been a big part of my life in a lot of ways.

While gratitude for others and things outside of ourselves can boost our own happiness and feelings of well-being, what if we could turn that grateful energy towards ourselves in a more direct way, and specifically towards our own bodies, to the homes that we each inhabit for our entire lives? It is easy to forget how important our physical health is until we encounter an injury, illness, or limitation. Sometimes it is not until then that we realize how much having a healthy, functioning body truly supports every aspect of our lives, from relationships and family to work and hobbies. 

We are meant to move, and I try to be truly grateful for my body and what it has and continues to do for me every day. One of my biggest adventures in volunteering took me to the Peace Corps in Ukraine, where I taught English as a second language, learned a new language, and met wonderful people. During the second year of my service, I ended up fracturing my ankle. As I navigated my recovery from this injury, I learned firsthand that, as Joseph Pilates said, “Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness.” It is the pillar upon which everything else stands. Without it, everything else falls and seems less important. Ultimately, the practice of Pilates supported me in my rehabilitation, and my injury inspired me to spread the benefits of the method to others through teaching. 

In addition to bringing me from injury to strength, my body has done so much for me over the years. It has carried and birthed my son. It has given him nourishment throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding. My arms have held and carried him, rocking him to sleep and giving him comfort. My feet and legs have taken me to places all over the world, down cobblestone city streets, across bridges, and along sandy beaches. 

When reflecting on the idea of gratitude for our bodies and all that they do for us, I think about all that we can do to support our physical health. Movement is one big way that we can do this. Too often, exercise can be seen as a punishment or something that we have to do. What if we could reframe exercise as something that we get to do, something that brings us joy and makes us feel good? When you get to that point - when you want to move no matter what is going on in your life, no matter what size or shape you are or what your level of fitness is - a light turns on, and your whole life can change for the better. Moving becomes a necessity for showing up as our best selves, for our mental health, for our happiness. It empowers us to feel strong and vibrant, and to support our families and friends who count on us. It allows us to carry our kids and to show them an example of what it can look like to take care of ourselves and demonstrate self-love.

One of the reasons why I love Pilates - though you could apply it to other movement modalities that you love - is that it helps us to realize the changing nature of everything, including ourselves and our capabilities. To be able to do something today that I could not do yesterday, or to be able to do it better than before. And equally, with humility, to see what I could do yesterday - or last year - that I struggle to do today. To be able to accept what is and at the same time work hard to get to where I want to be. We witness our own transformations through the seasons of our lives, whether it be pregnancy, postpartum, injuries, illnesses, strength, or weakness. I love that Pilates in particular, with all of its possible modifications and progressions, can support us through all of these phases of life.

When you come to that realization - that we are meant to move - and start to crave that movement, it is also important to understand that our workouts should on the whole make us feel energized, not depleted. They should leave us feeling joyful and motivated, not exhausted and beat up. This can make such a difference in keeping up a routine and finding that consistency that we need to bring us a lifetime of health and wellness.

This Thanksgiving and holiday season, I challenge you to find that gratitude for your own body and all that it has done and continues to do for you each day. I wish for you to feel that lightbulb moment, if you have not already, that movement is a gift, a necessity, something to crave, something to look forward to, and one of the simplest ways to support our bodies, minds, and spirits. 

Kristin Colsky Gavin is a native of Sausalito and lives there now with her husband, John, and her two-year-old son, William. She is a UC Berkeley graduate and Pilates instructor with ten years of experience and her own business, Kristin Gavin Pilates. Kristin has worked with all kinds of bodies, ages, and fitness levels but has a particular passion for working with pregnant and postpartum clients. She is also studying to consult on nutrition for pregnancy, postpartum, and babies. Contact her at Website coming soon!

When not practicing or teaching Pilates, Kristin can be found swimming, practicing yoga, hiking the trails of Marin, cooking, writing, studying languages, traveling near and far, and spending time with her family. She started open water swimming several years ago and has completed the Alcatraz to San Francisco swim three times.

More from this issue:

A Value of Service HERE >> 

Firewise Communities: The Power of Working Together HERE >> 

Gratitude for Our Bodies HERE >> 
SMMCpreneur: Are Travel Agents Still a Thing? HERE >> 

Sports Dentistry HERE >> 

Thanksgiving Care Packages for 75 Families in Need HERE >> 

The Power of Giving HERE >> 

Things No One Told Me HERE >>