This Is Your Body on Music
“Without music, life would be a mistake” -Nietzsche-
I had tried a little experiment before I dove into writing this piece. Moreover, staying in the LOVE theme month here’s what I did. I laid in bed on a quiet Sunday morning, and I listened. I wanted just to take in the silence, not meditate but awake and attuned, just sit still and listen to what I could connect to in my body. You know, take in the sounds with my heart not just my ears. I heard the noise of the world waking up. I heard chirping birds, the comforting repetition of my heater igniter humming on and off warming my home, my sweet little fur baby laying next to me sound asleep and her soft, gentle snore. It was incredibly calming. Maybe it was a bit of meditation after all. I felt peace and a sense comfort; there was not rush to go anywhere or the feeling like I was missing something, it was all wonderfully perfect. Here’s where the experiment got fun, I put on Jingle Bell Rock. Yeah, Christmas in February. I was curious to see where it takes me. As the twanging of the guitars in the introduction began, that second, and it only took an instant, I was magically transported, (just like Michael J. Fox in Back to the Future) to baking gingerbread pancakes on Christmas morning and that joy of holiday spirit. I saw the bright twinkling of the lights and the cold crisp air. I was warm and cozy all over again. It was truly medicinal playing this little ditty on an almost Spring morning and reveling in the past holiday magic, better than any photo album I could have opened.
Taste, touch, smell, sound, sight, they all have the commonality of making us feel. Today I ventured outside of The Food Athlete nourishment box and into another territory. It happens to be as easy as making toast because my passion for music is off the charts (see,see, what I did there, charts?) Still near and dear to my heart as is my love of food, is the powerful impact music has on me and what effect its existence has on our bodies. Music can nourish our body and mind in a different yet just as compelling way as food. There is nothing I love more than turning on my music, dancing around my kitchen and cooking a good meal, it is thoroughly restorative. However, how we each respond to music is subjective. Music and songs are like paintings, forms of art and the beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and the beholder's eyes just like their ears is subjective, that beauty and magic is unique to that person. Our songs, our connection is what makes our original soundtrack to our lives.
I grew up in the vinyl era, not just records but the cassettes. OMGosh, I had boxes of them, “mixed tapes.” I would make them for myself, friends, family, boyfriends. A little plastic box of self-expression. That deck of cards sized bundle of feelings, an array of tunes each one with its particular purpose. Some that made me feel happiness, reckless, courageous, extraordinary, sad, heartbroken. Play, fast forward, rewind, I knew exactly what track was coming up next, and I could listen for the sound of the tape whirring around the spools and then, click, PAUSE, hit play again and there was my song. My LP’s scratched from playing them over and over. Tower Records & Licorice Pizza, were typical Friday nights. Waiting in lines for hours to get the newest top ten Billboard release, and some weekends the artists and bands would come for album signings. I lived for the weekends and the nightclubs. The Roxy, the Whiskey, did not matter where we just wanted to get on that beating, thumping, vibrating dance floor and move our bodies until the lights came on and the bartender yelled out “last call for alcohol.”
MY FITNESS CAREER on MUSIC:
Music and exercise, it is like peanut butter and jelly. Rhythmic music goes with the movement of your body. Whether it is on shuffle or your homemade playlist, it is more motivating to exercise to music. The strokes of the notes go with the extension of our limbs.
When I first started teaching fitness, Pilates was a quiet sport. Maybe some oldies playing on the boom box in the background or no sound at all.
I cannot imagine having a career that didn't involve the depth of music that I get to use. When I teach a fitness class, I create an experience which in part comes from the playlist. I find music that complements my teaching, and if I do not love the songs, that reflects on how my energy flows. So I have to love it, but of course part of my relationship with my students depends on my generosity, so I always throw in a couple of faves that I know are crowd pleasers. A great fitness class touches everyone; all generations must be reached, a clever mix and mash-up will appeal to the masses.
What song do you hear in a fitness class that when it comes on you feel like pushing that extra mile, hang on to plank for ten seconds more, that sound that sends your adrenaline soaring and you feel like you can make that last rep?
Music sets the mood like candles and aromatherapy to enhance the atmosphere. Sweet songs that flow through our ears like velvet, it is better than any drug. Music has that ability to make us feel high and heal our heart.
Dopamine is that feel good chemical that gets released when we workout, eat chocolate, have sex. It is a feeling that we can become addicted to and crave. So it makes sense that when that special song pops up on the radio while driving along with friends, we turn it up, scream with excitement (yeah, you know who you are!) and start singing along with probably more emotion than the artist who recorded it.
Music and sound can make us feel limitless and free us from inhibitions and can inspire us to take ourselves to places we never thought possible. Music ignites my passion and creativity whether it is writing or cooking or fitness, It is a gift to be able to listen to what I love while I do what I love. Not many people get to say that.
Music lives in your heart and touches our soul and are stored forever in our memory bank. The songs, and sounds of nature, those dark nights when all you hear is the crackling of the campfire, the crickets, and the coyote's howl. The ones that are piped into the ceiling of the elevator, the ones in your fitness class, or jamming with your bestie. Stadium concerts, playing tunes in your car on a long road trip, and those soothing noises from a sound machine of waves, the wind, and raindrops that calm you down when you have a massage. A parents connection as they listen to their unborn child's heartbeat on an ultrasound. Whether it is classical, rock, rap, pop, soul, jazz, country, techno, house. To each his own when it comes to the composition of notes. Lyrics or instrumental they all tug at our heart, move our soul and bridge our mind to memories, back to those cherished moments.
There are those first-time “love songs” the first dance, first kiss, “our song” but they transcend all holidays.
So friends, Valentine's Day, as fun as it may be to have that one special day to say “I Love You” (sounds kinda silly when I put it that way) doesn’t have a song. No, No, don’t tell me that ALL love songs are reserved for the month of February, that is not true. Love happens all year and knows the no-one-and-only season. Those “love songs” the ones from so long ago, that told stories, first love, first heartbreak. I would play them loud so my sobbing could not be heard by anyone, including me. Those songs that hurt so much back then make me smile now. This experiment turned out to be therapeutic. I progressed after the X-mas tunes into a stroll down memory lane, creating MY soundtrack to my life. The nostalgia was intense I shed a couple of tears, I got up and danced along, I sang, and laughed. I was completely consumed in the journey reminiscing to all music that has traveled with me through the years, some that have literally saved my life. The best part is that they are just a push button away any time I need them.
What songs would be on your soundtrack of you were to create one right now? I created mine on Spotify and it sounds like this: Push Play HERE
It would mean so much to me to hear what your favorite, 'firsts" songs are. Please share with me in comments or my Instagram HERE
Happy Love Month Food Athletes! Thank you for taking this journey down memory lane with me, thank you for reading and for listening.
Be Happy, Be Healthy, Love Your Body,
xo Jessi (Your Food Athlete) xo