Self Love & Body
What if working out had nothing to do with how you look and only about living a longer, healthier life filled with clarity, energy, and vitality? How many of us would still do it?
5 weeks ago, I started a 6 week fitness challenge that promised me I would lose 20 lbs in 6 weeks as long as I followed the directions.
Problem #1: My view of myself was so distorted that I actually thought I had 20 lbs to lose.
What kind of media propaganda sorcery influenced a tiny girl like me to think I even had 20 lbs to lose?! I didn't realize this was skewed thinking at the time so, I signed up for the challenge out of self loathing and desperation.
Solution #1: Choose being healthy as the primary motivator behind exercise.
I didn't even realize I was desperate until I noticed the way I was going about the challenge. I was meal prepping out of control and anxiety. I obsessively checked myself out in the mirror to see if I was getting smaller or looking closer to how society tells me I'm supposed to look. I just longed to be a size 4 again (see Problem #2). External factors are the worst reasons to work out and eat well because they are unpredictable, subjective, and always changing. The best motivator is the desire to be healthy, feel good INSIDE, and live a longer life to enjoy the people you love.
Problem #2: Obsession with numbers.
It's amazing how much power we give a size/number. Not to mention, most retailers "vanity size" anyway meaning they take something that's really a bigger size and just say it's smaller so people will feel good about themselves being a certain size and buy the item.
Solution #2: Learn to be neutral about sizes and numbers.
A size is just a size. A weight is just a number. An inch is just an inch. Most strong and healthy athletes would be considered obese according to a BMI chart. Start noticing how much power you give these neutral numbers and how it's affecting your mental and emotional health. Practice equanimity. Rinse. Repeat.
Problem #3: My obsession with Perfection nearly destroyed me.
I was taking these supplements that were part of the program and my body did not agree. I threw up once and my boyfriend grew increasingly worried for my mental and emotional health. He told me I had never acted the way I did while taking the supplements in the entire time he knew me. I should have stopped taking them right away but, I was so concerned with being a "good student" and doing everything "perfectly" that I kept taking them and my mental, emotional, AND physical states all suffered.
Solution #3: Always trust your body. It never lies.
I realized that I was NOT in partnership with my body and have not been for decades. Why else would I be tempted to continue taking supplements that my body was obviously rejecting? It was really jarring to realize how much I criticized and hated certain parts of my body. Even more troubling was recognizing that this way of thinking is considered "normal". I noticed the most "aesthetically pleasing" people are the most critical of themselves and others and will do things like starve themselves, binge & purge, and put others down for not working out or looking a certain way (#doyouevenliftbro). I am now learning how to be a partner with MY body and treat it as I would treat my best friend. It is, after all, the vehicle of my soul and deserves respect and tender, loving care. This has helped me gain so much compassion and love for myself that I am able to be a better partner with others and support them when they aren't being nice to themselves. I have decades of conditioning to undo but every day, in every way, I am getting better. When I'm tempted to criticize my looks, I immediately pause and say "I am strong. I am fit. I am healthy." instead.
Overall Lesson: How you do anything is how you do everything.
Context (not content) is everything. It's less about what you do than it is about how you do it. Notice your mental and emotional state, notice your self talk, and always identify your intention/motivation behind the action.
The last 5 weeks have transformed my lifestyle and the way I see fitness, eating healthy, and ultimately... the world. If I am not OK with myself, the number on the scale or the size on the tag will never satisfy me. I need to focus on how I feel inside. I need optimal health to be my only motivator.