Week three, how exciting!!
As you can probably tell by the fact that I’m still talking about this, the practice of getting, being, eating, and living fit is something that’s pretty important and interesting to me! The reason I’m so persistent in sharing about this is because of the power, accomplishment, confidence and overall wellbeing that I feel when actively pursuing my fitness goals. My sincerest wish is that these conversations spark a little of that fire in you, and you decide to get yourself some of this sweet health and wellness action 😉
One of the most significant things I’ve learned in this adventure is that “fitness” is a very individualized pursuit. If you’ve been tuning in for the last few weeks, you may have started to get this vibe from our previous conversations. Today let’s jump in to four very significant truths about the specialized nature of wellness…
- You are the master of your health/wellness/fitness.
Not your genes that “predispose” you to obesity1. Not your family that has created an environment in which gluttony is revered and fitness scorned. Not your coworkers who continue to offer a never-ending assortment of rich and decadent desserts that are sitting around the office all day. Not even your doctor, in his/her infinite wisdom is the master of your wellness2. Your budget is not the master of your health3.
If any of these statements make you stop and say “Huh?!”, good!! I did the same thing the first time I heard this stuff! Feel free to fact-check me with some good old fashioned Googling before you read on 😉
Breaking down excuses and “limiting beliefs” can be a big, uncomfortable task, but identifying the ideas that are keeping you from achieving your goals is a pretty crucial first step. The stuff I mentioned is challenging to overcome. You can get mired in one or more or all of those ideas for years, feeling like you don’t have the opportunity to be as healthy as you would like. Maybe because “Everyone in my family struggles with weight, so it makes sense that I’m not able to be fit and healthy”, “Fit people are stuck up and snobby. They are so self-involved. I don’t want to be like that!”, “The ladies at work are such good cooks, it would be rude to say no when they bring in cake”, “My doctor looked at my levels and didn’t like them. He said I’ll be on these medications for the rest of my life”, or “Eating healthy food is way more expensive than I can afford, and don’t even get me started on gym memberships”.
Health is a challenge. Even in the best of situations with all the help in the world, being healthy is hard work. Add in a few feelings of self-doubt, some long-held limiting beliefs, and the junk that society continues to throw at us, and moving toward health becomes near impossible! I am here to tell you that you, you, YOU, have the ability to live in health, strength, and vitality, and do it for many years to come. I don’t say that as someone who is the ideal picture of health, but as someone who has heard enough stories, watched enough clips, listened to enough interviews and had enough experiences to fully and without reservations say: Anyone can be healthy, including you. And you are the one to make it happen.
- The only people it’s healthy to compare yourself to are past you, to feel your accomplishments, and future you, to remind yourself what you’re working toward.
I wish I could come through the screen and love this into you right now. It’s so hard, but it’s the truth! The only comparing you should be doing is with your beautiful self now versus the self you used to be and the self you are creating. Not the woman in the grocery store, dressed all in high-end athleisure, who reports that she has this toned and lean physique from 30 minutes of Pilates twice a week. Not the fit girl at work who is constantly wearing the adorable clothes that you wish you had “the body” and confidence for. Not your mom or your sister or your yoga class. Just you. All of you. Strong and courageous and mighty you.
Judging ourselves based on a standard set by the people in magazines, on the street, in the gym, in your house, comes so naturally and yet is a sure-fire way to crash and burn. Just the act of looking at other people with the intent of measuring yourself against them starts such a negative and hard to break pattern. We either end up feeling accomplished and good about ourselves at the expense of someone else, or guilty and down on ourselves for not meeting the impossible standard of being someone else.
That is not to say that you shouldn’t appreciate the hard work that someone else has put in to their fitness and health! Compliment those amazing arms. Applaud the coworker for bringing a salad every day. If you love their results, ask what they did and do the same. But don’t let other people determine how you feel about yourself!
Instead try choosing to honestly ask yourself, “Hey, wonderful self! Have I been treating you the best way that I can? Am I doing what I can to make you healthy? Am I taking steps to make you the best body that you can be?” The only person you are trying to “beat” in this health and wellness game is previous you.
- Your ideal and most fit body may have some parts that were not part of your vision.
Somewhere in my adolescence I heard the expression “thunder thighs” and it was forever lodged in my brain. I don’t think it was said about me, I don’t remember the thighs in question, I just remember that “thunder” was a word that could be used to describe thighs and that this was a bad thing. Before that point in my life I don’t remember thinking anything negative about legs. Legs were just legs. They could be fast or slow or short or long or missing, but never bad. It seems odd now to be able to remember a point at which I had no concept of negative body image but dang, it sounds beautiful. I’ve spent the last few years of my life trying to go back there. To embrace these thighs, especially the fact that their strength can be said to make thunder. To love my belly for the huge laughs it lets me enjoy, instead of wishing it were flatter.
You should try it, no matter where you are in your journey- embrace your body.
Some of you may have already tuned out after such an airy-faerie idea, but stick with me.
You have an incredible body, right now. No, not “hiding under all this flab”, incredible as it is at this moment. No matter what. It’s doing amazing things and has taken you to some outstanding places and events and allowed you to do such fantastic things in your life. If you start to honor it now, give it a bit of respect, think of it fondly, maybe even look at it with admiration and a nod of respect, I promise that your whole fitness journey will be a whole heck of a lot more amazing.
Last week I talked about envisioning an ideal version of ourselves. In your vision, maybe you have toned arms, maybe they’re kind of muscled. You imagined some shoulders, maybe they were narrow and “feminine” with a long and lean neck. Maybe there were some chiseled abs and the perfect curves. Those are all beautiful things. If you imagine them when you work out and spend weeks at the gym and look at your abs and they still have excess skin from the hundred pounds you lost will you maintain your confidence? When you spend hours every day doing “lengthening” workouts and “toning” your shoulders and yet you look in the mirror they’re still broad and peaked like a line-backer’s how will you feel? If all of my workouts consisted of hours of squats and lunges and plies and leg lifts, working toward a thigh gap only to have my legs still look like tree trunks, I’m not sure I would keep working out! Keep those goals. Keep a vision of your ideal body. But make sure that it’s YOUR BODY in that vision, not someone else’s. If you can start to embrace your body as it is now, appreciate your own form and the things that make it unique, you’re already halfway to your ideal body.
- Your diet may not include what all the other “fit kids” are eating, and that’s ok!
I have met tons of successful, brilliant, healthy, fit people. I know marathon runners. I know some unbelievably strong weightlifters. I know yogis and martial artists and dancers and hikers. I even recently met Dave Asprey, the Bulletproof coffee guy! You know what all of those people have in common in their diets? They all agree that eating is a pretty good idea. Most all of them eat a diet that is largely composed of whole foods, heavy on vegetables. For the most part they all agree that you should stop eating when you are full. And that’s about the end of the similarities! Some drink coffee, some don’t. Some think that you need animal proteins and fats to be healthy, others are vegan. There are cookie eaters and paleo nuts, drinkers of wine and teetotalers, juicers and those who only eat fruit as dessert. And yet, they are all thriving and able to healthfully maintain active lifestyles and weights.
Isn’t it amazing that all of these educated and health minded people have come to such varied conclusions as to how to fuel their bodies? It’s almost as though fitness is a personal journey, specific to your body! Your body was designed to run most efficiently with a certain type of fuel. Unfortunately, most of us have spent so much time listening to our mental and emotional cravings for things and filling our bodies with all sorts of weird junk that it’s pretty hard to hear and understand what it actually needs. I can say from personal experience that fruit pies and pizza aren’t the fuel that my body needs…
Now, I’m not a dietician or a nutritionist or even any sort of certified medical professional. What I am is a fitness enthusiast with a deep love of food who is learning all that she can to support her body in becoming the absolute best it can be. With that out of the way, I want to challenge you to read some books, check out some articles, talk with some healthy people and experiment with the foods that you eat! Go a week without bread and see how you feel. Take a break from your morning coffee and see if anything changes (other than that nasty headache). Go crazy and don’t have meat for a week. Maybe take the ultimate challenge and go a week without processed foods! (Old me would never have believed that was possible). See how you feel. How your workouts feel. What happens to your sleep, your energy, your bowels?! Then, with your information firmly in mind and your recent foodie experiments fresh in your memory, create a new way of eating that is good for your body. And own it!! Because it’s the best for you 🙂
Once again, you’ve got this. You and only you can make this “fitness” thing happen, so go get it!! ❤
I’m always open to questions and conversation, so please, join in!
1 There is an ever-growing plethora of research regarding genes and the inaccuracy of the previously believed theory that the presence of a gene indicates that this gene will be activated. You can learn more here and here for starters.
2 This is not me trying to discredit medical professionals, but rather me trying to empower you to “accept their diagnosis, but reject their prognosis”. Check this out.
3 There are countless free workouts online, most gyms have trial periods and free classes, there are ways to fit healthy eating into your lifestyle without changing your budget.