For years, I worked in academic research settings studying the role of exercise on weight loss and weight maintenance. Since…
I’m about to suggest something really crazy. Just stay with me; I promise, it’ll be worth your while.
What if, instead of chasing a fat loss goal, we just relaxed? What if we loved our bodies NOW as opposed to minus 10 pounds from now? What if we took the time to find a fitness and nutrition plan that we actually enjoyed, so that the whole transformation process became…enjoyable?
I know it seems completely counter to what we’re used to.
Many of us have spent our lives thinking we aren’t good enough, and won’t ever be good enough until we have the perfect body.
It’s something that countless women struggle with every single day. We berate ourselves over every nutritional indulgence, every missed workout. We don’t allow ourselves to recover when we’re exhausted, or have a piece of chocolate when our body craves it. Train hard. Eat clean. No excuses. That’s what’s going to bring us happiness… right?
The question is: once you reach that arbitrary goal, will you truly be content? Will you unconditionally love the skin you’re in? Chances are you won’t. You’ll have spent the last 6 weeks, 6 months, 6 years—struggling. You’ll hustle, strive, and completely exhaust yourself. You’ll decline invitations to hang out with friends because of your “diet.” You’ll ostracize yourself in the name of fat loss.
I know, because once upon a time, that was me.
How many times, while in pursuit of your goal, will you have said awful, diminishing things to yourself?
How many times will you utter phrases like:
I can’t eat that.
I’m so fat/disgusting/weak.
I have no will power.
I’ll never look like her.
I wish this was easier.
You’ll go to bed hungry. You’ll eat food that bores you. You’ll work out harder and longer as self-punishment. You will waste your limited breaths on these destructive phrases, in pursuit of a corporeal goal. And that’s just the thing—your time is limited. Your breaths are precious and you never know when one will be your last. Are you willing to spend your limited time on this earth miserable, obsessed, and shame-ridden?
You simply cannot hate yourself lean. Hating your body now, instead of loving and accepting it, is most certainly going to make you hate the process of “improving it.” Self-love and acceptance run far deeper than a body composition percentage; Self-compassion doesn’t lie in a number on the scale. If you chase these things in search of happiness, you’ll never be satisfied. Love starts now, not 10 pounds from now.
Right now, in this moment, you are enough. You are unique and extraordinary; there is no other you. You are radiant and powerful—a beautiful creature with a special purpose. You can transcend the impulse to hate your body into the vision you’ve created in your head. Now, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to improve or enhance your fitness. If you want to lose fat, gain muscle, get stronger, increase flexibility and so on—then you absolutely should.
More than likely, you will gain immeasurable happiness through exhilarating exercise and nourishing food.
You can seek to transform your body and elevate your fitness while being comfortable in your own skin—right now.
You can love your body and simultaneously seek to make it stronger or leaner. If you do this, not only will you enjoy the fitness experience, living fully and authentically, but your metamorphosis will be sustainable.
When you hate yourself lean, you’ll create an impossible situation for yourself. It will never be enough. You will never be enough. It will last until your will power crumbles. You’ll jump from one diet to the next…in search of elusive happiness. Hating your body into transformation simply is not sustainable.
It isn’t easy; loving and accepting yourself takes work. You are working against external forces that are determined to convince you that you aren’t enough. You are living in an age where the image of an ideal woman gets smaller each day, and body shaming (in all it’s forms) runs rampant. You have to dig deep, dismiss the external chatter, and look inward for the light that shines brightly. You have to breathe.
You won’t find happiness in a diet or in a leaner physique. Everything you need is inside you, right this moment; all you need to do is harness it.
You have to literally say “I love you” in the mirror until it rings true. Acceptance is a path that takes effort, but it becomes more easily walked when you consider the alternative: resentment, heartache, and self-loathing.
If you can’t say something nice to yourself, then don’t say anything at all. Or better yet, next time you feel the urge to say something negative to yourself, replace it with compassion. Diminishing comments about your body get replaced with compliments. You’ll simply train yourself to speak kindly, one word at a time. This is compassion practice, and it must happen daily and intentionally. You’ll stop the negative thoughts as they arise, choosing instead to fill your heart with love.
With practice, self-loathing is replaced with self-love.
A message from GGS…
From the time we’re little girls, we’re not only taught that our looks determine our worth, we’re constantly reminded that no matter how hard we try (at anything), we’re never quite good enough.
It’s no wonder we struggle to feel confident in so many areas of our lives—our bodies, our relationships, our intelligence, our contributions to the world. It’s frustrating and stifling to feel like your voice doesn’t matter, like you don’t measure up to arbitrary and ever-changing standards, or like everyone else’s preferences and needs come before yours.
What if you could feel confident in every way? What if, instead of wondering how it would feel to be good, worthy, and deserving enough… you already knew? What if you truly believed that losing a few more pounds or squeezing into a smaller size dress had nothing to do with how amazing, powerful, and valuable you are?
At Girls Gone Strong, we want to help you show up fully and authentically in your life. That’s why we’ve worked with GGS Advisory Board Member Erin Brown to create Showing All The Way Up: A Guide To Confidence with Erin Brown—and we’re so excited to share with you!