As a trainer, I hear every day how unhappy people are with themselves:
There’s just this roll here…
My arms are too small…
I just can’t lose the weight…
…and I always try to get them to look on the bright side. It’s my job, yes, and I do have to be able to coach them to results no matter what their goals, but this is actually a crucial step of the process.
If you don’t show yourself love for how you are in the present, you will have a hard time achieving any fitness goal in the future.
Believe it or not, the way you think about your body has a big effect on the actions you take and your will power to keep going when it gets tough (because it will).
For years, I struggled with weight gain and loss, dieting for all the wrong reasons, ellipticalling until I felt faint, and hating hating hating myself and my body the whole time through. It was so tough to lose even a pound, and when I did, I would obsess about the next one so much I wouldn’t even take the time to congratulate myself on the one I just lost. When I didn’t lose another pound in a timely manner (i.e. a week- not very much time when you don’t have a lot of weight to lose), I’d say, “what’s the point?” and go back to old negative habits, washing all my progress down the drain.
Looking back now, I see exactly where the problem lay: I hated me. I couldn’t see anything beautiful about myself, and that self-loathing became a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Since then, as you all well know, I’ve done a lot of self work to focus on all the beautiful, strong parts of myself. I still feel those tinges of disappointment when I look in the mirror now and then, but then I try my hardest to let them go and instead remind myself of how far I’ve come.
By adopting this self-loving frame of mind, I have achieved more in the past year with my body goals than I had over multiple years of trying while focusing only on what needed improvement.
By devoting love to all parts of myself, and understanding that hard work would bring me the results, I was able to relax into my goals and create progress without stress.
Now, I’m shooting a freaking workout video this weekend. Though I’m crazy nervous, it’s only for the actual performance aspect instead of worrying about how I’ll look. Years ago, I would have stopped eating, started taking pills, or exercised for hours on end to shed those last few millimeters. Now, I’m just being smart about what I eat, rehearsing the video as exercise, doing yoga (for my sanity), and allowing myself to just be strong, because that in itself is beautiful.
What I want to talk about with you today, are the essential components of going after physical goals without losing sight of the beauty that exists within you.
By practicing these steps, you too will be able to relax into amazing results and appreciate every bit of progress you make.
Because I don’t care who you are or what you look like, you are strong and that makes you drop dead gorgeous.
Stop The S***-Talking
Enough! Enough with the “I’m not ______” or “I’m too _______” BS. That ends right here and now.
Start catching yourself in the moment that you start complaining about your looks, or getting down on yourself for not being any certain way.
You have a body type, and though it may not be your ideal, it’s the one that was bestowed upon you, so accept that this is your canvas.
That said, you can do the best you can with what you’re given, right? Your canvas is freaking amazing!
What goal would make you feel strong and joyful? Let’s go after that goal, shall we?
No more of these horrible “get fit” methods of not eating, nonstop exercising, or supplement-bingeing. We want goals that will make us feel good while we go after them.
Exercise should be fun. If you just started, it might take a couple weeks, but it will be fun if you find the right activity for you! Make a game out of it. Join Fitocracy, start a game with your coworkers and friends, or take a 30 day challenge of yoga for a month!
Eating right shouldn’t make you say, “blegh.” It should taste good, fuel your body, and energize you to do amazing things! Find some awesome recipes, take a healthy cooking class, or find new ways to get veggies into your meals. This can be a fun experiment if you play with it.
Similarly, stop criticizing others for the way they look. Let’s get rid of the Karl Lagerfeld-esque comments because bullying sucks, and it only leads to bad things. What you say about others is a direct reflection of how you feel about yourself.
The s***-talking ends here on all fronts. If you want to move forward, you’re going to have to leave that heavy nonsense behind.
That’s right. Cat call yourself.
We can’t just get rid of the negative thoughts about ourselves without replacing them with different ones, so let’s add something positive into our brain mixology here.
Find something you love about yourself. There’s something in there that you think is beautiful or strong or other people have commented on that makes you feel good. We’re talking anything from your shoulders, eyes, collar bone, compassion, wit, pedonkadonk, endurance, strength, etc…
Come up with a phrase that you can say to yourself to bring you back to love when you start straying into self-loathing.
Got awesome arms? Congratulate yourself on taking the time to rip up those guns!
Got eyes that rival Ryan Gosling’s? Remind yourself that peeps love your peepers.
Got Dalai Lama-worthy compassion? Save a little for yourself here, buddy. You deserve it.
You deserve love just as much as anyone else on this planet. I’ve talked about always acting from a place of love. That applies here as well.
The more love you give yourself, the easier it’s going to be when the going gets tough with those goals. Accept your own love the same way you hope that those around you accept it from you.
Work Hard, Play Hard
Now that we’re committed to loving ourselves, we have to put in the work.
I say all the time that, in order to achieve more than you ever have before, you’re going to have to do more than you’ve never done.
Are you prepared to put in that effort? If not, you may find yourself falling short of those goals.
The commitment to work is a crucial step to achieving any goal. You can’t skip it.
You can’t take a pill- they’ll backfire.
You can’t get it sucked out- if you don’t change your habits, it’ll come back in a gross way.
You can’t wish and hope for someone else to do it for you- or I guess you can; it just won’t happen.
You have to commit to wanting those goals so much that you will change your life to achieve them. It’s not short-term. This is for life.
That said, it doesn’t have to be a life of sugar-abstinence or deprivation. Life is for living, and sometimes that means going to Yogurtland (I swear I don’t work for them, I just love me some froyo, yo).
Like I said in The Hot Body Code, the fittest people I know work out at least 4x/week. Depending on the intensity of your workouts, these can last anywhere between 10 minutes and 2 hours (or more if you’re an endurance athlete)! It’s up to you and your personal preferences.
Eating well isn’t torture when you abide by the 90% principle. If you’re eating 5 meals a day (breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner), that gives you 3-4 “opportunities” to go off-plan. I, personally, am looking forward to Girl Scout Thin Mints as my next opportunity. I just like to support my clients’ kids… by buying 4 boxes of cookies. ;)
The important thing to remember is to relax into the work. That might sound contradictory, but take it like this:
You can’t force your way into permanent changes with your body. You have to allow them to come after putting in the hard work.
This isn’t just a froo froo opinion of mine. This is actual science. The more you stress about losing or gaining weight, the higher your cortisol levels are gonna be. Cortisol is the stress hormone that (when raised to high levels chronically) can lead to fat gain or retention, muscle breakdown, and a host of neurological nasties. In short: try to avoid elevated levels by avoiding prolonged periods of stress, overtraining, and sleep deprivation.
Take some deep breaths and let your goals come to you. If you put in the work, they will.
Show and Tell time, guys! What goals have you achieved lately that you want to share with us?
In the comments below:
Tell us what you’ve achieved, and your own personal “Daayum!”
Embarassing? Maybe a little. Empowering? Heck. Effing. YES.
Your bravery can help someone in this community step it up to achieve their fitness goals. Help a Strongy out!
And now I’m off for the sweatariffic weekend ahead. Let’s do this.