This post is a follow-up to last month’s post about loving yourself while still striving for self-improvement. In other words, loving your body but still working to improve it, and being OK with that.
But learning to love yourself is, well, hard. If you’ve spent years or decades focusing on your flaws, it can be difficult to give yourself and your flaws (and we’re all flawed) a big ol’ bear hug. I learned just how difficult while doing Molly Galbraith’s 28 Day “Love Your Body Challenge” (BTW – does that fact that I wrote “Loathe your body” instead of “Love” the first time I typed the previous sentence mean anything? Paging Dr. Freud).
I was ALL IN for the challenge. I was gonna love on myself for 28 days and emerge with clarity and an overwhelming sense of all that there was to love about myself.
Then came the Day 5 Action Step: “Write down the two things that you find to be most beautiful about yourself, one external example, and one internal example”. The internal was easy, but the external? I think my external went something like “I guess I have nice smile. At least that’s what people say.” Ugh. Then Day 6 – “Take 5 minutes and write down a list of all of the things that you love that your body allows you to do”, which should have been easy, considering all the things my body allows me to do on a daily basis, but I just couldn’t do it. I was out.
Why was this so hard for me? I realize that I have some work to do. Clearly I need to go back to Day 6 and finish the Challenge, which I’m doing as of today.
This whole process made me consider the ways you and I engage in self-flagellation. Do any of these statements sound familiar?
Oh my god I ate so much today.
- I totally blew my diet.
- I have ZERO self-control.
- I am a big fat failure.
- I look so fat.
- I can’t believe how tight these jeans are.
- You’re so much skinnier than me!
- Why do YOU look so good?
- I feel like utter crap!
- I’m SO old.
- I’m too fat for this.
- I’m too old for this.
- Oh my god you’re SO young, no wonder you can do this.
- My butt is too big.
- My butt is too small.
- I should just pack it all in and eat a case of Twinkies.
- I’m never going to lose this effing WEIGHT!
- My stomach is DISGUSTING.
- I’m a big fat PIG!
- Even my armpits are fat.
I’m going to take a wild guess and say that you recognize yourself in at least three of these insane statements. We all do it, but the problem is when you pair negative, spoken words with your negative thoughts you make those thoughts stronger. You create a conflict between you and your goals—between you and your better, happier, stronger, fitter self.
So how do you change the way you think? Thoughts move faster than the speed of light, right? One second you’re thinking, “Man, I’m ready to move to California, this winter SUCKED.” And the next it’s, “Why am I such a lumpy slug?”
Statements 1-4, 16, 17 and 20: If you’re eating “too much” and feeling like a failure, maybe you’re not eating enough. Maybe the “overeating” is due to a ridiculously restricted caloric intake. Is it possible that you foisted this torture upon yourself because you didn’t calculate your actual needs?
Here’s the deal. If you’re a moderately active, average height woman in her mid-thirties to mid-fifties, you need roughly 2,000 calories to simply breathe, function, and move through your day without hallucinating, throwing your boss out the window, or going bat-s#*% crazy on your kids. You can calculate your needs specifically here.
Once you have your number, you decrease it by up to, AND NO MORE THAN, 500 calories per day, through a combination of decreased food intake (250 calories) and increased movement throughout your day. This is including but not limited to boot camp, personal training sessions, kettlebells, walking, running, stretching, twirling, jitterbugging, Hoovering, cooking, cleaning, and leading world domination meetings (ours are held in Havertown on the 2nd and 4th Thursday of the month).
Statements 5, 6, 11, 14, 15 to 20: Stop looking in the mirror. Just walk right by it. Keep moving. If you must obsess over your reflection, then proclaim, OUT LOUD, what you love about yourself (yeah, yeah – I know. I’m working on it). For example, you may say:
- Damn my eyes are sexy.
- My skin is so soft and glowy.
- I have a killer smile.
- My calves are sexy and AWESOME.
- Do I have gorgeous hair or what?!
- I don’t even need Botox!
- Look at that! Each limb present and accounted for. How perfect am I!
In addition! Remind yourself that sure, looks count, but locomotion counts for a whole lot more. You can move dat ass! Revel in that!
Statements 7 and 8: Boy, you really know how to torture yourself. While you’re at it, pick up the latest issue of your favorite fitness magazine and beat yourself in the face with it.
Compare and DESPAIR. Instead, try competing with yourself. As we say at PFit, dare to be better than you were yesterday, not better than your colleague today. Choose your battles wisely and you just might win!
Statement 9. Feel like crap? Maybe your body’s trying to tell you something. Listen to it and while you’re at it – take a nap.
Statement 10, 12, 13: You might be older than some of your compatriots, but you’re not dead yet. You realize what the alternative to being old is, right? You either age or you die. Why not embrace all that age has to offer? The WISDOM! The knowledge. The intelligent cynicism. The senior discounts (AARP discount? Holla!). The grandchildren or young folk who revere you. And bonus – if you’re old and you’re working out, you’re pretty much the coolest oldER person around.
Never give up. Fitness is yours for the taking, no matter what your age, size, gender or political party! And PS, do NOT come to me complaining about being old if you’re younger than 75. At PFit we’ve got 72, 77, and 80-somethings swinging kettlebells, pressing dumbbells, and body rowing with the TRX on the regular. Next.
Statements 16 and 17: Winners never quit and quitters never win. It’s hackneyed but oh so true. Again, think alternatives. A short, miserable life full of trans fats and diseases of affluent society? Blech! High blood pressure anyone? Diabetes? Heart disease? Really? You’d choose that outcome over sweating, struggling, and being a little sore? Weigh the options. Think: BIG PICTURE.
Love on yourself today. Even if it’s slightly tough love. You are amazing, and you’re worth the discipline it takes to get healthy, fit, and FABULOUS.
Can I get an Amen?!