I spent a lot of time trying to attain “the perfect body.” Dieting, depriving myself, doing hours of cardio a day and hating life, all the while never feeling thin enough, lean enough, or good enough. Besides being the most subjective phrase on earth, getting “the perfect body” was simply unattainable. Why? Because there was always something else I needed or wanted: 12% body fat? My shoulders were too lean & striated. Visible abs? My legs still had cellulite. Lean legs? My arms were too skinny. The smallest I’d ever been? My strength sucked, I was tired all the time and had huge blisters on my feet that continued to callus over until I could barely walk because I was doing so much running. Can’t run? I’ll do elliptical! So what if my feet are BLEEDING?? The rockin’ bod I’m going to have is going to make it all worth it in the end! Or is it?
The truth is that until I made a conscious decision that I was “good enough” as is (not 10 lbs from now or when I can maintain photo shoot shape year-round), I never felt comfortable. At one point, about 2 years ago, I stopped, asked myself, “Why am I doing this? What is this all for?” and was able to finally exhale the enormous breath I’d been holding in.
…I remember the moment I decided to pursue fitness modeling. I was about a month out of college and working at my first job as a Fitness Specialist in Washington, DC. I remember looking at fitness magazines and going, I could do this. I have a pretty enough face and all I need is to get in insane shape. Why not? Well, after 1 day of trying, I gave up. Lol. Mostly because I was still drinking heavily and eating bagels daily. And I didn’t know what it took. It wasn’t until I was 24 years old, and prepping for my 2nd show that I decided to give it another go. I signed at a top modeling agency in the south a couple weeks after my show, and still “in shape”–though I remember leaving the audition enjoying quite the celebratory treat/meal/weekend. I was thick into the “diet, then eat-whatever-I-want” cycle, obviously.
Over the next 3 years I beat myself up every time I gave into sweets and treats, and if I wasn’t on a show diet I didn’t know what to do. I crash dieted for photo shoots and events and never felt tight, lean or small enough (even though I got in great shape plenty of times). I still coveted Jamie Eason’s shoulders, Alicia Marie’s legs & butt and Maggie Diubaldo’s abs. I didn’t understand that they all had completely different builds than me–different metabolisms, different heights, schedules, psychological sensitivities, etc. And I drove myself crazy wishing and hoping and working to achieve the impossible.
It wasn’t until early 2010 that my priorities changed, and I started asking WHY? Why did it matter if I was a size 6 opposed to a size 4? Why did it matter, walking around Winston-Salem, NC, that I was in “show-shape” 24/7? Why did it matter if I got praise for my physique? Trying to garner affirmation from others because of my physique started to seem silly. Why did I need that? What did it all mean? And how was a bangin’ body even serving me outside of my personal vanity? Especially when I couldn’t even appreciate it!!? NOTE: I am not saying there is anything wrong with working to achieving a lean, tight, show-ready physique. In fact, it’s an amazing & rewarding feat that less than 1% of the population can achieve (I work with dozens of competitors still). I am simply questioning my personal motivations at the time, as I currently still do with all my clients.
Over the next 6 months, my attention turned more to my business. I still wanted to look fit and look like I belonged in the fitness industry and work hard in the gym, but my purpose began to transform. I stopped focusing so much on the mirror and tried to let the dissatisfaction in my head relax a little bit–which was scary at first–but I ultimately stayed the same size anyway, but with a lot less stress & negative self-talk. I started helping other people transform their physiques, trying to do it in a way that took the mental-emotional component into account. And JillFit’s been trying to hone that message ever since.
[tweetherder]Sure, work to be incredibly fit. Work your hardest. But do not forget to develop your mental fitness too.[/tweetherder] Don’t lose sight of the bigger picture–the “why.” Your why. For me, trying to achieve the perfect body was all about garnering affirmation and love from others. Not proud of that, but when I boiled it all down, that was the honest truth I was left with. I wish I could say that it was for more noble or altruistic reasons. But I didn’t have that insight then.
So…what is your “why?”
I encourage you to ask yourself, how does having the perfect body or getting in incredible shape serve me? (And please know that I am not saying it’s not a worthy goal, but understanding “the why” is incredibly important as it pertains to our personal happiness, sense of wellbeing and sustainability). Ask, “How does this goal and journey better myself, those around me and allow for me to follow my passion or feel fulfilled?” I personally believe that a lean, athletic, beautiful physique is inspiring if and only if the person with it does something more–helps others in a greater way, is a creator and has a purpose outside of looking hot. Not to mention is a kind person :) Ask any successful fitness model and they will tell you that the physique stuff is the least important. What matters is developing your greater purpose and gifts. Whether that’s business, family, personal development or simply making others feel good about themselves.
I want you to follow your dreams and do everything you ever wanted, including a show, a photo shoot or even working to get your pro card if that’s what you love. I have met plenty of women who simply love the process of prepping for shows (and they are happy doing it). But if you are using it as a weight loss tool, to prove something to someone else or as I was, as a way to garner affirmation, I encourage you to uncover the real “why?” Go deeper with it. Let it be about you, and your journey, your purpose. Only then, can you jump into the process for the long haul and create something bigger. & more meaningful for yourself.
Let me know your thoughts below in the Comments section! Love to hear about your experiences :) ox Jill