Lately, I have been thinking about the concept of “getting real” with ourselves. This is a tricky concept because for many women, it can be taken to the extreme. When we get real, we can so easily fall into self-loathing and body-disgust. We look in the mirror to get real and as a result, decide we hate what we see, we’re disgusted, shamed, sad, get pissed off. All of which only serves to demotivates us further.
And yet, is the answer to avoid mirrors forever? I don’t think it is.
See, I remember times in my past when I avoided mirrors too. Usually it was in my “off season” and even though I was a normal size 6-8 during those times, I felt ugly and fat compared to “show-shape”–which, mind you I was in for a mere couple weeks. But I was still haunted by the need and utter obsession with being in that kind of shape year-round, as unattainable (and unhealthy!) as it would have been.
During those years, I would typically get up to work out around 5am and because I didn’t want to wake Jade by turning on the lights, I would change into my gym clothes in the bathroom. AND I WOULD TURN AROUND. To avoid my own reflection. Ever done this?
How about avoiding being in pictures? Not looking when the nurse weighs you at your annual check-up? Not wanting to get your body fat percentage taken when the service is offered at your local gym? Any of these ring true?
They do for me at certain times in my life. Often avoidance seemed easier. I couldn’t be disappointed if I wasn’t given the information, the image, the photo, the reflection, the number to see, right? And yet I was miserable anyway, despite the avoidance. Because I actually wasn’t getting better, I wasn’t more motivated to get leaner.
I was losing a battle with myself as a result of my own twisted notion of what “should” be: I should be thinner. I should be leaner. I should have more muscle. I should look like so-and-so. I should be in show shape 24/7. I should be able to resist this glass of wine dammit. I was in essence, shoulding all over myself :) So the avoidance didn’t actually help, like I pretended it did.
So in the last few months, I have been thinking about how to effectively toe the line between getting real and also not spiraling into self-disgust. For my clients, for myself, for you guys. Can this be done?
Well, I think it can. And the key lies in this realization:
You must work on your mindset before you work on your physique.
I have seen and heard from hundreds of women who have undergone a crazy physical transformation–a competition, crash diet, whatever–and in the end, because they have not spent time developing their self-worth apart from their physique–if they gain a little weight back or blow up after a show, they don’t have the emotional tools to deal with the inevitable feelings of inadequacy and self-digust.
And yet we want the body first, don’t we? In fact, we usually say, As soon as I have the body I want, then I can be happy/deserving/attractive/successful/worthy, etc.
I want to make the argument that the opposite is true. When I decide I am worthy right now wherever I am, then I free up all my mental space to be able to do the things I need to do to get and stay motivated. The mental aerobics that comes with shoulding ourselves discourages us from taking action toward real, lasting progress.
We get so caught up in how much we suck that of course we’re not motivated. Can you blame us?
All we can think about is how much of a failure we are if we slip up one time and holy crap I need to effing prep my food this Sunday!!! Lol. Of course, when you do prep food, you are more likely to be successful, but food prep doesn’t define your success–you do. Right now. In your mind. And that success does not depend on a number or an image or a photo or a bad angle.
When we spend time developing our sense of self-worth outside our physique, not only are we happier right now, but we are free to move forward in a positive way. It’s the negative self-talk that steals our motivation. So let’s just stop it.
And for those who say they need the negative motivation to drive them to take action, that may work for a while, but take it from me that that shit gets old real quick.
It takes a lot of energy to keep hating your body.
So free yourself. Free your energy and your mental space of the negative, so that you can actually garner the willpower necessary to make real, lasting change. Remember, mindset first, physique next. When you do this, looking in the mirror is no longer painful nor does it control your day or how you feel about yourself. You can be more objective, clinical. You can get real without getting upset. You don’t have to be thin to be worthy. And you don’t have to lose 10 more pounds to be happy. The concepts are no longer linked once you spend time working on your mind.
Some of my favorite ways to develop self-worth apart from your body fat percentage: develop others skills and interests, like blogging or start a small business of your own. Write, read, spend time with family and friends, volunteer, go back to school or even just take a class in something you’re interested in–like cooking or wine. Focus on being an amazing mom, daughter, sister or partner. Go hiking, focus on non-physique related activities like triathlons, a 5k or an adventure race.
Gooood luck, I’m here for you and support you 100% wherever you are :) Ox, Jill
Related: Giving Yourself the Win