Have you ever thought that if you just lost those last 10 pounds, you would just be so much happier?
If you could erase that arm jiggle, your life would be so much better?
That a certain guy you’ve been dating (or even married to) would appreciate you so much more if you just went down a few dress sizes?
You aren’t alone!
My mind used to REPEAT those thoughts over and over again! I want to CONFESS to you my obsession with being fit, how it caged my spirit, how I’ve learned to be free, and why I’m the happiest I have ever been in my life.
If this sounds familiar, and you’ve experienced your own “fit” cage, in some form or other, read on.
Here’s the thing…I do love exercise and I feel awesome when I’m eating nutritionally sound and fresh food. Sometimes ain’t nothing better than a good, hard, sweaty run in the morning or after work! But what happens when that obsession turns something healthy, soothing and fun into something uncompromising, unhealthy and even dangerous? When does having an organic, free-range beef burger on a Sunday afternoon turn into the ultimate sinful meal and a thigh-gap become the newest “fit” look?
About 7 years ago, my desire to be fit turned into an obsession. After ending a long relationship and getting back into the dating game. I wanted to reinvent myself to become this charming, gorgeous, fit woman, so I’d spend hours at the gym and wouldn’t even be able to enjoy a nice dinner date for fear of the calories. It got so bad that I was counting half calories! I kept my food diary with me everywhere and I’d obsessively calculate, then recalculate, how many calories I’d burned, like a college trigonometry student prepping for an exam. If I dared to indulge in one cookie for a coworker’s birthday bash, I would be at the gym to burn it off, and then some, even if it was for the second time that day. Then I got on Facebook. Oh boy, Facebook. You probably know what I’m talking about. You probably have friends, who like me, would detail every little exercise they were doing that day. Yes, I realize now that it’s annoying. But at the time, it felt incredibly empowering and I felt validated when friends would tell me how much they admired my inspiration. I thought I was helping others and it spurred me to continue working out insane hours and multiple times a day.
(Posting about your workouts is fine, and can be a wonderful tool for your health accountability, but when you post 3 times a day because you’re overtraining, then it’s excessive, annoying and unhealthy)!
Not only did I want to workout all the time, I also wanted to read and learn as much as I could about exercise, nutrition and the body. And with friends asking me to help them workout better too, I decided to go for a certification with personal training. I chose one of the best programs out there, plunked down a wad of cash, and immersed myself in it. I also read every diet book around the world, educating myself as much as I could. And also confusing myself! Atkins ups your protein, and South Beach cuts your fat. Sonoma splurges on olive oil and Paleo revves your meaty instinct. I mean, it’s just insane how all over the place the diet section at the bookstore is!
One day when I was looking for a particular title, a lady standing next to me started asking me about every single book I was picking up. She then told me, “I have no idea where to start or what to read! They all disagree with one another. One friend adores South Beach but my other girlfriend’s been doing Paleo and she loves it! I hate this!”
I totally understood her overwhelm. I myself was a vegetarian dabbling in veganism, but also trying to build muscle for a competition (and almost all the muscle gurus out there tell you you should be eating more protein). Once I became a trainer, it got more confusing. I had clients who were eating very healthy, clean foods but who just weren’t losing the excess weight despite all the different diets they’d try. Then I’d have clients who would lose weight, look awesome, then gain it all back after going on vacation. But the one thing they all had in common: They were obsessed with their fitness, stressed out and unhappy. They would proudly tell me about stinking up their office with their microwaved cabbage lunch, how they were dumping friends who didn’t work out as they did, or show up to a session in a terrible mood because they had eaten a doughnut for breakfast.
I wasn’t telling them to do these things. I was their personal trainer and guiding them on exercise and balanced nutrition. I kept my personal hangups about my body image issues to myself and never made a client feel bad for skipping a workout or eating sweets. They hired me to tell them what to do, but they were already their own fitness nazis.
When my clients began voicing the statements that I was telling myself, and I knew all too well the stress and unhappiness they were feeling because I had felt those all before, that’s when I knew that fitness was becoming unhealthy. Here, people were trying to lose weight and get healthy, but their lives were being taken over by stress, negative thoughts and limiting beliefs about happiness: “I will be happy when I lose 10 lbs, I’ll feel sexy in front of my husband if I skip dinner every day this week, I’ll like myself better when I look more like…”
(Not all my clients were saying this, but I noticed several were, including many of my online clients).
When I saw other people’s happiness was being negatively affected by their quest for physical perfection, I knew that things had to change.
Starting with myself.
How could I help people relax and learn to enjoy the process if I wasn’t cutting myself some slack too?
It was like a lightening bolt had hit me with this sudden realization. I gave myself 2 weeks with no gym and just walked everyday, and did light weights at home. This was sometimes incredibly mentally difficult, as I was used to running every morning for 7 miles.
I also stopped counting my calories. I decided that I was completely satisfied with my body so I didn’t need to count calories
(I do encourage a food/workout diary if you have a fat-loss goal, but if you’ve been strict with your calories and you still aren’t losing weight, then try giving it up for a week or so).
This lasted for a few weeks, and then I decided to ease back into the gym, going 3-4 days a week (not the 7 or more times a week I was previously doing). I made sure to walk everyday, because I truly enjoy listening to a great audiobook while taking my chihuahua for a stroll. It’s great meditation!
My diet changed too. Instead of nonfat, no-sugar and sometimes highly processed diet bars, I decided to go the all-French route, and cook like my ancestors: full-fat real butter, real sugar, cheese, bread and lots of fresh fruits and veggies.
And I started enjoying my little bit of chocolate every day.
Funny thing happened. I had been carrying about 6-8 lbs of extra weight (on my 5’2 petite frame body, these few extra pounds made me look chunky). After I decided to change my entire health outlook away from self-loathing restriction, negativity and comparison to others, I lost 10 lbs! That’s even with eating cheese and chocolate everyday! My stomach naturally got flatter and I even started seeing some tone in my arms even though I wasn’t training them more than twice a week. My body was naturally coming into it’s own happy spot.
Even better: my happiness levels soared! Even after a big meal with my stomach sticking out, I was totally comfortable getting naked in front of my man. I felt more alive and joyful then I had in a very, very long time.
I learned a valuable lesson: I learned to be happy with myself first, instead of happy with my weight. I learned to find my joy within, my joie de vivre, and it influenced my physical self.
Have you head this motto: What you eat in private shows up in public (I’m ashamed to say I’ve used it)!
Well, here’s my new motto and you can tweet it! What you tell yourself in private shows up in public!
How Thoughts Shape Your Body:
Your negative thoughts and energies become actual physical features on your body. They lead to stress, unhappiness and sometimes insomnia, which leads to bloat and weight gain. They lead to fights with your friends, family and partner. They lead to frown lines and a sourpuss face.
Today, I teach clients to discover and design their most joyful, irresistible life so they can become their most irresistible self. An irresistible person is not someone constantly obsessed with fitness. An irresistible person loves life, others and most of all, themselves. They live with passion, and this affects their personal and professional lives. What if you could learn to become your most irresistible self by shedding the excess weight of negativity, anger, anxiousness and sadness from your shoulders? What if you woke up every day knowing exactly how you were going to take over the world that day?
How often do you post your fitness activities on social media?
What are some beautiful non-physical things about you?
Wear a rubber band around your wrist. Every time you think a negative thought about yourself, “SNAP” it and say 5 beautiful things about yourself!
What’s Your Story?
I would love to hear your story! Are you struggling with “breaking” up with your fitness mindset? Comment below and share it with your friends!
Help me spread the message that health is not an all or nothing thing. We are all traveling our unique journeys and we should never compare bodies to others.