Here’s the thing. I’m one of those lucky people that absolutely loves what I do. It’s not that I’m the best trainer out there, but I honestly care about every session, every class, every client or person that feels lost in exercise and finds their way to me. I feel a deep rooted obligation to tell the truth about what I see in them that they may not see in themselves. Over the years, I’ve grown as a personal trainer, but most of all, I have matured in my outlooks on life. That has become more valuable than exercise prescription. This is simply because everyone is too damn hard on themselves and it’s time to take a second to chill out.
I encourage family, friends and social media buds alike to embark on a healthy life. Why? Because it feels good and you’ll probably live a pretty good life that way. I’m sure there are worse things I can encourage you to do. But, I also understand that a quarter of those people may ride that train while the rest find “healthy things” annoying and burdensome. If you’ve already started or are continuing your life of mindful eating and exercise, then you know what makes it feel so right. For the rest of you, come on over here. Let’s have a chat.
First of all, relax. Take a second to stop harping on the things you hate about your body. Have all your limbs? Check. You’re off to a great start. “I hate my arms.” “I hate my legs.” “My stomach is so flabby.” Let’s get serious. THANK THE POWERS THAT BE THAT YOU HAVE YOUR LIMBS. Move on from the self-bashing otherwise that negativity WILL be the reason you fail. Stop looking for the secret to “making your arms perfectly toned”. You’re a sucker if you think a cleanse or supplement will give you perfection. Please go ahead and define perfection. I-M-P-O-S-S-I-B-L-E.
Are you allowed to improve areas of your body for one reason or another? Heck yea. But, do me a favor. Do it for you. Not for your spouse. Not for your friends. Not for Instagram. Do it because you know in your heart you have the strength to empower yourself. Let’s touch on women and their legs. So much hatred for our legs. Be it too skinny, too bulky, too long, too short, too jiggly. Pointy kneecaps. That little bit of fat above your knee. OH my, the cottage cheese. Let’s not even talk about those cute little dimples behind you – you know the ones everyone else can see but you can’t.
OH THE MISERY. HOW TERRIBLE IT IS TO HAVE TWO PERFECTLY FUNCTIONING LEGS!
I know, dramatic. But, I legitimately hear self bashing on a daily basis. For every 1 “I love how strong I have been feeling” comment comes 15 “I’d be so much happier if I lost 5 pounds.” 5 pounds. Really? Bigger smiles, more pleasantries with coworkers, higher income… all from losing 5 pounds? The key is to get to the root of your body shaming. You have a right to want to look good. Free game. But, if that comes at the expense of guilt and shame, you’re doing it wrong.
Here’s how to get started.
STEP ONE: Find something you like and stick with it; for more than 2 weeks. One of the first things I tell people who come to me to train or general fitness programming advice is to start by doing something they enjoy and not stopping. It’s not that the first thing they decide to do is the avenue for success, it’s the retention and accountability that will lead to success. So, if that evening Jazzercize is something you like, there’s a much better chance that you will stick with it than the spinning classes you dread but got suckered into because your best friend lost 12 pounds doing it.
STEP TWO: Enjoy the success of seeing Step One through. I’m serious. The reason most people fail at exercise is because they never really start. If you’ve committed to a program, class or even the elliptical for an extended period of time, then you have learned two things about yourself. The first is that you can find time in your day for exercise. The second is you realize you are worth finding the time in your day for exercise.
STEP THREE: Take a look at your nutritional habits and take note of the landmines. Does the following sound familiar? “Okay. So, for breakfast I have a bowl of oatmeal. For lunch I have a salad. I bring a 100 calorie yogurt just in case. And at night it’s so hard….” Well, yes. It’s extremely difficult for any sane human being to eat well at night when their entire day has existed on roughly 500 calories. So you binge, tell yourself you’ve been “bad” and start again on Monday. Where would I advise you to start? Start with your week’s breakfast. Week = Sunday-Sunday (note: not Monday-Friday). Focus on a packed breakfast of protein, veggies and some helpful, portion-controlled carbs. I don’t care about dinner right now. Just get some awesome breakfast in. And relax. Rome wasn’t built in a day. You’ll get to dinner affairs in time.
STEP FOUR: Remove the negativity. Listen, I’m not trying to get all preachy, but one thing my life has taught me is that if you focus on the positive most of the time, you can handle the negative all of the time. I’ve had poisonous self-reflections, people and situations in my life. Once I rid myself of them, I recognized how much better I felt and life just became more enjoyable to manage or react to. If you have friends or family that do not support your quest for health then they do not deserve your energy. There is nothing selfish about wanting to take care of your heart, muscles and movement. If social media or magazines make you feel bad about yourself, remove that negativity. On a daily basis, I “unfollow” accounts. I require three things from my Instagram or Facebook: 1) make me laugh; 2) teach me something; 3) be a friend or family member. That’s it. Once I get bombarded with quick-fix, belly-controlled support tops and paleo/glutenfree/#stayawayfrompastabuteatgummiebearsandproteinbars-obsessed accounts…delete. Celebrities and their trainers generally aggravate me so I don’t follow their life updates; It does not add value to my life.
STEP FIVE: Focus on the positive. Now that you’ve started to remove some of the Debbie-Downers, acknowledge your accomplishments. You lived for that gold star in elementary school; don’t act like you’d hate it now. Went for an evening walk all week instead of two SkinnyCows on the couch watching Celebrity Country Cowtipping? Acknowledge how much better you feel. Did you spend a Saturday night making a homemade recipe with family kids instead of gluing your eye sockets to pocket technology devices? Embrace the happiness and the memories.
There are plenty of more ways to take some of the pressure off of yourself. But, here’s the thing. Not being skinny doesn’t mean you’re not good enough. Not being ripped doesn’t mean you’re not good enough. Not understanding cutting and bulking and IIFYM and itermittent fasting and macronutrient timing doesn’t mean you aren’t good enough. These all mean different things to different people, but they don’t define you. They aren’t the reason you were hired, you got married or why your children love you.
Like most girls, I spent way too much time worrying about how I looked or didn’t look and that determined how I felt. Once I concentrated on how good I wanted to feel, I didn’t worry so much about how I looked.
Relax. We’re all a work in progress.