A topic we discuss quite often in my coaching group is gratitude.
Which is funny because years ago gratitude, affirmations, mantras, and goal setting are things that I used to look at as a complete waste of time. All I was interested in was following a meal plan and working out hours on end to get smaller – because back then, I equated being leaner, smaller, a certain weight and a certain size with being a “better person”. I thought that losing those last 5-10 pounds would make me happier and more confident. I thought if I looked better, I would get more clients and feel better about myself.
But what I haden’t figured it out yet, was that eating and exercise were just 2 very small pieces of a much bigger puzzle.
In my experience, both personally, as well as with working with thousands of women, creating a physical change has so much to do with our thoughts and our mindset. How we talk to (and about) ourselves (and others) and how we view our circumstances.
We will all face those times when we feel like things aren’t fair or we’re not getting where we want to be fast enough. I’m sure that you’ve found yourself comparing yourself to other women at one point or another. Whether it be comparing looks, career, finances, or relationships. It’s so common and I know when I was stuck in that comparison trap, it always made me feel worse about myself.
I’ve shared before that this was highest for me when I was competing in bikini competitions. Like I said, I thought that getting leaner and losing those last few pounds would make me feel so confident and in control. However, the complete opposite was true.
The smaller I got, the bigger my perceived imperfections seemed. I started comparing myself to everyone. And I would always, ALWAYS find someone who had something that I didn’t – because that was what I was focusing on, all I *thought* that I needed – yet, didn’t have. All the ways that I wasn’t “perfect”. I literally remember being at a show and comparing my NAIL BEDS to one of the other women there. MY. NAIL. BEDS. Like, WTF?
This was my first ever show. I wasn’t super duper “lean”. In fact this was my “warm up” show and I ended up dieting for another 4 weeks for another show.
This picture was taken 2 weeks later. This was definitely the lightest I had been in my adult life and I still had 2 more weeks of dieting to go.
This picture cracks me up! I look freaking MISERABLE! hahaha!
And to think, this was all by choice!
Here’s my point…Someone will always be leaner, stronger, prettier, have more money, a bigger ring, less wrinkles, bigger car, better job. But if we place all of our self worth on those superficial things, chances are pretty good that we’ll always be disappointed because we will always perceive someone is “better” than us.
What’s even worse is that we may start to determine our own worth based on those false judgements when we are so much more than any of those things.
I attended a conference a couple months ago and we were asked to describe the TYPE of person we wanted to be….
Not the size we wanted to be. Not the weight we wanted to be. Not how many chin-ups we wanted to do – the type of PERSON we wanted to be.
My answers a few months ago were:
Someone who follows through
If you would’ve have asked me 7 or 8 years ago the type of person I wanted to be, I don’t know if I would’ve been able to answer you. I think I would’ve said, “a leaner person”.
I was SO caught up in gathering more information on how to get smaller, leaner, tighter. I thought that if I just learned more, I could apply it. So, I kept looking for answers. Maybe it was in this diet book, or that trainer, or the latest supplements.
When I couldn’t find the answers there, I started thinking that maybe it was in competing, or training for half marathons, or running….Mind you, I had my MASTERS DEGREE (and undergraduate degree) in Applied Exercise Science. I was a certified strength and conditioning specialist. I worked with ELITE athletes for YEARS as a strength coach. I certainly didn’t need any more information!
But I kept searching, and trying to follow what I would find.
And when I couldn’t follow the meal plans and workouts perfectly, I beat myself up. BIG TIME. I thought that by completely disrespecting myself it would somehow motivate me to change…
Calling myself weak, not disciplined enough, fat, gross, a mess – etc…was NOT a very good motivator for change. In fact, it made me feel like garbage….and the majority of this was all happening at my SMALLEST!
And I operated like this for a long time. Too long.
I decided to go to therapy which helped tremendously to help change my perspective.
I started to ask myself questions like, “What do I have to be grateful for” as a way to turn my attention back where it should be – on myself.
I stopped buying the ridiculous magazines at the check out line promising me that I’ll lose 10 pounds if I drink lemonade with pepper mixed in it.
I stopped following a lot of people on social media who kept showing me pictures of their abs or tried to sell me their frigging superfood nutrition shakes.
I did my best to NOT talk about my body or other people’s bodies with friends – something I used to do CONSTANTLY.
I started reading less about diets and workouts and more about mindset and accepting myself.
I stopped obsessing over how my body LOOKED and started to place more focus on what it could do (like make humans!).
I really, REALLY tried (and continue to) catch myself when I’m judging someone else and ask myself what it means about me. Whoa was this a tough pill to swallow! Every judgement I placed on someone else’s body, Facebook post, workout program, diet etc…was a direct reflection of something I was not dealing with yet.
I started to visualize a STOP sign whenever I would find myself thinking thoughts that weren’t serving me….still use this one to this day as well.
I simply chose to change the way I thought about things. It took a LOT of practice and time (and therapy), but the time and practice I put into MYSELF has been so much more valuable to me than the years I spent searching “out there” for something to fix me.
Once I started “staying in my own lane” as my client Maureen puts it (she’s a swimmer and I just love that analogy) did I start to see things differently.
There was never a “missing link”, I just realized (after too long of a time) that comparing myself to others wasn’t making me feel good about myself. It wasn’t motivating.
And most importantly, they actually had NOTHING to do with the type of person I wanted to be, and they never will.
Being a person who is patient (SUCH a work in progress), confident, hard working, kind and someone who does what she says she is going to do has absolutely nothing to do with how much I weigh, what size my jeans are, how fast I can run, if I have any wrinkles or if I make “x” amount of money.
These are some of the things I still remind myself of to this day…
My kids will not love me any less if I gain or lose 10 pounds.
My colleagues won’t respect me any less if I can’t do 10 chin-ups.
My friends shouldn’t care how big my ring is or what kind of car I drive or if I have laugh lines or crows feet.
And if they DO – that is their own insecurities talking and there is nothing I can do to change them.
Don’t get me wrong, I still want look good and feel good in my clothes. I’m not one to say that I don’t care about aesthetics, because in all honesty, I do. And that’s ok.
Eating well and moving daily have different purposes now. I used to do it because I felt like I had to. They were simply a means to an end, and when I was eating and exercising for those reasons, I actually didn’t really enjoy either all that much.
These days I do those things because they honest to God make me FEEL so much better. Not because I feel like I *have* to to be worthy of love and acceptance or to feel good about myself. Eating well, getting stronger and taking care of my body are things I can do every day to make me feel capable and confident. All parts of the person I want to be.
I know for myself, happiness did not come from comparing myself to others or chasing a number on the scale. It came from doing my best everyday to be the person I want to be. And because I don’t put that pressure on myself to *need* to look a certain way, or exercise like a maniac, it’s not a chore….and ironically enough, I am able to maintain (well before pregnancy) a look, weight, and body composition to the ones above fairly effortlessly. Go figure.
If you find yourself having a tough time feeling good about your weight, your looks, your job, your relationship status etc., try changing your perspective a bit. Instead of looking at what everyone has or what you don’t, try cherishing all that you DO have. All that you have to offer the world and all that you have to be grateful for. It’s not easy to do, but it’s certainly easier than feeling like shit about yourself every damn day.