Ok, soooo, at the beginning of summer 2013 I decided to motivate myself by posting pictures of my “before” body and work really hard for 3-4 mos to reach a goal physique (notice I didn’t say weight).
Well, I don’t have photos to share with you.
Ohhh, the horror.
I’m lying. I do have photos but if I were to post them, you may not see much of a difference. You might just say, “Oh pffft!! That’s nothing. All her health stuff is a crock of crap.” Photos can be deceiving. You just can’t see some things in photos – like internal health and strength. Usually people don’t notice physical changes unless they are significant or unless they have a close relationship with you. In my case, I didn’t have significant weight to lose so only a few family members and close friends noticed the changes.
I did change-up my workouts to purely HIIT and crossfit-style at home mainly using body weight and sometimes a kettlebell. There were weeks I didn’t get as many workouts in as I wanted. There were weeks I was just drained and needed rest. And I thought… this is ok! If I stress about my workouts (when I have other things on my plate) then what good am I really doing myself?! Stress from life things, stress from not sleeping enough, and then stress from pushing myself to workout?? No. There HAS to be balance.
As I went through this little challenge, I started asking myself, “Why am I doing this? Is it really for me… to see what I can achieve or is it to share some photo to seek affirmation and praise for doing things how I should be doing them anyway?”
Here is what I learned:
1. The world is obsessed with aesthetics and body image. OB-sessed. I’ve been reading a few articles about body image and self-love and I have to say, my perspective has TOTALLY flipped. Dont get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with having some goals like losing some fat, gaining some mass and/or pinpointing specific areas that you focus on to get the results you seek. HOWEVER, there really is a fine line between setting realistic goals for yourself (functional/health reasons) and obsessing over how you look – seeking affirmation/praise from other people in life and certainly on social media (vanity).
I didn’t post those “before” photos for people to gawk or judge even though I KNOW they did (Ok, maybe I don’t know. I assume.)
See that? That’s insecurity talking… which is why I started adjusting my focus.
I posted them for accountability. Making them public was supposed to make me work harder when I didn’t feel like I could motivate myself. Especially in the winter when it’s cold and dark when I get off work and all I want to do is cuddle and read a book every night.
I mean, who doesn’t love a good before and after shot (as long as they aren’t photoshopped) to say, “Wow. Look at the dedication they have to make a CHANGE in their life.” The goal to just “look” good is superficial, usually temporary, and often a struggle. The goal to actually achieve wellness is so much deeper and it’s a way of living that manifests on the outside. When you work on the inside (including the mind), the outside is vibrant and radiant by default. Those are the types of transformations I like to see. Not someone who dropped fat by way of diet pills, crazy supplements, and over-working their body.
2. The goal should be self-love, not just a “dream physique.” Say, you are working to build yourself into eye-candy. Once you reach that “dream physique,” then what?
No, really. Then what? Will you love yourself more with a “ripped” body?
You will most likely have something else you need to attain in order to be satisfied or “happy.” It can become a sad, greedy cycle. “When I reach this point in my life, I’ll be happy. When I find this certain mate, I’ll be happy. When I look like this, I’ll be happy.”
We can be so hard on ourselves. I know I can pick myself apart and dwell on it. It happens. And, yeah, I think society is partly to blame for how women AND men view themselves. SO much focus is on the external instead of celebrating an individual for their strength or will-power or intellect or wisdom, etc.
We have a lot of negative self-talk in our heads and, ya know… we are what we think! I actually don’t care for this saying very much, “Fake it till you make it,” but in this instance, it is on point. We HAVE to learn how to talk to ourselves in a positive way. Start doing it even if we don’t believe it right away because it. will. change.
I certainly feel more love for myself when I remind my brain that I do have awesome qualities. It’s also important to focus on what I’m grateful for instead of allowing my brain to dwell on what I don’t like or don’t have.
3. Have perspective and acceptance. This comes with self-love. It is a state of mind and most certainly a choice. It may not come easily but after some practice of CHOOSING to see the positive, it becomes habit… just like anything else. The “flaws” you dwell on (for me was acne scars, cellulite, and thinking my legs were twigs) are really just parts of your story. My acne scars (which are healing/fading) remind me of why I had acne, what I learned on how to reverse it, and where I am today. Honestly, that goes for the cellulite and twiggy legs too.
I know lots of women who really hate their stretch marks from pregnancy.
Perspective flip: They are a reminder of the life you carried inside! Major accomplishment! SO much more important and rewarding than 6-pack abs. I mean, seriously. Yeah, yeah…visible abs are pretty rewarding too but that just cant compare to the bundle(s) of love you have running around.
With ALL that said, I just want to be clear that just because you should love and accept yourself the way you are in this moment, does not mean to stop bettering and improving yourself. Continue setting goals that pertain to you, continue pushing yourself (within reason), continue learning and growing, continue to improve your health… just think deep about WHY you are doing it all and for crying out loud, if you are stressing about ANY of it… take a break!