Last week I wrote about the fact that we all we all want to look and feel our best, but sometimes we make decisions that get in the way of our ability to do just that. In my blog I listed five of the most common fitness, diet, and workout decisions that I have witnessed in my 20 plus years as a health and fitness leader. This week I have two more I’d like to add. We’ve probably all been guilty of at least one of these mistakes, but knowledge is power and reminders help keep us real.
Comparing yourself to others. I’ve written about this before and I think it’s worth mentioning again because comparisons, without a doubt, are our nemesis. There’s no quicker way to sabotage our best efforts at getting fit and feeling good than to get caught up in comparing how we look to someone else. To quote myself in a previous blog: “Seek and you shall find all kinds of people who are thinner, smarter, prettier, and more successful. Lets face it, our world is filled with people who could make us feel bad about ourselves if we were so inclined to use them as a yardstick with which to gauge personal value.” Comparisons undermine our self worth and deflate our sense of accomplishment. Rather than feel good about the results we experience when we workout, we compare our results to someone else and that never works. You and your best friend can do the same activity and get completely different results. One because you both started out looking different and needing different stimuli, two because your bodies will respond in their own unique way, and three, who knows what you’re both doing outside of gym in terms of diet, sleep, and other factors that tie into your overall health and well being. Not to mention, when it comes to exercise it’s most important to reflect on how you feel afterwards, aka more accomplished and more empowered, and you can’t weigh that on a scale. If you want to compare yourself to someone, compare yourself to the person you were yesterday and the person you hope to be tomorrow.
Hating on your body. To quote myself again, “I tell my clients that we should think of our body as our house. The outside of our house, that part that everyone sees, is like the foundation and the walls of our real house. It shelters and protects what’s inside, and is often a reflection of how we feel and how well we care for ourselves. Our skin, posture, physique, and even our expressions mirror how healthy we are on the inside, but they don’t tell the whole story.”
Often the outside of our house reflects the wear and tear we feel from the negative self-talk that goes on in our head. I believe that we, especially women, would feel better about our personal house if we would spend less time focusing on what we don’t like and more time embracing it for all the wonder that it is. If we could see the big picture and realize what our body has done for us over the years: How many steps our feet have taken. How our legs have kept us standing despite the obstacles we have faced. How our hips, thighs, and abdominals give us our unique shape, and how they may be the bane of our existence, but in another person’s eyes signify the beauty and grace that makes us women. How our arms have embraced our children and the people we love, and lifted everything from the heavy load of life’s burdens to the powerful kettlebell we swing at the gym. How our neck and face may show our age, but thanks to good health we’ve made it to an age where those fine lines are a badge of honor, a sign of wisdom and experience.
What I’m trying to say is that personal acceptance is where it all begins. I am a living testament to this, and the fact that age has helped me make peace with my body. I am less judgmental and critical of its flaws because it’s those flaws that keep me humble and challenge me to work harder. I’m also more amazed by what my body is capable of and what it has done for me over the years. In the end, personal acceptance translates to us feeling worthy of the time and energy it takes to care for ourselves properly, and to make our physical, emotional, and intellectual health a priority. It allows us to come to terms with the fact that our body may have its flaws, but it’s a pretty amazing place to live.
Best to You in Health and Happiness