I used to do this thing where I’d go to bed flexing my abs.
Well, first, I’d do, like 100 crunches while watching Jay Leno, then crawl into bed and squeeze my tummy tight till I fell asleep. Because according to Cosmo, sexy abs are important.
Other fitness and body habits of note I’ve subjected myself to:
Doing super high-intensity DVD workouts, every single day.
Weighing myself all the time and letting it determine my mood and my day.
Eating only fat-free, mostly vegetarian food, which, by the way includes a crapload of Peeps candy.
Freaking out over any changes in my body that deviate from how it looked when I was 16.
At some point, every one of those things was a little bit of an obsession. And not always in a great, life enhancing or affirming way. Yeah, exercise is great and healthy eating is a priority, but when you’re doing them in a way that’s dripping in shoulds and societal BS…that’s a different conversation.
I mean, why was I doing high-intensity workouts every single day? I don’t know, seemed like a good thing to do at the time. It did start a fitness habit and it did start my path to becoming a fitness professional. But it was also definitely more than a little questionable.
I used to weigh myself at least once a day, shooting for 100 when I was in high school, 110 in college, 119 post-college, and no more than 126 up until about two years ago. I mean, what? Where the hell did I even get that? What’s the difference between 126 and 128? Or 137, for that matter?
Unfortunately, I grew up in the Weight Watchers/Jenny Craig/Nutrisystem/Slimfast era, which was very, very down on dietary fats of all kinds. I have eaten more canned vegetable soup and diet desserts than I care to admit. I have also subsisted for months at a time on Twizzlers and pasta, so please tell me about how healthy low fat eating is.
I love running. I love running long distances. I love seeing what I can do athletically, after half a lifetime of never being able to do anything athletic at all. What I don’t love? Getting up early every weekend, GI distress, being totally insensitive to my husband and his needs because I have to run today, having constant hip pain and running through it because God forbid we take a freaking break. I love it, and it’s fun, until it’s not anymore. Turns out, there’s life after running!
That life includes bodybuilding. Not for sport, mind you, but for recreation, because muscles are awesome and that pump is the best feeling in the world. Except, what if I can’t keep it up? What if my #bigarmsbiglife arms aren’t so big anymore? What if I just want to go on long walks? What if I’m not jacked all the time? What if I just want to sing at the top of my lungs and laugh with my Peloton friends in my basement while spinning in a pool of sweat?
I turned 36 today. (Yes, it’s really my birthday.) I can’t even explain how different my life looks now from 20 years ago, when I was 16. Hell, it looks different from last year, three years ago, five or six, a decade. How could I possibly expect that my body wouldn’t be different too? I clung to something I perceived to be so important, such a defining characteristic, for so long, not realizing how insignificant, how confining it really was.
The only thing obsessing about my body ever got me was a narrow ass and a narrow-ass view of what life could be.
And yet, that’s the conversation I found myself having for years. I had it in my head, I had it with the people around me. I bet you have too. I was so wrapped up in all these external expectations – in what I needed to be doing and how and what my body needed to look like in order to be good – I had completely lost touch with myself and my own body – not to mention with my life, the people around me, and the possibilities for me.
I was so consumed, spending so much time thinking about my body, I wasted what must add up to years of my life that could have been allocated to things that matter so much more to me. My messed up body image kept me in blinders, and it kept me from living my life to the fullest.
Seriously, for every two-minute mirror check, every five-minute body bashing session, every extra twenty-minute run because I ate that cupcake, I could’ve been doing things like:
Talking to my husband.
Having sex with my husband.
Reading a book.
Having a coffee meeting.
Conquering the world and making sure no one else is mis-allocating their time like I was.
Instead, there I was, doing all the things I said I wouldn’t do. Thinking all the things I knew I didn’t want to be thinking. Avoiding all the hurts I didn’t want to be feeling. Giving up the power I knew I couldn’t afford to be giving away.
You know how this goes though. It’s easy to do, sometimes without even realizing it:
You should be thinner, lose weight, the last 5 pounds, get rid of that pooch, only eat organic, clean, perfect, whole food with no sugar, ever, work out every day for an hour, do cardio, strength training, yoga, pilates, and meditate too. Just do that and life will be great! Oh, and here’s the exact way to do it, according to gurus and experts.
God, it took me so many years to unravel all that and figure out that for the most part, none of that’s true, and 90% of it is BS. The more shoulds you carry, the harder and heavier the weight to bear. The more time you spend thinking about it, consciously and unconsciously, the worse off you are. And it took me all those years to realize just how much of my life I was giving away to this pursuit, which in turn kept me from doing what I actually wanted for myself, my work, my body, and my life. I finally had to ask myself:
What if you spent your time not obsessing about your body, but doing the things that really matter to you?
What if you unraveled fitness for yourself?
What if you could free yourself from all those shoulds and figure out what works for you, forever?
What I came up with when I answered those questions looked so much lusher and more fulfilling and more like how I wanted to feel, there was just no way I could keep going the way I was going. I didn’t want to feel so small and confined and one-dimensional any longer. I wanted to change. So, that’s what I did.
And it didn’t involve changing my workout plan, again. It didn’t just involve a new book or diet or method or class or coach. It was a full unraveling of a million things I had always believed, and a years-long process of exploration and growth.
Also rest. Also cake.
It’s certainly not easy every day, and it’s a little bit counterculture, especially for a fitness professional, but holy hell is my life infinitely richer since I’ve committed to changing that conversation. My relationship is stronger than it’s ever been, my self-image is healthier than it’s ever been, my work is more purposeful than it’s ever been, my health overall is better than it’s ever been.
It’s entirely possible for all of us to make this change, both inside your head, and outside in the world.
And I say this with completely relaxed abs, so you know it’s true.
I’ve spent fifteen years walking through this process myself, and nearly a decade walking other women through it with success after success. Increased confidence, better body image, bigger lives – results we all want to see and feel. The Fitness Unraveled group coaching program is how to get them. It’s how we begin to change the conversation.
I know at this point it still might sound dubious, like I just don’t think I really need to do this! What am I really going to get out of this that I can’t get somewhere else? OK, I hear you, and here’s what it boils down to:
You can try a different version of the same thing over and over again, or you can not do that.
Honestly, if I asked you, “What else could you do with all the time you spend thinking about your body?” and your brain kind of feels like it’s going to explode or you feel like you want to cry or run away? This might be a good use of your time and money.
No other course, training program, or book is going to do this for you. I don’t care how cute the band-aid is, it’s still just covering up a wound. Commit to healing, first, now.
Plain and simple – at the end of your three months in Fitness Unraveled, I guaranteed you will:
- Figure out what fitness looks like for you
- Feel better in body, mind, and soul
- Finally come home to your unquestionable self in body and life
And doesn’t that just feel like a relief and an aaaahhhhhhh moment?
All the stuff we’re after when we keep ourselves so tightly wound – it only comes when we get unraveled. Sign up today – it’s the last day to get in.