Trigger Warning: Body image
This week I felt amazing. My energy has been through the roof and my workouts strong. I tackled my massive to-do list like nobody’s business. I was able to stick my handstand for the longest yet. I experienced a new thing: Muay Thai kickboxing and ate at a ramen place that has the most delicious vegan ramen bowl ever. I was asked to come audition for a yoga teacher job at the gym. I had a cooking session with a 19 year old whose favorite food is pizza and got him to cook, eat, and love vegetables for the first time ever. I had a fun girl date and connected more deeply with a new friend.
Life is good.
So why am I feeling so much body hate? It’s not that time of the month. I went shopping and found myself gravitating toward clothing that hid my body like I used to do some 4 years ago before I got into fitness and bodybuilding. I looked at some old YouTube videos and couldn’t believe how incredibly fit I was just 2 years ago. A friend said to use that as inspiration but it just made me sad.
I wasn’t sure if I should post this blog and share my deepest thoughts with you. I don’t want to seem weak or like I don’t have my shit together. Then in yoga class today the teacher talked about how insignificant we feel a lot of the time, but we don’t realize the difference we make in people’s lives. I realized that I don’t have to be perfect to help people and make a difference. I’m human, with fears, and negative thoughts sometimes (though not often!!). So here I am opening up. They say it’s good to talk about things to release them.
No matter what I do or eat my weight has stabilized at a pleasant, healthy place for at least a year now. Maybe this happens to most women in their late 30s? I have no feelings, either good or bad, toward what the scale says. I want to be able to perform, feel energetic and strong, not weigh a certain amount. Yet still when I look in the mirror I only focus on the parts I dislike.
One of the great things about last year is I stopped counting calories or exercising obsessively to reach a certain physique. So why is this body hate sneaking back into my head? I blame it on Mercury Retrograde. I blame it on all the bullshit “New Year, New You” propaganda all over the internet. I blame it on society, Hollywood and media for constantly telling me I’m not good enough, that I need to lose those last 5 pounds and have no wrinkles on my face. I blame it on all the social media stars that are 10+ years younger than me that I can’t compete with even if I tried. But it’s not about competition. I just want to feel happy in my own skin.
I’ve helped hundreds of women get strong, reach their health and fitness goals, and find love for their body. So why is it so difficult to practice what I preach? How do I build self-love for my body without changing it?
The time when I was most fit, I was not happy in mind and spirit. I’m grateful for the journey because it opened me up to fitness and moving my body in cool ways. It blossomed a new facet of my career that allows me to help people even more deeply beyond what’s on their plate. But I don’t want to go through what I did before to look a certain way. I’m not willing to do the things that made me obsessive about food, had me choosing workouts over friends, preventing me from enjoying life more fully.
When I look back and compare what I look like now with the most fit I was (first photo above April 2014, second photo November 2015) there isn’t much difference. I can see more muscularity, leanness, etc but was it worth the suffering to only look a little better? With all that I know now can I find balance in my quest for good health without focusing on my outward appearance? What is it in me that wants to keep striving to be better and is that even necessary for my well-being?
These are the questions I’m asking myself this week. So I ask you can you be happy in your own skin and make choices that help your overall well-being without the intention to change your outward appearance? We know that what’s on the inside is what counts. There is no way to know how the inside is doing just by looking at the outside shell.
I wish I had some sort of magical glasses that allowed me to see on the outside how awesome I feel on the inside.
Because life is good. No matter what I look like on the outside.
(the beautiful photo of me in purple is by Melissa Schwartz and is part of an AMAZING project featuring vegan athletes and badass. Check it out here!)