If only I could lose 10 more pounds. If my thighs were a little firmer and my belly a little flatter...oh, and my arms more defined... Then. Then what? Then I'd have the confidence? The self acceptance? The love from me and others?
If this painful dialogue sounds familiar, you are not alone. More people than you may realize engage in the same destructive “if only” conversation.
Why do so many of us place conditions on our happiness and inner calm? Why do we spend so much energy creating obstacles to self acceptance?
Recently I asked these questions to someone who was going on about losing more weight and even buying a second scale to confirm the accuracy of the first.
She said, in a rather stern defensive voice, “I have to face the truth!” “The truth?” I asked. “Yes. Why did I gain this week? Is it because I’m eating dairy? Or is the scale broken? Maybe the floor is uneven and I should move the scale.”
I have to admit. I was a bit overwhelmed from our conversation. What was interesting though is that when I asked what else was going on with her, she mentioned that her husband’s health condition was flaring up again, after stabilizing for some time. I asked her if that could be related to her hyper focus on her body? She paused and said probably. But I don’t think she was ready to let go and allow herself to feel the fear that her husband’s health was uncertain and out of her control.
You may not have a sick spouse, but the distraction of self evaluation can take any of us out of reality. I believe this harsh self talk is cruel and I'll tell you why.
First. It's a con. I'm sorry to tell you that life doesn't magically get better when your ass gets tighter. Your confidence may initially soar, but as soon as someone looks at you the wrong way or your friend’s butt looks better than yours or you don’t get a call for a second date, it could easily plummet. Suddenly that new found confidence feels as thin as your ideal waistline and entirely fragile.
Second. The evil voices in your head that compare and insult your body will also tell you to throw in the towel. Go buy a slice of pizza. Hell, go buy a pie. You can work it off tomorrow, although you know your body isn't going to change anyway so you may as well enjoy some good pizza. That pizza better be damn good! The problem is that it can never be as good as you want or need it to be. It will never give you relief from this conversation in your mind and won't make your body feel healthy or strong or at peace because you are asking it to be more than food. And it's not. It is only food. No calm can come of this.
So what’s the answer? How do we have the body we desire while allowing self love and peace to flow?
My answer may sound confusing and even unsettling. But after decades of experience, I hope you will hear me out. I say, when those voices tell you to change, measure, and compare your body, let them pass and DO NOT ENGAGE!
Instead, here is what I would suggest. Forget your weight and muscle goals. Focus your energy on taking actions that bring you energy, calm, and centeredness. I feel so much better after lifting, running, practicing yoga, or dancing in my living room. Not because I burned calories, but because I moved! My stress loosened, my heart rate rose, my breath deepened, and I just felt good.
After all, my body is not entirely what I'm after. I want peace. That feeling of being exactly in love and in acceptance with who, where, and what I am right now. Not waiting for someday. Not advocating for things to be different. Total acceptance. Then I get to have joy. And gratitude. And peace! I can't demand these things. I have to do the work.
Ready? Here’s your assignment:
- Find your value. What’s so great about you? Say it! Own it! List three things that you do well and make you feel invincible.
- Create a routine. When you have an action plan, you get to enjoy your process and the results happen without your constant oversight. Do you move each day? If that feels hard, sign up for my 7 Day Kickstart and I will send you simple, effective moves that will help you build a fitness routine.
- Protect yourself. The way a mother protects her young, you must protect yourself from getting conned into destructive thoughts and behaviors. When those thoughts try to pull you into a “someday” mentality, direct your energy to the present moment. What is happening this second? Can you feel air on your skin? Hear wind or music? Plug into the environment around you for a healthy dose of awareness and reality.
Set your intentions for today. Will you go for a walk, swim, dance, meditate? What's your intention today? Share them below to help yourself and see how your words inspire others.