Although I am strongly against cliche New Years resolutions, I recently agreed to participate in a twelve week fitness challenge with my best friend. I knew the key to our success was taking on the challenge as a team because we could motivate each other with positive accountability instead of guilt. I mean sometimes the only way to turn a shitty day around is to binge watch Friends with a cupcake in one hand and glass of wine (or in her case, whiskey) in the other. This does not mean I have failed the fitness challenge, it simply confirms that I am human.
We started the fitness program four weeks ago, and despite zero regulating of my diet or physical exercise since Thanksgiving, initially I was excited. In my own mind I was not out of shape, I was just on a break and would totally bounce back. The program consists of two strength training workouts and three 45 minute cardio sessions per week on alternating days (“easy peasy!” the figment of my fit self cackled inside my head). Week one I wanted to die, yes I know that is dramatic, but I seriously wanted to die. My legs were so sore I could not sit down and I ran the slowest miles of my life, gulping down air the entire time, but I kept going.
As part of tracking my progress I started weighing myself once a week. Then I started weighing myself once a day. Then at the end of week two the scale told me I had gained 5 pounds. What the hell was going on? I was following all the rules and not eating any of the carbs. I didn’t feel any bigger, my clothes weren’t tighter, and I actually thought I was doing great.
After that weigh in the scale kind of took over my psyche. I would weigh myself twice a day (yes I know you are not supposed to do that) and grimace if the number hadn’t changed. This, understandably, drove my husband a little nutty and got to the point where I was begging him to hide the scale. I was tired of it staring at me, beckoning me to step on every time I entered the bathroom.
I made the decision to break up with my scale, and my self consciousness, ASAP. Here is why I did it and now am a much better wife, friend, sister, and mentor for doing so:
I used to weigh myself every morning at the same time, just like all of the health websites told me. This routine always reminded me of The Price is Right when contestants spin the big wheel hoping to earn a spot in the Showcase Showdown, if you have no idea what I am talking about watch this now. I would take a deep breath, step up on the scale, and watch as the numbers on the digital display jumped up and down until finally settling on an accurate readout. I would usually be disappointed with the number and this set me up to have a crappy day (which we now know leads to binge watching Friends, cupcakes, and wine). I work really hard to cultivate a grateful and positive attitude about life, so I refused to let this be how I started my mornings. I am more than the number reflected on that scale and I am too smart to let it control me, bye-bye scale.
bathing suits, magazines, and the internet are not the boss of my self esteem
It is so unfair that the day after New Years women are fear mongered into joining a gym because BATHING SUIT SEASON IS COMING. In case I forget that bathing suit season is a mere six months away all of the internet and women’s magazines are there to remind me to repent my holiday eating sins and immediately make a decision to change. The countdown of when I will be forced to stare at myself half naked in front of a dressing room mirror with shitty fluorescent lighting starts ticking in my head. This is not why I want to work out. One of the reasons I enjoy physical activity is because of the way it makes me feel (not in a bathing suit way). Lifting weights reminds me that my body is strong, pushing myself to run faster reminds me that I am doing good by my heart, making healthy food choices reminds me to love my body and that donuts, cupcakes and beer are fine in moderation. It is tough to shut out all of the photoshopped media images flung my way, but I am trying hard to focus on only comparing myself to me – because that is who I have to look at and love every day.
listen to the people who love me
I am grateful to have a partner who regularly expresses how much he loves my personality, sense of humor, and body shape. This is the person I have chosen to spend the rest of my life with, and if he likes what I have going on maybe it’s time to kick the insecure voices out of my head to make room for compliments from someone I love. When it comes to friendships I make the conscious choice not to befriend those who encourage self doubt by constantly discussing the want to be thinner or have bigger boobs (or I guess big butts are the new thing). I want to be around people who inspire me to stay healthy and strong, regardless of what that means for the size of my jeans.
As I get further into the twelve week challenge I do plan on weighing myself again, but just as a check in not as a guidance tool. Instead I will be listening attentively to my body, my husband, and the pace of my miles (9:55 currently).