I have spent the most part of this year directing my energy toward reflecting and reviewing what I place my self worth on. It’s been an interesting, and illuminating time, especially considering I work within an industry that markets strongly to the aesthetic.
As a personal trainer, we can feel this immense pressure to always be up, and an image of trim, terrific perfection. That we can’t be seen in the chocolate isle, or gain a few kilos, and have bad days, which creates an anxiety that can be exhausting!
I reached a point where I decided not only am I tired of giving my energy to micro managing the inner conflict that this creates, also I would much prefer to teach and use my leadership position in a way that creates space for self acceptance, without striving, or always having to chase weight loss as a means for self improvement, and self esteem.
Whether you’re in a committed relationship or single, we all want to feel sexy, and appealing to ourselves, and to others, however true worth starts from within, not from outside ourselves.
Here are a few of my findings so far…
Starting to look within can be a very foreign and counter intuitive idea if you grew up in a family or had friends who placed strong value on outer looks and beauty as worth, and finding the courage to do a u-turn and to question “Who am I without needing to control my diet and always chase a better looking body?” means parts of us, old beliefs, have to (metaphysically) die, and for a period the transition can be uncomfortable.
Often somewhere inside us we already know this, yet we unconsciously resist it as it can feel daunting, and it means we have to look at things we don’t want to, like, if I want others to love me beyond my looks and weight, am I willing to do that for others? and how do I judge other people if I have spent my whole life judging myself on how I look? or how do my friends judge others on how they look? Yep, ouch!
I also know how safe it can feel to stay stuck in this familiar place, at fear that if we stop the need to strive and look better, we will let ourselves go, throw out our gym membership, live on a diet of wine and ice cream, and no-one will ever want to have sex with us again.
In fact the exact opposite is true, I eat better, and I exercise more now that I feel less pressure on myself! I’ve also found a gentleness (for both myself and others) enter me since having more awareness around this subject and applying it to my life! I have felt more joy, kindness, and a growing sense of authenticity since I stopped telling myself I should be a little skinnier, and decided if I am up or down a few kilos, the right kind of love will still find me.
I’ve also found I enjoy the food I eat more without inner conflict, whether it’s a bowl of hot chips or steamed vegetables, and as long as I am consenting myself to enjoy it from a place of love, my body digests it like a champion! In my opinion, the stress of feeling guilty about eating the chips is far worse for my body than actually eating them.
I recently went on a mini getaway and spent a few days with three girls on a deserted beach sun baking in all our glory, it was heaven!
Lying there with our tooshies out on the beach, all four of us could not have had more different body types from one another! I know these girls, and not one of us is unhealthy, a couple of us more physical than others perhaps, however what was most obvious, was that we all have very different genetics, all equally delicious in their own unique way!!
When we start to see ourselves as loveable and appreciate the body we have, right now, nothing changed, just as we are, we start to see others in a much more positive and gentle light. We stop comparing, and stop putting ourself above or below others!!
If I could add up all the time I have spent obsessing over what I ate yesterday and what I could eat today to make up for yesterdays “sins” let me tell you, I would gain years of mental energy back!
So how do we start turning the conversation around?
Here are some reality checks I use to question old beliefs around my weight/image –
- If you are female, ask “Where am I at in my cycle?” most women I know can fluctuate as much as 2kg leading up to their period.
- So often we think we have gained weight when we haven’t, if you are still fitting in to the same size jeans, snap out of it! And if you aren’t, buy a bigger pair in the interim.
- If it’s the colder months, and you have enjoyed snuggling up with some red wine and a cheese plate more then usual, be ok with it. We eat to the seasons, and we hibernate, it makes sense to be a little softer in winter!
- If someone captured a not so flattering photo of you, delete it, and get on with it.
- Review how much time you spend scrolling instagram, if your feed is backed up with bikini models living their best lives, perhaps hit the unfollow button?
- Ask yourself, would someone who loves me judge me if I gained weight? and if the answer is yes, are they the kind of people I want around?
- I catch myself when I engage with a friend in a low self worth conversation, and do my best to divert the convo, without making a big hoo-ha out of it, I just quietly change the subject. This one can take discipline especially if you are the initiator… whoops!
- When making food choices, ask yourself, “Am I having this because I love myself or because I hate myself?” and learn to be guided by your inner knowing.
Here are the ways I enjoy myself and find a sense of balance and health –
- When I increase my nutrition through upping my vegetable intake, I notice my skin is clearer and I generally feel more energetic. In fact, cooking at home in general makes me feel great. I try to minimise eating out in order to feel my best!
- I don’t weigh myself, weight does not equate to health.
- I don’t diet, when I eat, I ask myself “does my body need this today?” and am learning to eat more intuitively. I really love eating this way, it’s empowering and fun!
- I take regular breaks from coffee when I feel anxious, as anxiety causes me to make weird food choices. It’s a blood sugar thing!
- Find activities that make you feel alive and connected to yourself, I swim in the ocean as much as possible, or surf with a friend, I feel great in my body after.
- I give myself time to be with friends and in nature, and am outdoors for sunrise/sunsets.
- I do check ins when stress creeps up, and decide problems are actually not problems, and ask myself, what is the next right step? then get on with it… (drama makes me eat!!)
- I often spend a day in silence where my phone goes on aeroplane mode – I might clean the house, cook, or sit in the sun and write… It resets me.
- Do the exercise you love, forget the rest. Swimming laps is my meditation, where I empty out.. so I prioritise time to swim, and feel great for following through when I do.
- I have a rhythm to my life, and give myself rest time. I have found rest doesn’t happen unless it’s been scheduled in! If I don’t rest, I get overwhelmed and taking care of myself is far more challenging when I am already feeling stretched.
- When self doubt creeps in, specifically talking about my weight, I spend more time naked for e.g lying in the bath, having a nudy sunbake, or moisturising after a shower, instead of ignoring my body and covering up out of aversion. It softens my inner critic.
- I do my best to get comfortable with vulnerability, and the feeling a little exposed that comes along with it… it’s the best way to find true connection to myself and to others, and the quickest way to weed out those not suited.
When we give ourself permission to be just as we are, we give others permission to do the same, and that, I do believe, is a loving, brave and generous way to live your life.
May you be ever so gentle on yourself…