By Lisa Rhea
Every successful self-improvement endeavor begins with self-acceptance, self-love and a desire to improve.
Now I’m not asking you to look in the mirror and profess that you absolutely love how you look or join hands and start singing “kum ba yah,” and please don’t take this as encouragement to strut your skimpiest thong at the beach. But I am telling you that self-disgust and self-hatred are NOT the building blocks of better health and a better body.
To lose weight or achieve a fitness goal, you have to first accept where you’re at, feel empowered to improve it, and actually believe that you CAN improve it.
It doesn’t matter how much back fat you can grab, how tight your jeans are, or even if you’re sporting an entire junkyard in your trunk, your body is an amazing machine and you’re at the helm. Aside from extreme cases, your current condition is a result of your decisions, and more importantly, your future condition is a result of the choices you make from here on out. You can be more fit. You can be thinner. You can be stronger. You can be faster. You can be healthier.
Think about it this way. Any elite runner training for a race has a similar goal as someone trying to lose weight – to improve on her current conditioning. She doesn’t start out thinking she’s a horrible runner and can never complete the race. She doesn’t berate herself into thinking she could never win or doesn’t deserve to win because she isn’t as fast as she wishes she was. Instead, an athlete acknowledges her strengths and weaknesses, capitalizes on those strengths and works to improve her weaknesses, while focusing on winning.
This is the attitude of success. This is the attitude you need if you want to make a real change in your life. So stop the self-hate and focusing on your flaws and start looking at what you have going for you and where you can improve.
About a decade ago, I made the change to living a healthier life and began my fitness journey. The trigger for me was picking up a Muscle & Fitness Hers magazine. For the first time, I saw strong women being showcased and not rail-thin models. Given my body type, I never believed I could achieve the waif look, but seeing these women with muscle, I felt empowered. I could actually look like that! And I could be strong! I started lifting weights, completely changed my body composition and learned how to make the most of the body I was born with.
My point here – finding a new obtainable goal allowed me to believe in myself. I stopped hating my body type and learned to embrace it. I didn’t focus on what I didn’t like about myself, but started working on what I wanted to become. I accepted myself.
When you have a healthy starting point and your fitness journey isn’t based on trying to change something you hate, but rather uncovering something you love, your entire mindset is different. Instead of shaming yourself for eating something bad and feeling worse about yourself, you’re able to view it as a minor set-back on your path, and area that needs improvement and not a big deal.
Much like a runner will have a bad race, everyone set on improving their physique will have bad days. But a successful athlete doesn’t wallow in self-disgust after a poor performance. She is introspective, evaluates what went wrong, and sets out to change those factors and improve. When you have a bad eating day or miss a workout, don’t beat yourself up, ask yourself why you slipped up, what went wrong and how you can prevent this in the future.
I think we all have experienced this before: you look back at a picture of yourself and think – wow, I looked great! Only to realize that at the time the picture was taken, you complained about being fat, hated how you looked and wanted nothing more than to get rid of your belly, which now you would love to be “cursed” with.
The moral – stop hating how you look and appreciate the positives in your life. You will get nowhere with self-disgust and continuing to hide from the camera. Accept that this is where your new journey begins, make a plan to improve and have a little faith in yourself.
Okay, now you can sing “kum ba yah” and keep rocking that fit life!