I used to think the hardest thing I ever did was quit smoking.
And really, that was hard. I threw things at David on day 1. I am pretty sure I swore at a class full of high-school students on day 3. And then I had to relearn every single daily habit, from my morning coffee to driving home from work each day, in the context of my new non-smoker identity.
But the difficulty of having to quit smoking has been thoroughly trumped by several things in my life over the last two years:
1. Taking time away from the only career, teaching, that I’ve ever known.
2. Gaining 25 pounds as a result of using food to soothe myself as I learned how to identify myself without the context of teaching.
The process behind doing both of these things is, obviously, more complicated than what I have stated above, but these summaries are fairly accurate, if brief, representations of what I consider to be the toughest two years of my life so far.
What’s proven to be almost as tough, however, is giving myself the necessary tools and support to get my body back to where I’d like it to be — fitter and leaner.
The “necessary tools and support” this requires involve much of the typical things one might need to accomplish any kind of body recomposition — smart training plans, sustainable diet plans, supportive friends & family, minimized life stress, plenty of regular sleep, etc.
But I’m finding, more and more, that what makes me capable of succeeding at my goals of being leaner and fitter also involves my perception of myself — and I don’t mean my perception of the self I want to be when I reach my goals.
I mean my perception of myself now. What I think of myself today affects the self I become tomorrow.
When I first came to terms with the overeating and binge eating issues I had developed, I tried, fruitlessly, to lose weight. I tried everything that had worked for me before — I had a coach to guide my workouts and nutrition (even personal trainers hire coaches!), I had minimal life stress left, I had the support of everyone I knew, and I continued to get 7-8 hours of sleep per night.
Invariably, despite the well-laid plans, I would get 2-3 weeks of consistency under my belt, then I’d find myself imploding — and usually “imploding” meant going off-plan and eating everything under the sun.
Or at least everything in the fridge.
I read more books about behavior change, binge eating, mindless eating, emotional eating, successful goal setting — whatever sounded like something I could use.
But no amount of reading, or getting back on my nutrition track, could change what I think was really keeping me back:
I didn’t think the present me, the me in the mirror RIGHT NOW, was worthy of success.
After all, I had failed a bunch of times in the last two years.
And I spent a lot of my time feeling like a failure. Despite the fact that I was legitimately pursuing a passion — nutrition. Despite the fact that I was the busiest trainer in my gym after being there less than a year. Despite the fact that I was about to finish a Masters degree in less than two total years.
My lack of self-love wasn’t just evident when I fell off the nutrition wagon; I was perpetuating the feeling that I was undeserving in a hundred subtle ways.
I avoided buying myself clothes — for work AND for the gym — that fit the body I had right now.
I avoided going back to the gym where I was a trainer — even though my body looked exactly the same as it did when I finished working there — because I hadn’t “improved” yet.
I avoided cleaning out my closets when these seasons approached because I didn’t want to confront the fact that nothing I owned fit me anymore.
Note that most of these things involve being uncomfortable in my own body — something that weight training and fitness helped me get over a long time ago.
And yet here it was, again, coming out in my everyday life, even as I continued to train and do the fitness-related things that I loved.
I started doing some things over the last few months, however, to try to get past this sticking point.
I bought myself a winter coat that actually fits me right now. (I had been wearing the only coat I had that still zipped adequately, but it wasn’t very warm. In fact, I was often wearing David’s coats at night when walking the dog.)
I cleaned my closets and drawers, throwing away the things I didn’t love, and packing away the things I did love so I could attempt to wear them again. I suddenly had several empty drawers and a few open closet shelves.
I filled those with clothes that I like right now — both for work and gym — so that I can feel good about where I am today instead of fighting with images of where I used to be, or even worse, where I “should be.”
And I focused my workouts around what I am capable of, what makes me awesome today — my strength, my ability to push myself to do new & more difficult things, my dedication.
What’s interesting about these changes are the effects they’ve had on my other habits. I don’t just feel better walking down the street. I feel better when I eat every day. I am more likely to stay consistent and on track — and it’s not because I am any closer to my goals.
It’s because, by loving myself as I am today, I feel more in touch with myself as I will be tomorrow.
It’s because, in the end, successful change must stem from self-care not from self-hate.
There’s no longer a disconnect between us, between the me of today and the me of tomorrow. We aren’t two separate beings. I’m no longer trying to repair a faulty me and replace it with a better me.
There is no faulty me. Me today isn’t distinct from me tomorrow.
We are both me, and we are both awesome.
This is exactly the mentality behind the Following Fit 7-week Online Bootcamp. The Bootcamp is set up to provide all the outside “stuff” you need to reach fitness and fat loss goals.
But the most important part of being successful at these goals — the ability to love your self today — has to be created by you and supported by the camaraderie we develop as a group.
Are you ready for that? Can you make a commitment to loving the current you?
Join us in bootcamp starting Monday, January 13, 2014 — sign up here.
And start your commitment to you — you TODAY, not just you tomorrow — right now.