I’ve been thinking lots these days about my training as it fits into my life. My new motto is “Fitness for a Fuller Life” because I do believe that fitness should enhance your life – not keep you inside the gym hitting more PRs but instead outside of those four walls living more abundantly.
I used to workout everywhere I went – in line at amusement parks, before bed if I was bored (“Hey Mikey! Want to do 100 jumping jacks and some burpees?!”), during the weekends and on trips. Now, however, I’ve scaled back. Partly because I believe that less really is more, but also because I don’t want to “do” fitness for the sake of being fit to be the focus of my life. It’s very easy for fitness to take over and hold an unhealthy place in your life (just like it can be with anything: food, drugs, body image, another person, etc) and I have experienced that in varying degrees over my adult life.
In the last few years, however, there’s been a shift. I am no longer defined by being “the fitness girl” or “personal trainer” but rather, just me. When Mikey and I first started running our Survive & Thrive trips, I would keep up with push ups on the beach and a few of the guys would join in. On one trip, the name “Bonnie Lang Push Ups” even stuck with a certain kind of push up and traveled throughout Idaho! (can you say: highlight of my life? ha!) But I’m not sure my motivation was always pure. Moreover, the more survivors I connected with the more I realized that many of them had limitations due to their cancers and I felt like I was boldly doing exercises that they were still working up to post-treatment.
Now when I travel, I try to watch my food intake and use that more as my rule of staying fit while I’m gone. If you can keep your food from going too crazy (you know, the “we’re-on-vacation-anything-goes” mentality), you’ll be fine without your full workout routine. Really! That being said, if I feel like it, I go for a run, do a few squats, throw some planks in. If I’m in a hotel, I love checking out the gym facilities and will do a 20 minute high intensity workout because I love to move and feel better when I do. However, I don’t make myself feel bad for taking time off, and when I’m with others, I make them the priority.
It’s been difficult for me to let go not of the movement but of how my body has changed over the years. When we started STE, I was lean, had 6 pack abs and was super defined in my arms. At the time, I was walking through life with Mikey during his cancer treatments and just think my body lost weight because of stress. I remember eating so many of my mother-in-law’s cinnamon buns, baking and delicious steak and potato dinners but not seeing any of it affect me. That phase of life coupled with a likely slow down of metabolism and a change in age and body means things are different now.
I do kinda miss those abs…
Over the years my body has softened; I’m still trim but not nearly as defined and I maybe have a 2-4 pack if the light is right. But you know what? I have the same body issues then as I do now! So if abs won’t make it better, why stress? Why worry over what people are thinking (or, more accurately, NOT thinking) about my physique?
(on our recent Grand Canyon trip)
On our last trip, we had some time to really think about one thing we wanted to let go in our lives that is holding us back from living a fuller life. I do this exercise frequently and don’t always have one defined thing that comes to mind, but this year I did. It’s my (negative) body image. I’ve been working on it and it’s been getting better over the last year, but I decided to let that rock I was holding represent all the things that are holding me back from enjoying life and throw it in the river. And you know what? I’m trying not to look back. I’ve done pretty well! My biggest fear around really letting it go is that I will let my body get TOO soft, not watch my workouts or food enough, etc. But the freedom of not worrying what others think is wonderful! And I made that decision to throw it away and leave it there, because people matter more than abs; I don’t want my own pride to get in the way of relationships.
Now the way I approach fitness is in a less complicated, less judgemental, more attainable (and – more importantly – sustainable) way:
I’m not fishing for compliments on how I look today, nor am I looking for validation that I was “too skinny before.” I don’t think I was unhealthy then, but my mindset, my approach to fitness, my confidence in myself is much greater now. Plus, when would I ever be “enough” – fit enough, ripped enough, able enough? I am enough right now, and so are you! Just don’t use that as an excuse to let workouts slide or to eat mindlessly. We should always be moving and always fueling well in an effort to live fuller lives! I am happy I left the lies about myself deep below the earth in the Grand Canyon and I look forward to how I can continue to gain strength, push my limits, tackle new challenges, make eating well a habit and inspire others to do the same in order to take hold of life and LIVE!
Above all, I am motivated by these verses:
“For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” – I Timothy 4:8
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” – John 10:10
What drives you? Have you ever struggled with negative body image (I realize the answer is, if we’re all honest, likely yes)? Have you taken any action steps to live without that wrong image and to be in a healthier place?
As always, live well & be well, friends!