It’s still the first week of January, and while people are setting resolutions and adding more to their lives, I’m wondering how many people (myself included!) might need to simplify their lives, or at least look at their goals in a different way. What prompted these thoughts is a hashtag you may have seen on social media right now: #gainingweightiscool Women all over are chiming in with their before and after photos of them having GAINED weight and how much healthier they are now having let some ideals go and gained weight (many moving from an eating disorder or disordered thoughts to more acceptance and balance). While there’s nothing wrong with abs and many people are genetically lean, I think it’s a more healthy-than-not trend, and while listening to yesterday’s Girls Gone WOD podcast, in which they chatted tracking macros with Adee Cazayoux from the nutrition program Working Against Gravity (WAG), I started thinking about how our image around our bodies often holds us back from letting go. Let me explain.
Maybe you’re the girl with the great arms. Everywhere you go, people comment on your biceps or shoulders. Have you ever gone on vacation without hitting the gym or sustained an injury and worried that that portion of your identity would disappear too?
Perhaps you’re the girl with the long hair. You received a cancer diagnosis and as your life started changing from your work routine to trips to the doctor’s office, your hair began falling out. No longer do people comment on your beautiful brown hair, but instead flit their eyes to and from your thinning head.
(Mikey during chemo! …different for a man to lose his hair, especially when he never lost his beard, but it’s still a change in identity and the thinning hair does look different than a shaved head on purpose…)
Or maybe you’re the guy with the abs – you’ve had them as long as you can remember, but it’s getting harder to keep them as you age and you’re finding you have be pretty strict with your nutrition to keep them. Is it worth it? You think so, because you’re afraid of what others might say when you take your shirt off at the beach and no longer have them.
…you get the point. It’s an interesting conversation, as I’ve seen friends lose or gain weight rapidly due to steroids with their chemo cocktails and often thought about if I were to lose my dreadlocks, my defined arms, etc – what would people think? When I started consciously eating more (carbs and food in general!), my muscles responded so well; many people were commenting on my arms. That felt great!
BUT… Then I’d go away, not hit the gym, and wonder what people would think when they saw less definition. Or when I go home to visit California, I must admit it crosses my mind that people will compare my current fitness physique to what I used to look like. Oh, how these thoughts can hold us back (and “How ridiculous,” you’re probably thinking, at the same time)!
A few thoughts on this:
- No one really cares. It’s true! And who knows, maybe if you’re always posting ab selfies someone will notice when you’re shirt’s not on, but how often are you shirtless around everyone you know? And how much do they really care? Not much at all…It’s just the truth. I don’t see someone and think “Oh boy, his arms have shrunk!” or “Yikes, she’s put on weight.” I just don’t think that way and I don’t think anyone does. Maybe you’re the girl who has always been tough and kept up with the boys, but you reached a point where you don’t want to compete, or don’t want to be a raft guide despite loving the outdoors and wanting to be known as hardcore (not that this resonates with me on any level whatsoever)… 😉 Who cares if you’d rather sit in the raft than guide it, or opt out of a weekend ski trip in favor of sleeping in and resting at home (because this is exactly what I did 2 weeks ago before Christmas)? You don’t have to prove yourself to others. And remember, people don’t care as much as we think they do – they’re too worried wondering what YOU are thinking about THEM!
- People change, and it’s okay if your body goes through phases. You might be softer right now after the holidays than during the summer season, or a perhaps you find yourself in great shape after having kids and finding your routine again. Maybe fitness is your priority right now, but the reality is that it might not be if you hit a crisis next month or if something happens in life and fitness takes a backseat. And that’s really okay! You might actually WANT to weigh a bit more and have more curves but are afraid to get out of “fat loss mode,” or you might be afraid of shaking your image of being “the fat girl” because it’s who you’ve always been and it’s a comfortable role to play. People change. You can change. Give yourself room and permission to change.
- Discipline = Freedom. Allowing yourself the chance to change doesn’t mean that everything goes out the window in terms of your routine. Create some structure, nourish your body, move as you’re able and enjoy life; do so with enough regularity and focus that you’re not floating or backsliding with your goals. But while you’re being disciplined, remember that it’s that discipline that enables you to be free to live and live well – so you can go skiing or chase after your kids or eat birthday cake at a party all while not being worried about the outcomes.
- Ask yourself in what, or whom, is your identity placed. If your identity is in your body, guess what? It’s going to change. Even the most fit physique isn’t sustainable forever. Our bodies change and sometimes it’s more than the inevitable years that change it – you might get in an accident and not be able to use your legs again. I don’t say this to be morbid, but to remember how much stock we place in what we can’t control, and in the external circumstances or roles we play (our financial status, our jobs, being a mom or grandpa, being a runner or CrossFitter or a couch potato). Ask the tough question of who are you and define yourself by something that cannot change. I know that despite my body or ups and downs in life, I’m forever a beloved child of God and my security is found in Jesus; there is so much stability there! Go to those tough places and ask who you are without “______” in your life – it’s a dialogue and discussion I always love to have with people!
So who are you? The girl with ____ or the guy who is ____ ? Is there anything in your image that you need to let go of? Let’s let go and move on together so we can be free to live life fully without worrying about holding the line when it comes to your body in other people’s eyes. Now that’s a resolution I can get behind! 😉
(stronger arms, thicker legs, and I’m okay with it! part of my own image I’m letting go!)
I would love to know your thoughts on this idea of attaching yourself to one part of your body if you’re down to share. Goal setter or not, needing to let go of something or not, Happy New Year, friends! Live well & be well,