How much of your life do you think you’ve spent worrying about the amount of space you take up on the planet? If you could make a pie chart of your thoughts, how big of a section would worrying about your weight, food and health be? If you are anything like me there is a good chance it would be a pretty significant piece of the pie. It’s a question I have asked myself many times. If I hadn’t spent so much energy worrying endlessly about my body, what else could I have done to have a positive impact on the world around me or in my own life for that matter?
I know my story isn’t unique despite how I often looked around and wondered what it must be like not to worry about what I was eating and my body all the dang time. I spent most of my adolescence and young adulthood (okay, well into my adulthood) convinced that the pressure to look a certain way would never go away and as a result, I expended ridiculous amounts of energy feeling anxious about what I ate, how much I worked out, how my clothes fit. All the things.
Maybe this is your experience too. Consulting the mirror each morning for an assessment. Hopping on the scale to determine if you should feel good or punish yourself today. Eating delicious foods you enjoy, then slinking away from the table thinking, “Why did I eat that?” -the dinnertime version of the walk of shame. Our thoughts have tremendous power over our actions and in turn our lives. At some point I just got fed up with the negative thought loop. It came the year after I ran three marathons in 13 months. I should have been feeling amazing at what I’d accomplished, the time and effort it took to reach my lofty goals. Instead, I felt defeated. Apparently I couldn’t outrun my thinking after all. When I realized that my approach was doing nothing but keeping me stuck I decided to do the hard work of learning to accept me just as I am and commit to doing that over and over. That meant examining my choices more closely. What else can running be for me beyond keeping me in shape? How do I feel when I consciously make the decision to chose foods that nourish me for the long haul? What happens when I start challenging my limiting beliefs about myself?
Something subtle and magical.
Living a healthy life became about me. Not the rest of the world or its impossible standards. Running to feel my heart pumping, arms and legs moving in a meditative rhythm was freeing in a whole new way. Learning to understand what foods make my body feel better and lighten my mood gave me a sense of peace with food I don’t remember having since I was about 11 years old. What a gift.
Friends, when you discover you are victim of your own thoughts and that the answer to finding the motivation needed to change comes right from within you, it’s pretty powerful. When you think of the emotional weight you’ve been carrying around while trying to manage its physical counterpart, it’s no wonder so many people feel defeated.
I believe we need to rethink our standards for health. Yes there are all the important metrics to consider but until we lose the emotional weight that comes in the form of feeling guilty, shameful and the truly absurd idea that some how we are failures if we haven’t figured it out yet, then we stand no chance at becoming the best version of ourselves both physically and mentally.
What emotional weight are you ready to lose?