For many years, I killed myself at the gym, huffing it on every cardio machine imaginable and lifted light weights religiously to try to lose weight and get toned. I tried things like the Special K diet, the whole grain fad, and slim fast. I bought workout DVDs, read various fitness magazine, and read the secrets behind celebrity’s slim and trim bodies.
The problem was, I didn’t understand nutrition, and I most certainly didn’t understand the science behind exercise. I was simply doing what the media told me to do. After all, men like the skinny celebrities with the perfect amount of muscle tone, or at least that’s what I’d been told.
However, the problem was my body didn’t work that way. I’m a petite woman, but I am not skinny. In fact, I’ve got a muscular lower body and big arms. No matter what exercise I tried, nothing changed that. Eventually, I just accepted it and was okay with my body. None of the guys I ever dated seemed too concerned about the fact that I didn’t resemble a model or actress. I consider myself lucky for having a mostly positive body image for majority of my life.
Last summer, I put on about 15 pounds and couldn’t get it off of me. Luckily for me, I was dating Wes at the time and he convinced me to try out his way of thinking about fitness and nutrition. Despite everything, I knew to be true (or perceived to be true) I stopped eating grains and started lifting heavy weights a few times of week. Surprisingly, the weight came off and I’ve kept it off. Lifting weights has changed my life. I feel strong, confident, and beautiful. The more I became interested in health and fitness the more I looked into the current trends in health and fitness. This next section is about what I found.
Why Do We Hate Ourselves Skinny?
Now let me start out by saying I am a Pinterest troll. I always check the Health and Fitness section to see what people are in to at the moment. I’ve always found Pinterest to be a good representation of current trends in health and fitness. But, every time I browse this section I immediately get angry by the amount of bad information that is floating around. I am also astonished by the amount of self-hate I see. So many girls are so concerned with getting that “perfect” body. Then I saw this:
Seriously? This is the worst thing I’ve seen promoting itself as an inspirational quote. I can’t stress enough that having goals like this is not only dangerous, but will tear you apart.
So, why are so many people hating themselves skinny? Why are so many of us (myself included) shoving food in our mouths to make us feel better and then hating ourselves the second we lick the plate clean? Why are we looking to celebrities for inspiration, many of whom are obviously on the same destructive cycle as the rest of us? Some of us will hate on ourselves so much, we will lose that weight, but not in a healthy way. We will use all the tricks and gimmicks we see on the Internet and TV and get the weight off, but will be unhealthier than we started. Some people will also develop an even worse relationship with food than they had before.
What is happening to us all and more importantly, what are we going to do about it?
For the past few days I’ve been racking my brain with some way to stop girls and women from hating their bodies and by extension themselves. I’ve also thought about ways that will help people beat the weight loss battle and stick with it. Here is what I’ve come up with. All of this is based on my own life experience, so take it with a grain of salt if you want.
Ten Ways to get off the Hate Train:
1. Weight loss and fitness is a JOURNEY. There is no quick fix, no diet, and no magic workout that will help you get to where you want to be in a few days or weeks. It takes time and dedication. If you look at the story of any person who has successfully lost a large amount of weight or significantly changed their body, it took them months and/or years to achieve that goal. They worked at it each and everyday. Remember, it’s not always about getting there, it’s about how you got there that is most important.
2. Do your research! Learn about fitness and especially, nutrition. There is nothing worse than jumping from diet to diet only to gain any weight you’ve lost back. Understand what food is actually healthy and what isn’t. Learn the best ways to get your body fit and strong. Remember, everyone is different, so what works for your friend might not work for you. Do your best to be informed, because knowledge truly is power.
3. Lose weight in the kitchen, get fit in the gym. This was one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever gotten. The only way to get healthy is to eat healthy. Basically, ditch the junk food and eat REAL food. My diet advice is to eat from nature. In fact, don’t even think of it as a diet, just think of it as eating. Meat, dairy (for some people), veggies, and fruit. If it came from nature then its good, if its in a can or a box you should probably ditch it. If you eat real food you will feel better and losing weight will not be as hard. Also, allow yourself some wiggle room. Eating some cookies is not the end of the world! Eat healthy 90% of the time and 10% of the time eat some junk food. Believe me, pizza will not kill you. Enjoy life, and try to enjoy your health.
4. Get moving! Get your butt off the couch and do something! Lift weights, run, ride a bike, dance! Do something that you love and work it into your workout plan. I primarily lift weights, but I also ride my bike because I love it, not because I feel I have to. If you love to dance, then dance your ass off everyday. You will never reach your goals if you don’t get your body moving.
5. Don’t be afraid to do something different! Just because people and the media tell you to do a ton of cardio and lift tiny pink weights to lose weight, doesn’t make it true. I always thought I would be a slave to cardio until I decided to lift heavy. I let go of fitness stereotypes and did things my own way. Yes, people will tell you you’re wrong, but don’t listen.
6. Unplug yourself. Turn off your TV, computer, and smart (or dumb) phone. Shut out the noise and take some time for yourself. One of the best things I ever did was cancel my cable. I finally stopped watching endless hours of reality TV and starting living in my own reality. I got off Facebook, Twitter, and took a break from blogging. Life is so much more enjoyable when you are not constantly bombarded with news, status updates, and tweets.
7. Accept yourself for who you are right now: I heard this mantra on a documentary I recently watched: “Fully and completely accepted yourself for who you are right now.” I have learned that you cannot make changes in your life until you learn to accept yourself and your body for how they are right now. Once you let go of your past and stop worrying about your future and whether or not you will get that job or look good in a bikini this summer, it’s much easier to get a handle on what you want to accomplish.
8. Love and Respect Yourself: Once you’ve accepted yourself, love yourself. You are living on a tiny planet, in the exact right spot of a solar system, in the middle of a vast and endless universe. You are a living miracle right now (you are essentially made out of stars!). So, love yourself and the miracle that is your life. Whether or not you need to lose weight is so unimportant when put into context. Then respect yourself. Don’t be mean to yourself because you don’t fit some expectation of yourself you created. You are who you are supposed to be and you have the power to change yourself over time if you want.
9. Losing Weight Will NOT Solve Your Problems: In the end, losing weight will not make all your problems magically go away. Try to find out why you gained weight in the first place and understand what makes you over eat. It is only once you understand yourself and your problems, that you can truly overcome them.
10. Be Proud of Who You Are: Be you, and not the person you think someone expects you to be. You’re not a size two, so what? No one that actually cares about something as trivial as this should be in your life. True friends will love you for who you are, not what you look like. Be proud of your body and who you are as a person, because in the end, only you can make yourself happy.
I hope this advice helps you love yourself more and get off the hate train. Remember, change takes time. Love and respect yourself and don’t be afraid to be yourself.
Lift Strong. Live Radiantly.