Last week, I was brushing my teeth, happily staring at my naked body in my full length 3 door closet mirrors that spreads across the whole wall of our bathroom, chatting with my hubby, who’s on a mission to run an 80 km (YES 80!!!! That’s NOT a typo!!!!) Ultramarathon this year.
My hubby also does not look like your typical, super lean runner.
He actually looks like a sexy (to me!) mountain man – stocky, thick and well, has what society is calling “Dadbod” (if you don’t know what that is, google it) 😉
My hubby is also an amazing runner, already completing impressive times for previous 50 km ultra marathons (ok, and the fact that he even runs and completes ultra marathons is amazing enough!!!)
My hubby also HATES weight training.
He says to me, “I am going to need to clean up my nutrition to lose some weight so I can perform better”.
Me: Sure if that’s what you want to do, hon. I’ll support you.
You see, my hubby has a “normal” relationship with food- he doesn’t ever worry about eating the “wrong” kinds of foods and if he overeats, he doesn’t beat himself up. He rarely has food hangovers if he over does it on sugar. He sometimes craves chocolate when he’s stressed, but it’s not a huge issue. Overall, he’s has a pretty nutritious diet.
As I looked at my own body, which I have learned now to love unconditionally, regardless of my size, I felt somewhat inspired to join my husband on making personal fitness goals for myself.
Suddenly…I could feel a twinge of something in my chest, and I knew it was my “Inner critic” coming up – the part of me that used to run the show, that criticized me for not being lean enough, muscular enough, pretty enough…basically just not good enough!
In a non-judgemental manner and curiously observed my own “Inner Critic” coming up.
It’s funny that although I now love myself unconditionally at whatever size I am at, and as a Food & Body Image Psychologist who empowers people to find freedom in their relationship with food, lose unhealthy pounds (and keep it off!), and love their body in the process – sometimes I feel like there’s this unspoken rule in our society that states: You can’t make fitness goals that are physically (aesthetic) because it doesn’t really mean you truly love yourself as you are.
Loving your body at any size – a bad thing?
When you read about body positivity posts and articles in social media, it’s almost always about loving your body at any size. I absolutely agree. It also states that you should reject diet mentality. I also agree…but then what happens is that this “reject diet mentality” totally gets flipped upside down on its head, and people are “letting themselves go” – meaning they are eating “whatever they want” and as a result, gaining unhealthy weight. At least, that’s what I see a lot in my practice at first.
I’ve been examining this with much curiosity (and non-judgement of course!!!) and although I’m all for loving your body at any size – I also think it’s really important to know how to TRULY respect your body in order to love it. Respecting your body not only means to nourish it with nutrition that will bring you energy, mental clarity, a strong immune system, a healthy digestive system, revved up metabolism and muscle building capacity – but it also means to nourish your body with kindness in the forms of Positive Self-Talk, Self-Love & Self-Compassion, so your own emotional and mental needs are addressed too.
In my previous blog post about “Can I still be on a Diet AND Be On a Journey of Self-Love?” I wrote about how there’s almost this phenomenon that occurs where we go through a pendulum swing from Rigid/Restrictive Diet Eating to Rebellion Eating before we really dive in and do some TRUE soul searching in our relationship with food.
As someone who’s personally recovered from disorder eating (i.e., years of chronic dieting and perfecting my body), I’m now at a place that when I want to make fitness goals, I know I can do it from a place of true self-love. I’ve healed my wounded parts of my self and can manage enough to know that she won’t drive the bus, ever again…but that she’s still very much a part of me, and she still sometimes pokes her head out (as you read above)- which is when I need to let my Empowered Self take over and give her some love and compassion.
I also know I have the right, as much as anyone else does, to make fitness goals. I have the right if I wanted to, to change my physique.
I admit, I do love it when I can see the definition of muscle in my arms, chest, abs, legs a bit more. I have the right to feel this way. I also want to emphasize that for me back then, it was about the aesthetics, and today, it’s more a reminder of how amazing my body is in it’s strength, resiliency, and resourcefulness inside and out.
Why is it never good enough?
When I was suffering from disordered eating and body image struggles, I could appreciate my muscle definition, but it was still never “good enough”. I wanted to get more lean, or get rid of more body fat. I was doing a transformation from a place of fear – fear of not being enough, fear of body fat.
Now when I look at my body, it’s softness and curves, beautiful stretch marks from birthing 2 healthy sons, and the definition of my muscles underneath (because I have body fat- and I say this in a neutral matter of fact kind of way) I appreciate and love all of me... AND I still know I have the right to make physique changes if I want to, and as I’m doing so, I can appreciate the physical changes my hard work is creating.
Today, I would NEVER say to myself, “Oh, X more pounds or inches to go“. I just appreciate the art form my body is, no matter what shape or size along the way. I appreciate my inner health. I appreciate the journey – and I no longer hold the BS belief that “Until I lose the weight/ or have 6 pack abs, then I’ll be happy”.
That’s because my inner dialogue has changed completely. Now, if I choose to transform my physique, I’m operating from a deeper place of true Self-Love – I don’t fear body fat anymore (as you’ll see here in post, where I celebrate my body post-baby), I don’t fear not feeling good enough anymore, I don’t care what others think anymore – because I am worthy and I am enough as I am – my worth is not linked to my weight, size or shape.
Not too long ago, I had someone who had not seen me in a long time tell me, “Hey, you look like you’ve lost some weight- I can see it in your face- it’s slimmer”. In the past, that would have been a compliment that made my day. And now, I have no excitement about it. Honestly!!! In fact, I just shrugged and said “Maybe? I haven’t been really noticing…but it’s possible”. This has happened to me a few times over the past couple years -and I honestly don’t feel a twang of excitement. I see it as someone’s perception of my physical being in that moment in time- and it doesn’t really matter. Again, it’s because my worth is not linked to my weight, size or shape.
I have been 20 lbs lighter than I am now, and I have been 15 lbs heavier than I am now (not including pregnancy body), and I’ve been strong and fit at every size, but not emotionally or mentally fit at every size- specifically when I was 20 lbs lighter (competing in body building).
I was constantly anxious around food, my weight, and wondering if my belly was flat enough.
I’ve had my then perfect body but how I got there was not out of Self-Love. I was completely operating on “not good enough” and as I was transforming, the negative Self-Talk didn’t stop. So how was I to expect everything to change overnight once I did get my “then” ideal body? Having the “perfect body” (whatever that means to you) does not bring you true happiness – changing your own relationship with you does!
What matters most now is how I feel about ME and how I SHOW UP in this world. What matters is that I’m living a purposeful life (and when I was so focused on what my body looked like and how others perceived it, it took away my life force energy to serve a deeper purpose in this world).
I know I’m a power to be reckoned with because I no longer let “Inner Critic/ Diet Self” drive the bus.
My Inner Hero does. 🙂
And my Inner Hero wants to make some fitness goals – and these goals are focused primarily on providing my body new challenges to reach new heights physically (lift more, build endurance, flexibility, agility) for myself. As a result, my body composition and physique will change. Embracing change is good. And change happens in various directions. Embracing this is better because it allows you to have a flexible mind.
My point is, it’s okay to love your body AND want to make physique changes too, as long as it’s coming from a place of a healthy mindset!!! What truly matters is the foundation you’re coming from because true transformation is an inside-out job.
So coming back to the bathroom scene, I say to my hubby: Hey Honey, I think I’m going to join you on your fitness journey as I’d like to challenge myself to see what my body is capable of doing, and possibly make some physique changes along the way -I think it’d be fun to do together – just don’t expect me to be running ultramarathons anytime soon 🙂
Rosalyn is offering a FREE webinar: How to Stop Self-Sabotaging Your Weight, Eating Habits and Body Image on Feb 2 (replay available)!
Rosalyn Fung is a Registered Psychologist & Founder of Holistic Body Love. She is a wellness speaker, consultant, mentor, writer & blogger. Roz specializes in Holistic Nutritional Psychology in which she empowers people in their relationship with food, body image, weight, as well as digestion, fatigue, immunity and mood.
Her approach is a combination of eating psychology, positive psychology, mindfulness, neuroscience, family systems and nutritional therapy. She’s the go-to person to help you understand how to feel normal around food, and break-free from body image and weight struggles.
Rosalyn offers a 6 week Holistic Body Love Food & Body Image Transformation Online Program, in which you can check out here.
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