Health, Fitness and Taking Out My Mental Trash
So...I used to be repulsed by the health and fitness industry completely. The protein powders and gym selfies. People who paraded their workouts all over social media and took pictures of their #gains made me throw up in my mouth a little. I associated everything in that industry with complete douche-baggery and egocentrism. The thing that I didn't realize at the time was that my associations and relationship with health and fitness were jaded by much more than annoying douche bags parading their abs on social media. Sure, it started that way, but it turns out that it went much deeper than that.
Growing up I was always the skinny girl that could eat what ever I wanted and not get fat. I know, the holy grail of sorts, but I never really thought much of it. My mother struggled with an eating disorder for twenty five years. I just had to deal with rumors that I was anorexic. In fact, I was happily ordering pizza and the cheesecake for dessert. I had a very healthy relationship with food. It wasn't until I got into my thirties and my husband became a personal trainer that I really even gave any real thought to the fitness industry and my own fitness. I was super excited for him to be a trainer. He loved health and fitness and I wanted him to share that passion the way I shared my passion for dance. When he opened up his own gym with his mistress as his business partner, I tried to love fitness. I mean...it's fitness; it's obviously a good thing. Why was it so hard to love? The thing was that I was believing a lot of lies about them not really being with each other contrary to what my gut was telling me. I was in denial about my reality and also trying to convince myself to LOVE fitness so that I could “be a little more of what she was”. Long story short...after they closed that gym and opened a second, I decided to "get in shape". I told myself I was doing it for me, but I wasn't. I was doing it becauae I thought it might "fix" our relationship or “fix” me. Maybe he would really see me if I loved fitness. If I could just be a combination of me and her, well then, he wouldn't need her, plus...I would be increasing my hotness by being more in shape so...win/win. My husband told me often that I was "skinny fat", meaning that I may look thin, but I actually had a lot of body fat to lose, so I committed to getting healthy and strong. I was gonna do it. I bought the Lululemon, the new shoes and the protein powder. I hired one of the trainers at their gym and I embarked on what I thought would be the conquering of my fitness woes. That's not exactly what happened. I mean, I worked out with the trainer twice a week while I continued to eat and drink what I wanted. I gained muscle and looked probably still too thin, but better, but I still hated fitness. I hated everything about it. I loathed it actually. I continued training through my entire pregnancy. I was in the best shape of my life, in fact, when I gave birth, but alas, I still hated fitness.
After I had my son, my body actually looked decent so I decided to stop the whole fitness thing to save time and money, but mostly just because I hated it. His mistress had her baby three months later and I began the downward spiral of mental and physical unhealthiness. Fast forward to three years later and I was separated from my husband, at the same weight I was when I was nine months pregnant, tired all the time, irritable, sick and the headaches were daily. I decided I needed to change, not for him, but for me.
What I didn't understand was that I couldn't just "decide to change", I had to get real about my relationship with fitness. I joined the local gym, read books, started logging my food and got excited about cooking delicious AND healthy meals, but it wasn't until one day about two weeks into my journey that I was on the rowing machine and I had a flash back to being on the rowing machine at my ex-husband's gym. I remembered rowing while I was pregnant, watching the two of them interact and just seething with anger and resentment at them and myself, trying to let it motivate me to work harder, but instead, I could feel it just sucking the life out of me. As I rowed in my new gym and remembered that moment, it was like a lightning bolt hit me and I woke up to the fact that my aversion for fitness was because I associated everything health and fitness with the pain that I felt from them and that situation. Why would I want to commit to or appreciate something that I associated with emotional suicide. If I was to ever really be healthy and in shape I needed to let that association go completely. I needed to throw it to the trash, wheel that shit to the curb, watch the trash man take it away and MOVE ON!
I did just that, step by step. It was a process, but I am here to tell you that I LOVE health and fitness now. I still despise douche-baggery and you will never catch me hash-tagging the word "gains". A girl has to have standards! But I have embraced wholeheartedly the idea of showing up for myself in a way that seemed so out of the realm of possibility before. I am happy to say that ten months after I took my associations with fitness to the proverbial trash I am at my healthy goal weight and more than that, I am a different person. I love eating healthy and doing things that push my body to be stronger because it makes my mind stronger. I take vitamins and even have a favorite protein shake. You may find me smiling on the elliptical machine, running a 5k or even over joyed at the newest healthy recipe I found. These are all things I never thought I could love and bonuses to having freed myself from the burdens, associations and insecurities that I had around health and fitness.
What I've learned on this incredible journey is that there is a reason that you aren't in shape and it has nothing to do with food or your lack of gym membership. It has everything to do with your associations with health and fitness. It has everything to do with your fears and your insecurities. It’s time to take out the trash and move on.
Once I let go of my negative and false associations with fitness I was able to see that it was a matter of deciding who I wanted to be, not deciding what I was going to do. It helped me not to get overwhelmed. For instance, instead of thinking, " I want a coke. Should I have a coke? How can I justify having a coke? I deserve a coke" I just thought, "I'm healthy now. I'm so freaking healthy. I'm THAT healthy girl." Obviously, healthy girls don't drink coke, so it wasn't something I considered anymore and it definitely wasn't a reward. With that perspective, it just became fun. This was who I wanted to be. I wanted to be the healthy girl who works out and has self control and chooses to do the hard things because it's empowering. I didn't diet, I just decided who I wanted to be and everything else fell in place. I still indulged because I decided that I was the healthy girl who loved food and friends and life without guilt because I was a girl that found balance. Don't get me wrong, I stumbled and still do, but I never feel discouraged because this isn't a diet, so there's no "breaking it". This is my life. This is who I am. For the rest of my life I will be the girl who loves health and fitness because it makes me feel alive and empowered. I will eat the whole bag of "healthy" chips at midnight sometimes, rendering them completely unhealthy. I will not workout for a week or two sometimes, but I will also run a 5k on a whim and meal prep for the week and push to reach my goals because that's all part of who I am . I decided who I wanted to be and not what I wanted to look like and that, I believe, has been the key to endless possibilities of self improvement. That has been the key to loving what I once despised.
I will share in the next few blogs some tips and tricks that helped me along the way, but I would be remiss if I didn't share the biggest tip of them all and that is making the decision of who you want to be and making every choice from that point forward with the understanding that that is the person that you are.