….That Have NOTHING To Do With Your Size
(Note: Today’s post is a guest post from Amanda Fisher. Once you read this fantastic piece you will see why I wanted her to share her story on ZenBarbell. Info on how to find out more about her and read more from her is after the article. Enjoy!)
I have spent a lot of time and energy being at war with my food choices. And a lot of time and energy being at war with how I moved my body.
Each “way” of eating, or plan, or strategy, or concept that I was following surrounding food were all focused on one thing…..small. Getting me smaller. A certain weight. The next size or two down in jeans. Shrinking.
And my exercise was no different. For awhile I was the Cardio Queen, frantically signing up for 5ks and road races to “hold me accountable.” Then I started lifting, but spent a lot of time living and dying by my heart rate monitor….if I didn’t burn 800-1000 calories per session, I finished off on the treadmill. Smaller was the theme here as well. Burn calories, work out like a fiend, all on the path of looking towards smaller.
Looking back, I spent most of my energy working and wishing for a destination. I put all my eggs into one basket, and banked on the fact that life would be better if I was smaller. That I would feel better if I was a certain size. I saved my money for the designer jeans that I would only allow myself to buy if I got down to ‘x’ because I couldn’t possibly buy them now, being the size that I am. I lived in a bubble of “when I am smaller……” and taught myself that I wasn’t good enough in my present state, I was only good enough “when.”
Of course, hindsight is always 20/20. When I was younger, I didn’t live “small.” I liked to play basketball, and jump for rebounds. I played piano and liked playing pieces that were big and loud and sometimes aggressive. Why in the world, then, when I approached how I fed myself and moved myself and thought about myself…..was it with a mindset of small, smaller, shrinking, and the like?
Maybe I got older and wiser. Maybe I finally spent enough time lifting some iron and realizing “Hey, I cannot possibly force smaller upon myself when muscles and strength are clearly what I love.” But, after a long time, and after learning lots of lessons (sometimes I need to learn the same lesson multiple times), I feel like I have a good handle on detaching my self worth from my size.
My self worth has nothing to do with what size I am. It no longer is dictated by the tag in the back of my jeans. Or if my eating is “on” or “off” plan. I am no longer holding off on happiness until “when” happens. I like to think I am a big personality. With big opinions, and big thoughts. I like to think I am powerful, and take up space proudly, however much space that is.
To be fair, I should also tell you that this is a practice, and that some days are better than others, and that I happily spend a fair amount of energy on checking in with myself, self-care, and flexing in front of the mirror to practice body positivity. Some days I don’t want to do those things, but those are the days I NEED to do those things. This stuff takes work! Some days, I think this practice stuff takes more work than the actual deadlifts that I do in the gym.
So I’ve come up with five things that REALLY help me shift my focus to “Dang, my body ROCKS!” that have absolutely NOTHING to do with my size. I want to share them with you, in hopes that one or two stick and resonate and make sense for YOU! Here they are:
- Move in ways that YOU enjoy! For me, there is no better reminder that my body ROCKS than using my legs to drive a HEAVY deadlift (is there any other kind?) off the floor. Lifting is how I love to move. I continue to lift and pursue strength because I enjoy it, and I enjoy coming back for more. I didn’t learn that in 15 minutes though, I had to try a bunch of different movement activities first before I found what made sense for me. So, try a bunch of different ways to move YOUR body. Find one or two that you enjoy, and go to town. Incorporate them into your exercise regimen, or MAKE them your exercise regimen. Let your body show you how cool it is! Sometimes, when I need to feel crazy powerful, I lift. Some days, when I need to quiet my mind, I do an activity that reflects that quiet. Movement helps me center myself…..and that includes the structure of a progressive strength training program, as well as hanging out on my living room floor flowing through a few yoga poses and resets, or taking an easy walk.
- Eat food that you ENJOY and in a way that makes you feel energetic and fabulous for your movement sessions AND for your everyday life. Take the time to feed yourself, in a way that feels good, because YOU are worth it! I feel like this one can get tricky, because many of us have been on a diet for the better part of our lives. Well, I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel good when I’m on a diet all the time. I feel GREAT when I spend the time putting together my plates with protein, veggies, carbs, fat and eating at regular intervals. You might feel good eating mostly plants, or more fat than carbs, or whatever. But feed yourself in a way that works for you. Yes, there are times to enjoy treats. Yes, there are times to eat a little leaner if you want to. But, realizing that YOUR amazing body feels awesome when you are feeding it appropriately is a great reminder that YOU are worth the effort. If you are a mom/wife who does that food shopping in your household, make sure you put stuff that you LOVE on your shopping list and in your food budget. YOU are worth it!
- Prioritize quiet time. Each day, I spend a few minutes with just me in the quiet. Not necessarily praying or meditation, although I do those things too. But just sitting in the quiet. Life is crazy, and shutting down for just a few minutes helps me get back to what is important and what matters for the long haul, not just what matters right now. A quiet and calm brain helps me make better decisions for me and my family. I can tell when it’s beginning to get too cluttered and noisy in my head, because my thinking isn’t clear and I can’t find my priorities, or I get muddled up in minutia of things that don’t matter 10 years from now. I am worth that quiet time. So are YOU.
- Shutdown screens. Technology is fabulous, but my life isn’t enhanced by scrolling through feeds all day long. This is a work in progress for me, and probably for many of you. It is easier to talk via text than it is in person. Make an effort to connect with friends and family, and shut off the phone! Again, I am worth that. So are YOU.
- Find a tribe. Tribes are the cat’s meow. Surround yourself with people who enhance your life, not drain the energy right out of you. It is ok to move on from people in your life that maybe don’t add anything but negatives or allow you to fall into bad habits of your past. This is a difficult thing to do! But keep adding those that really build you up and help you be better. Spend most of your time there, and let new people in along the way. You will be surprised in a few months or years how many cool people you are surrounded by, and how incredible that feels.
Fitness, nutrition, mindset…..they all fall under the “wellness” umbrella. Each one is just as important as the other, there isn’t ONE that stands out more or needs more attention. At the end of the day, our deadlifts should enhance our life….not be the sole focus of it, you know? Eating meals with family and friends should be enjoyable, and not stressed about or eaten out of separate tupperware than your loved ones because it’s “on” plan. Of course, these are my views, and there are always exceptions to every rule. But the big picture here is what matters. Can we still do this all in 10 years? 20? Will it still be amazing? Will it make us better? These are the questions to be asking ourselves.
So, to recap, I would love for you to take the time to do some investigating on what YOU love. What ways of moving feel great for you? What food makes you feel like a boss? While you are at it, maybe head to your mirror and take a peek into it and point out all the qualities about your body that YOU love. YOU are worth it.
Amanda Fisher loves to blog about lifting and sass at toughmuddette.com. As an RKC, Personal Trainer, and Precision Nutrition Level 1 Nutrition Coach, she also loves teaching people THEY CAN move and THEY CAN eat what makes them feel awesome out of her lovely little gym, TM Wellness Revolution, in Arlington, MN.