I love my legs. I know that sounds terribly conceited, but it’s true! I really like their physical appearance, but more importantly, I love all that they do for me. I love that they have taken me to so many incredible places, that they allow me to hike up peaks and ski down slopes, and that I can run and bike through our beautiful mountain trails. Here is another super embarrassing secret. I love my legs so much that at an ungodly hour when none of you are around, I lift really heavy weights in crazy colored short shorts.
Call this ego clinging all you want (because, it sort of is), but the truth is that it makes me feel so confident to work on difficult lifts in my bright short shorts while singing Taylor Swift at the top of my lungs. It’s my routine, my thing. I have struggled with confidence and body image for most of my life, so doing silly little things like this on a regular basis, embracing and celebrating my body, really makes me feel great!
I haven’t weighed myself in a year. I have spent way too many years and have wasted so much precious time allowing numbers to dictate my life and my relationship with myself. I refer to myself as a “reformed numbers gal.” Numbers just don’t work for me. I don’t take measurements, I don’t calculate calories, I don’t add up macro nutrient grams…it just doesn’t work for me. Well, actually, it works too well for me. You see, I have this chronic disease called perfectionism. This disease has roared its ugly head in various ways throughout my life, whether it was enrolling in every advanced placement course I could squeeze into my schedule in high school, to being the president of every club in college, to a nasty bout with disordered eating and a negative relationship with myself in my twenties. Heck, I have even exhausted myself while trying to build us the perfect little fitness center! I have finally gotten to a point in my life where I am able to shut down my perfectionist voice 85% of the time, but every now and then, Erin #2 (this is my evil twin that comes out when I am unkind to myself) tries to surface when I am feeling vulnerable. Erin #2 is weaker than she has ever been, thanks to tons of self-love, kindness, hard work, and of course, lots of VT time!
Back to the story. I haven’t weighed myself in a year because I don’t like numbers to dictate my self worth. But for medical reasons, I had to calculate my BMR (basil metabolic rate) recently. Your BMR is basically what your metabolism is at rest, and it helps to calculate the amount of nutrients your body needs to optimally function. To figure out this calculation, you must factor in your body weight. Yikes, this made me nervous. It’s funny, I thought I had really disassociated myself from numbers, until I actually had to do face them again. That’s when the panicky feelings started to creep on in. You see, my life has changed A LOT in the past year, and my body has changed too! So, right before I weighed myself, I did some positive self-talk.
- You are a powerhouse! You are so strong!
- You are doing things you never thought you could do!
- You are a scientist who knows how irrelevant and inconsistent this number can be (this is totally true, I’ll blog about this soon)
- You are falling in love with your body, as it is, without knowing any numbers
I marched on up to the scale all confident and ready to embrace whatever it spit back to me. And, whoa! I was certainly surprised by what I saw (I am not going to tell you, because it doesn’t MATTER)! A shaky day followed, but not a terrible day… I just felt a bit uncomfortable. However, I was sure to maintain loving kindness towards myself at all times and exercised and nourished myself healthfully and as I normally would, despite Erin #2 talking in my ear.
So, the next morning when I was getting dressed for my workout, I emerged out of my room looking like the little brother Randy from the “Christmas Story.” You know what I’m talking about, the little dude with the huge parka.
Definitely a change from my crazy colored short shorts. Even my dog looked at me with a puzzled face as I was dressed for us to go snowshoeing, but it was 5:30am! I looked back at my dog, looked in the mirror, and laughed. Wow, I guess I still have some more breaking-up to do with numbers, as they obviously still hold some power over me!
Let’s break this down a little bit. Since I have not weighed myself in a year, I have no idea what I weighed yesterday or a month before. And it is safe to say that this number had not magically become what it was, overnight. However, I HAVE been rocking out in my short shorts and embracing my body for many months, without knowing numbers. But, as you can tell, even though I have come incredibly far on my self-love journey, I STILL have an association with numbers.
So, what happened after my chuckle at my irrational thinking? I pulled out my craziest pair of shorts out and slapped them on. I was all ready to march out the door because “quite frankly, my dear, I don’t give a dang,” and then Erin #2 started up again. I began doing, what I like to call, “body checking.” This is when we stand in front of a mirror and critique ourselves, usually in a negative manner. Here enters in Erin #2. She started to creep on in. She was gaining power and momentum as I was allowing her to do this unkind body checking. Then, she started talking… “Have you let yourself relax a little bit too much?” “Should you up the intensity of your workouts?” “Should you dial your nutrition in a little more?” “Should you make time to start running longer distances again?” “Are you out of control?” Yeah, she’s a REAL PIECE OF WORK, that Erin #2!
It took about 40 seconds of listening to Erin #2 for me to look at myself, look at my dog again (who all the time was looking at me like I was crazy for making ridiculous poses in the mirror while talking to myself), and say “HECK NO, Erin #2! You lose, again. I win. You don’t control me, numbers don’t rule my world anymore, and trying to be perfect doesn’t work for me. You never loved me, Erin #2. You have taken so much from me, and I despise you for that. You have made me waste so much precious time and I have exhausted so much energy trying to please you. GOODBYE!"
Feeling SUPER empowered at winning yet another battle with myself, I said “CYA” to the mirror and marched my tush, which was in my craziest pair of short shorts, right up to the squat rack. And what happened then? I had the best lift I have ever had.
Why am I sharing this with you, and why now? Because we all struggle with something. Each and every one of us. We struggle with not being enough, with not believing in ourselves, with being unkind to ourselves, with not meeting the sometimes unhealthy expectations that we set for ourselves. And New Year resolutions, although they can be great if utilized in moderation and with loving kindness, usually set us up for a negative experience with ourselves. Many of us set really high expectations for ourselves this time of year, with the goal of self-improvement. However, what if this year, your 2015 resolution is to simply, “just stick with yourself, as you are?” What if there is nothing "wrong" with you? What if you are great, just as you are, at this very moment? No self-improvements needed. Just stick with yourself. Just a thought...
Erin Kershaw, M.S., ACSM-HFS
Fitness Director,The Edge Fitness Center at the Ascutney Mountain Resort