Have you ever thought that you’ll be happier when you lose those next 10 pounds? When you can fit into a certain size of clothes? When the scale shows a specific number? This mindset leads to exercising or avoiding certain foods as a punishment for gaining weight. The goal of exercise becomes to create a calorie deficit, or to compensate for poor eating choices earlier in the day. You can stick to a strict plan for a few days, maybe a week or two, but inevitably you slip up. You miss a workout, or two, or three, or you eat something that’s off limits. You feel bad about getting off track, and you think you failed. You then recommit to your plan and work extra hard to reprimand yourself for getting off track.
What you’re wanting is the feeling of being happy and loving yourself- not necessarily being a certain size. Waiting until you’re a certain size to get that feeling is counterproductive, because it’s that feeling that will create a healthier, and fit (and perhaps slimmer) self.
In the 21 Day Challenge we held in May, one of the participants’ daily tasks was to ‘give love’ to themselves. The guideline was pretty relaxed, but the goal was for participants to consciously do something positive for themselves each day. We did this because the journey of losing weight is traditionally negative, and it does not have to be that way. Losing weight should be a positive, and pleasant experience.
Pause for a moment and choose to love yourself. Just for a few minutes, remove the thought of ‘I need to lose weight’. Do you feel relief? Do you feel happier? Do you feel free? Choosing to “give love” to yourself, or treating your body with love and respect not only results in a healthier body, but the journey will be enjoyable. For example, you may choose a healthier option at breakfast because you want to treat your body well, and because you know how much better you’ll feel by fueling your body well. You may choose to skip highly processed, sugary foods because they are not what your body needs, not because you’re ‘not allowed’ or are fearful or gaining weight. You eat to the point of being satisfied rather than overfull because it’s what your body needs.
When it comes to exercise, you take advantage of moving your body because you’re blessed with this amazing body capable of moving in all sorts of ways. You workout because you want strong muscles, and a healthy heart, and you want to be able to do exciting things, such as playing with your kids or hiking a local trail. You don’t workout only because you need to compensate for eating a donut at coffee break.
No matter how much weight you think you should lose, choose to love yourself right now. Then treat your body like the beautiful, amazing, healthy body that it is, and enjoy the journey.
Tanja Shaw is the owner of Ascend Fitness Inc., a private training studio. Tanja and her team of expert fitness professionals work to inspire and educate Chilliwack residents to make positive and power changes in their lives through physical fitness and sound nutrition. For more fitness tips go to www.ascendfitnesscoaching.com.