Me, myself and I have a rule to never step on a scale unless it’s absolutely necessary. And usually the absolutely necessary comes around once a year when I go to the doctor for my annual physical exam. The reason for this rule is because I know myself well enough to know that it’s way too easy for my brain to become obsessed with a number instead of the progress that I’m seeing in real life. Well, when the absolutely necessary approached this year, I was more nervous than usual. Mainly because this year, I had made a conscious effort to take my workout routine down a notch from the previous two years. The previous years, I had taken my love for fitness to all new obsessive (and competitive) levels. The 6 day/week, 2x/day workouts had turned my once hobby into fuel for validation. It had driven me to an unhealthy place mentally and physically, my body was starting to show signs of that stress with recurring injuries and heightened levels of anxiety. So, at the end of last year’s race season, I took some time off from high intensity fitness and when I started back, decided that I would work out 4x/week consistently and if I wanted to do more, great! But if not, that was okay, too. With that change in fitness routine combined with the halting of my metabolism that occurred the millisecond I turned 30, I knew that my absolutely necessary trip on the scale was going to be scarier than usual. And you know what? It was the absolute WORST! It showed me a number that I had never seen before and threw me into a spiral of self-loathing and made me forget all the other highlights of the visit like the doctor telling me I had an “athletic heartbeat” and that all my bloodwork looked “fantastic”. Nope. Perfectionistic Marcie had taken the wheel. She was focused on a number and wanted me to get on an extreme eating plan and increase my workout regime STAT to get back to the lean muscle mass I was last year. Lucky for me, one of the other things I started last year was counseling, which has helped me recognize when Perfectionistic Me is driving the train so I can tell her to scoot on over and calm the eff down! So that’s exactly what I did. I exited the spiral of self loathing and started being grateful for the healthy body I have, which allows me to still workout at high levels of intensity, but also allows me to rest and restore. I started embracing the curves that I had never had before, because you know what? They make me feel more grown up and sexy! Young me was shaped more like a noodle, so curves were a thing to be welcomed! (Fun fact: one of my cousins actually nicknamed me Noodle when I was growing up.) And just because I wasn’t a lean machine did not mean that I was fat or unhealthy. It just meant that my priorities had shifted.
Why am I sharing this story? I think I’m still trying to figure that out. But mainly, I want you to know that we all struggle with some version of ourselves. We disregard all the good parts of us and instead focus all our energy on what needs “fixing”. And I’m finding with myself, the areas where I struggle are usually areas where I’ve historically derived my self-worth. It’s taken courage for me to stand in the mirror and replace critiques with compliments. But you know what? As cheesy as it sounds, compliments to yourself make you believe the hard truth that your body is beautiful and an incredible gift! And it makes you want to take care of that gift in way more ways than the harsh critic voice did. The critic drives you to health with fear. The compliment drives you to health out of thanksgiving. The critic is driven to physical results whereas the compliment is interested in the bigger picture of health – mental, physical and emotional. I’ll let you guess which one has more staying power.
Basically friend, embracing your body is not an excuse to overindulge and let yourself go. No, it’s quite the contrary. Embracing your body means honoring it and giving it the fuel it needs to allow you to keep doing the things you love! Is there anything wrong with an occasional #treatyoself? Absolutely not! But the real embrace comes when we learn to feed ourselves based on our needs, not our emotions.
The other thing that being grateful does? It allows you to explore who you really are aside from what you do. And who you are is where your worth should derive! Not what you do, how you look or what you have. All of those things are temporary and will be outlived by the person inside. And if you don’t know the person inside, you will inevitably have an unfulfilled existence.
Progress. That is what this story is about. And as a recovering perfectionist, I’m learning that the word “perfect”, or rather the idea of “perfect”, is not so much a destination but more a matter of perspective. Everyone’s idea of perfect looks a little different. Today, my idea of perfect looks a little less “perfect”. It’s about enjoying the journey and embracing the curves along the way – whether they’re in the road or on your body.