Earlier this week, we wrote about “Fitspiration,” the dangers of holding yourself up to an ideal, and how these images and words may serve to guilt, shame, or downright insult you in the name of “motivation.” One of the tips we gave you to combat this phenomenon is to practice positive self-talk:
There is a growing body of research showing that “fat talk,” or discussion about one’s dislike of their personal appearance, is approaching “normal and expected” in our society, especially among females. Fat talk only makes things worse when it comes to body image by increasing body dissatisfaction and internalization of body image ideals. Set a good example by refusing to engage in “fat talk” about yourself or others. Instead focus on what you have accomplished, and be proud of where you are right now, because if you are reading this site and have completed even one day of our Whole30 program, we know you have things to be proud of.
Today, Melissa shares a personal story to illustrate the importance of focusing on the positive and celebrating all of the things you are, you have, and you did.
What Did You Do Today?
I took a mental step back from my training today, and for the first time in a long time, I saw my workout in a totally different light. I often focus on what I couldn’t do during a workout, in an effort to improve those skills. Came in a minute slower than last time, couldn’t move those five extra pounds, my push-ups still suck. I’m “motivated” (shamed? guilted?) by identifying my weaknesses and trying to do a little better the next time.
But what about the things I DID do during my workout? Most of the time, I simply write down the results without stopping to consider their significance. Today, though, I paid attention.
Today, I did pull-ups. I did a one set of three, a few doubles, and a few singles before I tuckered out. These were done over the course of an hour, in between my foam rolling and warm-up, deadlifts and presses.
Just a few years ago, I could do six gorgeous dead hang pull-ups in a row. Doing 20 over the course of a single workout was no big deal. Doing weighted pull-ups with 15# was cake. My pull-ups were so much better then.
I used to. I could have. I should be able to.
So here’s how I normally analyze my training performance in the moment: DAMMIT. I want five pull-ups again. In fact, I’d settle for a few sets of three. In fact, I’d settle for two in a row that looked a lot prettier than they looked today. What’s with that stupid knee-up thing I was doing at the end? That’s pretty much cheating. Those probably don’t even count.
If I worked on them more… If I lost five more pounds… If I wanted it more.
But as I hopped off the bar during my last set, I had A Moment. Just two months ago, at the tail end of a six month break from hard training, I couldn’t even DO a pull-up. I let them go, in favor of stress management, yoga, pilates, and lots and lots of time off. But today I can do a BUNCH of pull-ups. DEAD HANG pull-ups – no bands, no assistance, no kipping. And I’m a GIRL.
I’m a GIRL doing a BUNCH of DEAD HANG PULL-UPS.
Completely discarding any last shred of humility, putting all things in perspective… I think that’s awesome.*
*Many of you reading this article can’t do a single pull-up. And many of you reading can do five pull-ups, weighted pull-ups, pull-ups in your sleep. The point is, my accomplishments aren’t meant to be compared to yours. If you say, “Wow – you’re my pull-up hero!” I don’t feel more proud. And if you say, “Lame, Hartwig – talk to me when you have five.” I don’t feel less proud. My point is, YOUR accomplishments aren’t meant to be compared to MINE – or ANYONE ELSE’S, for that matter. You own them – and comparing them to anything or anyone else will tarnish their value. So don’t do it, okay?
What Will You Do Today?
It’s easy to lose perspective when you’re in the middle of an exercise program, the middle of a Whole30®, the middle of changing your life. There are always comparisons to be made – to others around you, to those in magazines or on TV… even to your past self. And the “used to,” the “could have,” the “should be able to” is the fastest way to destroy your self-esteem, halt your progress, and keep you focused on things that aren’t real. Holding yourself up to some societal ideal is damaging, but so is holding yourself up to some imaginary version of you – one who’s faster, stronger, leaner, or younger.
Negative self-talk, losing yourself in the mirror, the inability to accept a compliment or even to pay yourself a compliment when you do something worthy – these are all-too-common habits that need to be un-learned. Pronto. Because as you change your relationship with food, with exercise, with yourself, the used-to-could-have-should-be-able-to has no place. Instead,focus on the present, the here and now, the YOU.
The “I am.” The “I have.” The “I did.”
Every once in a while, take a minute to be proud of what you did today. Think about where you came from, and how much you’ve accomplished – not by CrossFit’s “elite fitness” standards, or the Whole30′s “perfect Paleo” standards, or Fitspiration’s “110 percent” standards, but by your OWN standards. Think about what you are, what you have, what you’ve done – not compared to anyone or anything, but simply for what they are, and what they mean to you.
What will you do today? Will you do your first dead-hang pull-up, one perfect push-up, pick up five pounds more than you did last week? Will you fight off a persistent craving, stand up for your new healthy habits, take on a challenging new recipe? Will you exercise even though you’re tired, meditate even though you’re anxious, forgive even though you’re angry?
Today, you will do something worth being proud of.
Share that thing here, with us.
Photo credit: CrossFit Impulse