I've been exercising most of my life. I've belonged to a gym consistently since I was 19 years old. Small gyms, all women's gyms, big chain gyms and body building gyms. In 2005 I worked corporately for the American Council on Exercise and during that time got certified as a personal trainer. I also worked for a short while training clients. All this resume stuff to tell you I've seen my fair share of women going after their golden ticket: the perfect body.
And I may be speaking to a brick wall here- but I'll say it anyway. This “perfect body” that we speak of; the one we see airbrushed in magazines, catalogs, billboards, commercials (yes, even commercials are fake) and even on Facebook and Pinterest doesn't bring you anything. And I've heard the argument 1,000 times: “But, it brings me confidence. I feel better about myself when my thighs are slim/ass is firm/stomach is flat/arms are tone/whatever”.
And my question to that is…..Why?
Why would a flat stomach bring you confidence? Why would slim hips make you feel good about yourself? And if you think it really does, I call bullshit.
You may be calling me a total bitch right now. That's fine (it's not the first time). You might be saying, “This lady has no freaking idea what she's talking about”. That's okay too. And if you're thinking that- you're exactly the person I'm speaking to.
I speak from experience and I speak for the hundreds of girls and women I've seen over the years. In gyms, in locker rooms, in classrooms, at parties, anywhere. Because I used to be that girl who thought my ticket to happiness, my ticket to love, my ticket to everything valuable was this perfect body. Cunning, baffling and powerful.
Here's what I know for sure. I know this for sure not only because it's been my experience, but I've seen it over and over with other women who have come to this realization:
What you have going on on the outside, says jack shit about what you have going on on the inside. You can covet all day long someone else's body and pick yours apart, or even hate your own, but having that outside package that you so badly want will give you nothing but a false sense of happiness. An empty prize. It may very well make you happy for a very short time. You may have made a goal that you put on yourself to lose weight or get to a certain size and you got there. But, if you're relying on that weight or size to bring you the happiness and fulfillment that you're missing, you're in for a major disappointment, my friend.
Try working on your inside first. Try facing your demons, because lord knows you have them. We all do. Try coping in ways that feed your soul instead of coping by hustling and scrambling to look perfect for everyone else. Because the people that really care what your body looks like, should not be worth a shit to you.
Don't know where to start? Ask yourself this:
What are you afraid might happen if you didn't have that perfect body?
Afraid someone might not love you? Afraid you aren't worthy? What is it?
Truth: You are worthy of love no matter what your body looks like.
What are you not facing while you're so busy on your quest for that perfect body?
What's going on in your life that needs your immediate attention that you're ignoring? Your marriage or relationships? Your job that sucks? Your lack of self-love? What?
Truth: Those last imaginary 5 pounds isn't the answer. Another workout isn't the answer. YOUR attention to your life is the answer.
How do you cope with life's hard times? (And don't act like you don't have any!) How do you feel your feelings?
Truth: If you numb your feelings or go unconscious when you don't want to feel something not only will it not go away, it will get worse. Try facing it. Break down in a crying heap if you need to. Be vulnerable. Be messy. Be imperfect. Be a train wreck.
And here's one last truth: If and when you get to a place where you've worked for and achieved this “perfect body”, there will always be something else. Something else that isn't right about your outside appearance. And you'll try to fix that too. And while you're trying to fix that, there is something else inside you that is dying for your attention. Please don't spend another day lying to yourself thinking that this “perfect body” is the answer to your problems. Please don't spend another night in bed thinking, “What is WRONG with me?” Please don't spend another day criticizing yourself and wishing your body were different. It's an assault on your soul.
Every bit of you is perfect, unique and amazing. So many people love and adore you to pieces. Start believing them.