In an effort to demystify what makes living a #ScaleFreeSummer so meaningful, I’m breaking it down into five major components: Consistency and Commitment, Compassion, Pleasure, Mindfulness, and Goal Measurement. One per day. Gotta keep up. (Thankfully, now that I’m free from school duty, I can finally keep up.) Don’t forget to tweet or instagram all your healthy habits using the #ScaleFreeSummer hashtag! Some of your fellow #bgg2wlarmy fam is already filling up the tag with their awesomeness, you should, too!
The number of times, throughout my journey, that I’ve said to myself “I can’t believe I was so stupid!” were once too great to measure.
The day I realized that I couldn’t burn 700 calories in an hour on the elliptical, and then – with my ravenous post-cardio appetite – come home and eat half a box of taquitos with sour cream and salsa “because I was hungry,” I had an epiphany partnered with an avalanche of shame.
That very night – it was easily 1 in the morning – that I realized that, after 6 months of burning my ass off, literally I should’ve lost way more than what I had at that point, I actually cried. I felt guilty, I felt stupid, I felt shame for not knowing better. Something that came so easily for others was an overwhelming struggle for me, and something as simple as not knowing that I couldn’t just eat anything at any amount post-workout and expect success was preventing me from achieving my goals. In my mind, I was a saboteur, and I hated myself for it. Why was this so hard? So painful? So… frustrating?
Instead of just changing up the post-workout routine, I backslid. I quit working out altogether. I couldn’t “get it all” right, so I wasn’t going to do squat. Three months later, I’d gained 10lbs.
10lbs…in 3 months? That means I would’ve gained 40lbs that year, had I kept up with that eating pattern. That’s a lot to gain in 12 months.
I’d eventually learned how I should eat for myself – throughout the day, before workouts, after workouts – and learned the variety of variables that have to be accounted for when it comes to quality training… stuff that I’d never even thought of, before.
What does it mean to be a neophyte? What does it mean to be so new to something, that you literally might need mentor-ship in order to ensure that you get through it? What does it mean to be tasked with a responsibility so great, yet have no idea how to accomplish the goal?
When I wrote about my quest to develop a healthy body image, I mentioned the fact that I don’t talk to or about myself in a way that I wouldn’t talk to or about my daughter. I’m protective of her emotions; I don’t want her to hate herself, so I do my best to cultivate love in her and for her. I don’t insult her intentionally and, if I do so accidentally, I apologize. I empower her to be honest with me if she’s hurt by something I’ve said, and I do my best to be clear about my intentions and my perspective tactfully.
In other words, I show her compassion; I seek to understand her feelings, and be respectful of them.
And, just like I wrote in my essay about self-compassion, I’ll write it here: why wouldn’t I afford myself the same courtesy?
My last bout with self-hatred derailed me to the point where I was gaining weight at a faster speed than I’d ever gained in my life; it took me 24 years to grow to over 300lbs, and now I would be gaining to the point where I’d be at 400 before I was 30 years old?
Nothing good, positive, encouraging or even remotely supportive comes from hatred, self-loathing, shame or the pain that comes from being unkind to ourselves.
As someone new to fitness, I had a lot to learn, and was pushed more by an urge to shed pounds than an initial desire to learn everything I needed to know in order to be successful and not just lose the weight, but keep the weight off permanently. There was so much to learn, and if you’d never been initiated into the realm of the fit by way of healthy coaching, encouraging fit friends, or by watching your parents display healthy habits… you’ll never know how little you actually do know. You’ll never know how much there is, out there, that you don’t know. And, thanks to marketing and Big-C Capitalism, you’ll never know how much information out there is fraudulent, stuff you’ve paid for that ultimately doesn’t fit your goals, doesn’t suit your needs, and for damn sure doesn’t actually bring results… because we all initially trust the marketing a little too much.
How do you blame someone for something they don’t know? How do we shame ourselves for not seeing results when we don’t even know how to account for all of the variables? How do we ignore the fact that the most important part of that “progress” that we all desire is not seeing that scale move, but all the learning that we do that enables the scale to move, the dress sizes to change, the body to transform, the abilities to develop and/or the quality of life to change? Why should we deny ourselves the right to celebrate what the learning brings all because the scale doesn’t move?
In fact, I’ll tell you what – I had to have a mind-blowing moment: everything I’d originally celebrated about my journey – the scale dropping – I had to take into reverse. The first day I had to cheer at the fact that the scale was going up? I felt so counterintuitive, so backwards, and just… awkward. I had to learn, and I had to be patient with myself while the process happened.
How do you address disappointment, while still being compassionate with yourself? You don’t say things to yourself that you know will hurt your feelings; you are protective of your own emotions. You are honest with yourself about what you want, what you’re getting instead, and you make a plan of action for how to accomplish that. That’s why I like making goal trees, because they show me the direct path to getting what I want, instead of just showing me everything I want with no actual plan of attack in sight.
I learn from the ways in which I talk to myself – if talking about the [insert frustration] in or on my [insert area] upsets me, I don’t sit around and disparage myself. I say to myself, “Alright, let’s get a plan of action for [insert body part.]” and I do the research. I do the digging. I start learning.
And, since learning is always paired with the developing of habits – something that never comes easy, for anyone – I am patient with myself in that process, as well:
“Oh, I didn’t go to the gym today? Well, why? What happened? Well…I organized my day poorly, and didn’t have time to take care of everything…and before I knew it, it was midnight. Okay, so what can we do to avoid that in the future? We can work out first thing in the morning? Bingo!”
“Okay, Erika… what happened to working out first thing in the morning? I don’t know…it just felt weird. Why? I don’t know! I just felt like that time would’ve been better used sleeping, quite honestly. Okay…so you’re not getting enough sleep? I guess not. So, what can we do to avoid that in the future? Get to bed earlier? Bingo!”
“Erika…it’s 1AM. I know, boo…my bad, damn. What happened? Life, and that damn husband of mine. How is this going to affect your workout tomorrow morning? Oh, I have to work out – that’s gonna be a thing, huh? Yes. That’s gonna suck. Yeah, it might– set your alarm to some Young Jeezy, put it across the room, and cut the bullsh–. Okay.”
I want you to know…it took me over a month to get down the idea of “working out in the mornings.” Sometimes, I have to be curt with myself – especially when I know I’m BS’sing, and other times I need to get down to the root of it all in order to solve the problem.
Either way, none of it can be done without being compassionate with myself, and that’s why compassion as a component of a #ScaleFreeSummer is vital. If you don’t learn yourself, by listening to yourself and understanding your life… you can’t do a damn thing. And that’s real.
Thanks for this. This blog has let me know it is not over yet. I just started my real fitness/ healthy body image journey four months ago. Sometimes I felt like I wanted to give up because I had injured my self and had stopped working out. Now I am in a process to find out what works best for me as far as eating and a workout schedule. I lost 14 pounds so far. Now after going through my personal train wrecks and getting help I now write ten good thing about myself every week.
It is acceptable to show compassion to ourselves. Jesus told us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. If we do not love ourselves, it is impossible to show love to our neighbor.
Thank you for sharing your story. Be blessed. Remain encouraged on your journey of good health and fitness.
I love this! It is so true like its been said before life is not a race but a journey! I recently cried because I was upset with myself Ive been tryin to lose weight forever seems like. I went to the doctor and saw my past weights and realize that in the last two years ive last 30 punds so I said to myself you can do this. I also once read you should write down a list of 10 thing positive you have changed for your health no matter how small. This site helps me with im feeling like giving up looking at another black woman with such success help alot!!
A therapist of mine introduced me to the work of Christine Neff. She deals with the topic of self-compassion a lot. Thank you for this article.
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