From the time I was a little (not little) chunkette of an elementary school girl, I've been on a journey of self-improvement. Self improvement also known as a diet. Or a workout fad. Or some crazy juice-herb-supplement concoction.
Yes, for me, my "thing" has always been my weight. My "if only", my "if it wasn't for...", my "if I could change one thing". My weight has defined missed opportunities- "I would have gotten that job if I was skinny!". It's been the catalyst of failed relationships- "I just knew he would never want to date someone like me". It's been the ultimate ability to make excuses for almost everything- "No, I can't hike/dance/do yoga", "I'm sorry- I can't go to that pool party".
Instead, I made promises to myself of the magic that would happen when I reached my "goal weight". Of the active things I would do (skydiving!), of the men that would love me (Ryan Reynolds would sure be knocking down my door!), of the opportunities that would just land at my feet (Record deals! Published books! Successful companies! My own TV show!), and, for a long time I locked myself up until I was ready to be seen. I think it's a strategy and a philosophy many people share. I keep track of my social media newsfeeds and I watch as my virtual friends go through life transitions- breakups, babies, weddings, or just life- and their pictures become fewer and further between. The excitement they used to exude to talk about a vacation or a day at the beach is diminished. The pictures they do post are of their face. On an angle. With a filter. They go into hiding. Hiding until they're ready to be seen, and ready to live.
The problem?: Life goes on. And frankly, life doesn't give a shit if you're not ready to live it. Somebody is ready to live it. Somebody is ready for an opportunity. And that somebody is likely the person that's going to get it. That somebody is going to get the opportunity, whether they're overweight or underweight. Beautiful or ugly. As smart as you, as kind as you, as able as you. Simply because they show up, and they're R.E.A.D.Y.
So, after over 2 decades of being on my mission of self-improvement, here's the secret I've figured out.
If you want to improve yourself, you have to stop focusing on what you suck at.
It's kinda that easy (and that hard). I suck at being skinny. Actually, that's not even fair because I've never been "skinny". Not even after getting beaten up in the gym by celebrity trainers. Being skinny should be someone else's job. Someone who can eat cheetos and cherry garcia and still fit into a size 0 without hitting the gym. They're obviously awesome at it.
I suck at being skinny. But I'm pretty awesome at being strong. I'm awesome at showing up to be part of a group and socialize. Which is why CrossFit is something I've been able to stick with for the past year and a half (longer than ANY physical activity or hobby!). I don't go to CrossFit to lose weight. I do lose weight, because I go to CrossFit, but I go to CrossFit to do things I'm awesome at. That's why I show up. Sometimes I do things I suck at, too, but they're always cushioned by my favorite things, and sometimes, when I realize I suck less at them, those things turn into my favorite things, too.
I suck at starving myself. But I'm really awesome at cooking healthy foods and eating vegetables. So I cook because I love the challenge of making healthy things delicious. Not because it's what I'm supposed to do, but because it's what I love to do. I don't cook healthy foods to lose weight. But I do anyway.
You know what it turns out I don't suck at? Being in relationships. Building businesses. Making music. Making friends. Having fun. Dancing. Hiking. Kayaking. Swimming. Going to pool parties. Getting pictures taken of me.
Because none of those things- (NONE OF THEM)- have absolutely anything to do with how much you weigh.
We all want to be the best version of ourselves, so it amazes me how many of us think we will get there by treating ourselves as the worst version of ourselves. It's not just people who want to lose weight. It's people who want to gain weight. People who want a new job. Or a new relationship. Or a new life. We somehow got it in our heads that by continually telling ourselves how not worthy we are, it would trick our actions into working to get us to a point where we are worthy. What. Are. We. Doing?
Here's what I say: Do whatever the heck you want. Seriously. Do what you want. The only caveat: It has to make you feel good. And you don't get to use the consequences (being fat, being skinny, being jobless, etc) as an excuse to not do ANYTHING. EVER. Making excuses for why you're not living fully is the surest sign that you're unhappy with something and you're NOT doing whatever the heck you want, or whatever the heck you want isn't making you feel good. I eat tater tots. And milk shakes. But only when I'm not going to feel crappy about it (like, after a hard workout on a cheat night). That decision occasionally makes me happy and feel good. If I did it every night, it wouldn't. And I would gain weight and probably make excuses about not being able to dance or go to a pool party. And that is unacceptable. The result of NOT LIVING is the part that's unacceptable, not wearing a size 12 instead of a size 6.
Be unwilling to have your weakness make you its bitch. The things you want to change about yourself, contrary to traditional "self improvement" beliefs, should be the things that stay out of focus. Your focus should be on falling in love with yourself and your strengths. It doesn't mean you'll love everything about yourself (you won't. I promise), but it means that the things you don't love about yourself will seem to pale in comparison to the things you do. And once you start doing and being what you love, the insecurities will either work themselves out, disappear, or seem like such not a big deal.
Right now, at this moment, wherever you are in your life, and whatever you're doing, you have the capacity to do anything you could do at your best, even if you feel like you're at your worst. Decide what you actually want (hint: my actual wants have NOTHING to do with sky diving or Ryan Reynolds) and then, along with all the love you can muster up for your beautiful, imperfect, impactful self, keep THAT at the forefront of all you do. Because you can have it all, as you are and you should. Because if you don't go for it NOW, and you wait until you're ready, well... you might just be waiting forever. Come out of hiding, own your awesome, and stop telling yourself how much you suck. You'll be amazed at how much falls into place.
It's the end of day 4 of my 30 days of freedom. I had no idea how many logistical things would have to be done before I started taking action on new ideas, feelings and emotions. So, the past 4 days, while productive, have been largely introspective. I've learned a lot about the world, myself...or, actually, "relearned" is a better term. I'm uncovering truths I'd forgotten and here's what I've found in my soul searching:
So, those are my biggies. In 4 days, I've gotten lots of "small detail" lists done, obviously have done a lot of soul searching, redefining and plotting. Now it's time to take action.
I look forward to whatever's coming next, and am actively seeking my joy and everything that feels "right" in life.
I saw an article recently- a list- about what a mother would teach her daughter. 71 things or something. It got me thinking a lot about this past year or so, and what lessons (of which there were many), I would pass along to my son, my daughter, my friend, my...whoever. So, while I have limited wisdom, but have been handed a tidal wave of lessons MYSELF this year, here's what I've come up with so far. I'm guessing this might be something I revisit...hence, the part 1. Also, the only reason I have these lessons to preach and teach is because I myself have been taught them by some astounding teachers, experiences and hurdles. These aren't "my" lessons- they're just "my compilation"- not meant to demand, but rather suggest, inspire and invoke thought.