Race Recap: MEC London Race Two 15km

I used to have a firm rule about putting a race recap out onto the interwebs by the end of the weekend. This was around the time when I was photographing most of the food I ate and talking about my day to day activities a lot more on my blog. Just like I’ve let go of the need to document every morsel I eat and ever mile I cover in my training, I have learned that a race recap is better done late than never.

Last week was the second race in MEC’s race series here in London. I didn’t do last month’s race, but I knew from doing one of the trail options last year that the events are well-organized, supported, and perhaps most importantly—affordable! While I’m all for budgeting and making our health and our health hobbies priorities, I like the idea that I can sign up for a whole series of MEC races for 75$–less than the cost of some of the single races around!

On Saturday, the weather couldn’t have been better. I pre-registered for the 15km option on Thursday, when I knew the weather would be good—and good it was! I was in a tank top by the end of my warm-up, which always makes me a happy runner. I know some people prefer it a little cooler than me, but I love sweating and was happy to finally break one after the winter that keeps hanging on.

image1

I was running the same event as my friend/partner in training crime, Katie. She’s a little faster than me and when we went to the portajohns together and I came out before, I joked that I had her beat in one race that day. …ha!

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Katie and I just before the race — look at that sun! And those smiles!

After a somewhat mishmash start (all of the 5 and 10 and 15km race options started at once), we spread out quite a bit over the course. The people running the 5km option raced off ahead and then turned around and raced back. I got to see my coach, Coach Chris, turn around and give me some encouragement as I carried on (he broke his PR that day). Everyone turned around after 5km and came back on the same route, with the 10km racers heading for the finish while we tacked on another route. As I got to the turnaround at 5k, I realized I was running quicker than anticipated. I went in joking that I wanted to be faster than my half marathon from back in the day (1:48ish) and knowing that 1:30 was a reasonable goal for 15km (6 minute kilometres feel steady to me and I’ve been walking a bit on my long runs). I decided to keep on doing what I was doing and see what came, and rather than end up feeling too tired, I managed to keep the pace up and even kick it up a bit after we turned around at ~12km.

I finished with a smile (?) on my face and maybe a little more in the tank than I might have wanted in 1:23:04. I liked coming in, even though there wasn’t much going on at the finish line. Someone did have a cowbell, and Brent came out to see me finish. Katie was there too, relishing in her 1:12 finish, so that was just grand!

Is that a smile?

Is that a smile? (Yes)

Some of my friends from CrossFit were running their first trail race. I also knew a few other people doing the 5k who enjoyed the weather and impressed themselves. I loved the feeling of community, the sunshine, and the way that the event felt welcoming. Having a chip time always makes me want to run a little harder (in case someone googles my finish?), so that was nice.

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All in all, I was very happy with the race. I felt good the whole time, even though I’ve never run the distance. I think besides my half marathon, this is the first time I’ve gone that far. I passed someone in the last km or so, so that tells me I perhaps underestimated myself. I think that, assuming I can stay injury free, I like these longer races. I remember finishing the half marathon happy and having a fairly speedy recovery from it. Maybe it’s because with longer races, they hurt, but they don’t hurt like a 5km race or seem to be just another run like a 10km seems to be for me. The element of—will I make it? How will I feel when I do? Can I keep this pace going? is kind of the exciting part!

completes

My next race is my triathlon debut of the year at Woodstock. The race is a Sprint Distance Triathlon, which unfortunately for me usually makes me feel slow since I mostly go the same pace no matter how long you ask me to go for (this might be my greatest weakness, or my greatest ability, depending on how you look at it). At any rate, this is one of the early ones where everyone’s getting their cobwebs out. I’ll be happy if I make it out of my wetsuit without falling on my butt, or onto the run course without forgetting to remove my helmet after the bike. And if I can have a good time doing it, of course. Then I’ll have some time to gear up for my Half Ironman debut at Musselman on July 12. I’m not sure if I’ll like the half distance, but if this longer race was any indication of where the enjoyment lies for me, I think the chance to see if I can make it and how fast I can go without falling over sideways will be just the challenge I’m looking for!

I guesssss I'll take him as a prize.

I guesssss I’ll take him as a prize.

Have you done any races lately?
Have you ever done a MEC Race?
What’s your “big race” this year?
What’s your favourite distance to race? 

Conditional acceptance: The problem with the performance focus

I’ve blogged about the need for believing we’re worthy before, but it’s an issue that’s close to my heart and that I’m continuing to work on, so here we go again.

Before I start, let me add: I say yahoo! to anything that shifts the emphasis for women away from how it will make their bodies look (Will pilates give me the toned abs I’ve always wanted?). But the more I read about woman after woman finding her self worth in her abilities, the less comfortable with the whole idea I get.

For my thesis, I’m reading issue after issue after issue of CrossFit magazines and The CrossFit Journal and looking particularly at constructions of healthy femininity. One theme that comes up a lot is CrossFit saving women from their body image woes. Time after time, women are saved from their eating disorders or years of self-abuse thanks to learning to appreciate what their bodies are capable of. In general, these are women who are extremely talented at CrossFit, pictured in sports bras with six packs, and who echo the same sentiment: the route to empowerment is via doing.

I call (at least a little bit of) bullshit.

The route to empowerment is different for all of us. Basing it on ability leaves out those who aren’t able, firstly, but it also sets us up for a conditional kind of self-acceptance that I don’t think will give us the kind of lifelong healthy relationship with our bodies that I am working on creating for myself (and starting a discussion about via this blog and my work in the world).

As it relates to me, I know that athletics helped me a whole lot to appreciate my body. I’ve mentioned before the way I keep my picture of my big ol’ deadlift PR around for when I’m feeling shitty about myself. I hang my latest race bibs around to remind myself that I’m badass for signing up for things that force me outside of my comfort zone on a regular basis. And moving away from the need to burn calories and burn off food to testing out my performance and seeing what I can do with the body I’ve been given has certainly helped me feel better about what I’ve been given.

capability

But.

Since I’ve started to focus on triathlon training again (with lifting things on occasion more for fun than anything and because I like to feel strong), I’m not as strong as I used to be. I can’t do as many pull-ups as I once could, and I sometimes find myself beating my self up for letting myself slip. And on the triathlon front, I don’t run or bike as fast as I did when I was in the midst of my eating disordered days.

But.

I’m healthy. I have balanced hormones. My weight went way up and then has started to come down a bit (not much by the standards of those who employ 30 day challenges or body transformations, but 10 pounds over two years without losing my period). I like training and understand that when my body is whispering no, I should listen so it doesn’t scream. These are perhaps more important than winning an age category at a race or impressing people in the gym and on instagram.

priorities
So in my recovery and body love journey, I’ve seen that impressing myself with what I can do is certainly a tool for me to, like I said appreciate my body. But acceptance requires me to dig deeper. Yesterday I got a migraine and missed my workout. If my self-worth is based on what I can do, what’s a girl who’s stuck in bed and only wants to eat cereal and chocolate to do?

I think the answer lies in realizing that we can’t find the kind of self-love we want outside of ourselves. Some of us look for it from guys, some of us keep on trying to show that we’re good enough by taking it out on our bodies, and some of us don’t even realize that we want it.

This all comes back to a piece of advice worth repeating over and over again ‘til we get it: we are inherently worthy. Whether or not we work out, whether or not we can lift as much as someone else—or our former selves, whether we run faster than we did last year, whether we put pants on in the morning, whether we eat “clean” or choose cookies. Loving ourselves doesn’t require us to be better than yesterday, because we weren’t bad or unworthy yesterday.

can be already are

Loving our bodies doesn’t require that we do exceptional things with them. I think our bodies are exceptional just by virtue of the fact that they let us live our lives. It’s great when we can also appreciate what they’re capable of, but getting to a place of acceptance is another worthy goal, in my opinion.

Sometimes I forget this. As a goal-oriented and ambitious person, I struggle with feeling worthy unless I’m productive, or I work out, or I do this or that. But I for one would like to accept my body so that when things that stop me from performing as I might like to – injury, pregnancy, illness, life – come around, I still feel like a boss. While we by all means celebrate what we’re capable of, let’s give this acceptance thing—no conditions required—a go!

love yourself first

Do you struggle with this? What’s helped you?

Photoshopping, Instagram, and Playing Nice When it Comes to Bodies

This morning, as I was going about my normal caffeination process and getting lost on the interwebs, this article about a woman who photoshopped her body into what commenters on her instagram account suggested would make for a perfect body came my way.

I like the video portion of the process, where we see each of the steps from normal body to “perfect” in action:

The responses to her photoshopped photo on Instagram might be the most upsetting part of all this—some people thought she still wasn’t good enough, others applauded her for losing weight or for having a great body—albeit one totally faked.

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“Photoshopping and body image — all of that — is such a big problem that a lot of girls deal with because magazine covers are Photoshopped, and even people on Instagram Photoshop their photos,” she told People. “You really don’t know what’s real and what’s not anymore.”

And reminding me of my post on Monday about being in this health and fitness industry, I think Ho’s message in the end of it is one worth sharing:

“I realize now that I am not just an instructor at a gym, but that I am a role model and leader in the fitness industry. It is my responsibility to do whatever I can to help people get healthier while feeling confident and happy in their body,” she told Forbes.

The video gets at the way in which it seems ridiculous to force one single woman to do this to herself. But for some reason, we accept it every day. The fact that day after day, we strive to “fix” our imperfections, telling ourselves we’re just not good enough, makes me as sad as this video did. We judge one another and we judge ourselves, and it’s maybe even sadder the way that we think it’s despicable to do it to someone else, but do it to ourselves nonetheless.

I hope that today, thinking about this all, we can be a little kinder to each other—and to ourselves. Our bodies are beautiful, and health can take a whole lot of different shapes. Let’s celebrate them and celebrate what we do and who we are!

e kind

Did you see this video?
What do you think about the idea of “photoshopping” on instagram? Are filters and selfie sticks the same as this?

Body Positivity Tuesday: Be Picky

It’s time for another tip from the body acceptance arsenal. This week is about putting on blinders when it comes to things that don’t serve you on your health and happiness journey…

Week 3: Limit your digital exposure to things that make you feel bad about your body.

As a blogger, I’m obviously biased towards social media’s potential to be a positive force in our lives. But I’m fully aware how the literally unlimited exposure available to us via the internet and social media to the kinds of content and pictures that can make us feel inadequate can wreak havoc on our abilities to feel good about ourselves. The internet is also a place where people can present things that aren’t even real—as real as they appear. A big step back during my eating disorder recovery was letting go of the blogs I was following who took part in the “What I Ate Wednesday” madness. I realized that part of giving up the obsession with whether or not what I ate was good or normal or too much or too little or whatever was to stop comparing myself to others, especially those who took the effort to document their every bite on the internet.

The remedy? Examine what you expose yourself to on social media. If you’re constantly bombarded with photos to which you compare yourself, or with people promoting all kinds of extreme diets, or with anything that leaves you feeling worse off, get rid of it. We have to be the gatekeepers of what we allow into our lives, and given the way in which we are constantly connected these days, social media is a big part of this puzzle.

respect

Is there anything you’re letting go of after reading this post? 

Fit: What Living Healthy Looks Like

As someone who dabbles in fitness instructing, personal training, life coaching, and more generally considers herself a wellness professional, I’ve had people tell me that I am a great leader. Whether it’s because I blog about my feelings or because I can kick their butts in a spin class, I try not to take the fact that I am lucky to have the chance to influence people on a regular basis for granted.

Sometimes, these compliments can come at strange times—in the changeroom while you’re half naked or when you’re out at the mall shopping with your friends (how do they recognize you without the sweat and spandex anyway?).

Sometimes, they can make you feel better about something you were actually self conscious about (like using the same Britney Spears remix sporadically for the last 7 years of teaching).

And sometimes, they can make you think about the kind of leader you’re being.

I had one of those experiences not too long ago when one of my (favourite) participants from one of my fitness classes told me that she appreciated that the instructors at our gym looked like regular people.

The gremlin in my head immediately shouted at me that having a regular body is a bad thing—that I’m not trying hard enough or that I’m not good enough to work in this field.

In my trainee (and friend)’s defense, she meant it as a huge compliment and actually applauded everything I stand for: a holistic and sane approach to health that is not based on looking a certain way.

orking out

I can attribute my doubts to a lot of things, including a little bit of my own insecurity but also an issue with the fitness industry. I started to remember the way that a friend of mine assured me that he wouldn’t hire someone to help him with his athletic goals who was carrying a bit of extra weight at the time, or the fitness professional who won’t take photos for their website until they’ve leaned down, or the passionate fitness instructee who won’t take the plunge to instructor because they don’t think they match the bill.

While I understand that we live in an appearance-oriented culture and I don’t think that this is something that needs to—or that necessarily can—change, I also think that clarifying what we mean when we’re talking about “health” is important. Too often I think people work backwards and decide on how to eat, or train, or live based on the “ideal” body that they think they should be striving towards.

This can lead us to get caught up in the way the things we do in the name of health are supposed to make us look and if they don’t actually transform our bodies in the way we were hoping, we might not carry with the habits and go back to formerly unhealthy ones. What a loss!

I’d like to see more people talking about things in exactly the opposite way—what happens to our bodies when we do healthy things for the sake of being healthier, rather than looking a certain way?

I know that there are people who can have a six pack and look like a cover model without compromising their health—but I know far more that abuse they bodies and minds in the pursuit of that (short-lived) ideal. I also know that there are plenty of people who are blessed with certain body types that then let them “get away with” (although I think in terms of health you can’t hide from things that are not good from you, even if they don’t show up as fat on your body or immediate health concerns) things. Perhaps I am so conscious of all of this because in an extreme sense, I’ve seen what the pursuit of the ideal (at the time, thin) body can do when I had my eating disorder.

I like to think that in adopting healthier habits and always trying to take a little better care of myself that health—my happiest weight, balanced hormones, overall general well being, etc.—will follow. It is a big shift when you start to think about what you’re actually doing—but it’s also an empowering one. We can control our habits, and while I think we like to think that we can totally control the way our bodies look, I think that’s partially something people use to convince people to buy their products, try harder, and blame themselves if it doesn’t work out. It might be harder to take responsibility and address our habits, but it’s also extremely powerful.

ew are

So are there fitness professionals who represent balance? I think yes, and I include myself amongst them. Molly Galbraith wrote a post about this years ago that has stuck with me. She talks about the body acceptance element and how as a fitness professional she has struggled with it, and that’s where her power is:

“In the industry or not, I train/work with/counsel women from all over the world about nutrition, training, body image, self-image, and much more.  I hear their stories and their struggles.  I celebrate their victories, and help them learn from their defeats.  I laugh with them, I cry with them, and I talk them off the ledge when they’re ready to jump.  So why am I qualified to do these things?

Because I AM one of them.“

Similar to Molly, I think that my own journey to a health and happy place is what makes me trustworthy, inspirational, and “qualified” to do what I do. I try to model the kind of health and fitness that is sustainable and realistic and that feels good—and if that means that I have a “regular” body, then regular I’ll be!

rea

I just hope that I can contribute to a world where it’s not something that people need to comment on that someone has a body that looks like a “normal” healthy person who is in the health and fitness industry. I know there are lots of us out there. I know that whether or not someone has 12% or 24% or 32% or whatever % body fat, a person can be a leader who inspires others to take healthier steps in their lives. I know that “health” is more than an appearance.

How do you define health?
Does your definition of health feel like something you could sustain in your life? 

Meritocracy and our bodies

-we do not get what we put in

-we are not all one and the same

-it’s a lot easier to judge someone based on their habits – so and so has a great body so they’re doing it right, so and so doesn’t fit my ideal body bill so they must not be trying hard enough or know what the heck they’re doing.

FYI there are lots of people walking around out there with “ideal” bodies who have taken unhealthy steps in order to look that way. It’s our fixation on what we think ideal looks like—and the way that focusing on the outcome instead of on the habit—that I have to remind myself is wrong.

Body Positivity Tuesday: Choose a (body) positive role model

This is the second of a series of posts I am putting out on Tuesdays to encourage you to continually work on embracing your body and loving yourself a little more. 

Week 2: Choose a (body) positive role model 

One of the people who taught me that sharing our stories and our strategies for recovery is not only inspiring but also healing is Jenni Schaefer. Her books, which came from her personal experience overcoming her eating disorder, were immensely powerful in my own recovery! Jenni is not only an example of someone who has made a full recovery from an eating disorder, she is also the kind of person who uses adversity in a way that turns it into a positive thing. I admire this greatly!

Maybe your role model has nothing to do with how we think about our bodies—and I would say that is fine and dandy! If you look up to Oprah, consider what it is about her that makes you feel inspired. Maybe it’s a teacher you have or a parent. Next, consider whether or not the appearance of your role model’s body has anything to do with what inspires you about them. I’ll guess that it’s something else, and I encourage you to think about that when you think about who and how you want to be in the world.

I’ll end this one with a quote (by Maya Angelou):

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Act accordingly.

tend to become

Did you have any role models before you read this post?
Who did you come up with?
How have your role models changed over time? 

PS If you are in London, please get involved with our Love Your Body day! Like the facebook page, come by the rec centre for the events on the 8th, and tell your friends. Stay tuned for a finalized schedule, but please mark the day on your schedule!

Body Positive Tuesdays: Love Your Body Campaign and an activity to help you love more about yourself

I am a firm believer that self-acceptance and loving ourselves is a practice, not a one time thing. Recovering from my eating disorder taught me that every day, I am the one responsible for taking care of myself and every day is an opportunity to take really good care of myself. Lately, body positivity has been even more on my mind than ever, though, with the upcoming Love Your Body day at Western, where I am a (forever, career, etc.) student. This will be the fifth year of the campaign, which is about promoting body love and a healthy relationship with exercise and nutrition.

As you might know, my eating disorder was awful but I appreciate it for forcing me to re-learn how to take care of myself in a new and healthy way. I sometimes share some of my strategies for what keeps me in a healthy and happy place on the blog (happyisthenewhealthy.com).

This year, I’d like to piggyback on that Love Your Body celebration, which is on April 8, with a way to keep body positivity in our minds for a little longer. The cool thing about the internet is that we can reach all kinds of people, regardless of where they live or whether or not they can join in on a day of festivities at one university.

My plan is to share some of the best ideas I’ve come across when it comes to building a healthy relationship with my body each week on Tuesdays, an otherwise kind of lame day. I encourage you to give the ideas that resonate with you a go, but not to put any pressure on yourself in the process. Say you try four of my suggestions. That’s four more than had you decided that your relationship with your body isn’t worth the time. Trust me, it is. Please share the ideas that really resonate with you and talk about this in your own community and on your own social media. Here’s to moving a step closer towards a body positive world out there, one day at a time!

Week 1: Write 10 things you love about yourself and/or your body.
For the first week, we’ll start with a task that (at least seems like it) will be easy.
However, so many of us are experts when it comes to beating ourselves up. We know exactly what our flaws are and what we’d like to change, but faced with the question of What is awesome about you?, it can sometimes take a little convincing that we aren’t being “too proud” if we celebrate ourselves a little.

When you make your list, try to think of some physical and some non-physical attributes that you appreciate about yourself. Do you love the way that you get a pair of cute dimples when you smile? Do you love the way that your laugh is contagious? There are no rules about this list, but a good idea might be to keep it handy for days when you just can’t seem to be your own cheerleader.

What is on your list?
How did you feel when you were going through this exercise?

PS If you are in London, please get involved with our Love Your Body day! Like the facebook page, come by the rec centre for the events on the 8th, and tell your friends. Stay tuned for a finalized schedule, but please mark the day on your schedule!

The irony and the onesie: It only ‘works’ if we keep hating our bodies

Today’s food for thought comes from the Today Show (where else?!) and a little segment they included about a onesie for babies that reads “I hate my thighs” that seems to be causing a stir on the interwebs. I’m going to contribute to that stir.

Here’s a picture of the onesie:

Screen Shot 2015-03-18 at 8.34.56 AM

People argued over whether or not this was a way of poking fun at people who are obsessed with their fat thighs or just a bad joke that should be seen as some kind of shaming (everyone’s favourite word these days).

I think whoever’s behind marketing has hit the nail on the head, because people are talking. As for the onesie, to me, it’s ironic–and forces us to think for a second.

There aren’t many people who would fault a baby for being too chubby. There might be some who blame parents for overfeeding kids that are ample, but for the most part, even words like ‘pudgy’ that would likely be offensive if they were used to describe an adult are meant in the most positive way when they’re used to describe babies.

Since it’s hard to take it too seriously, what could be funny about it? Well, how ridiculous would it be for a baby to start having those thoughts about her little thighs? People will agree—toddlers shouldn’t be concerned with their body shapes just yet. My least favourite statistic regarding disordered eating is listed on the National Eating Disorders Information Centre website:

In a study of five-year-old girls, a significant proportion of girls associated a diet with food restriction, weight-loss and thinness. (Abramovitz, B. A. & Birch, L. L. (2000). Five-year-old girls’ ideas about dieting are predicted by their mothers’ dieting. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 100 (10), 1157-1163). 

Five year old girls! I think it would be just as ridiculous to put a kindergartener into a shirt that says “I hate my thighs” as it is to stuff a baby into one.

So when do we stop thinking our bodies should go without the harsh judgement that says it’s OK to hate them? At what age does it become alright to start beating yourself up and trying to fix your “flaws”?

My own body issues started early and are filled with memories of being teased. They ebbed and flowed with the years, but they never really went away and my dieting and weight-tracking began before I even hit puberty (which was early for me, adding to my dis-ease with my body). At 26, I can look back and say that in my life, I’ve spent more years of my life at war with my body than I have spent trying to take exquisite care of it. The beautiful thing about going through eating disorder recovery when you’re young is that it means you have a lot of time left to spend taking care of yourself. It’s obviously not an easy task to relearn how to treat yourself and think about yourself in a whole new way, especially when you’ve spent some of your formative years doing exactly what you’re trying to let go of. But as time goes on, I’ve found that feeding myself, moving my body in ways that feel good, and finally, learning to accept and appreciate my body the way it is has started to replace my old ways as a new kind of normal. When I get to the end of my life, the time I spent abusing myself and hating my body will be just a small portion of my days.

One tool I used during my eating disorder recovery was learning to listen to—and work on—my self-talk. I would often found myself saying really mean things, things that I would never ever say to a friend. “You’re not good enough,” or, “You’ll always be fat,” or, “Nobody will ever love you,” etc. Naturally, I found it hard to listen to myself, but even harder to try to stop that voice and change it. A strategy that worked was thinking of talking to myself, but as a child. I had a picture of myself from when I was about six years old and I would picture my harsh words directed towards her. Even now, thinking about telling that little girl with her pigtails and her white dress, that she’s not good enough makes me sad. Just like those little girls (or boys) that we were deserve our deepest love and affection, so do our grown up selves. Without being kind to ourselves, the person we’re always with, we’re bound to walk around holding ourselves back.

The photo I mentioned. This is clearly a little girl with some sass and a bit of swagger.

The photo I mentioned. This is clearly a little girl with some sass and a bit of swagger.

So, I don’t think people should buy that onesie. But we can get up in arms about it, or we can just not buy it and move on with our lives. The biggest issues are not this kind of product, which I think actually gets us discussing the issue more—they’re the everyday ways that we normalize hating our bodies and make it OK to dedicate our lives to fixing them.

The company that put it out won and is still winning. They came out with a second onesie, maybe to please those critics who just couldn’t get behind the ironic interpretation.

Screen Shot 2015-03-18 at 8.36.36 AM

 

Of course, on the internet, you’ll just make someone else angry and I think sometimes you can’t win. But maybe that’s the point. But instead of getting angry about “shaming babies” or whatever, let’s get angry about this even being a thing that we “get.” Let’s work on making body love the norm instead.

you as much as anybody

What did you think of this Onesie?
If you’ve had body issues, do you remember when they started?

Unconditional Acceptance: Believing We’re “Enough”

I’m sick. Yesterday, the couch was my best friend. I alternated episodes of Girls with periods of writing where I felt like my fingers couldn’t keep up with the ideas coming out of my head. I’ll call that a win for my thesis, but I beat myself up yesterday: I feel like I was on top of the world on Wednesday — I wrote, I ran, I taught a spin class, and I did some yoga on my own — and a big ol’ failure on Thursday, confined to my couch.

This is the fourth time I’ve been under the weather and needing to take antibiotics in the past year. Everything has been minor, and for that I am grateful, but I’ve noticed that when I’m sick, I can get realllllly antsy about “not doing anything.” Whether that “anything” is the workout I was going to do, or writing a paper, or cleaning the toilets, or folding my laundry, or writing a blog…there’s something around not being productive that makes me feel like I’m not doing enough.

“Enough.”

When I got to thinking about this, I noticed a pattern. I used to drive myself crazy on my rest days, and while I’ve gotten a lot better at taking a darn break, I do still find myself having a lot of “fat” days on the days that I don’t work out. What the heck is going on? A rest day is a way to take care of our bodies—to give them the time to heal and come back stronger. I know that!

But I think along the way in my body acceptance journey, I’ve started placing more and more emphasis on being proud of what my body can do. And while I love and celebrate how amazingly capable our bodies are, I think I’m ready for another leg on my journey.

Right now, I feel entitled to a sort of conditional confidence when it comes to my body. The kind of acceptance that’s okay on the days where I might be chubby, but I ran 10km so I must be okay. Or when my clothes don’t fit, but I’m back squat more weight than ever. Or when I don’t like the way my body looks, but I’m training for a half ironman so I’m a boss.

That kind of confidence, with its conditions and requirements, is fleeting. The days when I’m on the couch because I got sidelined by a kidney infection, for instance, it’s nowhere to be found. What is? The gremlins. You know the ones. They say “you’re not good enough” and try to convince you that you’re worthless.

What am I realizing? That I don’t think that the solution to loving our bodies can lie solely in appreciating what they’re capable of. I think it needs to come down to unconditional acceptance. Without that kind of acceptance that doesn’t rely on what we do or don’t do, we’re doomed to questioning whether or not we’ve done enough to “deserve” to feel good about ourselves. Without a sense of worthiness and confidence that we retain regardless of where our back squat is at our what our 10km pace is, or how much muscle we have, we are doomed to keep on searching for more ways to prove that we’re good enough.

The pursuit of “enough” leaves us exhausted. Living from a place of “enough,” however, I think leaves us inspired.

One of my favourite life coaches out there is Christie Inge, because she talks about how we are all inherently worthy (she calls herself an “Inherent Worth Warrior”). I always hear her voice reminding me that I’m inherently worthy when I start to think about all this stuff. Brene Brown talks about worthiness too–and the way that people “hustle” for it, unsuccessfully. She’s got good news: “There are no prerequisites for worthiness.” Amen!

christie inge

So where did we learn that we’re not enough unless we prove it? I think it’s a combination of places. Maybe it was our families—something like getting rewarded for doing things “right” and being taught that we were bad if we did something wrong. But more importantly–and harder to see–we live in a world where people think they earn everything. Those abs? She must have earned them.

...I beg to differ.

…I beg to differ.

The grandest myth I can think of is that people who are successful are entirely responsible for it—I’m all for determining your destiny, but we’re born into conditions that are entirely outside of our control. In this context, we feel like our bodies, for instance, are direct representations of the “work” we put in, even though some people are born with six packs and others with thighs that will touch forever.

So in relation to our bodies, we assume that enough effort and work will give us those bodies we can feel proud of earning. But I know people who work their butts off and still don’t look like magazine models. It’s widespread and “normal” to feel like you don’t measure up, and people realize they’re pursuing something largely out of reach. But they don’t stop trying, or question what the feeling of not being good enough does to their lives.

This “not good enough” epidemic is convenient for the people who want to sell us the solutions to our issues. If our bodies are never good enough, never “healthy” enough, never beautiful enough—of course we’ll keep on top of our body projects, buying the diet books, paying the gurus, and trying to find worthiness outside of ourselves.

But, what if our worth didn’t depend on what we do? What if we were all born worthy? What if this journey of self-acceptance isn’t about proving to ourselves that we deserve our own love, but unlearning all the messages that told us otherwise?

Repeat after me:

  • I am enough.
  • I am good enough.
  • I am pretty enough.
  • I am healthy enough.
  • I am smart enough.
  • I am happy enough.
  • I am ______________ enough.

…unconditionally. Regardless of what I do or don’t do.

Living from a place of worthiness or enoughness doesn’t mean that we don’t take care of ourselves. It doesn’t mean that we can’t still read self-help books, or buy makeup.

As Geneen Roth, one of my favourite writers on self-acceptance and the journey towards loving and accepting your body and yourself says:

“When you believe without knowing you believe that you are damaged at your core, you also believe that you need to hide that damage for anyone to love you. You walk around ashamed of being yourself. You try hard to make up for the way you look, walk, feel. Decisions are agonizing because if you, the person who makes the decision, is damaged, then how can you trust what you decide? You doubt your own impulses so you become masterful at looking outside yourself for comfort. You become an expert at finding experts and programs, at striving and trying hard and then harder to change yourself, but this process only reaffirms what you already believe about yourself — that your needs and choices cannot be trusted, and left to your own devices you are out of control. … You are not a mistake. You are not a problem to be solved. But you won’t discover this until you are willing to stop banging your head against the wall of shaming and caging and fearing yourself.”

Living from a place of worthiness is about the acceptance we all wish we had. It is about waking up in the morning without feeling like we have to prove ourselves. It is about looking at ourselves as something besides a series of problems to be addressed, things to be fixed. It means freedom and a whole new way of being in the world.

Living from a place of worthiness is about loving ourselves unconditionally.

And from that place of knowing that we deserve love no matter what happens, we can live our lives not out of fear but out of desire.

Where does “not being good enough” hold you back?
What would you give up if you believed you already were good enough?

For feminism or for health? Why the scale sucks either way…

Today, Tracy wrote a great post about her relationship with “weight loss.” As I was reading it, I couldn’t help but think, wouldn’t it be easier if we just stopped weighing ourselves? She seems to be on the same wavelength as me a lot, and she touched on this at the end of the post. Personally, I’ve tossed out my scale in defiance of my obsession with it during the earliest stages of my recovery. But since then, I have found myself weighing myself again on and off. As of late, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m not really benefitting from knowing the number—so the scale’s gone again.

I would like to think that there will be a time when I could weigh myself and not use it as a tool to drive myself crazy. I am not there right now. Even now, without the scale around for daily weighings, thesporadic ones get to me. When I’ve brought the scale back into my world—either via being weighed by someone else like a doctor, or a coach—it stirs up a lot of emotion. I can feel elated if I’m lighter, but at the same time beat myself up for feeling good about losing weight since I know that weight loss is not the be-all end-all, my habits are. I can feel like a failure if I’ve gained weight, which is coupled with a reminder that weight isn’t everything. Either way, I don’t step off the thing ever feeling any happier for having done it.don't step on it.

For so long, my own focus was on weight and losing weight at all costs. I’d, like many people, gotten weight and health linked up in a way that didn’t let me see when I crossed lines and compromised my health for the sake of weight loss. As my choices became more and more extreme, I was successful at weight loss—but at the expense of my health and my happiness. It was a step by step process down this slippery slope into my eating disorder. Eating less became undereating consistently. Exercising more became overexercising on the regular. Eating better became synonymous with eating things with less calories, fat, or carbs—whatever the villain of the day in my mind was.

I know from a health perspective: weight should be the outcome or the by-product, not the focus. It’s not always “right” or perhaps a better way of putting this is that it’s not always an accurate reflection of whether or not we’ve done the “right” things. I might have eaten whole foods from great sources in appropriate quantities and have done a great job of taking care of myself, but if I just drank a bottle of water and have not gone to the washroom yet, I’ll weigh more. Do I abandon my healthy habits because they’re not “working”?

It is easier to sell weight loss than it is to sell long-term health. “Build healthy self-care habits in 3 years” doesn’t seem like it would fit on a cover of Shape quite as well as the “10 days to a flat tummy” headlines that do. People use weight loss as a goal all the time and even as personal trainers and fitness instructors we encourage folks to set SMART goals with specifics in terms of how much weight they’ll lose. I think it’s more important to think about what we will actually need to DO. You don’t wake up and just lose weight by a conscious choice. You do wake up and every day decide that you’re going to work out, or that you’re going to eat vegetables with your lunch, or that you’re going to write in a diary instead of eating a pint of ice cream when you’re stressed. Maybe it’s the allure of wanting to lose 10 pounds and be done with it, whereas deciding to build a healthy relationship with food or healthy eating habits instead would require you to keep on working on that goal for the rest of your life (I think we forget that habits get easier the more we do them).

From a health perspective, I think getting rid of the scale is a good choice for me. That’s my choice. It doesn’t have a lot to do with my status as a feminist or not, which is what Tracy was sort of talking about in her post. But do we have to get rid of our scales if we want to be feminists? Do we also have to get rid of our hair-brushes and makeup? I really don’t know the answer to this or where to draw a line or if there is a line of what makes something feminist or not. If weighing yourself feels good to you, fine. It feels like crap to me. I wouldn’t argue that women should stop wearing makeup if it makes them feel good, perhaps I shouldn’t argue that women need to stop weighing themselves altogether or wanting to be skinny. I just know that there are other people out there who feel compelled to keep weighing themselves and keep pursuing weight loss, and I think the issue becomes when we feel like there isn’t the option to get off the hamster wheel.

Like I said, I don’t know what the answer is here. But I do think I think arguing about it only keeps us all focused on something trivial instead of on the issues that we can all agree on. Think of the progress we might make if we weren’t so busy beating each other up for being truly feminist or not. It’s like when you stop to think about what kind of energy women might have if they didn’t have to focus on their bodies so darn much, or if they didn’t have to focus on whether or not they should be focusing on them, or…you see where I’m going with this.

So for now, I’ll be staying away from the scale, and I’ll be encouraging anyone else who is feeling crazy over it to do the same. Just like I learned in my recovery, the scale is not an accurate reflection of who you are, or how you’re doing, or of your self worth.

losing weight not your purpose