For a long time, I wanted to lead a healthier life because plain and simple, I wanted to be skinny. Everything I did — the fad diets, the drastic cleanses and fasts, and the length of my workouts — all of it was wrapped up in wanting to lose weight and be thinner. If my metabolism allowed me to eat donuts and fried chicken without gaining weight, then I would totally be cool with that. I honestly wasn’t as interested in good health as I was in what size clothes I fit in and whether or not I had a thigh gap.
As I became older and learned more about the importance of good health, I knew my practices and beliefs needed to change. I was never fully happy with how I looked, and I was abusing my body with food (or a lack of it). So I put myself through a simple exercise called the “5 Whys” to get to the root of my motivations. I recommend that you do the same to reveal your true desires and even your insecurities about eating or anything else.
This was my internal conversation and it required complete honesty:
(1) Me: WHY do I want to eat healthy and exercise?
My answer: Because I want to lose weight and be thin.
(2) Me: WHY do I want to lose weight and be thin?
My answer: Because I don’t like the way I look.
(3) Me: WHY don’t I like the way I look?
My answer: Because people won’t find me as attractive or interesting if I look like this.
(4) Me: WHY don’t you think people find you attractive as you are?
My answer: Because people value most what’s on the OUTSIDE more than what’s on the inside.
(5) Me: WHY do you care what they think?
My answer: Because people will like me more and if they like me, I’ll be happier.
Whoa…. so my real goal and interest had nothing to do with my health at all. The real issue was that I was insecure and desperately looking for external approval to love myself fully.
I have finally arrived at a point in my life where I love myself unconditionally. Yes, I post selfies that draw attention to how I look, and I’m happy to be able to fit in my jeans from the back of the closet, but that’s far less important than what can’t be captured in a photo — how I feel. I have more energy; I’m more focused and confident and I’m stronger than I ever have been – even before my MS diagnosis. And whenever you have a health setback, you can’t help but look at health and fitness in a different way.
Now, as a coach, I hear from a lot of women, in particular, who struggle with similar deep-seated insecurities about their shape and size. As a result, like me, they have tried many strategies to lose weight or re-shape their bodies, ranging from waist trimmer belts to fasting diets to elective cosmetic surgery. And while these may be helpful to your goals in the short run, they are not a sustainable strategy.
Let your own personal journey through health and fitness be guided by unconditional self love and acceptance that is born and nurtured within you.