You are More Than A Number On the Scale
As I was working on some of the blog posts for February, I realized one of the main things I hadn’t touched on was the idea of body positivity and what that really means. So often, we spend our time focusing on our weight or how we look, that we don’t really think about everything else that goes along with it. What kind of world is it that we live in that we have to find our self-worth in a number on the scale? You, as a person, are not defined by the your weight.
“Pretty is not the rent you pay to exist in the world as a woman.”
When did we become obsessed with weight? I really want to know when weight, above all other factors, became the defining characteristic of women? What is even more incredulous is that this societal shift, towards this unrealistic “ideal” of the so-called perfect woman, wasn’t an overnight change. (Remember Marilyn Monroe’s rockin’ bod?) It’s been a slow slide, sometimes hidden behind well-meaning diets, juice cleanses, & body-firming workouts. Sure - we all want to look good. I’m literally the owner of business that is shaped around looking and feeling your best.
But, if I have said anything, at any point, in any blog that I’ve ever written is that you have to be comfortable in your own skin. The most important thing is NOT how you look, but it’s how you FEEL. I’ve spent so much time writing posts and covering topics regarding fitness, running and nutrition, but at the end of the day, not a single one of these posts should define you as a person. Your weight does not define you as a person.
The goal of this blog, first and foremost, is to empower women to take the steps necessary in their life to become happy with themselves. If you’re not happy, or you don’t feel good, we need to find the root cause of the issue. Is it your diet? Is it your sleep? Is it your motivation levels? Any one of these things - we can pinpoint these issues and we can work on making them better. This is about making YOU better; this is not about the number on the scale. I could care less what the number on the scale reads if you’re feeling great, having great workouts, sleeping great, and ultimately, crushing life.
YOU. ARE. NOT. THE. NUMBER. ON. THE. SCALE.
You are a rockstar. You are a mother. You are a runner. You are a badass business woman. You have a great relationship. You’re a great friend. You love to travel. You’re a great cook. You climb mountains. You love Netflix. Any of these things is more important than a number on the scale. Please listen to me when I say - you are a beautiful, fierce, strong woman!
It’s time that we stopped hating ourselves. It’s time that we stopped letting society tell us to hate ourselves. Women don’t come in a one-size-fits-all category. There’s something that I hate about my body that another woman probably loves. Hell, there’s things that Paul loves that I hate. It’s about learning to see past the blinders that we put on ourselves. When is the last time that you looked in the mirror and, instead of tearing yourself down, said, “I like these things about myself.”
Try this: Every morning, look into the mirror and tell yourself 3 things that you like about yourself. Pick the parts of your body that you don’t like and tell yourself a reason why you love them. You might not believe it as first, but the more that you say it, the more that you will believe it!
I am enough & so are you
We can’t continue to shame each other because we, in turn, perpetuate the very thing that we are trying to rid! This goes both ways, too. Women who are naturally skinny are shamed in much the same way as those who are heavier. It doesn’t hurt any less for someone to hear, “You need to gain some weight.” No, you need to be less judgmental.
At various times, I’ve been told that I’m too skinny. That my butt is too big. That my life must not be hard because I’m smaller. I’ve been the recipient of back-handed comments, such as “Oh, your arms have gotten…bigger” or even non-appearance related comments, such as: “You don’t have to run all those miles.” Regardless of what kind of comment someone makes about you, none of these define you. If I want to lift heavy, I will. If I want to run tons of miles, I will. These things empower me; they do not belittle me.
As women, we have to do better. Instead of meeting each other head-on with jealousy and self-loathing, we need to pick each other up. Without knowing it, we tear each other down when we feel insecure. It has been my personal experience that those who are quick to project negativity, feel, within themselves, insecurity. The best way that we can break that cycle is by fostering positivity towards each other and working to promote a healthier culture. Even if you don’t understand why someone does what they do, or it isn’t for you (like marathon running!), you can encourage their choice. They are choosing something that, for them, promotes healthiness and confidence. And, of course, confidence in ourselves is what we are all striving to achieve.
Taking Care of your Body Isn’t the Same as Obsessively Manipulating It
You know that whole saying about “Money doesn’t bring happiness?” Well, neither does losing weight. Losing weight is not your life’s purpose. By simply taking up less space on this planet, you don’t somehow achieve everlasting happiness. Life isn’t better because you are lighter. In fact, most of us will never find true happiness because we are always striving for perfection. I am here to tell you, unequivocally, that perfection does not exist. We will never truly be happy with ourselves if we’re constantly reaching for skin-deep ideals. Beauty fades. Our bodies age. But, who we are as people does not. It’s more important to me to be healthy and happy so that I can live as many years on this planet as possible than to be the fittest or prettiest girl. Your vibe attracts your tribe - not your looks.
This obsession with dieting—this culture that idolizes thin—ultimately, creates an immobilizing mental prison for women. How many times have you heard the negative self-talk in your own head? I’m not skinny enough for that outfit. I’ll start training for a marathon once I lose the weight. I won’t talk to cute boy in the office until I’m thinner. Or, a woman, one day postpartum, asking her doctor how soon she can return to working out. When will realize that this is a prison that we create ourselves. Life is too short. When we will stop focusing on our body weight and start living?
The damage that you do to your body by repeatedly starving yourself or obsessing can be reversed. But, you have to be willing to make that change. How many times have you looked back at an old picture of yourself and laughed because of what you were wearing? I know that I have. When you look back at that old photo, however, how does it make you feel? Do you remember how you felt in that moment? Does that photo stir any old feelings of who you were in that moment? I know when I see old photos of myself, I think about how focused I was on clothes (in high school), on how tan I was (in college), but I never really think back to how I felt. I do know that that girl was incredibly self-conscious, shy, and she hated her body. I know that she would never have had the confidence to start her own business, create a blog to put her life out on social media, and create a platform to empower other women.
The moral of the story is that who I was then is no where near who I am now. I’ve matured as a woman, but I’ve also realized that what makes me happy is those around me, new experiences & moving my body, in a healthy way.
“Change Your Thoughts & You’ll Change the World.”
I shared my experience with disordered eating with a friend on a run recently, and it’s not a story that I tell to a lot of people, but I think that retelling is an important step in overcoming it. When I was in school at the University of Texas, I used to obsess over what I ate (I kept a food diary and I would put a smily face on days I ate less than 1000 calories), I used to abuse “fat burners” (and no, they don’t actually work) and punished myself when I ate too much by taking handfuls of laxatives. I refused dinner offers with friends because, if I went out, they’d see that I didn’t eat or, even worse, make me eat. When people used to tell me I needed to eat something, I would secretly smile because I was winning this game! When I stepped on the scale and saw 108 pounds, I remember how proud I felt. But I can also tell you that I was not happy. It was easily one of the lowest points of my life.
Now, at 31, I’m a completely different human. I still struggle with body image - anyone who has a past with disordered eating will tell you that they do as well - but I’m no longer the person that I was before. I step on the scale, but it doesn’t define me. I work out and run marathons because it makes me happy - it’s not a punishment for my body and what I ate. I go out to eat with my friends whenever I want and never feel guilty when I let myself have an extra glass of wine. What I’m trying to say is this - you need to have that balance in your life. Life is about experiencing everything that it has to offer, not restricting yourself because you’ve been told to hate your body. Taking care of your body is just as much about enjoying the shape that you were given as much as it is being healthy. Because, ultimately, life is too damn short to worry about what you weigh. Eat the cheeseburger.