A beautiful thing happened to me this weekend. Something I used to struggle with greatly became a strength I was complimented for. A dear friend turned to me and said something along the lines of, “I love how much you love your body.” She went on to mention how she was inspired by the way I embrace my figure and who I am. I thanked her for the compliment, mentioned that her kind words meant a lot to me and said, “you know, it didn’t used to always be this way.”
Just like many of you have probably experienced within yourselves, I used to make my nutrition and exercise choices with the goal of achieving a certain “look.” I wanted to be “lean and toned,” but “not too bulky from strength training,” I wanted “better legs” and a “flatter stomach, that didn’t have any sort of rolls when I crouched over” (btw nearly everyone has some roll somewhere when they bend over). I spent A LOT of mental and physical energy on looking a certain way.
And then finally my perspective shifted. After years of chasing a certain body, I began chasing performance goals. I accepted my body for exactly how it was and chose to chase a a heavier clean, the ability to do more pull ups and a better bench press. I moved away from worrying about how I looked in the mirror and focused my energy on how I performed in my workouts. This is a shift that nearly brings tears of joy to my eyes when I see it happen in clients.
The amazing thing about pursuing weight goals on the training floor versus weight goals on the scale, is that both your body and mind end up in a better space. Challenging yourself to improve your mile time, increase your deadlift or get your flexibility back, often results in the body you were once chasing, without you even thinking about it. You set your mind free from the stress of needing to look a particular way and let your body build the physique that best supports your exercise goals.
And most importantly, you allow yourself the space to be exactly who you are meant to be, without an image of expectation in your mind’s eye. The shackles of self-critique fall off, as you grow to love yourself and the exciting challenge of being able to do more with your body. Our bodies are meant to move, run, dance, lift, jump and play. Let’s celebrate our bodies for what they can do, rather than tearing them down for how they look. I promise that if you are taking care of your health and enthusiastically chasing performance goals, the best physique for you, will follow.