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“I wish I had your legs, mine rub together when I run.”
“Well, I wish I had your arms. When I wave ‘hi’ my arms think it’s time to catch some air and fly.”
“Well, I wish I had your tummy. I bet you’ve never had to worry about finding the right dress or pants to wear.”
What do you hear in those comments? A compliment?
Sure, but what else?
Do hear the self-deprecating talk? The jab directed at the self?
These comments don’t do anyone any favors. If anything, they’re doing more harm than good.
Sure, maybe you’ve gained some weight over the past few years. You might have a bit more around your midsection, and yeah, your arms don’t look like they did in high school. But you’ve also overcome some adversities, traveled the world, and challenged yourself to learn new ideas. A lot has happened in the last decade. So give yourself a break, and recognize your achievements and the sacrifices you made in order to achieve those goals.
I understand wanting to look and feel like you did in high school or in college. I understand the concern of not wanting to lift weights and get bulky because the scale already says that your body has already changed too much. I also understand how it feels to not want to glance up at the mirror while you’re washing your hands because you do not like the person looking back at you.
And you’re not wrong; you have changed over the years. Maybe today is the day you learn to view your changes differently. Maybe today is the day you recognize you are no longer a high school or college chick, you are a woman. You are smart, independent, resilient, adventurous, and strong-willed. You are in control of your thoughts, your actions, and your life.
I can see it in your face. You’re thinking, “Chelsey, thanks for the pep talk, but how does recognizing that I’ve changed help me get rid of this tire around my waist and the extra fat under my arm?”
By recognizing where we have been, we can determine where we want to go. When we love who we have become, we know what we are capable of doing.
“Dammit Chels, you still didn’t answer my question. How do I get rid of this extra fat as quickly as possible?”
I’d like to encourage you to evolve the way you’re viewing yourself. Instead of focusing on the small surface problem areas, I would like you to start thinking about what your goals and aspirations actually are. Why does having tone arms seem to be the cure-all solution? Does having tone arms suggest strength in the upper body? If so, wouldn’t it be more beneficial to focus on building strength rather than wishing your arms look different? Why does losing ten pounds matter so much? Is it that you think you’ll feel better once you fit into that dress? Or does losing ten pounds mean less weight on your joints so then you can hike down a mountain without feeling knee aches for three days after.
There’s a single takeaway I want for you: the belief that you are in charge of the way you view yourself, and a commitment to being kinder to yourself. Yes, it can seem like some of your thoughts are not your own and that your health and well-being is just something that diminishes with age. I am here to remind you that you make choices every single day that can either promote growth or keep you right where you are. You can decide to take action and make changes. Or not.
First, stop with the negative body image talk, especially when you are standing in front of the mirror getting ready for the day. You simply don’t have any more time for that. Instead, practice stating your day with a positive affirmation or remember something positive that happened throughout your day as you are brushing your teeth. Because taking the time to remember positive things will lead to more positive results.
Sometimes we might find ourselves in a loop, focusing on tasks that need to get done, rather than noticing things we have already accomplished. While that loop may have motivated you to keep moving forward, it also might set a tone for feeling as though we haven’t accomplished anything, or that we need to rush through daily and weekly chores before we take time to relax.
It happens to me, too. Sometimes I feel like I have to clean the entire house, do laundry, clean the dogs, workout, and then head to the gym to coach evening classes. If I didn’t get all of my tasks done that day I would have felt as though I had failed my tasks entirely.
Until one day I looked at myself in the mirror after just straightening up the kitchen and thought to myself, “I have done enough for today.” After that thought crossed my mind, I found myself whispering, “I am enough.” My heart lifted, and air filled my lungs. That moment still resonates with me, and in times where I feel as though I have a huge to-do list, I remind myself that I am enough. I then look at the tasks that I have planned for the day. I encourage myself to complete the task at hand based on how accomplished I will feel after the task is complete. Positive affirmations can and will bring about positive results.
Now that I’ve shared a bit about me. I would like you to take a moment and think about what it would feel like to truly embrace all you’ve become. Accept all of the good attributes and even the attributes that we don’t usually want to acknowledge. Accept your body for what it is now because is the only body you will have for the rest of your life. It’s ok if tears of joy stream down your cheeks at this moment, embrace and love everything that makes you, you.
Now that you’ve given yourself some positive talk and love, you are ready to accept new challenges. I’d like for you to envision what it would feel like to be the strongest you’ve ever been. What activities would be easier or more enjoyable if you could feel the strength in your arms? Would it be easier to lift something heavy out of your car? What would the benefits be if you were to feel like you had strong legs? Would you be able to push past the burning sensation as you climb the steep steps to reach the peak of a mountain? Maybe the best version of yourself simply means feeling calm and joyful when going to the grocery store, or sitting down to eat a meal, or feeling balance and stability as you hop over a rain puddle and land on one leg. Would taking on new projects feel like you were accomplishing more throughout your day?
Once you have envisioned what the best version of yourself feels like, set five small goals that will help lead you to become the strongest version of yourself. Write these goals down and place them where you can easily reference them when you need a reminder. Your goals can range from things to try and accomplish daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly. For example, you could practice deep breathing for five minutes a day, make it a habit to do something fun yet physically challenging once a week, adding to your savings account monthly, or finding ways to travel or relax for a while every year.
Another avenue of approach is by writing in a journal or daily planner. One of the best gifts I have received was a Passion Planner from my coach Michael. The planner helped me organize my thoughts and walked me through how to achieve my goals on a weekly basis. I’ve shared a photo of my goals that I wrote down in my planner. I hope that by sharing this page, it will encourage you to write down some of your own goals and share them with your support group. The more we share our goals and aspirations with our friends and loved ones, the higher the chance of you accomplishing your goals increases.
Strength comes with dedicated practice of self-improvement through self-love. I encourage you to challenge your beliefs about yourself. Believe that you can achieve whatever goal you are wanting to achieve. Keep evolving and love who you are becoming.
Yours in peace, love, and strength,
Chelsey Wilson is a movement coach, providing group and private coaching at wasatch fitness academy.
Her gifts include connecting deeply with everyone she meets, and using high-quality movements to stretch people’s limits – physically, mentally, and emotionally. SHe’ll push you to be your best, well beyond what you think you’re capable of.