I have wanted to be skinny for as long as I can remember. That has always been the unspoken goal and it has been a struggle for most of my life from childhood all the way through to adulthood. I’m certain that I’m not alone in that. That I’m not the only woman who has wasted an incredible amount of her precious time agonizing over her weight and the size of her jeans. It is just the world we live in. We are bombarded with images and ideas that confirm the notion that we are supposed to be thin. That definition of “THIN” has changed a bit over time, but it is still there. Thin is good, not thin is bad. Every tv show, magazine cover, movie and now social media reinforces this idea whether we talk about it or not. Fortunately, I see the women in my generation very carefully trying to re-define what self-love looks like for our daughters. We are careful not to talk about dieting and we strategically try to model healthy habits without making SKINNY the goal. Only time will tell how effective this campaign is, but I can tell you that it is an uphill battle when the rest of the world is still sending our kids the same mixed messages.
I clearly remember the first time I felt like I was getting a little chubby and that I needed to do something about it. I was in 2nd grade but I don’t remember exactly how or what made me realize it. I didn’t talk about it with anyone, nor did I have any knowledge of nutrition or a solid plan but I did manage to lose weight. That started the yo-yo cycle that has haunted many of us for decades. The last time I really found myself at a low point was after my youngest son was born. I was so uncomfortable in my own skin and I was positive that I wouldn’t be able to get the weight off. This back and forth, up and down cycle was miserable but it was the only thing I knew. It was my normal, and it was never going to change as long as I had such an unhealthy relationship with food and so little respect for myself and my body.
It was at that point that I stumbled further into fitness and went down the path to become a coach. I started to realize that it didn’t have to be that way. That maybe there was some sort of magical balance that didn’t depend on what number showed on the scale that morning. This has been my favorite part of my own personal transformation since really embracing a healthy lifestyle. Not only have I changed my attitude towards food and dieting, but I have truly decided that I don’t care about being skinny. My focus has shifted to being STRONG and healthy! I exercise and eat well because I love my body, NOT because I hate it. I push myself hard and exercise consistently because it makes me feel alive and healthy and it’s an ongoing challenge to overcome. I love that feeling of accomplishment. And YES, I will likely stay thin because of this lifestyle but that is no longer why I am doing it. I have given up the scale, which is something I never thought I would say. I used to weigh myself compulsively each morning and it was a useless and defeating routine. It has been like a giant weight lifted to get rid of that burden.
I am far from perfect but I have come a long way. I’ll let you know when I reach that zen-like state of balance but for now I feel like I at least know what that balance should look like. Eat MOSTLY healthy, real foods to fuel your body. Eat well because of how it makes you FEEL, not how it makes you look. Exercise regularly and move your body lots. Sleep as much as you can and drink water. I know I just made it sound easy and it’s definitely not. It can be done though, and I promise you that it is so liberating to finally break that cycle.
We all have our own issues and struggles with food, exercise and body image. It is different for each of us and there is no magic pill or button. I just urge you to be kind to yourself, especially as you are setting your resolutions for the new year. Change that inner dialogue and stop beating yourself up about whatever you did or didn’t accomplish in 2017. Instead of setting a resolution for losing the same 15 pounds that you talk about each year, make your resolution more meaningful. Strive for getting healthier all around and work towards loving yourself no matter what your weight is. Make smaller, more meaningful changes that will last a lifetime instead of just until February. Focus less on how you look and more on how you feel. This alone can be the motivation you need to keep it up because it is a powerful experience to realize how good it FEELS to be healthy.
Many of us will be on this journey in one way or another for our whole lives, but it doesn’t have to be a miserable journey. We can all take steps to take the control back from the scale and really learn to respect and love our bodies. Just think – if we were able to stop spending so much time worrying about our weight and body image issues we would have so much more time and mental energy to focus on more exciting and fulfilling things!
What are your resolutions for 2018? I would love to hear from you on social media if you are willing to share!
Hadley Sorensen is a health and fitness coach who lives in Virginia with her husband and 3 boys. She is an avid reader, runner and fitness instructor who has a passion for helping others learn to enjoy exercise. Hadley uses one-on-one coaching as well as virtual accountability groups to provide support and motivation to her clients. Her guiding philosophy is that it’s never too late to take charge of your health and improve your level of fitness. Find her on Facebook @HadleySorensenFitness