Recently I have had a lot of conversations with people about losing fat, gaining six pack abs, getting skinnier and watching the number on the scale drop. Everyone wants a quick fix, a magic pill, a little something to help them on their way. I get this, but I also understand that there is some serious stinking thinking going on…
Stinking Thinking Problem 1 – there is no magic pill. A very wise doctor recently told me a story about a diet pill he saw advertised. The directions said to take it at 6pm and don’t eat anything else before you go to bed. It worked like a charm!!! It was a miracle! People were losing weight left and right! But what they didn’t realize was that they were just cutting their calories by not eating after 6pm… they had been hoodwinked! The biggest problem in this kind of situation is that you aren’t learning anything about fueling your body properly and you are not getting what you need to build lean muscle, which burns fat. Instead, you are reducing calories to the point that you lose muscle, which is exactly opposite of what we are trying to achieve.
Stinking Thinking Problem 2 – and we have talked about this a lot around here… muscle is more dense than fat. So, a pound of feathers might take up a huge bag, whereas a pound of iron might be the size of a golf ball. Fat is like the feathers and muscle is like the golfball. It may be not quite that dramatic, but you get the point. If you’re losing inches, but the scale is not moving… it probably means that you are gaining muscle and losing fat – which is all kinds of AWESOME! It’s a hard thing to tell right away, but it does happen – and it can happen fast. So don’t panic because the scale isn’t moving. The scale and BMI are terrible measures of fitness. Look for other markers like how your clothing fits and how you feel. Trust the process. Eat healthy food (log your food to make sure) and exercise regularly. It will happen.
Stinking Thinking Problem 3 – There is a certain amount of self-loathing that seems to accompany this idea of attaining the perfect body. I was recently talking to a dad who said his daughter wants to have thighs that are skinny enough to put a tennis ball between them – which is actually a very common desire in young girls. I don’t know where this idea comes from, but I think it’s nuts. Every person is made differently. Some of us have wider hips and bigger bones and are more muscular. Some of us are built tiny. We need to learn to love the bodies we were born with and all of the amazing things about them. Instead, we sit in criticism of ourselves and we literally search for what is wrong with us. We say things like “I’m fat” and “I’m ugly” and “I’m not good enough”. So then we come up with ways to look better. We workout and we use machines and we starve ourselves and we forget that exercise is supposed to be fun and it’s supposed to be about having fun and doing the things we love to do in life. What we really need to do is BE BETTER. We go to the gym and get strong so that we can go white water rafting and hike the Grand Canyon and ride horses and live life. We get strong so that we can take good care of the people we love and be the best we can be at our jobs. We get strong to fight for what is right and good in this world. And sometimes we go to the gym to make friends and laugh and solve the world’s problems in an hour.
Looking great is a by-product of feeling great. Have you heard the new saying Strong is Sexy? Or Strong is the New Skinny? It’s a message that is trying to get across that we want to be healthy instead of just thin
and we want healthy to be the representation of what we find attractive. The problem is that most of these messages are accompanied by a super skinny, albeit somewhat muscular woman who is posing and photoshopped and angled in all the right ways. But what strength represents IS sexy – the ability to work your butt off to be the best person you can be in all aspects of life. That is what makes a person attractive. We train to be strong in the gym but that strength is only a symbol of the mental physical and spiritual strength within – and that’s what is attractive! Have you ever had a really great day and then gone out at night and when you looked at yourself thought, “Wow, I look great!”? Or have you ever met someone who inspired you or made you feel really good about yourself and then suddenly find that everyone is telling you how great you look? That is a physical manifestation of how you feel. Your energy rises and you begin to smile and have a glow and you literally begin to look better! What people see is YOU shining from within. And that same thing happens when you have a great workout. Not only does it get everything flowing and build muscle and burn fat, but it gives you a sense of accomplishment and confidence that is with you all the rest of the day.
We have had a lot of conversations at my house recently about “Owning it”. It means that when you like something you don’t make any apologies for it. It means that when you like yourself, you don’t apologize for who you are – whether that is dorky, nerdy, geeky, intelligent, skinny, fat, muscular, athletic or whatever it is that bothers you about you. It also means that when you take on an obstacle in life, you give it your all and that when you screw up you admit your humanity and you do better next time. So what we really need to do is “Own it”. We need to learn to love ourselves for the magnificent, quirky, funny, strong people that we are – no matter what. Give life your all, get out and DO everything you can do, face your faults and do better, and Own who you are – because who you are is awesome.