People don’t talk about diet or fitness. I mean… they DO if you’re reading the cover of trash magazines on line at the supermarket. But in that case, it’s about fatness or lack of fatness. It’s fat-shaming. They DO if you’re watching daytime television in the eat-this-not-that instructional way. But, in that case, it’s offering you “duh” advice, stuff that makes you feel like you’re clearly stupid for not being thinner.
When I say “people don’t talk about diet or fitness,” I’m talking about a person-to-person dialogue about diet and fitness. I’m talking about it coming up in everyday conversation. Last week, I posted the conclusion of my 8-week diet. But what I promised was a post about WHY I write about diet and fitness.
Because the silence is damaging.
Not knowing about other’s experiences with fitness and dieting creates a self-shaming association with these activities. It becomes a private body thing (like bathroom business or sex). But it doesn’t have to be.
For most of my life, I was pretty inactive — no sports, no recreational fitness hobbies. When I was younger, I could get away with it. When I got older and very stressed — law school and a series of horrible jobs — the weight came on fast and furious. I don’t think I understood how to stop the snow-balling. I didn’t have the tools or the motivation. A while back, I posted “Let’s Get Real” so you could get an idea about where I started, where I’m going, and how I’m getting there. I’m still working on it. Work. In. Progress. Always.
As I gained weight and flip-flopped a little down and a lot up, I really thought that the people around me — fellow classmates in school or mothers of kids in my daughter’s preschool class — were NATURALLY FIT. Pause here. I thought that these people just looked like that. Some people do. Most people don’t.
No one talked about working out. I knew so many people and knew all kinds of details about people’s lives but not how they were (miraculously) so toned and slim. Never did it come into conversation that the person just finished a great workout or was in the middle of an difficult diet. NEVER. So I lived under (a rock) the misconception that everyone was naturally fit.
Many months ago, I sent out a request for our readers to tell me whether or why they were private about fitness. I received ONE single solitary response. That person told me that she was very embarrassed that her body needed work and she wouldn’t even workout with people she knew.
She shared, “I would be too embarrassed if I couldn’t keep up, even more I didn’t want them to see my HUGE body moving like that. I would go WAY off campus to work out, or I’d go at the most random hours to avoid ANYONE I may know. Great lengths were taken to ensure no one I knew saw me.”
“Bottom line, it all comes down to the feeling of being judged. That what I’m doing isn’t enough. Or right. Or that I look foolish. Or fat. And that somehow, that will make people, even my friends like me less.”
Thank you, dear Reader. You are not alone in feeling this way.
Because it is okay to fail.
I think people are embarrassed that their bodies aren’t perfect. They see themselves as broken. They see working out (or dieting) as a way to fix or punish themselves into betterment. They’re worried they might fail and, if they had ever spoken about fitness or dieting, then that failure would be public and shameful.
Here’s what I’ve got for ya: “WHO CARES.” Seriously, WHO CARES if I think I need improvement. Who doesn’t!?! WHO CARES that I might fail? Failure is a chance to revisit my priorities, it’s a chance to lean on my supports.
Even if there is no benefit to the failure, it happens. It’s human. And it shouldn’t stop me from embarking on this.
Because I’m not damaged.
Everyone has something. Everyone has that thing that makes them feel like there is something weird or ugly or wrong. It could be their body. For lots of people, it is. But all those weird ugly things and all those insecurities, that’s what makes me me, dynamic and unique. These somethings make us who we are.
These somethings are the fire for change. And sharing that experience with others lets us all know we aren’t alone in this. Striving for betterment is a long dusty lonely road. Bring friends along, share your struggles and your successes. This is everyone’s issue — like a party everyone is invited to.
GymBuddyTara and I have so much fun challenging each other, cheering each other on and calling each other out (usually it is her calling me out) when one of us is being a wimp (it is always me).
Because, ultimately, I love myself and hope you love yourself too.
I’m sharing my love — this fitness and dieting “journey” (while barfing from that over-dramatic word).
It is really wonderful to feel good about yourself. I love working out, I love my body, and I love what working out does for me. I know my body isn’t perfect. But I love it. I love what it lets me do. And, for the most part, I love what it looks like. I joke around at the gym that I’m only there to maximize the booty.
Because I want to make a difference.
We should be talking about it. Successes. Failures. We should applaud each other with each gym check-in or FB post about how many miles we’ve run. We should be each other’s support and cheerleaders. We should take credit for the work that goes into being healthy, confident and fit.
My fitness is not a mystery. I’m squatting the living f&ck out of it.