I grew up hearing that a woman “can never be too thin or too rich” from my own mom.
I literally started my first diet at age 13. Heck, Mom was always on a diet, so that is was what I knew. Many years later, in my 40s and 50s, I choose to believe that she didn’t know any better, and if she were around today, she would retract that statement.
But I grew up hearing and believing it, and I went through many years of feeling not thin enough.
External cues can be dangerous especially if we use them to measure our fitness progress. How many times have you caught yourself feeling all crappy or shameful because you had the impression that someone else is, fitter, taller, shorter, prettier or stronger?
After all, the marketing industry is based on our feeling inferior.
We hear and see a lot of declarations in the media about how we are supposed to look. I imagine that Mom probably read that statement in a women’s magazine. Today we have a movement of self-confident women who choose to believe a different story. But we have a long way to go.
As part of working with women who are getting fit over 40, I asked hundreds of women what irked them the most about themselves.
The overwhelming response was guilt and shame from falling short of a perfect body.
There were also many comments about having shame for not sticking to a perfect diet. These feelings are fueled by the marketing of trendy diets that are supposed to make us thin and therefore happy. #ugh This perfectionism attitude is self-defeating.
There are even many people out there using it as an excuse for failure. Yup. Perfectionism is their crutch for why they can’t progress. They are either all-in or all-out.This perfectionism attitude is self-defeating. There are people out there using it as an excuse for failure. Yup. Perfectionism is their crutch for why they can't progress. They are either all-in or all-out. Click To TweetI have heard this story from countless women. Since they can’t be perfect 100% of the time, they give up and choose to be all out, until the next guilt trip hits and they start again.
Do you see that this is just a story that they choose to believe?
We do not have to be all in or all out. In fact, the reason we can’t sustain our healthy behaviors is that we are trying to be perfect. When we are more reasonable in our fitness approach, we won’t feel the need to hit the snooze button and skip that brutal morning workout or toss that dry lettuce and boiled chicken in the garbage in favor of a pizza.
A better approach is to use workout programming that is right for your body and doesn’t leave you beat up. Sure you may experience post-workout soreness occasionally, but workouts don’t need to be so insanely hard that you are always sore. The same goes for your meals.
A healthy fitness lifestyle is one that is sustainable and enjoyable.
Obviously, we all know the perfect woman does not exist. So let’s move on and get after a healthy sustainable lifestyle. One where we don’t have to be all in or bust.
Here are three mindset shifts that will make your fitness habits more consistent, and certainly less dreadful.
1. Begin with practicing the belief that you are worthy.
When we establish fitness habits coming from a place of worthiness, instead of inferiority, our fitness habits take on a whole new perspective. I guarantee you when you look at your fitness from a point of worthiness, your workouts, and your meal prep will come from a place of entitlement, not punishment.
2. Happiness does not come from shrinking your body.
If you believe that you will be happy when your body is a certain size, your happiness will be short lived. But the truth is, that fitness comes in many shapes. Each of us has her own unique shape. We must accept and love our body in any and every shape and stage of life. Now before you get all impatient, remember this: Owning self-acceptance is a process. It is not like flipping a switch and presto, self-acceptance is achieved. At Grateful Fitness, we emphasize that happiness is a decision. We also have a zero tolerance policy for self-criticism.
3. Practice being grateful for your current health, and be kind with your comments about yourself.
We all are fortunate to have a body and mind that can move. Avoid comparing your fitness, or gym achievements to others. Your journey is unique.
For more information on improving your fitness habits in your forties and well beyond, visit here.