What would you do if you achieved your physical goals, either about your appearance alone, your appearance & your strength/flexibility, etc., or just your strength/flexibility? Have you ever felt that achieving such a goal might…..suck, somehow? I’m asking because I have felt that myself, to be honest.
I’ve hit my weight goals plenty of times – and what I felt on Day 1 of Living the Great Life Because I Lost 15 Pounds was…..empty. I felt empty. Worse on Day 2. Disoriented by Day 3. Empty because I’d structured my life around an arbitrary number and fouled up my normal eating patterns in favor of unsustainable restrictions. Empty because I had no plan for what came next – I only knew how to diet and restrict.
So, I’d turn away from that goal I’d achieved, and go right back in the opposite direction, like a tiny ship cresting a wave only to turn straight into the next deep trough to try again. I’ve discussed this at length, with other women in particular, because it’s usually the weight goal that causes this kind of turmoil for women conditioned to compare weight and worth.
In a different type of comparison, I also had a goal to be able to easily touch my toes. I started working on this over many years, and never noticed that I’d achieved it – one day I went to get into a yoga pose & both of my palms were flat on the floor. I squealed in delight but at the same time, I was confused – how did I achieve something without the wrenching toil I experienced during the struggle for my weight-loss goal? How did I do something I wanted to do, without impatiently ticking down every day where I wasn’t capable of touching my toes? Perhaps I had a sense of how very little muscles, tendons, and ligaments really care about impatience. All they care about is consistency. And the act of being consistent with making muscles, tendons, and ligaments more flexible/resilient caused a cascade of improved sensations elsewhere in the body – my back was benefiting, as were the arches of my feet, and so much else. Compared to that tiny ship on the waves, achieving palms-on-the-floor flexibility felt like bringing that ship into a new harbor, where new adventures awaited.
So when I look at two past goals achieved, what I really see is that there was one true goal (flexibility) and one pseudo-goal (weight loss). Hitting the weight loss goal didn’t change my life in positive, meaningful ways because I did nothing to treat it as part of my ongoing life – I treated it like a marathon of sorts, to endure and then put behind me. But how can we realistically try to put transformation behind us? If we yearn for transformation, don’t we want to set up all of the conditions to let that transformation prosper and further transform over time? If not, why would we ever do it in the first place? I know way too many people right now who are only looking to get a handle on their weight because they have a wedding/anniversary party/reunion to attend, and have no plans for life after that. And hey, that was me, too. I put in so much effort on something I apparently didn’t care enough about to properly nurture. The reason it’s not great is because this kind of thing drops us into negative thinking patterns as a result, like: “What kind of idiot loses 15 pounds only to regain it again?” I’ll tell you what kind of idiot does this – the kind who had been taught by a very consumer-focused society to live in the constant pursuit of solutions to perceived problems. There’s nobody trying to sell the American public a “Touch Your Toes” solution, kids. Because the way to touch your toes is just to keep trying to touch your toes and don’t stop trying. Eventually you get there. Diets, on the other hand, sell products and concepts and promises of quick results – it’s intoxicating and feels very productive to pursue a goal like this, but there’s no support for you once you’ve lost the weight – now you’re no longer a consumer. Until you fail, that is.
This might sound strange coming from someone who basically sells methods of achieving fitness, like a personal trainer does. I get that. But I don’t want you to just achieve goal X. I really, deeply, truly want you to love yourself & get some goals that enhance your relationship with yourself, above everything else. The fitness goals are ways to nourish that connection to yourself, to get to know yourself, and to remember why you give a shit about yourself in the first place. Because you’re worth caring about. And you don’t have to lose 15 pounds, or 50, or 5, to love yourself. In fact, start with loving yourself. Just start there. The other goals, the worthy ones, will reveal themselves when you’re ready.